Strong field set to run Beach to Beacon

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Over 6,600 runners completed the 2015 Beach to Beacon race. Another huge field is expected Saturday morning.

Former Greely High standout Ben True, who just missed out in his bid to qualify for the US Olympic team, will be a favorite to win the American men’s title.

You can bet that race founder and 1984 women’s Olympic marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson will be on hand Saturday to provide support an encouragement.

The state’s most famous road race keeps getting bigger and better.

Saturday morning will see the 19th running of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth.

The brainchild of 1984 Olympic women’s marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson has a couple new wrinkles this year, not that it needed to be improved upon.

For the first time, there will be a competitive high school mile race. That event will be held Friday at 4 p.m. before the Kid’s Fun Run at Fort Williams. The race will include some premier high school runners and familiar names such as Cape Elizabeth’s Kelsey Kennedy and Alicia Lawrence, Falmouth’s Jeremiah Sands, Greely’s Katherine Leggat-Barr, North Yarmouth Academy’s Megan Alberding and Scarborough’s Seabastian Osborne.

Also new this year will be the Elite women’s field beginning 12 minutes ahead of the rest of the field.

As for the Beach to Beacon itself, many runners from Forecaster Country figure to excel.

In the American men’s division, Ben True, the erstwhile Greely High School standout, who just missed qualifying for the US Olympic team in the 5,000 meters, will look to dethrone Eric Jenkins. True won the Maine men’s division of the race in 2008 and 2009.

In the Maine men’s division this year, there will be a new champion as Yarmouth’s Ben Decker isn’t competing. Among those vying to become champion are Portland’s Chris Harmon, Spencer McElwain and Alexander Moser. Sam Seekins, a former Bowdoin College star, is also in the mix.

On the women’s side, Scarborough’s Erica Jesseman, who won the title last year, is hoping to make it three out of four. She’ll be pushed by Portland’s Michelle Lillenthan, the 2014 champion.

The Kenyan contingent leads the list of overall race favorites.

Micah Kogo, champion in 2011 and 2013, Patrick Makau and Daniel Salel lead the way. William Malel Sitonik is another runner who could lead the pack.

On the women’s side, Ethiopia’s Wude Ayalew is back to defend her title. She’ll be challenged by Kenya’s Joyce Chepkurl, the 2013 champion. 

This year’s beneficiary is My Place Teen Center, which is a free, year-round, after-school youth development program for kids in the Greater Portland area. My Place Teen Center will receive a $30,000 donation from the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank.

More than 6,600 runners are expected to take part Saturday. The race starts on Route 77 near Crescent Beach State Park and ends 6.2 miles (or 10 kilometers) later at Fort Williams. 

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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