The No. 1 runners take off from the start at the annual Mt. Blue Relays on Friday in Farmington. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

The Mt. Blue Relays showcased not only Mt. Blue High School’s home course, but even more important, the essence of cross country running.

There were fast times, costumes, lots of laughs and an all-around cheerful atmosphere on Friday in Farmington. Teams from throughout the state, from Lincoln Academy to Bangor High School, competing in five-person relay teams made up of high school runners, coaches and parents, raced on the two-plus mile course in the apple orchards across the street from the high school. 

Mt. Ararat won the team competition with its fastest team of five finishing in 57 minutes, 25 second. Lincoln Academy placed second at 59:25, followed by Messalonskee at 61:27.

Mt. Blue runner Brynne Robbins takes a handoff from Kahryn Cullenberg during the Mt. Blue Relays on Friday in Farmington. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

For many, though, the relays are meant to be a fun time before the postseason races, which start with KVACs and MVCs next Saturday.

Mt. Blue senior runner Kahryn Cullenberg said the relays are an embodiment of the sport. 

“We don’t usually have a lot of support and not a lot of people pay attention to our cross country team from our school, so when we have this event it’s super exciting because it brings so many people to our course and so many people can see what we do,” Cullenberg said. “It’s such a good representation of our sport because it’s such a fun, positive race.”

Kahryn’s split for the two-mile course was 12:55. Along with the team competition, each runner had a split time of her or his own that are ranked after all of the races are completed.

Mt. Ararat’s Lisandro Berry-Gaviria ran a split of 10:24. His time was affected by a mistake Berry-Gaviria made before his anchor leg of the relay. 

“It felt pretty terrible,” Berry-Gaviria said. “At the handoff, I wasn’t there yet, I wasn’t ready. He had to wait for several seconds, I don’t know exactly how long, but I didn’t know he had gotten there yet. I was out doing a strider, so that was a pretty big blunder on my part. I think they’ll add the wasted time on my split.”

Messalonskee’s William McPherson, left, takes a handoff from Michael D’Amico during the Mt. Blue Relays on Friday in Farmington. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

The Mt. Ararat star said he ran faster than last year and that he should be ready to put up a fast time come KVACs next week. 

Calvin Dundore was the leadoff leg of one of Lewiston’s teams and said he also ran faster than last year. But Dundore, like many, said the relays are about the atmosphere. 

“It’s way fun, I love it,” Dundore said. “The environment here is fun and the race itself is fun. We did this for the first time last year and we knew we wanted to come back.”

For Mt. Blue coach Kelley Cullenberg, the relays always are a bright spot in the season.

“It’s homecoming for us and, generally, people don’t even know that there’s a cross country team that exists,” Cullenberg said. “But there were fans, football players, soccer players over here, grandparents, it’s just all in all a great event. I’m so thankful for the parents I have because I can’t tell you how many have volunteered.”


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