By Kevin Thomas email@example.com
Portland Press Herald Staff Writer http://www.pressherald.com/
BRIDGTON — Silas Eastman of Chatham, N.H., and Fryeburg Academy won the 36th annual Bridgton Four on the Fourth this morning, completing the four-mile road course in 21 minutes, 33 seconds. Emily Ward, 30, of Richmond Va., won the women's race in 24:26
|Emily Ward wins Bridgton, Maine 4 miler in 24:26|
Photo by Tim Greenway, Portland Press Herald
Ward, who is in town vacationing with family, was racing the course for the first time. The former University of Richmond runner won by 49 seconds, ahead of runner-up Cathleen Balantic, 25, of Niantic, Conn.
April Werning, 36, a former Bowdoin College runner now living in Portland, was third in 25:21.
Ward was thinking the same thing. She escaped the heat of Richmond this week, vacationing with family on Long Lake.
"The conditions were perfect," Ward said. "I'm so used to humidity. I think this past week it was 102 every day in Virginia."
Ward used to run for the University of Richmond. She moved on to marathons and is now training for triathlons.
"It has made me a little faster," said Ward, who was 49 seconds ahead of runner-up Cathleen Balantic, 25, of Niantic, Conn.
April Werning, 36, of Portland finished third in 25:21. Werning used to run for Bowdoin College, then did road races. She is just getting back into competition after nearly a 10-year layoff.
"It's really hard," Werning said of her first time on Bridgton's hilly course.
The three male leaders have loads of Four on the Fourth experience.
Eastman, Even and Bottomley finished in the top 10 the previous two years. Bottomley, a former runner for Oxford High and the University of Maine, first ran here in 1979 and contended for the title often in the 1980s.
"I was this close to winning it a couple of times," said Bottomley, his thumb and index finger almost touching. On Wednesday, Bottomley stayed with Eastman and Even, and there was hope.
"I was running with these two young guys," Bottomley said, "and I was thinking, 'hey I have a chance.' Then they beat me by 35 seconds the last half."
Even, 23, of Stoneham, just completed a stellar senior track season at the University of Southern Maine – named Little East Conference male track athlete of the year and placing 17th in the 1,500 meters in the NCAA Division III nationals.
Eastman, who attends Fryeburg although he lives in Chatham, N.H., has won the past two Maine Class B high school cross country championships.
On Wednesday, Eastman pulled away as they went downhill with a mile to go.
"Silas is made for cross country running," Even said. "I'm made for the track. Whenever we get into a battle like this, whenever we open it up on downhills and stuff, I'm always at a disadvantage.
"He's extremely talented. And he's a great guy. I'm never upset losing to him."
Eastman called it "a nice run during the summer to keep your racing up, keep you in the right mind-set."
Note: Emily Ward (2000), is a Gloucester Catholic NJ Cross Country Meet of Champions Qualifier in 1999, and is also the winner of the first Browning Ross Bob Kupcha 5k Run in 2005 (19:09).
After an outstanding career at the University of Richmond, Emily has won a number of races and has been among the top finishers of the Broad Street Run (Philadelphia), Philadelphia Marathon Half Marathon, and the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run (Washington DC).