At 41 years old and drawing nearly 11,000 runners, the New Balance Falmouth Road Race is one of the marquee events on the Bay State running calendar.
The day before the main event, the races at Falmouth High’s James Kalperis Track have become just as special.
Danvers’ Catalina Dominick was one of 10 girls from around Massachusetts invited to participate in the Tommy Cochary High School Mile, held Saturday. The mile included a boys and girls field, and the day also feature an elite mile and a competition for wheelchair athletes.
“It was one of the most fun times of my life,” said Dominick, who is heading into her junior year of cross country and track. “Every one there was really nice and we got trainers, spikes, uniforms and lots of other stuff. The whole atmosphere was awesome. I almost felt famous.”
The mile honors Tommy Cochary, a Falmouth runner who was killed in a drunk driving accident in 1990. The race was named in his honor in 2010 and first featured runners from Cape Cod; it was expanded state-wide after that and this year to apply, student-athletes were asked to write an essay about making good choices.
“I had received an email about it and the essay was about some decisions you’ve made and smart choices, things like that,” Dominick said. “It was an honor to be selected.”
Dominick ran 5:17 and finished third, with Stella Worters of Charlton winning in 5:14. The high school runners have been preparing for cross country, running longer distances away from the speed of the track, and took the pace relatively easily on Saturday.
“There was no stress. The race was all for fun and all the girls got that, we were having a good time together,” said Dominick. “We went out fairly slow and the last half everyone picked it up.”
The 5:17 was especially strong for Dominick because she hasn’t run many 1-mile races since her freshman year at Danvers High. She battled through injuries for much of last year and started feeling good towards the end of spring track, where she was second in the 2-mile at the Northeastern Conference championships and fourth at the All-State championship meet.
“I ran a 5:10 mile my freshman year but I’m pretty happy with the 5:17. I haven’t been doing much speed training because I’ve been training for cross country,” said Dominick, who also had a strong finish at the recent Beverly Homecoming. “It felt a little weird running for speed.”
Running in the Falmouth event was rewarding because of the size of the crowd and the energy a competitor naturally draws from the fans. The high school runners got to warm-up and cool down alongside the elite milers as well, which added to the event’s “big-time” feeling. The weather was also perfect for the runners — not too hot, cold or humid, Dominick said.
With a few short weeks left before the high school cross country season gets underway, the main goal for Dominick is to continue building strength for the fall.
“I feel like I’m finally healthy,” she said. “Most of my stuff got figured out over the winter and I really got to show a little of it at the end of spring track. My training has been great this summer.”