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13th TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K: A community event for world-class runners

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13th TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K: A community event for world-class runners

CAPE ELIZABETH — The TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K celebrated its 13th year on Saturday, Aug. 7, with perfect running conditions, new course records and the continued tradition of huge support from the local community.

Of the 6,000 people registered for the race this year, 76 percent were from Maine and 12 percent were from Cape Elizabeth, race director Dave McGillivray said.

Over the past 13 years more than 50,000 runners have crossed the finish line and TD Bank has given more than $400,000 to the community, said Larry Wold, president of TD Bank in Maine, who completed the race for the 13th time Saturday in 40:08, placing him in the top 6 percent.

This year's race beneficiary was Junior Achievement of Maine, which received a $30,000 cash donation from the TD Bank Charitable Foundation. JA of Maine has had a long relationship with TD Bank, with many members of the bank serving on its board and contributing to its programs.

"Having this money will allow us to reach even more students and teach them about financial literacy," Melissa Bourque, president of Junior Achievement of Maine, said.

"The singularly most important factor to the success of the event is having the community's support," Wold said.

Founder Joan Benoit Samuelson and race President David Weatherbie echoed Wold's sentiments about the community.

"Over 2,000 residents from Cape Elizabeth are directly involved with the race," Weatherbie said. "These folks open their homes and continue to enthusiastically support this race year after year."

It was quite a race the community supported this year, with a sprint finish on the men's side between winner Gebre Gebremariam – known as G.G. – 25, of Ethiopia, (27:40), second-place finisher Alan Kiprono (27:42), and fellow Kenyans Wilson Chebet, 25, (27:45) and Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet, 23, (27:51). The group battled throughout the course before G.G. took the lead in Mile 5 and ended with a sprinter’s kick to the finish line in Fort Williams Park.

Ed Muge, 27, of Kenya, the two-time defending champion, ran a nearly identical time as in 2009, 28:08, but finished fifth.

"I am very happy," G.G. said. "I am very lucky, it's my first time coming here and I'm number one."

Ben True, the previous two-time Maine Resident champion finished 12th (29:09) as the first American finisher, but since he now trains in Oregon, the Maine title when to Patrick Tarpy, 28, of Yarmouth, who finished with a time of 29:28, 21st overall.

The Kenyan-Ethiopian rivalry continued on the women's side with a new course record set by the top two women's finishers: Lineth Chepkurui, 22, of Kenya, and Wude Ayalew, 23, of Ehtiopia.

Both runners broke the previous course record and Chepkurui, who finished at 30:59, became the first woman to run a sub-31 10K in Maine, cutting 26 seconds off the previous course record. Ayalew finished second (31:07), Edna Kipligat, 30, of Kenya took third (31:33) and defending champion Irene Limika, 30, of Kenya, finished fourth (33:06).

Sheri Piers, 39, of Falmouth, and Kristin Barry, 36, of Scarborough, crossed the finish line holding hands. Friends and training partners, the pair have dueled for the Maine title over the past few years.

Barry beat Piers in 2008 and set a new course record, while the next year with Barry absent Piers broke her course record and claimed the title. This year Barry (34:34.9) edged out Piers (34:35.2) to regain the Maine woman's title.

"I want to thank everyone here for being cheerful all along the way. I am so grateful," Chepkurui said. "The family who is hosting me contributed to my win today by taking care of me."

Hosting elite runners is just one of the ways locals can volunteer with the race.

Maya Cohen, the volunteer coordinator, said there were 639 volunteers covering 738 jobs this year, citing the race falling later on the calendar this year as one possible reason for the smaller numbers of volunteers than in the past.

The 738 jobs ranged from preparing food, working the foot and medical tents, the shuttles and parking lots and recycling all the bottles to make the race as green as possible.

"We have one of the best host family programs in the country," Cohen said.

More than 25 Cape Elizabeth families host elite runners for the race.

"Most runners really like it. They've formed relationships with the families," Cohen said, adding that "one runner actually went to the kids fun run to support his host family."

The host families celebrated their successful tradition the Wednesday night before race day at the Poole family home in Cape Elizabeth.

"The party started eight or nine years ago as a small barbeque and this year close to 300 people came," Cohen said. "It gets people excited for the week and it's a way for us to say thank you."

The Poole family has been hosting the event for a couple of years now, as well as a party for volunteers the night after the race.

"The organization is so well run, they really do everything" Charlie Poole, 56, of Yarmouth, said. "It's great to be able to host it. It's a great group to work with."

Hosting the two parties isn't all the Poole family does with the race. Ten members of the family participated in the race this year: Jonathan, 20, led the pack with a time of 39:28, while Victoria Poole, 82, closed for the group at 1:46:46.

Someone from the family has run since the beginning of the race 13 years ago, Poole said.

Also a part of the race since its first year is Gina D'Angelo, a registered nurse from Cape Elizabeth. She volunteers in the medical tent, spearheaded by Dr. Mylan Cohen, also of Cape Elizabeth, who joined the TD Bank Beach to Beacon team in its third year.

Cohen and his wife, the volunteer coordinator, got involved by chance when they moved into the house formerly owned by race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson's grandmother. There was no way the family couldn't get involved, Cohen said; they hosted an elite runner the next year and Dr. Cohen worked in the medical tent.

Now the medical director, Cohen also serves on the operations committee, along with D'Angelo. They meet once a month almost the entire year.

More than 102 volunteers work on the medical staff, including physicians, nurses, podiatrists, physical therapists, EMTs and non-medical workers who help fill ice tubs, disperse supplies and work as scribes and security.

"The whole town comes out for it," D'Angelo said. "Once (volunteers) come, they come every year."

"It's nice being part of a really great community event," Dr. Cohen said.

On Saturday, the medical staff handed out ice, water and towels to runners as they crossed the finish line.

While there were some old traditions at the finish line, such as the Cape Elizabeth football team, which runs the race together, finishing around 1:19 this year, there were also some new faces behind the scenes, including Cameron Deiley.

Deiley, 11, of South Portland, volunteered at his first TD Bank Beach to Beacon this year.

"My dad has been doing it for four years. I thought I'd do it today and will be doing it for years to come," Deiley said.

Deiley worked at the information tent and helped direct runners and spectators. When asked if he would ever run the race, Deiley said, "maybe in a couple years."

"Cape Elizabeth, you show your true colors every year for this," Samuelson said at a pre-race press conference Friday, Aug. 6.

"It wasn't designed to be a race," Wold said. "It was designed to give back to the community and has become a world class event because of that."

Victoria Fischman is The Forecaster news intern.

Photo: Michael Barriault / For The Forecaster
Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia, winner of the 2010 TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K, stands at the podium during the awards ceremony in front of Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth on Saturday, Aug. 7.