Another great day and race at Beach to Beacon
Once again, Maine's most famous road race surpassed the advance hype.
The 13th annual running of the TD Bank Beach to Beach 10K road race Saturday featured comfortable conditions, another huge crowd and yet another series of stellar times.
“It really was a fantastic day,” said race president Dave Weatherbie, who also competed and came in 131st (with a time of 35 minutes, 41 seconds). “We were very fortunate with the weather. We haven't had weather like that since 1999. It was a catalyst for the fast times. There were 23 Maine men who broke 33 minutes. That's unbelievable. We'd never had that."
As expected, the elite African runners did their thing, while local runners also dazzled.
The biggest news came on the women's side where Lineth Chepkurui, of Kenya, not only finished first, but set a new course record with a time of 30 minutes, 59.4 seconds.
"Everyone was fast, all of my colleagues contributed to the course record today," Chipkurui said. "Everyone pushed it from the start."
"We knew (Lineth) had won everything coming in," said Weatherbie. "She ran extremely well."
The overall winner was Ethiopia's Gebre Gebremariam, who posted a time of 27:40.4.
"Everyone felt (Gebre) was the favorite," Weatherbie said. "He acted a little disappointed the pace wasn't quicker. He wanted the course record."
From a Maine perspective, Yarmouth's Pat Tarpy and Scarborough's Kristin Barry stole the show.
Tarpy won the Maine men's championship with a time of 29:27.6, placing him 15th overall, three spots behind former Greely High and Dartmouth College standout and last year's Maine men's champ, Ben True (29:01.6), who now lives in New Hampshire.
Tarpy hit the finish line a full minute ahead of Phil Richert of Bar Harbor.
"The good thing about having other categories and so many good runners is I could run with them, too," Tarpy said. "I ran with (True) for a while before he pulled away. A Maine runner living out of state has run faster than I have for the last several years anyway. It'd be nice if we could beat those professional runners one of these days. Maybe next year."
"We all knew Pat wouldn't be seriously challenged," said Weatherbie. "He ran a great race considering he works full-time."
Falmouth's Ethan Shaw was the fourth-fastest Mainer (31:14.5).
Barry edged Falmouth's Sheri Piers (the two held hands crossing the finish line) for the Maine women's crown (Barry's time was 34:34.9, while Piers finished in 34:35.2).
"We ran together the whole way, and then just after Mile 6, she started to get out front a bit and I said to myself, 'Either I'm just going to tank this or I'm going to try and stay with her,'" Piers said, "I heard her yell, 'Come on!' It was everything I could to catch up."
"We weren't really focusing on the overall race really," Barry said. "We were more focused on a nice, clean, 5:30 pace, and that's what we did."
Former Scarborough High School standout Erica Jesseman, now running for the University of New Hampshire, placed third among Maine women (35:48.6). South Portland's Carry Buterbaugh had the fourth-fastest Maine women's time (37:52.2).
Falmouth's Michael Payson had the fastest Maine time in the Masters division (33:36.8). Yarmouth's Byrne Decker was next (33:56.1).
Falmouth's Mary Pardi had the third-fastest Maine time in the Masters division (39:37.9).
Other winners included Randy St. Hilaire in the Maine men's masters' division, James Koskei in the men's masters, Christine Reaser in the women's masters, Norm Larson in the men's senior division and Jeanne Hackett of Scarborough in the women's senior division.
Craig Blanchette, a nationally recognized and well-decorated wheelchair racer, placed first in the wheelchair division. The Battle Ground, Wash., racer crossed in 24:12 to earn the victory in his first trip to the race. Former wheelchair champ Patrick Doak of Massachusetts placed second in that division. Catherine Jalbert of Brewer took top honors in the women's wheelchair division.
South Portland's Shannon Conley had the fastest time in the female 14-and-under division (44:18.4). Cape Elizabeth's Emily Attwood was tops in the female 15-to-19 division (38:41.9). Portland's Gretchen Read took the female 65-69 age group (47:05.9). Scarborough's Polly Kenniston was first in the female 70-74 division (58:17.5). Cape Elizabeth's Terri Morris won the female over-80 age group (1 hour, 20 minutes, 54.8 seconds). Portland's William Hamilton was the men's over-80 division winner (1:11:12.8).
Other local finishers of note included former Falmouth High standout (now a resident of the other Portland, in Oregon) Kirby Davis (21st, 30:23), Freeport High assistant coach Josh Zolla (31st, 31:34), former Morse standout Jason Kaake (41st, 32:19), Brunswick High star Will Geoghegan (42nd, 32:20), former NYA star Henry Sterling (74th, 33:55), Freeport's Anders Samuelson, son of 1984 Olympic gold medalist and race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson (81st, 34:04) and Bill Mariski, who had the top time of any runner from the city of Portland (96th, 34:29).
In all, 5,669 runners finished the course (out of a field of 6,000). They hailed from 17 countries and 41 states.
"It's great to see the elite athletes at the finish line, but the real inspiring stories are towards the end," Joan Benoit Samuelson said. "Every runner who crosses the line has a story to tell, some heartwarming and some heartwrenching. That's what is really inspiring for me. I see how this race continues to change lives."
More than $60,000 in prize money was awarded.
This year's race beneficiary was Junior Achievement of Maine, a non-profit organization providing economic education programs that help inspire Maine children to develop the skills, attitudes and behaviors of success in a global economy. The TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, provided a cash donation of $30,000.
Wait til' next year
Looking ahead, you can mark your calendars for the 14th annual event, Aug. 6, 2011, where you can expect more of the same.
"We don't expect any radical changes," Weatherbie said. "We'll regroup and take a look at the ways we can improve the race. We'll try to find a way to get a few more people in. Our goal is always to make it even better."
Sun Journal staff writer Justin Pelletier and Jason Wolfe of Wolfe PR contributed to this story.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org