They will cross the finish line at Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth in relative anonymity, greeted perhaps by a few family members or friends. No one will proclaim their names over the loudspeaker.

They will not have medals placed over their heads. They will not wear a laurel wreath.

They are the newbies, the first-time runners of the Beach to Beacon 10K. Their goal does not involve winning.

“The only thing I want is to finish it,” said Susan Kimball, the former reporter at WCSH-TV in Portland. “I know how trite that sounds, but I really hope I can do the whole thing without walking. I just want to be able to run it and finish it.”

Kimball is member of the Reach the Beacon program operated by the Maine Running Company on Forest Avenue in Portland. In its sixth year, the program offers two levels of training — for beginners, and for those who can run and complete a 5-kilometer race — for anyone looking to run the Beach to Beacon. This year there were about 75 beginners and another 140 more advanced.

John Rogers, the Maine Running Academy director and coach, said the program does more than teach how to run.

“It’s more about health and well-being with this group,” he said, “rather than going out and beating people.”

The program, which costs $150 (with some funds earmarked for the Maine Cancer Foundation), runs from March to the day of the race, broken into four four-week segments that will prepare runners mentally and physically. The program is allocated 75 slots in the Beach to Beacon and establishes a lottery to draw names to run it.

“This training program is not just about the instructors but also the people who are part of the program,” said Peter King, a 58-year-old North Deering resident. “We have a common goal. We want to learn to be better runners. They teach you more than just running. We do hill work, we do sprint work, things you don’t want to do by yourself. But with a group, you’re more likely to do it and it will make you better. It’s been fun.”

Like many participants, King endured a life-changing experience that turned him to running. In his case, he was laid off from his job of almost 30 years. He decided he wanted to drop 40 pounds. Running has helped.

Kimball resigned a year ago from a job she held for more than 28 years. Running the Beach to Beacon always seemed a reach until she joined the program.

“When I worked at Channel 6 we had a number of people who were good runners,” she said. “And they all enjoyed running the Beach to Beacon. I can remember those guys talking about how wonderful it was. I envied them. I never considered myself a runner. I liked to work out, I’m healthy, but running was something I never thought I could do.”

Even when she started, Kimball wasn’t sure where it would lead. The program is set up to build the confidence of beginners. The first two weeks, they walk four minutes, then run one; then they walk three and run two. It builds until they can run five minutes without stopping.

The 58-year-old Kimball credits her coaches, Roger Morse and Kathy Bowe, for getting her through it.

“I remember that first Tuesday, I could barely run that one minute,” she said. “I looked at Roger and said, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ I didn’t think I had the stamina. He told me, ‘Sure you can.’ So I stuck with it.”

And suddenly, said Kimball, “you’re running mile after mile after mile. And I’m thinking, ‘I can (run the Beach to Beacon).’ It’s such an accomplishment, taking on something that I never thought I could do.”

Morse and Bowe will be there Saturday, running with their students. Morse, a 53-year-old insurance agent in Westbrook, said he will probably try to pace some runners.

“Going through what I did myself, going from a couch potato to this, I understand that this isn’t that easy,” he said.

Bowe, 39, will work her way from person to person, checking in on her students.

“There’s a lot of nervousness when somebody is doing a big race like the Beach to Beacon,” she said. “A lot of time it’s just nerves and I try to remind them that they’ve come so far. I tell them to look where they started to where they are now.”

King, who said he runs 25 to 30 miles a week now, knows he can do this.

“I hope to meet a lot of people,” he said. “I just hope to have a good time. I know two things: I won’t win and I will finish.

“I won’t be in a rush. I tend to talk to people when I run. Some will take up the conversation, others will move on to the next one. This is fun. I never even pictured myself as a runner. To me, this is all about personal achievements and different levels of success.”

And for many, simply crossing the finish line is enough.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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