Cape Elizabeth teacher drives, runs, embodies TD Beach to Beacon 10K

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Joe Doane radiated energy as he sent every person who stepped off his school bus last Saturday morning a wish for good luck.

Doane had been awake since 4:15 a.m. and had been shuttling runners to the start line of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race since 6:30. After the last person stepped off, he parked the bus, got out, and attached bib No. 1322 to his shirt.

“A quick stretch and a jog to the start line, and I go,” he said Aug. 6.

The 56-year-old Cape Elizabeth resident and teacher doesn’t just drive other runners to the start line – he drives himself there, too.

“I was a little nervous at first because it’s a lot to do,” he said. “It’s very stressful to get everyone to the starting line and then to get ready for my own race.”

For 15 years, Doane has been shuttling runners to the start line, running the race, and then driving runners from the finish line back to their cars.

“If I had to describe him in one word, it would be machine,” Doane’s 23-year-old son Joey said as he sat behind his father on the shuttle. “I’ve never seen anyone else who can do so many things on so little sleep and act like nothing happened. He’s one of a kind.”

In addition to his annual commitment to run and volunteer at the Beach to Beacon, Doane keeps a busy schedule. For 30 years, he’s been teaching sixth-grade math at Cape Elizabeth Middle School, where he coaches cross-country. He’s also been a lifeguard at Scarborough Beach for 34 years.

On Friday, Aug. 5, the day before the 19th annual race, the lifeguard captain sat at his post and surveyed the busy scene before him. He’d be there the day of the road race, too, for a five-hour shift and a required half-mile swim.

“It’s hard after the race, but it does loosen my legs,” Doane said.

Doing so many things is second nature to Doane, who said he was excited when first asked if he would volunteer to drive a shuttle bus for the race.

“They needed me and it seemed cool and I love doing it,” he said. “I’m from Cape so I like supporting the race and the runners.”

Doane, who got his commercial driver’s license specifically for the Beach to Beacon, is one of 40 volunteers who drive buses for the race, and one of 15 who is assigned to shuttle runners each year from Cape Elizabeth High School. Doane said he’s the only shuttle driver who runs the race.

Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, the creator of Beach to Beacon, is a family friend of Doane’s and said he is the “epitome” of a strong race volunteer.

“He’s just the quintessential Renaissance man,” Samuelson said. “He seems to do it all. The fact that he drives the shuttle and runs is the proof in the pudding.”

Driving the shuttle and running the race is hard work, Doane said, but he knows he’s not the only one who gets tired.

“I’d say the drive over is easier than the drive back,” he said. “The runners are fired up and ready to go, but afterwards they’re crawling up the stairs of the bus.”

Being so exhausted is worth it, Doane said, because he’s helping people and gets to interact with a lot of the runners. By his estimate, Doane shuttles a few hundred people each year.

“I love the people in Cape,” Doane said. “They’re like family.”

Family plays a large role in the Beach to Beacon for Doane. Every year he crosses the finish line with his sister Cathy Knudsen, of Falmouth, although this year he wasn’t able to catch up with her.

Knudsen waited for her brother after the race, though, as did Doane’s son, Joey.

“I think he is a wonderful, giving person, to the community, the schools, our family,” Knudsen said. “I’m always bragging about what he does, because he never does.”

Samuelson said the race is a big day for many families, including her own. Although she doesn’t run it anymore, her husband, two brothers, two children, and her son-in-law all ran this year.

“Any time you can bring a family together for a positive event like this, it’s a great thing,” she said.

Doane’s family members aren’t the only ones supporting him on race day. Many former and current students and their parents are there as runners and spectators.

Many of them ride Doane’s bus, which he said is nice because it allows them to stay in touch. As Doane finishes the race each year, many students swarm him, causing other spectators to wonder who he is.

“One year someone asked if I was Elvis,” Doane said.

Having so much support means a lot to Doane.

“It helps get me through the race because I don’t train for a 10K,” he said. “They get me through.”

After this year’s race, Doane said he felt great. He finished with a time of 54:11, which helped him achieve his goal: “Every year I try to beat my age,” he said.

As he headed back to his bus to pick up runners from Fort Williams Park, Doane was smiling from ear to ear.

“I thought it was the smartest race I’ve ever run,” he said. “It was my best year.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Cape Elizabeth’s Joe Doane gets up at 4:15 a.m. on race day to shuttle runners to the start of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K. Then he runs the race, too. (Dan D’Ippolito / For The Forecaster)

TD Beach to Beacon 10K runners on Aug. 6 arrived at the start line on a bus driven by fellow racer Joe Doane, a Cape Elizabeth resident and teacher who has been driving a shuttle bus and running the race for 15 years. (Dan D’Ippolito / For The Forecaster)

Family friend and TD Beach to Beacon 10K founder Joan Benoit Samuelson greets Joe Doane after he finished the race on Saturday, Aug. 6. (Dan D’Ippolito / For The Forecaster)

Joe Doane, 56, of Cape Elizabeth, achieved his goal of finishing the 2016 TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race with a time lower than his age when he finished in just over 54 minutes. (Dan D’Ippolito / For The Forecaster)

After shuttling runners to the start line of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K each year, Joe Doane runs the race and tries to catch up to his sister Cathy Knudsen, of Falmouth, so they can cross the finish line together. (Dan D’Ippolito / For The Forecaster)

Besides running and volunteering at the TD Beach to Beacon 10K each year, Joe Doane is also a teacher at Cape Elizabeth Middle School and the lifeguard captain at Scarborough Beach, where he had a five-hour shift after this year’s race. (Kate Gardner / The Forecaster)

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.