The son of Connie Gomez and daughter of Kathy Jesseman won the largest 5-kilometer road race in Maine Sunday morning at Hadlock Field.
It was the third straight Portland Sea Dogs Mother’s Day 5K title for Erica Jesseman, 25, of Scarborough and the first for two-time runner-up Rob Gomez, 30, who recently moved to Portland from Saco.
Each receives a pair of Sea Dogs tickets to all remaining games this season at Hadlock, as well as the opportunity to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.
“I only live a half a mile from the stadium, so I’m going to make use of those tickets,” said Gomez, whose time of 15 minutes, 19 seconds works out to a 4:56 mile pace.
Louis Luchini, a state legislator from Ellsworth, did not participate Sunday after winning the previous four Mother’s Day races.
“I thought he might be running,” Gomez said. “It’s an election year, so I thought he could use the publicity.”
Instead, Gomez needed only to hold off … well … who was that guy in second place?
“It’s strange,” he said. “I turned around and didn’t know exactly who that was. That usually doesn’t happen around here.”
Ben Rumery, 25, ran for Thornton Academy and Stonehill College but hadn’t raced in two years, in large part because of stress fractures incurred while attempting to train for a marathon. On Sunday, Rumery entered Fitzpatrick Stadium within sight of Gomez and joined him inside Hadlock Field before finishing 11 seconds behind in 15:30.
“I had no idea what I was going to do today,” Rumery said. “I’m just trying to get back in shape.”
Chris Harmon, 26, of Scarborough was third in 15:56 on a morning much warmer than local runners have been experiencing, with hazy sunshine and temperatures climbing into the high 60s.
“Sneaky hot,” Gomez called it. “We’re not used to this. It’s been a cold winter.”
Jesseman’s thoughts during her loop run from Park Avenue to Congress Street to Stevens Avenue and back on Brighton and Deering were not so much with her mom as with a former University of New Hampshire teammate whose funeral is Monday.
Laura LaPlante, 26, of Hancock, N.H., died last weekend in Chicago when the taxi carrying her was hit by a wrong-way drunken driver. She was scheduled to graduate from the University of Chicago Law School in June and begin a job in Boston this summer.
“She was a good friend and a good teammate,” Jesseman said. “So I thought about her (Sunday morning) and how I’m so blessed to be able to be with my family. I’m thinking about hers and how hard today must be for her mom and her family. I’m going to try to run all of my races this summer in her name.”
Jesseman reached the finish line in 16:56, about 14 seconds behind her record-setting performance of last May but still good for a 5:27 clip. More than a minute passed before the second woman, Christine Irish, 39, of North Yarmouth, came across in 18:08.
“I trained through this race,” said Jesseman, ninth overall. “I actually took my first full week off after the (Boston) marathon, which I’ve never done. I was that tired.”
Another 49 seconds behind in third place was Gretchen Speed, 33, of Brookline, Mass.
Proceeds from the race go toward Maine breast cancer patients and research, split between the Cancer Community Center and the Maine Cancer Foundation. Among the 2,427 runners and walkers who completed Sunday’s 14th edition of the race was a guy who later suited up for the Sea Dogs – Manager Billy McMillon.
“First race ever,” said McMillon, who placed 643rd in a time of 28:14. “I’m just glad I beat some people, that I wasn’t last.”
The Sea Dogs, McMillon noted with relief, are scheduled to play on the road (in Akron, Ohio) on Father’s Day, when another 5K over the same course will be run.
As runners continued to stream around the warning track in left field and make their way toward the finish near the visiting dugout, Sarah Brownell, 34, of Cape Elizabeth handed out slices of oranges to four young children – two of hers – in front of section 204 at Hadlock.
“Slugger’s mom is looking pretty,” said her 3-year-old daughter, Molly, after Brownell picked up an empty granola bar wrapper and deposited it in a nearby trash can.
Brownell and two fellow moms, Mara Higgins and Jill Darling, ran together for the second year in a row and cut a minute and 20 seconds off their finishing time, improving to 26:27.
“It’s a fun way to kick off Mother’s Day,” said Brownell, who also revealed their strategy for blocking out any thoughts of fatigue or discomfort during the race: “We talk about our kids.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: