Jerry and Phoebe Levine, the founders of the Bridgton 4 on the 4th Road Race, started running for exercise in 1975 and conducted the first four-mile race in December 1977 from their farmhouse on Chadbourne Road. Twenty-eight runners ran this race and finished with hot cider in the Levine’s kitchen. By 1982, the race had grown to several hundred runners, and the Levines moved away from Bridgton. Loraine and Jay Spenciner became the Race Directors and directed the race through 2002 when it was turned over to David Fadden. In 2004, the current Race Committee assumed direction of the race. The Race Committee members are all volunteers, as are the approximately 100 other people who make the race possible.
Originally run on Chadbourne and Upper Ridge Roads, the race was first moved to begin at the Bridgton Highlands Golf Course and end at Highland Lake, but because of increasing numbers and the difficulty of transporting runners to the start line at the golf course, the race course was changed in the 1980s to begin and end in the downtown area and certified by the USATF (USA Track & Field).
From the beginning, proceeds of the race have benefited the Bridgton Public Library. Current 4 on the Fourth Corporation by-laws require 90% of the proceeds of the race to go to the Bridgton Public Library with the remaining 10% available to be disbursed either to the Library or to other deserving charitable organizations. Each year since 2007, the race proceeds distributed have exceeded $20,000.
The race continues to attract a growing and faithful group of runners – now approaching 2000 runners, the course limit – from more than 35 states and numerous foreign countries. In 2001, New England Runner magazine named the race New England’s top race. In 2010, the race was inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame.