AUBURN — The L-A Triple Crown 5K series ended with the L-A Bridge Run on Aug. 27, but for Mike Lecompte and the committee that coordinates the popular events, planning never stops.
If you’re from Lewiston or Auburn, chances are you know Lecompte. The former longtime Auburn firefighter has a way of turning up in the spotlight for doing interesting things. He hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 2014, and before retiring he led Auburn firefighters in a massive stair-climb competition for charity.
The Lewiston native has been involved in putting together community road races since 1998, when he started the L-A Bridge Run. A decade later, he and others decided to combine efforts, creating the L-A Triple Crown 5K Series that has since gathered a massive local following.
For Lecompte and the rest of the triple crown committee, this year marked a milestone: it was the 10th anniversary of the series. Some of the 15-member committee has been involved since the beginning. Lecompte has been chairman for most years, except when he was hiking the Appalachian.
“We don’t do it for recognition, we do it because we know it’s something good for the community,” he said last week outside Bates College.
Lecompte, 56, retired as lieutenant in 2014 after 26 years with the Auburn Fire Department. He now works on the Bates groundskeeping team.
The Triple Crown races have grown in popularity. There are now more sponsors, more runners and, according to Lecompte, more talented athletes taking notice of the events. Two course records were set this year, and recognizing the increased competition, the committee has put together a number of cash prizes for contestants.
“People get hooked on it,” he said.
He said he’s talked to many people who have never run a race, but try a local race for the community aspect. He said people stick with it, and that it can turn people’s health around.
“To me, I see that, and that’s all I need,” he said, about volunteering.
Ralph Fletcher, a committee member and founder of Emily’s Run, said he met Lecompte after starting the race, and the pair became good friends after the decision was made to join forces and create the Triple Crown.
Over the years, Fletcher said, it’s truly become a community event. He said prior to creating the Triple Crown, they were happy to get a couple hundred participants. Now, it would be a surprise to get less than 500 to 600 people in each race.
Fletcher hosts committee meetings at his house (he has a man cave), and rents a box truck on race days to pick up and distribute items such as tables and chairs. The 15-member committee is all-volunteer, and there are another set of volunteers on race day.
Fletcher and Lecompte said you don’t think about all the things that go into a race until you try to organize one. Somone has to coordinate with local police about road closures, another has to focus on gaining sponsors. Lecompte said a newer committee member with a background in graphic design has been creating logos and ads for the series. Others focus on course logistics.
“There’s always a glitch in every race, but generally it’s not recognized,” Fletcher said laughing.
The races also get recognition from local officials, many of whom take part in them or promote them. Mayor Jonathan LaBonte runs each race, as does city councilor and mayoral candidate Adam Lee.
When LaBonte announced he would not seek another term this year, the Sun Journal asked whether he had plans to run for any other elected office. LaBonte responded that the only running plans he had were to run in the Emily’s Run 5K on July 23, the second leg of the L-A Triple Crown.
Lee has also served on the triple crown committee, and was chairman in the year when Lecompte was on the Appalachian Trail.
“The Triple Crown 5K series represents all of what makes Lewiston-Auburn a wonderful place to live: volunteerism, community spirit, civic participation, charity and healthy competition,” Lee said Friday. “It would not occur without the tireless and selfless work of the committee, and Mike Lecompte is the glue that holds that committee and the series together.”
Fletcher said Lecompte is the “go-to guy” for organizing races. He’s the one who coordinates the operation, and is “really, really good at it.”
“It’s his demeanor and the fact that he’s been doing it so long,” Fletcher said. “He’s just a good guy.”
Lecompte was also part of the planning committee for the Bands on the Run Half Marathon & 5K in 2012-13, which benefited Museum L-A.
“We’re more than thrilled to do our civic duty, and give back to the community,” Fletcher said.
While Lecompte wants to remain on the committee — and continue running the races — he’d like to step down from being chairman next year.
“I’m not worried about it, it’s too good of an event,” he said. “It pulls the community together.”
Know someone with a deep well of unlimited public spirit? Someone who gives of their time to make their community a better place? Then nominate them for Kudos. Send their name and the place where they do their good deeds to reporter Andrew Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do the rest.