NEWBURYPORT — Familiarity doesn’t always breed success.
Nearly 600 runners showed up for the 25th Annual High Street Mile yesterday, but it was a pair of first-timers in the event who took home first place honors in the men’s open and women’s open divisions.
Allston’s Steve Mangan captured first place in the men’s division with a time of 4:11.7, while Brighton’s Morgan Uceny turned in a first-place time of 4:43.0 as both runners were competing in the High Street Mile for the very first time.
“This is my first year. My teammate Katie Matthews is from the area and has run it before, so she recommended it,” said the 30-year-old Uceny. “It’s beautiful. I think road races have a great atmosphere. There’s a lot of people competing, but also a lot of people spectating so it makes it fun.”
Mangan ran cross-country and track at Dartmouth College and is a big fan of running mile road races despite the fact that there aren’t many of them around. So the High Street Mile was a perfect event for the 23-year-old.
“It’s the first time I’ve done it and it’s a really good turnout,” said Mangan. “You never know what you’re going to get with these little road races in towns, but having three different heats with that many people, it’s a fun atmosphere. It’s good to just come out and run hard.”
Neither the women’s open nor the men’s open races were very close as both Mangan and Uceny crossed the finish line with no one nipping at their heels. But the under-16 division was a different story as a pair of Newburyport boys put on quite a show.
Heading into the final stretch, 15-year-old Cameron Leonard had a little breathing room ahead of Josh Molvar before Molvar turned on the boosters and started to chase Leonard down. Molvar nearly closed the gap, but Leonard was able to fend him off to win the division with a time of 4:50.5 with Molvar finishing just a few hundredths of a second behind.
“I knew he (Molvar) was coming because I’d taken a couple looks back, but I was confident I would be able to hold on until the finish,” said Leonard, who won his first High Street Mile. “It’s kind of like a dream come true because I’ve been running this race for years and never thought I’d be finishing first.”