2013-08-09 / Front Page

Running down a dream

Race brings together runners of all types
By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

Kenya’s Micah Kogo, 27, won the men’s division of the 2013 TD Beach to Beacon 10k with a time of 28:03.1, five seconds ahead of Silas Kipruto, also of Kenya. Kogo also won the road race in 2011, when he finished with a time of 27:46.9. (Jack Flagler photo) Kenya’s Micah Kogo, 27, won the men’s division of the 2013 TD Beach to Beacon 10k with a time of 28:03.1, five seconds ahead of Silas Kipruto, also of Kenya. Kogo also won the road race in 2011, when he finished with a time of 27:46.9. (Jack Flagler photo) CAPE ELIZABETH – About 35 minutes after the start of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race, hundreds of runners started pouring across the finish line, trudging their way the top of the hill in Fort Williams Park with sweat and rainwater from a passing shower streaking their faces.

Some of those runners wore blue and gold “Boston Strong” T-shirts. All of them stepped over a blue and gold ribbon, painted at the finish line to remember the victims of the attack in April at the Boston Marathon.

Thirty minutes later, after the rain clouds had broken and the sun had returned, Michael Schoenbaum of Cape Elizabeth crossed the finish line. He wore a blue shirt and a gold headband, but did so for an entirely different reason.

After the top finishers crossed the finish line at the 16th TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race Saturday morning, the flow of runners became steady and constant through Fort Williams Park. (Jack Flagler photo) After the top finishers crossed the finish line at the 16th TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race Saturday morning, the flow of runners became steady and constant through Fort Williams Park. (Jack Flagler photo) Schoenbaum grew up and attended high school in Newtown, Conn., where the athletic teams compete in blue and gold uniforms. He said although he hates running, he decided to sign up for his first Beach to Beacon this year in memory of the 26 victims killed in the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

For many people, running is a cathartic relief, a chance to escape from the everyday stresses for a few minutes to feel better physically and mentally.

Schoenbaum, 35, said he does “zone out” sometimes on a run, but when he does he is always thinking about the victims at Sandy Hook.

“I don’t know if that’s therapy, to think about it over and over again, but I would say it’s helped a little bit,” he said.

Schoenbaum began running originally with the goal to improve his fitness level. His wife, Monica, ran the Beach to Beacon last year and suggested he register this year to set a goal for himself. When the tragedy in Newtown occurred this winter, Schoenbaum’s training took on an entirely different meaning.

“Any time I worked out or ran, the thoughts of that day propelled me through the workout, to do it for people who are no longer with us,” he said.

Some runners have participated in the Beach to Beacon every year since it began 16 years ago. Many more have streaks that span seven or eight years, but Schoenbaum said this will likely be his only race.

“To me, it’s boring, especially on a treadmill. I don’t really enjoy it, but I kind of forced myself to really commit to this. I started training in January, and said, I’m going to do this and finish with Newtown in mind. Will I ever run after Saturday? Probably not,” he said.

Despite a hamstring injury that slowed him down, Schoenbaum finished the 2013 Beach to Beacon with a time of 1:04:18. Monica Schoenbaum broke her foot in April, but still decided to run this year, finishing with a time of 1:22:01.

Michael Schoenbaum is not the only runner who participated in the Beach to Beacon for the first time this year.

Each newcomer has a different reason for signing up and different levels of ability, but all said they were drawn to the beauty and spectacle of the race as it continued its growth in its 16th year.

Like Michael Schoenbaum, Mark Hurley of Old Orchard Beach got into running for a specific cause. About two years ago, Hurley decided to start exercising more in an effort to lose weight. He started out walking and mountain biking, but last year he found a reason to start running.

Hurley, 48, is an alumnus of the University of Massachusetts Lowell. In April 2012, Hurley’s fraternity, Sigma Phi Omicron, began hosting a 5k race on campus in memory of U.S. Army Capt. Chris Sullivan, another UMass Lowell alum, who was killed in active duty serving in Iraq in 2005.

“At that point I had never run even three miles. I used that as motivation so at that time I could run the 5k,” Hurley said.

Unlike Schoenbaum, Hurley found he enjoyed running, and now says he runs 20 to 25 miles a week. He has dropped nearly 100 pounds in the process, slimming down from 280 pounds to about 190. The Beach to Beacon was Hurley’s first 10k road race. He finished with a time of 58:06.

Now that he has moved up from a 5K to a 10K race, Hurley has set a goal to continue the progression to a half marathon and, eventually, the Boston Marathon.

Kennebunk Chief of Police Robert MacKenzie said he also set a goal to compete in the marathon after he heard of the events near the finish line this spring.

MacKenzie started running seriously after completing the FBI’s “yellow brick road” fitness challenge in Quantico, Va. in 2010.

He said running has helped him cope with professional challenges in a high-profile job that can sometimes prove stressful.

“When I’m out there running, it really helps me, I would say, relieve any stress I have. I think about work, about projects, it helps me think more clearly.”

MacKenzie said he was experiencing some butterflies before his first Beach to Beacon because of its size. He completed the race in just over an hour, with a time of 1:01:15.

The local athletes running the Beach to Beacon for the first time were joined – at least briefly near the starting line – by a group of elite runners also new to the race.

Ryan Hall of Scottsdale, Ariz., is a twotime Olympian who holds the American half marathon record. Hall, 30, said the Beach to Beacon was always on his “bucket list,” and he chose to cross it off this year as he trains for the New York City Marathon in October.

Hall finished the race with a time of 29:43, 10th among men.

Fellow Olympian Deena Kastor, the American women’s record holder for both the marathon and half marathon, hoped to run the Beach to Beacon two years ago. But after making the trip to Cape Elizabeth from Mammoth Lakes, Calif., Kastor, 40, caught the flu and was unable to participate. This year, she finished in 32:28, seventh among women.

“The course is amazing, but this has got to be the most spectacular finish line I have ever seen,” said Kastor after she finished. “It was an honor to get to the finish line and experience this race.”

The natural beauty of the course, presence of international elite talent and prestige built up over 16 years has made the Beach to Beacon online registration process an extremely competitive event in itself.

Cape Elizabeth residents filled the first 600 slots in less than 10 minutes.

The next day, 4,000 participants filled all the available slots in less than five minutes. The remaining 1,900 runners attained registration via a lottery.

Tom Pore of Saco had unsuccessfully tried to register in years past, and this year was determined to sign up. He prepared to act quickly the morning of registration in March, but at the last minute, was called in to change his son’s diaper. By the time he finished, the slots had filled.

So Pore found another route to participate. He raised $350 for Junior Achievement of Maine, an organization that educates students about entrepreneurship and financial literacy, in exchange for a bib. Pore, who had participated in Tuff Mudder challenges but never a 10K road race, completed the Beach to Beacon in 42:37.

Each year, at the time of the Beach to Beacon, TD Bank chooses a local Maine charity as a beneficiary. This year, TD Bank donated $30,000 to the Opportunity Alliance, a Community Action Agency which provides assistance in areas such as homelessness prevention, mental illness treatment and substance abuse treatment to Maine residents.

Roger Doiron of Scarborough said he was drawn to the race partly because of the charitable aspect.

Doiron, 46, is the founder and director of Kitchen Gardeners International, a non-profit organization connecting thousands of individuals internationally to promote local food.

Doiron decided to run his first Beach to Beacon this year because his two sons, Maxim, 15, and Sebastian, 13, have both become involved in track through the Scarborough school system.

“It’s a fun thing to be able to share and it’s going to be a memory for us. I’m looking forward to that shared experience, something that I hope will be a good memory for us all,” Doiron said.

Roger Doiron finished the race with a time of 54:26, less than a second behind his younger son.

Maxim Doiron came in slightly ahead of his father and brother, finishing with a time of 39:32.

All in all, 6,247 runners crossed the finish line in Fort Williams Park Saturday morning. Many "legacies" plan to run their 17th consecutive race next season, and many firsttimers were so enamored with the experience they plan to start streaks of their own. But Michael Schoenbaum said he achieved his one-time goal to run the entire race. He doesn't know what his next challenge will be, but he said he will keep finding a way to honor the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook shootings.

"I want to keep Newtown close to heart and I don't want to ever forget," he said.

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