When it comes to road racing this weekend, the Friends on the 4th 5K is the place to be.

The 12th edition of the popular race begins at 8 a.m., Friday. It begins at the American Legion on Bowdoin Street in Winthrop, runs along Maranacook Lake, and finishes at Town Beach, across from the Legion. The race usually draws more than 600 runners.

“It’s always nice to run a race that’s close to home,” said Maranacook cross country coach Rosalea Kimball. “For me, running a race is just a great way to start a holiday. It’s a really fast course. There’s only one, basically, tiny little hill. A lot of people I know are in this race.”

Kimball was the top women’s finisher in 2010, with a time of 18 minutes, 53.80 seconds. She placed third among all women with a time of 20:03 at last year’s race.

“Most 5Ks, my goals are kind of similar,” she said. “I’m always trying to break 19. That’s always a goal that’s out there.”

Anne McKee, who will be a junior at Kents Hill School in the fall, placed second among females and 19th overall at last summer’s Friends on the 4th. McKee is recovering from an injury and is leaning toward sitting out this year.

“I haven’t gotten started on my training as early as I would have liked,” she said.

For McKee, one of the best parts about the Friends on the 4th race is how it attracts runners of different skill levels.

“I loved how this road race brings out a ton of diversity — whether it’s people who are running their first 5K, or people who have run in 20 times,” she said.

Kimball is in first place in the Quarry Road Summer Race Series this season. She said that’s helped her feel “pretty good” about where she is heading into Friday’s race.

“I’ve run three of those races,” Kimball said. “I did the Sugarloaf 15K. So I’ve got a few races under my belt. That always makes me feel a little more confident.”

Lawrence High School grad Erzsie Nagy was last year’s top female finisher, completing the course in 18:28. Chase Brown was the top male, with a time of 16:20, followed by Seth Hasty in 16:59 and Jarrod Lenfest in 17:02.

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Matt Woolverton hopes to help make track and field a sport that doesn’t just peak in popularity during Olympic years before fading into the background. To that end, he’s joined two friends, Ben Ray and Troy Cochran, in starting the Up N’Running Sports Camp at Twin Brooks in Cumberland.

“All three of us love track and field and cross country,” said Woolverton, who will be a senior at Greely High School in Cumberland in the fall. “We were talking and decided we need to find a way to make track and field more popular.”

The trio decided to host a day camp for students interested in learning about track and field who are entering grades 6 through 8. The first of two planned sessions is set for July 21-25 at Twin Brooks.

“How ever many (campers) we get will be great,” Woolverton said.

Woolverton said the camp will combine team games with running to make the sport more fun for athletes unfamiliar with the events. Between Woolverton, a sprinter, Ray, a pole vaulter, and Cochran, a distance runner, they group has just about everything covered.

The cost of the camp is $75 for a resident of the Greely school district and $85 for a non-resident.

Woolverton said he hopes the camp inspires a commitment to fitness as well as a love of track and field.

“I personally started track in high school, and it changed my life entirely,” Woolverton said.

Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this report.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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