Many thrills at 20th annual Beach to Beacon

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Defending champion Ben True of North Yarmouth couldn’t quite manage to repeat this summer, finishing second by a second to Kenya’s Stephen Kosgei-Kibet.

Photo courtesy of Whit Wales, Diginovations.

Saturday morning’s TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K road race in Cape Elizabeth was guaranteed to be memorable.

And it was, for reasons both expected and surprising.

The 20th running of the event, which is the brainchild of 1984 Olympic women’s marathon champion and Cape Elizabeth native Joan Benoit Samuelson, once again featured an array of inspirational stories as the bar continues to be raised on the state’s most famous road race, a 6.2-mile course which meanders from Crescent Beach to Fort Williams.

This time around, a record-setting 6,879 runners from 18 countries, 43 states and more than 270 Maine cities and towns took part.

While one-time Greely High School standout Ben True wasn’t able to repeat as the men’s champion, he came pretty darn close.

True had a time of 27 minutes, 56 seconds, but that left him one second behind Kenya’s Stephen Kosgei Kibet, the 2015 champion.

“It’s always bittersweet because you always want to win, especially when it was that close,” True said. “Those are great runners, and maybe if I play tactics a little bit better I might have been able to be another two or three strides ahead and maybe been able to battle him a little bit better. It was a good race and always a great field here and always a great event, so it’s fun to be back.”

Mary Keitany of Kenya won the women’s race for the second year in a row and broke the course record for the second time in as many years in the process, lowering her mark by four seconds to 30:41.

“I’m surprised that I crossed the line in a course record again,” Keitany said.

Keitany finished 19 seconds ahead of runner-up Purity Rionoripo, a 24-year-old from Kenya. 

“Yesterday my daughter called me and was telling me, ‘Mom, success tomorrow. Try to win,'” Keitany said. “So I was telling her how I would try my best.”

The Maine men’s race produced the greatest drama and amazing sportsmanship as Jesse Orach and Robert Gomez finished in an identical time of 31:31 — the same winning time Orach ran last year — with Gomez keeping Orach on his feet at the finish line to cross first and repeat as champion.

“Coming up on the finish line, I knew that I was well behind the Maine leader, Jesse, and when I came around the turn into the finish I saw he had gone down,” Gomez said. “The first thing that came through my mind was, ‘I need to pick him up because he ran a better race, he ran a harder race; I don’t deserve to win, he deserves to win.’ So I got him and picked him up.”

“I felt fine until probably the last quarter mile and I started feeling like I was going to fall over and eventually I fell down a couple times I guess,” Orach said. “It took about 20 seconds for me to fall, but I knew I was going to fall. It was a really weird sensation. I kept trying to get back up, but my legs kind of were just failing on me and Rob helped me out.”

Emily Durgin of Standish finished on top of the Maine women’s division. The Cheverus graduate broke the tape in 34:43, which was 28 seconds ahead of second-place Michelle Lilenthal of Portland (the 2014 and 2016 champ).

Durgin said this being her last time running as a Maine amateur was “definitely” extra motivation.

“That was kind of the main reason I decided to run,” Durgin said. “A few weeks ago, I was like, ‘Eh, you know, I’m not in optimal condition. Do I really want to go out there and run?’ And then the more I thought about it, I was thinking about all the people in the past that have done the same thing, I wanted to do it as well.”

In the men’s wheelchair division, Krige Schabort, of Rome, Georgia, crossed the line first in a time of 22:14, repeating his 2013 feat. In second place was 10-time champ (including last year) Tony Nogueira, 53 seconds behind. 

Hannah Babalola, of Newark, New Jersey, won the women’s wheelchair race. Four-time defending champ Christina Kouros, of Cape Elizabeth, was third.

Race founder and former Olympic and Boston Marathon champ Joan Benoit Samuelson, who only runs the race in her hometown every five years, finished in 39:19 at 60 years old to take the top spot in the 60-year-old women’s division.

Other winners included Abdi Abdirahman in the Masters Men division (28:45), Falmouth’s Sheri Piers in the Masters Women (37;25) and Yarmouth’s Byrne Decker in the Men’s Senior Division (35:48).

Local open age group winners included Falmouth’s Sofie Matson in the female under-14 (39:18), North Yarmouth’s Christine Hein in female 40-44 (38:39), Brunswick’s Marcelle McGuire in the female 75-79 (1 hour, 19.15 seconds), Brunswick’s Tyler Patterson in the male under-14 (39:04), Yarmouth’s Luke Laverdiere in the male 15-19 (32:30), Cape Elizabeth’s Ryan McCalmon in the male 40-44 (33:09), North Yarmouth’s Peter Sedgwick in the male 45-49 (35:31), Cape Elizabeth’s Pete Bottomley in the male 55-59 (36:13) and Cape Elizabeth’s Michael Tracy in the male 80-99 (1:21.04).

The winners of the second B2B High School Mile were Lily Horne of Freeport (5:28.8) and Sam Russ of Lincoln Academy (4:42.9).

The Johnny Kelley Award for the oldest finisher went to Robert Mountain, 89 of Gorham.

This year’s beneficiary was Let’s Go!, which received a $30,000 donation from the TD Charitable Foundation. More than $90,000 in prize money was awarded.

The 21st TD Beach to Beacon will be contested Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018.

Sun Journal staff writer Wil Kramlich and Wolfe PR contributed to this story.

The field from Saturday’s 20th annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth stretches as far as the eye can see.

Photo courtesy Whit Wales, Diginovations.

Kenya’s Mary Keitany repeats as the women’s overall champion, setting a new course record of 30 minutes, 41 seconds.

Portland’s Michelle Lilienthal was the top female in the 35-39 age division and placed second in the Maine women’s competition with a time of 35 minutes, 11 seconds.

Falmouth’s Sheri Piers won the Masters Women and was tops in the female 45-49 division with her time of 37 minutes, 26 seconds.

South Portland’s Steven Smith had a time of 42 minutes, 13 seconds.

Adam Birt photo.

Race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson ran this year and naturally, placed first in her age division with a time of 39:19.

Adam Birt photo.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.