The Bond Brook 5K Trail Race Series begins Thursday at the Bond Brook Recreation Area in Augusta. The series expanded from six to eight races last summer and will again consist of eight races this year.

Race director Karen Gross said she’s hoping for 65 to 85 runners on Thursday. The dates for the races are July 11 and 18, Aug. 1, 8, 22 and 29, and Sept. 12 and 19. Gross said the breaks are “just to give our volunteers a break and our runners, too, so they didn’t have a race every single week,” as well as leave some leeway for rainouts.

The races in July and August begin at 6 p.m., while the September races start at 5:30. Registration can only be done in person at the stadium within Bond Brook. The cost is $5, and for the July and August races, registration is from 5:15-5:50 p.m.

“It’s a beautiful course,” Gross said. “It’s a mix of double-track trails and single-track trails. The course itself is quite hilly in some locations. They’re not large hills, but they’re short, steep inclines and short, steep descents.”

Gross said runners of all abilities are encouraged to sign up. But one of the things that makes this series interesting is that there is also a series winner. Runners must compete in at least five of the eight races to qualify for the series title. (For runners who compete in more than five of the races, their top five times are taken.)

Last year’s winners were Joe Viselli and Rosalea Kimball. Viselli will be back this year, as is his wife, Jessica, another standout runner. Other notable runners who competed last year are Ward and Wade Boudreau and Maria Millard.

“We have some of the best runners in the area who participate in this series,” Gross said, “so it makes the competition part of it very fun.”

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Marjorie Scott describes the Athens Victory Club as “a group of civic-minded ladies.” They raise money for things like giving quilts to every newborn baby in town, making donations to the fire and recreation departments and giving gas cards to cancer patients who have to travel for regular treatments.

In 2008 the Victory Club hit on the idea of having a road race to raise money. This is the sixth season of the Farm to Farm 5K and it’s one of the cheapest races in the state.

“It’s really taken off,” said Scott, the race coordinator and a member of the Victory Club. “We have a really loyal following. We have people of all ages coming out. We have parents pushing strollers. We have people running, walking. We have people from all around central Maine, actually.”

Scott said the race started with about 12 runners. This year, there are 10 races, every Tuesday night at 6, rain or shine, from June 18 to Aug. 20. Registration is from 5-5:55 p.m. before each race, and costs $3. Scott said the three races so far this season have averaged about 40 runners.

As the name implies, the race course hits two farms in Athens. The race begins at Sites Strawberry Farm, then goes to the Hall Farm and beyond before looping back to the Sites Strawberry Farm.

“The course is a dirt road,” Scott said. “There aren’t any steep hills, but there is a good rise coming back.”

The Victory Club awards hand-made ribbons in four categories. There are also two more “Kid’s K” races, for children 9 and under, on July 16 and Aug. 13.

Not surprisingly, Athens native and Madison Area Memorial High School graduate Matt McClintock holds the men’s record, with a time of under 16 minutes. Former Madison track star Caitlin Malloy holds the women’s record at 19:53, while Sandy Linkletter holds the walking record with a time of about 38:40.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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