High school distance running teams throughout the state will get a close look at one another the morning and afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 2 in Belfast as the ninth annual Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions again will take the city by storm.

Sixty-six high schools and roughly 1,300 competitors will take part in the event at Troy Howard Middle School, which has a 3.1-mile course that features wide paths, several short and steep hills and a slight downhill for a fast finish. The race begins on the THMS football field.

Among the local schools expected to have runners at the meet are Medomak Valley, Rockland, Camden Hills, Mount View of Thorndike, North Haven, Islesboro, Searsport and host Belfast.

The races also will be advantageous to the multitude of runners, as the same course will be used for this year’s Eastern Class B championship meet and the state Class B championship meet.

The Festival of Champions event is co-hosted by Belfast Area High School and Brewer High School.

There will be six races Saturday: Freshman girls, freshman boys, unseeded boys, unseeded girls, seeded boys and seeded girls. The first race (unseeded boys) is set to begin at 11:20 a.m., while the final race of the day (seeded girls) will begin at 2:50 p.m.

Teams participating in the meet include Bangor, Belfast, Bonny Eagle of Standish, Boothbay Region, Brewer, Brunswick, Bucksport, Camden Hills, Cape Elizabeth, Caribou, Cheverus of Portland, Cony of Augusta, Edward Little of Saco, Ellsworth, Falmouth, Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft, George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill, Gorham, Gould Academy of Bethel, Greater Houlton Christian, Hall-Dale of Farmingdale, Hampden Academy, Hermon, Jay, John Bapst of Bangor, Kennebunk, Kents Hill, Lawrence of Fairfield, Leavitt of Turner, Lewiston, Lincoln Academy of Newcastle, Lisbon, Madison, Maranacook of Readfield, Marshwood of Eliot, Massabesic of Waterboro, Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Catherine McAuley of Portland, Medomak Valley, Messalonskee of Oakland, Monmouth Academy, Mount Blue of Farmington, Mount Desert Island, Mount View of Thorndike, North Haven, Oak Hill of Sabattus, Old Town, Orono, Oxford Hills of South Paris, Presque Isle, Rockland, Sanford, Scarborough, Schenck of East Millinocket, Sumner of East Sullivan, Telstar of Bethel, Waterville, Waynflete of Portland, Winslow, Winthrop and Yarmouth.

Also participating in the meet from out of state are Canton (Conn.) and Dr. J.H. Gillis (Nova Scotia).

VillageSoup sports staff can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at sports@villagesoup.com.