, Newburyport, MA


August 4, 2006

High Street Mile:A sprint to the finish

Everyone knows about the Yankee Homecoming Parade on High Street Sunday afternoon. But only those within local running circles know about the one slated for Sunday morning.

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."

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