The Gardiner Area High School boys soccer team is using a road race as a fundraiser. In this case, it’s the inaugural Run for the Goal 5K, which begins at 9 a.m., Sunday.

Matt Backus, whose son Trevor plays for the Tigers, is in charge of the race.

“We were trying to think of a fundraiser,” Backus said. “I run some, and the 5K seemed to be a popular way to raise money.”

Pre-registration is open until 7 p.m., Thursday at http://www.running4free.com/RaceDetails.aspx?src+hm&raceid=256. The cost is $20 with a T-shirt or $15 without a shirt. Same-day registration begins at 8 a.m., Sunday, and is $25 with a shirt or $20 without.

The race is designed around the school, which takes it through downtown Gardiner.

“The two most challenging parts are down Winter Street, which is pretty steep,” Backus said, “then — it’s not as steep — but you have to go through the center of Gardiner, up to West Hill Road, where the school is.”

It being the first race, Backus said he is hoping for a modest turnout.

“I think if we had 50 runners, we’d be doing well,” he said.

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Gene Roy of Oakland has been a member of the Central Maine Striders since 1978. While the number of members has held steady at about 100 in recent years, there’s little doubt that running is becoming more popular in Maine.

Roy wrote an article about running booms for an upcoming issue of The Interval, the Striders’ monthly newsletter. In addition to being a 35-year member of the Striders, he’s on their board of directors, and while he turns 67 next month, he still runs 15 to 20 miles per week and helps coach the pole vaulters at Colby College.

“If you look around the state, you will see much larger fields in races now than say, 25 years ago,” Roy wrote. “For example, the Sugarloaf Marathon of 1985 had 80 finishers. This year it had 395.”

The latest boom has made running available to people who would normally not be active. Roy says with a laugh that you don’t see people throwing up after a race anymore, but you do see more people participating.

One example from Roy’s article is the 5K at Riverside in Portland in 1970, which had 12 entrants. Bob Hillgrove won with a very impressive time of 14 minutes, 52 seconds, while the last-place finisher came in at 18:38. In contrast, the Doc and Mardie Brown 5K Aug. 10 in Waterville had 109 finishers, with times ranging from 16:14 to 1:06:41. Nearly half of the runners finished in more than 30 minutes.

“Most of the new participants in this boom are not hot-shot high school or college runners,” Roy wrote. “They are people of average ability who run because they enjoy it for its own pleasure and also for the health benefits. They run for the high level of fitness it promotes for the whole family and the social outlet that races provide.”

As for the Striders, Roy said Tuesday he is optimistic about the organization’s future.

“We’ve been hoping for some new blood, and I think we have it,” he said.

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The Rangeley Outdoor Adventure Run — or R.O.A.R. — is Saturday morning and will be hosted by the Rangeley Fitness Center. The Childrens’ Mini R.O.A.R. is at 9 a.m., with walkers going off at 9:15 and the 5K and 10K Run/Walk at 9:30.

Walkers are by donation, with money going to support children’s programs at the fitness center. Information is available at http://rangeleyhealthandwellness.com. Same-day registration costs $50 for the 5K and 10K, and $20 for the Mini R.O.A.R. Race-day registration goes from 7:45-8:45 a.m.

The course is an unusual one, as the race flier mentions “wooded trails with rocks, mud, and uneven surfaces.” There will also be a farmer’s market in the fitness center parking lot, and the plan is to have booths with vendors and local non-profits.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

mdifilippo@mainetoday.com