Lepage defends Casco Days Road Race title | THE BRIDGTON NEWS
CASCO | James Lepage is finding Casco to be just an “awesome” place to spend his summer.
Working as a counselor at Seeds of Peace for the second year, the Cumberland native has enjoyed experiences that will last him a lifetime.
“It’s awesome. The kids are incredible,” said Lepage, who will be a senior at Bates College in Lewiston this fall. “My older sister worked there and I had a chance to visit. I was blown away. At first, the kids are in a bit of shock as they meet ‘the other side.’ It’s awesome to watch the transformation. Day by day, they get a little closer and their guard comes down a little by little. It’s really powerful to see it happen.”
A political science major, Lepage says “Seeds” has opened up many doors for him. One, he hopes translates into a job once he graduates. And secondly, he now has developed friendships that span across the globe.
“I’ll always remember the relationships. Being in the bunks with 18 kids every day, you make a lot of new friends. With Facebook, I’ve been able to keep up with kids I met last year. I plan to make a trip to the ‘region’ at some point. I have 300 friends I can look up,” he said. “I not quite sure what I will do once I graduate. I’d like to work in (Washington) D.C. for a few years. Maybe work for Seeds in New York since I now know some people there.”
Lepage, 21, was certainly even more popular amongst Seeds campers and counselors after he claimed his second Casco Days Road Race title with a convincing victory in 20:53.
Lepage won the four-miler in 2011 with a time of 22:15.
“It was a little humid out there, but it was better than last year. Seeds of Peace is on this lake so I’ve run the course a lot. The second mile is all up hill and the third mile is all downhill, so I went after the second mile a little harder this year because I knew there was a built-in rest (Mile 3),” he said. “The biggest challenge is the last hill before the finish. It’s tough to get through because you know it’s near the end of the race and there’s a lot of people there watching you.”
Lepage was tested early by Tim Even, 23, of East Stoneham, who has been running quite well at area races. He claimed second place in 21:25. Like Lepage, Even, who has been training for the upcoming Beach to Beacon race in Cape Elizabeth, was a top-flight “track guy” in college, qualifying for Nationals as a member of the University of Southern Maine squad this spring.
“I was with Tim for the first mile or so, then I put on a little surge. He was probably 50 meters behind me for most of the race,” said Lepage, who knew Even from his high school days (Lepage ran at Greely, while Even was a member of the Fryeburg Academy cross-country and track teams). “This was my first race this summer, and probably the last. Beach to Beacon is this weekend, but I’m at camp.”
Although his focus has been on his counselor job at Seeds of Peace, Lepage has also logged many miles this summer as he prepares for his final collegiate running season. First up, he will compete on the Bates cross-country team, which has a lofty goal of again qualifying for the Nationals. Then, he will shift to the track for two seasons.
Admittedly, Lepage refers to himself as a “track guy” first.
“I’ve been running since second grade. I like the training. It’s a sport that the more you put in, the more you get out of it. Unlike other sports, there is a direct relationship between how you train and the fastest time you will run,” he said.
Like most runners, Lepage thoroughly enjoys the camaraderie that exists in the running community.
“The best part of running is the relationships you develop with other runners. During high school, I had a chance to meet a lot of guys, who I am still competing against. We’ll warm up together, and although we’re competitive when the race begins, it is really cool to talk to each other after the race,” he said. “A little moment of racing is intense, but we’re all friends after.”
How does a track guy transform himself to a long distance runner?
“I’m training for cross-country right now, so I was okay (today). If the race had been in May, it would have been a different story,” he said. “The biggest adjustment is putting in the miles. I’m doing 50 to 60 miles per week. The workouts are more about mile repeats than speed. This year for the college races, most of the courses are flat, which is interesting.”
Lepage was ecstatic regarding how Saturday’s race unfolded.
“It went exactly as I hoped it would — a lot faster than last year,” he said.
And for the record, Lepage can be a bit of a mystery man. If one looks at the time sheet for the 34th Annual Casco Days Road Race, one will find the name of “Dufresne Stagnatti” as the winner. Well, a little research on the Bates College athletic website found that Lepage decided to use his nickname (Stagnatti) as his race name.