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Main Street Mile returning to Westminster — but good luck beating its all-time records

The starting gun will fire once again on April 10, when the Main Street Mile will take the same path through downtown Westminster for the 38th year running.

“We start at the top of Main Street right by Colonial Ave., then it’s all downhill,” said Sandy Matthias, race director and vice president of the Westminster Road Runners Club, which organizes the race. “We finish right in front of the library.”

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The race will begin at 7 p.m. and will be divided into two heats, according to Matthias, beginning with a timed heat that will be scored and include awards for age-group and overall winners.

“Those runners, they are usually our pretty fast runners,” she said. “We usually say if you can run a mile in 10 minutes or less then you can do that one.”

The second heat is what the call the Connor Smith Memorial Fun Fun, a more casual, untimed race.

“That run is really like a run walk, so anyone else that wants to join in,” Matthias said. “We have a lot of the school age kids that do that, like the elementary school kids and parents with their kids.”

Registration for either heat is $7 per person, or $15 to include a race T-shirt, though Matthias noted that to guarantee yourself a T-shirt, you should register online — at runsignup.com/Race/MD/Westminster/wrrcMainStreetMile — no later than March 27. Otherwise, online registration will remain open until April 5.

Local schools with the highest number of registrants in either heat will win an award, according to Matthias, and there will be something for all who participate in either heat.

“At the finish line everyone gets a medal, a finisher’s medal,” she said. “Then we head back to the the Westminster Family Center, in the gym, and serve ice cream sandwiches and do the awards there.”

The race will be held rain or shine, with only lightning a consideration for cancellation, according to Matthias.

“We’ve had rain. We had snow one year, light snow,” she said. “We’ve had a little bit of everything.”

One thing the race has not had in years? Anyone threatening to break the course records. Maria Pazarentzos set the record for women in 1987, with a 4:32.9 mile, while Todd Ashley set the record for the men in 1988 with a time of 3:54.6.

“Which is pretty amazing when you think back to the ’80s, when we didn’t have fancy shoes of fancy clothes,” Matthias said. “They just had shorts and tube socks probably.”

Matthias has lost count of how many years she has been the race director, and no one has really come close those times set in the ’80s.

“It’s funny because I am always waiting and watching the clock and it’s getting closer. And when they get to Longwell Avenue I think, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy is going to beat it!’ ” she said. “But then by the time he gets there it’s been four minutes.”

But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been plenty of personal triumphs over the clock.

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“The best part is watching the kids,” Matthias said. “There are younger kids that come across at the six minute mile, and just to see their face, ‘Wow! I can’t believe I did that!’ ”

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