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TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K: 'You don't need to be first, you just need to finish'

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TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K: 'You don't need to be first, you just need to finish'

CAPE ELIZABETH — If Jim Croft is anything, he's determined.

He set a goal to finish the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K on Aug. 6 and nothing could stop him.

Not the heat and humidity. Not a kidney infection.

And certainly not the fact he was dead last.

Two hours, 32 minutes and 10 seconds after he left the starting line near Crescent Beach, Croft finished the 6.2-mile race. He was the 5,875th runner to cross the finish line at Fort Williams Park.

"There was one photographer standing there, but there were no other people," he said. "They'd taken down the water tanks and were wrapping it up."

But it didn't matter. He had reached his goal.

"I put one foot in front of the other and crossed the line," Croft, 62, said Wednesday.

A decision to live a more healthy lifestyle led to Croft's decision to participate.

As a way to prepare for his son's wedding, Croft's family decided to start eating better and getting more exercise, he said. So in January, he began a walking regimen at the Maine Mall and was soon up to three miles.

When it was time to think about registering for the Beach to Beacon, he said his family decided to participate together. But of the six members, only Croft and one daughter got in.

Although he said he had never given any previous thought to running the race, he was determined to finish.

On race day, the Stonegate Road resident started so far back in the pack that 7 minutes 27 seconds passed before he reached the starting line. By the time he got to the first mile marker, he said, the water station was packed up and gone. From that point on, Croft was without water.

And even though he technically came in last, he noted that nearly 1,000 people were unaccounted for – they either didn't show up or just didn't finish.

"My goal was just to walk the race and finish," he said.

Before he reached the Inn by the Sea on Route 77, Croft said, a lot of his fellow walkers were dropping out. Until the Town Center there was a group of women behind him, but then they dropped out, too.

"It's kind of like being in a college course that is graded on a curve," Croft said. "Through most of the race I'm doing fine – I'm not the last one. Then all of a sudden I turned around and it's like – what happened to everybody?"

About mile four, he said, he knew he was last. From that point on he had a police escort.

He said his determination got him to the finish line, but having the support of his family gave him additional inspiration.

"When I crossed the finish line, I raised my arms," he said.

Croft said he may not compete in any road races in the near future, but he said he will continue to walk between two and three miles a day, six days a week.

Since January, he has lost 30 pounds, lowered his blood pressure – and finished a world-class road race studded with elite runners.

"It was something I set out to do and I did it," he said. "And if you can share it with your family, it's even better."

He also has advice for people looking to challenge themselves to try something new: "Try it."

"Since I've been walking at my leisure, I realize you see a lot more beauty around you," Croft said. "You've got to smell the roses once in a while – you don't need to be first, you just need to finish."

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.