Ruth White battles with Anna Robinson during the first mile of the seeded girls race at the Festival of Champions on Oct. 1, 2022, at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, Maine. Credit: Adam Robinson / BDN

BELFAST, Maine — Ruth White broke the Festival of Champions meet and course record last year at Troy Howard Middle School, and stood on the starting line of Saturday’s competition with the goal of breaking it again.

As fans and coaches yelled White’s time to her while she came up the final hill before the downhill straightaway into the finish, the Orono junior knew how hard she had to kick to break the record again.

White broke her record with a winning time of 17:27.15, 1.31 seconds faster than her blistering run a year ago.

“I knew I was close with each mile and kilometer split,” White said. “But then coming up from about 400 meters to the end, every couple seconds someone would yell my time so that helped.”

White battled with runner-up finisher Anna Robinson of Royals Track Club of Nova Scotia (18:05) for the first mile and that helped set White’s pace for the rest of the competition.

“I have obviously never raced her before so I didn’t know how fast she was going to go,” White said. “It pushed me because I didn’t know who would take the lead.”

White soon took over the lead and extended it throughout the race.

“I felt really fresh in the warm up,” White added. “During the race I didn’t feel perfect but you’re not going to feel great in a race. I felt as good as a race could.”

In third place was Cary Drake of York (18:27), followed by Amelia Vandongen of Mount Desert Island (18:37) and Bonny Eagle’s Addy Thibodeau (18:38).

Thibodeau helped the Scots to a team title, as Bonny Eagle finished with 80 points. Following Bonny Eagle was Cumberland High School in second place (100 points) and Orono (195).

The Scots’ win almost didn’t happen as Thibodeau fell at the start and had to start from the very back of the race.

“Our number one runner went down and got trampled,” Bonny Eagle coach Mike Burleson said. “She went down three times and got spit out the back but I couldn’t be more proud of Addy Thibodeau. She was in last place and worked all the way back into fifth. We can hang our hat on that race alone, but really our entire varsity race was great.”

Bonny Eagle has some young runners this year and had to replace last year’s Class A champion Delaney Hesler but the team’s goal this year was to still win.

“We lost some pretty big names and top runners but we have a group that bought in back in June,” Burleson said. “We had our sights pretty high since June and we wanted to win. We knew we could be up front in this race and we could battle with anyone.”

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Adam Robinson

Adam Robinson is a native of Auburn, Maine, and graduate of Husson University and Edward Little High School. He enjoys sports, going on runs and video games.