2016-07-29 / Community

Beach to Beacon to feature mile event

Maine’s best high school milers invited to inaugural event day before 10K
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer


Spectators line up towards the last leg to watch 2015 Beach to Beacon runners. The finish line at next weekend’s 10K event will be tweaked to offer spectators a better viewing experience. Other changes to this year’s event include a mile run for high school runners next Friday and a dedicated start time for elite women. (File photo) Spectators line up towards the last leg to watch 2015 Beach to Beacon runners. The finish line at next weekend’s 10K event will be tweaked to offer spectators a better viewing experience. Other changes to this year’s event include a mile run for high school runners next Friday and a dedicated start time for elite women. (File photo) Thousands of runners – from world class to weekend warriors – will take to the streets of Cape Elizabeth on Saturday, Aug. 6 to take part in the 19th annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race, but more than 20 teenagers from across southern Maine will have an opportunity to run a mile-long segment of the iconic race route.

Scarborough sophomore Harrison Osborne is one of 12 girls and nine boys who have met the qualifying time, which was set at sub-5:00 mile or 17:30 5K for boys and sub-6:15 mile or 20:30 5K for girls, to take part in the event’s first-ever mile run Friday, Aug. 5.


The finish line at next weekend’s TD Beach to Beacon 10K will be tweaked to offer spectators a better viewing experience. Other changes to this year’s event include a mile run for high school runners next Friday and a dedicated start time for elite women. (File photo) The finish line at next weekend’s TD Beach to Beacon 10K will be tweaked to offer spectators a better viewing experience. Other changes to this year’s event include a mile run for high school runners next Friday and a dedicated start time for elite women. (File photo) Osborne, a member of the indoor and outdoor track team last season, heard about it on Twitter and was intrigued about the inaugural race.

“I was kind of interested in it. I ran the qualifying time of a five-minute mile, signed up and hoped I was chosen for it,” said Osborne, who will be joining the cross-country team this fall instead of another year of soccer.

Osborne has been running since seventh grade as a way to compete and stay in shape. His personal best in the mile run (4:52.75) came in the Southwestern Maine Athletics Association Championship May 28 at Thornton Academy in Saco, a meet Scarborough ended up winning.

Osborne’s track teammate senior Shamus Malia was also going to take part in the event, but ended up choosing the compete in the 10K race the next day.

In a release announcing the race, TD Beach to Beacon founder Joan Benoit Samuelson said the mile race was created as a way to “showcase the achievements of the dedicated and passionate high school track athletes from throughout Maine.”

“It’s going to be an exciting inaugural event that we hope shines a light on the many accomplished young athletes in our state,” she said.

Morgan Lake Adams, one of the mile run’s organizers, said the mile race is a great way to feature a group of runners that don’t have a race of their own.

“I’ve been in charge of the kids run for many years, which is for kids up to 12. We have the 10K event, but we didn’t really have anything for the high schoolers,” she said. “A lot of them do run the (Beach to Beacon). There are probably hundreds of high school runners that run in the race. We thought it might be a nice way to showcase some of our Maine talent.”

Beach to Beacon Race Director Dave McGillivray said he wanted to offer a mile run for a number of years and debated debuting it last year by having the race start at Crescent Beach and end at the 10K’s mile marker, but chose to hold off on doing so, in part due to the concerns of having to close off Route 77.

He aborted the plan last year and decided this year was the time for the mile run, something that has been offered at the Boston Marathon – another race his firm DMSE Sports directs – for the last several years.

“It’s a way to enhance the overall weekend in a simple, but at the same time important way,” he said of the mile run, which will include two loops around Fort Williams, starting end ending at the 10K finish line. “The youth are important. They are the next Beach to Beacon winners down the road someday perhaps.”

McGillivray said he had to be careful about how he publicized the event and opened it up to runners because interscholastic rules dictate how much contact coaches and athletic directors can have with student athletes during the season and off-season.

McGillivray originally wanted to have 40 runners participated in two boys heats and two girls heats, but after only 21 signed up, the race will have a girls heat at 4 p.m. and a boys heat at 4:15. Nike has donated bibs for the race and McGillivray hopes to have some of the elite runners start the mile run of hold the break tape at the end.

It was decided to have qualifying times in order to enter the race instead of opening up to any runner in an effort to make it a competitive, yet fun kick-off to the 10K race the next day. The hope, Adams said, is there won’t be a lot of difference in the finish time between the first runner and the last, adding to the race’s excitement.

“We were interested in the idea of having a competitive event for the high schoolers. Maine is a small state, but what we do really well is we produce a lot of talented young runners,” Adams said. “We want to have a chance to have a little bit of a showcase to highlight their talent and their hard work.”

The race, McGillvray said, could change next year, depending on how the initial offering goes.

“Just because we did it this way, doesn’t mean it will always be this way. We are always up to changing it based on what people want,” he said.

Adams said she hopes spectators come out to root on the runners.

“One of the great things about the Beach to Beacon is there is such a large and supportive crowd. We hope they come out to cheer on the high school runners as well,” she said.

The mile run, which will precede the annual Kids Fun Run, will not be the only change at this year’s Beach to Beacon event. Over the course of the 19 years McGillivray has been directing the event, he and the other organizers, have constantly been looking to make it even better.

“The old adage ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ applies here because it seems to go well every year, but at the same time we are constantly trying to improve things, putting a microscope on certain elements of the race and listening to what people are saying and their suggestions,” he said.

As a result the bleachers and fencing area near the finish line will be altered.

“Our ultimate goal this year is to make it more spectator friendly and to give more access to spectators to come down and see the finish,” McGillivray said.

The start will also be tweaked. This year elite women – those who have previously finished the course in 38 minutes or faster, and elite female masters, will be given their own start time at 8 a.m. The wheelchair competitors will start at 7:50 a.m. and the elite men and the rest of the field at 8:15 a.m.

The idea behind doing so, he said, was to better showcase some of the best women runners in the world, give them more of a head-to-head competition and give them more media coverage.

“We do it at the Boston Marathon and (New Balance) Falmouth road race and I thought we’d give it a try here too,” he said.

The Beach to Beacon race was started by Samuelson in 1998 as a way for the 1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist to give back to Cape Elizabeth and the area. The race has grown from 3,000 runners in 1998 to more than 6,500 this year.

The 6.2-mile race, sponsored by TD Bank, starts at Crescent Beach State Park and finishes near Portland Head Light in Fort Williams Park. This year’s beneficiary is My Place Teen Shelter, a Westbrook-based non-profit that annually helps more than 550 youth ages 10 to 18. According to Beach to Beacon, the center, which also started in 1998, specializes in helping those who are at risk, such as homeless, disabled, food insecure, low-come and refugee populations.

“MPTC is transforming the lives – and in some cases, saving lives – of kids at-risk in Westbrook and across the region by providing a place where they are safe, feel loved, and get fed. In addition, they provide a wideranging supervised curriculum that helps these kids gain the skills they need for a positive future. We are proud to partner with an organization that is making such a tremendous difference for vulnerable Maine youth,” TD Bank President Larry Wold said in a February release announcing My Place Teen Center being named this year’s charity.

The TD Charitable Foundation, which chooses the beneficiary every year, has donated $570,000 to Maine organizations since the race was first started.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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