CAPE ELIZABETH — Each year the TD Beach to Beacon 10K is sure to be memorable for one reason or another, whether it’s a record-breaking course time or an outstanding display of sportsmanship.
But the 21st annual race on Aug. 4 will likely be remembered for the most grueling conditions race officials have ever seen.
Jason Wolfe, who handles public relations for the race, said 8,006 people registered for the race, but only 6,526 finished.
“My understanding is, the attrition rate was a little bit higher than in past years, likely due to the unsettling weather forecast,” Wolfe said.
Although anticipated thunderstorms held off, the weather – with temperatures in the high 70s and high humidity – was far from ideal and likely impacted the median time for runners, which topped an hour for the first time in Beach to Beacon history.
Medical coordinator Chris Troyanos called the heat a “great equalizer.”
Whether they were elite runners like top male finisher Jake Robertson, who ran the 6.2-mile course in 27:37, or trailing the pack, Troyanos said in conditions like Saturday’s, he’d urge runners to just “slow down.”
“I’m happy I was able to hold on for the win. Unfortunately, the humidity really got me. … The last couple of miles I suffered,” Robertson said after the race. He had hoped to beat the course record this year, which was set by Gilbert Okari in 2003, but missed it by about 10 seconds.
“Heat can get you regardless,” Troyanos said. “If you overdo it, that’s when you’re going to get into trouble.”
Olympian and top female American finisher Molly Huddle said running in those conditions is “never easy.”
“It takes more out of you than normal,” Huddle said after her 31:39 finish. “In the last mile, with the heat and a couple inclines, I didn’t feel very strong.”
Troyanos has been the medical coordinator for the Beach to Beacon for about 17 years and has watched the Boston Marathon from the medical tent for more than 40 years, now as medical coordinator.
He’s been at it for so long, Troyanos said, he knows what to look for in a weather forecast and to base predicted treatment rates on that.
“Everything is predicated on weather,” Troyanos said. “August is always hot … but Saturday was more humid than we’d like to see.”
According to Troyanos, medical tent personnel expected to see 90 patients on race day. They ended up treating 108.
Most were seen for temperature-related issues such as dehydration, heat exhaustion and, in some cases, heat stroke, which is categorized by a 104-degree temperature or higher, often accompanied by an altered mental state.
Troyanos said the highest temperature recorded that day was from Jeff Deletetsky of Topsham, who was brought to the tent after crossing the finish line in under an hour with a 108.8-degree temperature – what Troyanos called a “very dangerous situation.”
“There were four times (in the medical tent) when I thought I was going to pass out unconscious,” Deletetsky said later. “I honestly felt like I was fighting for my life … I’ve never been more scared.”
In serious cases, Troyanos said heat stroke can be fatal or lead to permanent brain, liver or kidney damage.
“I feel very lucky to be alive,” Deletetsky said, crediting the race’s volunteer medical personnel, specifically Dr. Eric Maughan of Maine Medical Center, for saving his life.
After about 35 minutes, medics were able to lower Deletetsky’s body core temperature enough to the point where he could leave the race on his own, rather than in the back of an ambulance.
“I can’t say enough about all of those involved in the Beach to Beacon,” Deletetsky said. “This year made it clear to me that all of them really take care of their runners. … I can’t thank them enough for that.”
A race-day goal, Troyanos said, is “not to overload the hospital system.”
“That would’ve had a negative impact on the general community at large,” he added, categorizing the Beach to Beacon as a “planned mass-casualty event,” which refers to a combination of patient numbers and care requirements that challenge or exceed a community’s ability to provide adequate patient care using day-to-day operations.
With 125 “multi-disciplinary” medics stationed along the course and throughout Fort Williams Park, Troyanos said, Saturday was a success.
“The thing that’s great about this group is, a lot of them are returning so they have the experience and knowledge to follow the protocols. … You have to be able to address the gambit of things,” Troyanos said. “We have such a great team. I would hold this team up against any medical team in the world.”
Troyanos also tipped his hat to Beach to Beacon officials and all those responsible for the success of a race of its magnitude, including public safety, with whom volunteer medics work closely.
“The leadership of the Beach to Beacon understand and support what we do and give us financial backing we need to be successful,” he said. “It’s a coordinated effort in making this all work.”
Runners cool off Aug. 4 after a hot and humid 21st running of the annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race in Cape Elizabeth.
A medic checks on TD Beach to Beacon 10K winner Jake Robertson, who hit the ground after finishing in 27:37, just 10 seconds shy of the race record.
Kaitlin Goodman, left, and Rochelle Kanuho hug it out after crossing the TD Beach to Beacon 10K finish line on Aug. 4 among the top 10 female finishers.
Marty Clark, left, John Hadcock, Charlie Muse and John Burke relax and recuperate while waiting for the TD Beach to Beacon 10K awards ceremony to start Aug. 4. All are seasoned runners and were in high spirits after the race, but said they would’ve welcomed some rain to help relieve the heat and humidity.
CAPE ELIZABETH — While runners refueled with granola bars and Gatorade after the TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race, a Puerto Rico-bound trailer used Saturday morning’s unexpected sunshine to power the post-race awards stage at Fort Williams Park.
Solar installer ReVision Energy and solar electronics manufacturer Pika Energy – both Maine-based – partnered to bring the solar-power trailer to Cape Elizabeth for the race to provide clean and renewable energy for the ceremony.
The TD Beach to Beacon on Aug. 4 was the so-called Solar Outreach System’s only stop before shipping out to Puerto Rico to aid in ongoing disaster relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
“Puerto Rice had nearly 100 percent of its utility grid destroyed and there was a dire need for emergency power, clean drinking water and lighting,” ReVision co-founder Phil Coupe said.
The unit, which utilizes a battery/inverter storage system from Pika, allows those in need to charge cell phones, laptops and tablets and to purify up to 5 gallons of drinking water.
This is the fourth unit ReVision has built and sent to Puerto Rico. Coupe said he hopes the effort will be ongoing and turn into “something bigger.”
“These are the first four units of their kind ever built,” he said. “There are going to be more disasters in the world, so we think the need is going to be a lot greater than the four units we’ve built thus far.”
— Jocelyn Van Saun