Ever see a one-mile sprint? Sunday morning is your chance, as the 16th running of the High Street Mile will commence at 10 a.m., beginning at Atkinson Common.
Blink and you may miss it.
"It is the type of race that is very calculated and very strategic," said Chris Kealey, who is in his second year as the race director. "If you don't run intelligently, it is really hard to do. It is not like a 10K where if you ran the first mile too fast or slow, you can adjust. You just step up to the line and go for it."
In a one-mile race, there is little, if any, room for error.
"It is pretty much a sprint for a mile," said Betsy Suda of Newburyport, who placed fifth last year in 5:41.11. "You don't want to get out too fast, but you want to pick it up at about 800 meters."
Suda, 24, a former distance standout at Newburyport High School who is studying for her master's degree at Tufts, has run the High Street Mile six times and is one of the local open division favorites this year.
Admittedly more of a long-distance runner, Suda is seeking a time between 5:35 and 5:40 on Sunday. She is taking a process-over-product approach.
"As long as I run well, I would be happy with a top-five finish," she said.
Kealey took over the race from Ted Jones, who founded it in 1990 and served as the director until 2004.
If Kealey has had any doubts about adequately carrying on what Jones created, those doubts were diminished in an exchange at the Newburyport High School track last week.
Kealey, who will run the race for the 14th time Sunday (he finished 11th overall last year in 4:41.18), was among several runners on the track that early evening and got to talking to one of them, who was diligently working on 200- and 400-meter sprints.
Not knowing who Kealey was, the gentleman mentioned he had been training for the High Street Mile. Just a few minutes later, two more runners stepped on to the track and said they too were in training for the Mile.
"That's why I volunteer for these races," Kealey said. "It made me feel great because all the work I put into it. It's a heck of a lot of work, but this is my opportunity to contribute back to the sport."
Talented field expected
Much of the work for Kealey is in the role of a recruiter. A generous donation from Saucony has enabled Kealey to lure some of the top middle distance runners in the Northeast, several of which will be housed by local race volunteers.
Along with Suda and Bradbury, confirmed runners on the women's side include Claudia Camargo of Danbury, Conn., who placed second last year in 5:01.40 and recently posted a time of 4:45 earlier in July. Last year's female open champion, Jennifer Toomey (4:40.93), a former Olympian from Salem, is not expected to return.
On the men's side, Methuen native Kevin Alliette, winner of the last two open men's titles, will go for a record third straight championship. Alliette captured last year's race in 4:17.98 and placed second in the Provident Bank Yankee Homecoming 5K Tuesday night in 16:32.
Alliette could have plenty of competition in former Brown University star and current Olympic hopeful Patrick Tarpey, who recently posted a time of 4:01 in June and has been running some high-profile meets overseas throughout July.
Kealey also tipped Hampton Falls native Andy Huebner to impress this year. A recent graduate of the Governor's Academy, Huebner posted the third-best time (4:02) in New England (among high school runners) in the 1,500 meters, and will take his talent to Cornell University this fall.
For the 2006 High Street Mile, $1,400 of prize money will be awarded. The top three males and females will receive $300, $200 and $100, respectively, while the top male and female runners in the masters division will each receive $100.
Additionally, should there be a new course record set, the runner will receive an additional $300.
But the best part of the High Street Mile is that all the proceeds will benefit the cross country and track and field teams of the river rival schools: Newburyport, Amesbury, Pentucket and Triton. Money earned from the Mile enables cross country and track and field athletes of those schools to buy their footwear at Rick Bayko's Yankee Runner on Pleasant Street at cost.
In the notebook
Sixty-year-old Mike Fiene of Newburyport placed 15th among 138 runners - tops in the 60-69 age group - on July 25 at the Mr. Cavors Incredible Gravity Challenge in Lowell. Fiene posted a time of 19:55.1, a 6:25-per-mile pace. Chris Janson (Newburyport) placed 31st overall and 13th among 26 in the 40-49 group in 21:57.6. ... Catherine Gulliver (Newburyport) finished 246th in a field of 862 men and women (75th among 475 female runners) in 33:22 at the Jerry Garcia Memorial Run and Walk on July 27 in Cambridge. Heller Shoop (Amesbury) finished the course in 40:43, good for 302nd in the women's field.
John Gangemi of Merrimac placed eighth among 135 runners at the 33rd Stratham Fair Race on July 29. Representing the Winner's Circle Running Club, Gangemi completed the 5.7-mile course in 33:32 while NHS cross country coach Don Hennigar (Newburyport) placed 17th in 36:06. David Ritchie (Seabrook, N.H.) placed 46th in 41:17 while WCRC runners Ken Mackie (Newburyport) placed 63rd in 42:46 and Robert Aucoin 96th in 47:48. Joe Casanova (Amesbury) took 113th in 51:52.
We erred in this space last week when we wrote about Dale Granger-Eckert of Newburyport. Granger-Eckert, 54, ran in the Sapienza four-mile race, which we listed as a 5K, in 37:55. In an earlier column, we mistakenly listed Granger-Eckert in the 60-69 age group at the Jennifer Tinney memorial Five Miler which she ran in 47:51.
At a glance
What:16th running of the High Street Mile
When: Sunday, 10 a.m.
Where: Race starts at Atkinson Common on High Street
Why: All proceeds benefit the track and cross country programs at the river rival high schools