CAPE ELIZABETH — Saturday’s TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race has 813 volunteers, the most ever.
But only two of them, Bob and Betty Crane, have been there every year since the race was first run in 1997.
“The race has become so popular,” Betty Crane, 89, said. “People want to take part in it.”
Bob, 94, and Betty, who have lived in Cape Elizabeth since the 1950s, said volunteering is a great way to get involved for people who aren’t among the 6,400 runners.
The couple first decided to volunteer for the race because they’ve known Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, the race founder, since she was a child. The Cranes said they used to go skiing with Samuelson’s family.
Betty said she was on the Fort Williams Advisory Commission when Samuelson consulted her on whether the town would even allow the race.
Samuelson on Wednesday said the volunteers are very important to how the race functions.
“They mean everything and more,” she said. “They’re how and why this event can happen.”
Samuelson said the number of volunteers “tells a great story” about why the race has become so successful. She said they make everything run smoothly.
“Our volunteers are well worth their weight in gold,” Samuelson said.
Maya Cohen, the race volunteer coordinator, said there are usually has about 750 volunteers.
“There’s a lot more this year,” she said Wednesday. “In the last 72 hours there’s been an uptick in people who have signed up to volunteer.”
She said people just enjoy helping out.
“I think in general people want to be more involved with events like Beach to Beacon,” Cohen said. “I think the drive is that it’s really a great community event.”
Bob Crane said love of the community is why he and his wife volunteer.
“We just feel a lot about the people of Cape Elizabeth and that translated into great feelings about the community,” he said.
Bob said he’s glad the town gets the attention it does for the race.
“It puts Cape Elizabeth on the national map, which is kind of stimulating because we’re such a little town,” he said.
Bob also said volunteering for the race allows him to express how he feels about the town.
“We’re extremely proud of the town and it feels great to (volunteer),” he said.
When the Cranes first volunteered, they handed out water bottles to runners along the course from Crescent Beach to Fort Williams. They’ve also worked in the food tent on race day, and now help manage the Kids Fun Run the day before the race.
They said there’s one thing, however, they’ve enjoyed the most.
“What we really enjoy a lot, which we’ve done more recently, is work in registration,” Bob said.
The Cranes said helping runners get registered in the days before the race is enjoyable for them because they get to meet a lot of different people.
Cohen said she and the other volunteers look forward to seeing the Cranes at the event each year.
“They’re people who are energetic and really have a great time doing what they do,” she said.
The Cranes, who received the race’s annual Volunteer of the Year Award when it was first presented, said they want to continue volunteering for as long as they can. They said they never want to miss a chance to lend their time.
“We leave the date open every year,” Bob said.
Cape Elizabeth residents Bob and Betty Crane have volunteered for the TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race every year since the race originated in 1997.
Volunteers Mike Didonato, left, and Matt Tobin paint the start line of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race Tuesday, July 28, on Route 77 in Cape Elizabeth, near the entrance to Crescent Beach State Park.
Several streets and areas in Cape Elizabeth will be closed at various times for the 18th annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K on Saturday, Aug. 1:
• Route 77, Sprague Hall to Kettle Cove Road, 6-10 a.m.
• Route 77, Kettle Cove Road to Old Ocean House Road, 7:30-10 a.m.
• Crescent Beach State Park, 7:30-8:30 a.m.
• Route 77, at Hillway, 7:30-10 a.m.
• Old Ocean House Road, 7:30-10 a.m.
• Shore Road south of Fort Williams, 7:30-11:00 a.m.
• All of Fowler Road (except shuttle buses), 7:15-10 a.m.
• Scott Dyer Road eastbound, 6:45-8:00 a.m.