2014-08-01 / Front Page

Cape gears up for Beach to Beacon

From Beach to Beacon organizers, Wolfe PR

Two of America’s most decorated distance runners – Olympic medalists Meb Keflezighi and Shalane Flanagan – headline a field of world-class athletes who will join top runners in Maine and across New England in Cape Elizabeth Saturday, Aug. 2 for the 17th TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race.

Thousands of recreational runners will follow the front-of-the-pack athletes along the course, cheered on by thousands of spectators who line the coastal route to support this now-classic American summer road race that celebrates health, fitness and giving back.

The beneficiary of this year’s race is Rippleffect, a Portland-based nonprofit youth and community development organization that leads outdoor adventure programs on Cow Island, in area schools and in the mountains of western Maine. The organization receives a check for $30,000 from the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank.

Title sponsor TD Bank has now donated $510,000 over the history of the race to Maine charities. The race’s other corporate partners are Nike, Hannaford, Poland Spring, MaineHealth, Fairchild Semiconductor, IDEXX, Northeast Delta Dental, WCSH6, Dead River Company and Olympia Sports.

“The TD Beach to Beacon 10K continues to be a positive, life-changing force for so many people, year after year. We remain honored to have supported this event from the beginning and appreciate that it has been embraced by so many people,” said Larry Wold, TD Bank president for Maine, who is one of 130 runners who has run every race. “This year’s beneficiary, Rippleffect, is a hands-on, innovative leadership and confidence-building organization that is strengthening our communities – a perfect fit for what this race represents.”

Maine native Joan Benoit Samuelson, winner of the first Olympic women’s marathon in 1984, founded the TD Beach to Beacon in 1998 as a way to give back to her state and community by creating a major road race. The route follows the same coastal roads that Samuelson trained on in Cape Elizabeth. With her reputation, plus organization and strong community support, the race quickly gained a reputation as a world-class event with small-town charm.

Last year, a record 6,244 runners crossed the finish line. A total of 2,408 finished the first race. Online registration now closes in less than five minutes. The course begins near the Crescent Beach State Park entrance on Route 77 in Cape Elizabeth and winds along tree-lined roads and past dramatic ocean vistas before ending 6.2 miles later in Fort Williams Park near Portland Head Light, the most photographed lighthouse in America.

This year’s field will include runners from 11 countries and 42 states plus D.C. More than $60,000 in prize money is at stake, including a $10,000 prize each to the top man and woman, $5,000 for second place and cash prizes for the top 10 finishers. Also, a $2,500 bonus also is available for any runner who sets a new open course record ($500 in the Maine category), providing added incentive in a race that consistently ranks among the fastest and most competitive 10Ks in the world.

Both of the 2013 champions – Kenyans Micah Kogo and Joyce Chepkirui – are back, plus Maine native Ben True is returning to the race for the first time as a professional runner and is expected to make a strong push for the elite title.

“There are no distance runners in the U.S. right now who are more popular and recognizable than Meb and Shalane, so having them together in our race is a real treat,” said Larry Barthlow, elite athlete coordinator who assembled the field. “But there are a number of other interesting storylines as well. Can Micah and Joyce repeat? Will the stars align for Ben True in his return to Maine? We have an exceptional American field this year, one of our strongest ever, but an American has never won this race and there is a contingent of East Africans ready to keep it that way. It’s going to be a great race day.”

Propelled by chants of “USA! USA!” down the homestretch, Meb Keflezighi’s victory at Boston Marathon marked the first win by an American since 1983 and the oldest male winner in 84 years. Now 39, he has raced sparingly since his historic win. Over the weekend, he led the Quad-City Times Bix 7 for five miles before his hamstring tightened and he dropped off the pace to finish 12th.

Shalane Flanagan remains in top form after her recordsetting day in Boston. She charged to the lead and held on for 19 miles before being overtaken and ultimately finishing seventh in a personal record 2:22:02 – the fastest time ever recorded by an American woman in Boston’s 118-year history. She is now the third-fastest female American marathoner ever, after Deena Kastor and Samuelson.

Last week, she won the half marathon at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Festival in Chicago in 1:09:45, the secondfastest half-marathon by an American woman so far in 2014.

Flanagan, 33, who grew up in Marblehead, Mass., ran the TD Beach to Beacon once as a teenager. In the years since, she has set American records in the 3000m (indoor), 5000m (indoor), 10,000m and 15K road race, won the bronze in the 2008 Olympics at 10,000m, finished second at the 2010 New York Marathon and won the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. Flanagan is presently training for the fall marathon season, with her stated goal to run a sub 2:20.

True, a North Yarmouth native, last ran the TD Beach to Beacon in 2009, shattering the Maine Resident course record (29:10) and placing 10th overall. Soon thereafter, the former All-American at Greely High School and Dartmouth College moved to Oregon to focus on his professional running career.

Now 28 and training in New Hampshire, True is aiming at the open title this year. He has carried his success in 2013 – runner-up at the Falmouth Road Race, sixth the World Cross-Country Championships (the highest finish for an American since 1995) and narrowly missing the World Championships in two track events – into 2014. He won the USA 15K Championship at the Gate River Run and, in May, set a personal best 13:02.74 for a gritty win in the 5,000m at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford.

In the wheelchair division, Alinco Omojolo, 25, of Newark, New Jersey, is expected to make a strong bid against a pair of familiar faces – Tony Nogueira, 46, of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, a record eight-time winner of the TD Beach to Beacon, and Patrick Doak, 46, of Carlisle, Massachusetts, a three-time winner. Two-time champ Christina Kouros, 19, of Cape Elizabeth, is the lone female wheelchair entrant.

The TD Beach to Beacon is overseen by its 60-member, volunteer Organizing Committee, headed by race President Mike Stone of Portland, who is overseeing his first race after many years on the board. Local residents from all walks of life, plus police, fire, medical and municipal officials serve on the committee to plan the event. Maya Cohen of Cape Elizabeth coordinates the 800 volunteers who are central to the success of the race.

Residents also open up their homes for the elite athletes as part of a “home-stay” program. The TD Beach to Beacon also has a long history of commitment to the environment with a focus on recycling, reuse and ecofriendly activities.

The TD Beach to Beacon 10K is directed by Dave McGillivray of DMSE Sports, who also directs the Boston Marathon.

“Given the level of dedication exhibited day after day, year after year, by so many people at so many levels, it’s no surprise that the TD Beach to Beacon has become what it has,” said Samuelson, who will again be at the finish line on Saturday greeting runners. “As we prepare to celebrate another year and see the smiles on the faces of the runners, organizers, volunteers and spectators, it’s important to remember all the hard work that goes into this. It truly is an inspiration.”

For additional information about the race, visit www.beach2beacon.org, call the race hotline at (888) 480-6940 or find the race on Facebook and Twitter.

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