Maine runners steal show at Beach to Beacon
CAPE ELIZABETH — The 12th running of the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K will long be remembered for the performance of Maine runners.
While Kenyans swept the top spot on a warm day, North Yarmouth's Ben True shattered the existing record while cruising to a win in the Maine men's division (he was 10th overall with a time of 29 minutes, 10 seconds), while Falmouth's Sheri Piers also set a new mark while coming in first in the Maine women's division (and placing 10th in her gender, 34:17).
"It was a fantastic day, a really special one from a lot of different perspectives," said race president Dave Weatherbie, of Cape Elizabeth, who was an impressive 84th himself (34:46). "I heard from so many people afterwards about how impressed they were with the course set-up, the plentiful water stops and the enthusiastic crowds picking them up along the way. Then, you see the course records falling and these incredible performances. It was another great experience for all involved. The sun was shining today in so many ways."
In all, 5,624 runners completed the course. The overall winner, for the second year in a row, was Kenya's Ed Muge (28:05). Muge held off a challenge from countryman Boaz Cheboiywo to win by four seconds. Three-time champion Gilbert Okari, of Kenya, came in fourth (28:22).
On the women's side, Kenya's Irene Limika was first with a time of 32:06 (which left her 24th overall). She defeated Ethiopia's Nadia Ejjafinia by seven seconds.
Ultimately, True and Piers stole the show.
True, the former Greely High and Dartmouth College standout, who plans to embark on a professional running career with the Oregon Track Club Elite, repeated as Maine champ and did so with his mind-boggling time, which was nearly a minute-and-a-half faster than the former record, set by South Portland's Eric Giddings.
Mixing it up with the pack of mostly Africans produced a record that is likely to stand for many years.
"I wanted to go out and hang on to the back of them," True said. "I knew a few guys would start coming back throughout the race. I just wanted to get myself in position so when they started breaking off the pack and started to string out, that I'd be able to move up.
"I did that a little bit. I wish I had run a little faster and was a little further off the pack, but that's racing. I didn't bring my best race, but it was a good effort."
Former Portland High star Sintayehu Taye, 19, was second among Maine men (31:32). Falmouth's Jon Wilson was third (31:39).
Scarborough's Robert Hall won the men's 14-and-under division (36:53). Freeport's Ethan Hemphill was tops in the men's 35-39 division (32:33).
Piers, 38, was second in the Maine women's division in 2008, but moved up this time around and broke Kristin Barry's record by 20 seconds.
The fast, early pace contributed to a moment of doubt midway through the race.
"The demons entered my head a little bit, but you go, 'you know what, today is the day you're going to hurt,'" Piers said. "You have to shut them down right away because it is such a short race."
Brunswick's Susannah Beck, 41, came in second (35:31) and won the women's Masters race in the process. Barry, of Scarborough, came in third (36:03). South Portland's Carry Buterbaugh, 37, finished fourth (37:14).
Brunswick's Katie McMahon won the women's 14-and-under division (42:54). Portland's Heather Moore Wood was first in the women's 35-39 division (40:20). Marjorie Haney, also of Portland, was the fastest in the women's 40-44 division (40:58). Portland's Diane True won the women's 55-59 division (44:53). Portland's Gretchen Read was first in the women's 65-69 division (47:23).
Other winners included Kenya's James Koskie in the men's Masters division (30:01), Tony Nogueira of Glen Ridge, N.J., in the men's wheelchair (23:34) and Jacqui Kapinowski of Point Pleasant, N.J., in the women's wheelchair (42:33).
Scarborough's Jeanne Hackett, 50, won the women's Senior division (39:39).
The race benefited Maine Handicapped Skiing, a non-profit organization that promotes year-round education and training for Maine children with physical disabilities.
Race founder Joan Benoit Samuleson was again on hand on the 25th anniversary summer of her triumph in the 1984 women's marathon at the Los Angeles Olympics.
"This race is all about these people who set goals, work hard and achieve by participating in this event," said Samuelson. "Watching these finishers today just gives me such a sense of pride and admiration. I really can't put it into words."
The 13th Beach to Beacon will be held Saturday, Aug.7, 2010.
Information from the Sun Journal was used in compiling this story
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com.