Beach to Beacon runner in a class all her own

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Dottie Gray is the most seasoned runner at the TD Beach to Beacon 10K you’ve never heard of.

She runs more than 50 races a year, is a former world record holder for the 800-meter race and a national record holder for the 1,500-meters.

Gray also ran the fastest Beach to Beacon race of any person her age this year, even if she is the only runner with the distinction of living more than 87 years. 

“When I see the finish line I just really wanna go,” Gray said after running across the finish line in just over one hour and 40 minutes, Saturday, Aug. 4. “My goal was to finish and be standing. I feel good about this one.”

Gray has reason to feel good about the race as she finished well under the average time for her age group, according to USA Track and Field, the governing body for long-distance running.

A Shrewsbury, Mo. resident, Gray has run 13 out of the 15 Beach to Beacon races. She told her family last year that she was done running the Cape Elizabeth race, but came back this year because she couldn’t resist, she said.

“It’s a beautiful course; I just love it. It’s my favorite run,” she said. “This run is so great because there’s so many spectators.”

As a mother of six, Gray said she didn’t start running until she was in her mid-50s, when she ran at the Green Tree Festival in Missouri. She won first place in the 50-and-over age group.

“After she won that race, she got the bug,” her daughter, Mary Gray, said. “Now you just cross your fingers and hope it goes well, it doesn’t matter if you win.”

Because of her age, Gray was almost not allowed to run this year’s race, her daughter said. She had to petition race organizers, who eventually gave the OK.

Gray said she would like to see the age groups have more separation because she has to compete with people in their 70s. She thinks she has good chance of winning if they made the rules more fair, she said.

Although she lives more than 1,000 miles away, Gray said she comes to Cape Elizabeth not only to run the race, but to see her granddaughters, Helen and Roz Gray-Bauer, who also ran the Beach to Beacon.

Last year, Helen ran her first Beach to Beacon with her grandmother, but ended up running with her sister and friend this year.

But as much as Gray likes visiting Cape Elizabeth, she said she will stay in Missouri.

“Maine is great, but I don’t want to live here. It’s too cold,” she said.

Gray, who now has 12 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, said she doesn’t really get the ‘runner’s high’ that some people claim, but runs for her health.

“I enjoy running. It keeps me fit,” she said. “I just like to stay active.”

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.

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Runners stream out into the park from the finish line.

Sam Preston of Windham replenished his supply of ribbons just in time to place one on his dad, Mike Preston. Both were surprised and delighted to have met in this way following the rac, they said.

Misting tents were all the rage for runners and children alike. Benjamin and Zacharay Libby, of Turner, rush into the spray while Sasha Chipman and Ali McCarthy, of Gray emerge, refreshed, following their run.

Maine Sports Massage Team works throughout the day, giving 10 minute massages to each group, taking only a 5 minute break to change pads an prepare for the next .

Maine Sports Massage Team works throughout the day, giving 10 minute massages to each group, taking only a 5 minute break to change pads an prepare for the next . “We are very grateful for their efforts,” says Katie Harris, of Cumberland, is receiving massage from Kerstin Kirchner, of Scaroborough.

Spectators gather early for prime viewing location above the finish line; runners all pass this view as they leave the finish line.

Gabe Glass from York patiently waits for his grandmother, Mimi (Deb Trott of Portland) to show  up well before the runners emerge at the finish line. “He’s been coming to Beach to Beacon since he was one, and runs all the FunRuns too, says Mimi’s husband, Steve Trott.

Volunteer Debbie Allen from Cape Elizabeth hands out hundreds of water bottles to runners as they stream from the finish line.

Dottie Gray, 87, crosses the finish line at the 15th annual TD Beach to Beacon, Saturday, Aug.4. Gray was the only runner over 87 to run and finish the race.

 Dottie Gray, right, stands with race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson shortly after she crossed the finish line, Saturday, Aug. 4.

Dottie Gray, 87, stands with two of her granddaughters, Helen Gray-Bauer, right, and Roz Gray-Bauer, at Fort Williams Park after finishing the 15th annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race.

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