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Beach to Beacon to Boston: Cape Elizabeth race will honor marathon bombing victims

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Beach to Beacon to Boston: Cape Elizabeth race will honor marathon bombing victims

CAPE ELIZABETH — The TD Beach to Beacon 10k Road Race on Aug. 3 will commemorate the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, but organizers aren't ready to share the details.

The race will also feature security enhancements, according to one of the race's board members.

Organizers are planning a commemoration during the pre-race ceremony, according to Jason Wolfe, a public relations representative for the event.

"Race officials prefer not to provide additional specifics at this point," he said.

On the first Saturday of August, about 6,000 runners will line up at Crescent Beach for the start of the 16th annual race – a world-renowned event that many consider to be a sister race to the Boston Marathon. The two races share a director, David McGillivray, and many participants.

One participant in both races is Cape Elizabeth resident Erin Chalat. Chalat, 52, has been training for the Beach to Beacon. She also has vivid memories of Boston on April 15, when two bombs killed three people, injured more than 260 and brought the world-famous marathon to a standstill.

Chalat wasn't near the finish line at the time of the bombing; an injury forced her out of the race at the 20-mile mark and she was being bused toward the finish line when the bombs exploded.

The incident has rattled many people who were in Boston that day, but she said her strongest memories are the positive stories – the people who ran toward the blasts to help, and the people who shared their cell phones so runners could contact loved ones.

"So many people helped. People really reached out to each other," she said. "It was incredible."

Chalat said it's important to commemorate the victims at the Beach to Beacon, and she has seen it done during moments of silence at other races.

"I think everybody entering a race thinks about that event – the people who were injured and killed. People are struggling to get back to mobility and others just appreciate being able to run," she said. "I think it would be great to have something at the start of this race."

Chalat got back into racing soon after the marathon and ran in five races throughout New England. Each race was well attended by both spectators and athletes, she said, and if anything, more people were getting involved than before.

"There were lots of people and lots of support," she said. "People have not shied away from racing."

Chalat said she hasn't noticed any increased security measures at other races and isn't sure they're necessary.

"If it helps people feel more secure, I think it would be fine, but I think Cape Elizabeth is so safe and most people who attend races are there with positive thoughts and positive spirits," she said. "Racing is very safe."

Besides, runners are a tough breed, she said.

"After 9/11, people still came to New York to run the New York Marathon," Chalat said. "Runners aren't easily scared away. It's cool."

Those feelings were echoed by Cape Elizabeth runner Lisa Lawrence.

Lawrence, 52, said a scheduling conflict will prevent her from running in this year's Beach to Beacon, but she has participated in other races since this year's Boston Marathon.

Lawrence said the chaos of that day has left a lasting impression. A friend of her cousin lost both legs in one of the explosions, she said; it has been difficult to shake the thoughts and emotions.

"For a while, the joy of running a race was taken away from me, because every time I started to run, I'd think about it," she said. "It's not that I was scared, it was just the sadness I felt for so long."

Lawrence finished the Boston Marathon about an hour before the explosions. She remembers being cheered on by the crowd and someone telling her to smile when she grimaced at her finishing time.

An hour later, everything changed.

"It was just such a happy day. It was just joyful. The weather was great. The spectators were great," she said. "It was just such a direct and vicious attack on so many beautiful people. I don't think I'll ever forget that day."

Lawrence said she and fellow runners decided immediately that the terrorist act would never stop them from participating.

"We will be there again and again," she said.

Cape Elizabeth runner Bob Dunfey had also finished the Boston Marathon and was inside a hotel at the time of the bombings. Still, the experience left him dazed for several days until alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured.

"As the days passed I became stronger and stronger," he said.

Dunfey, a member of the Beach to Beacon board of directors, will be running in the Cape Elizabeth race next month. He said the events in Boston will most likely be commemorated during a moment of silence prior to the start of the 10k.

There will also be enhanced security, but Dunfey declined to say what that may entail.

"The security measures they take will be done without being advertised or promoted," he said. "There are things happening that should make people feel comfortable whether they're a volunteer, spectator or a runner."

One obvious measure is that racers will be required to use clear plastic bags if they plan to store any belongings at the starting line, according to Wolfe, the race spokesman.

Dunfey said he doubts participation at any road race will be affected by the Boston Marathon bombing. Instead, Dunfey expects a record number of racers will turn out for the 2014 Boston Marathon. It's just how runners are wired, he said.

"More people than ever are going to want to run in Boston," he said. "Runners are going to show up in force next year."

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.