CAPE ELIZABETH — Dave Barnard of Yarmouth could have been speaking for the entire group of runners who have participated in every TD Beach to Beacon 10K.

“I want to do it as long as I’m vertical,” Barnard said.

Barnard, who is 73, and 119 others plan to run, or maybe walk, their 18th straight Beach to Beacon on Saturday.

They are called legacy runners by event organizers, streakers by those less formal. They are given special consideration during the registration process to ensure they can continue to participate for as long as they are willing and able.

For the legacy runners, the race organized by Joan Benoit Samuelson has become an annual celebration.

It brings families together, reunites old friends and honors loved ones lost, while serving as an annual reminder to keep moving.

“It is the social thing of the year for our family,” said Gary Lamberth, 66, of Cape Elizabeth.

Lamberth and his son Andrew, 28, are legacy runners. Andrew, now living in Denver, was 11 when he was one of the 2,408 finishers in 1998. One year he took a break from hiking the entire Appalachian Trail to come home and run the race, thanks to Gary driving to upstate New York the night before to pick him up. He carried his girlfriend, Laurie Jevons, across the finish line piggy-back style in 2013.

Andrew Lamberth may have missed a Christmas or two while working at ski resorts in Colorado, but the youngest of all the legacy runners is always back in Cape Elizabeth for the first Saturday in August.

“It was definitely tough to always get back, going through that phase of life of going to college and moving away,” he said. “I’m really glad to make it back every year. If they keep having them, I’ll keep coming back.”

RUNNING, NO MATTER WHAT

On Tuesday, about 40 of the legacy runners gathered at The Local Buzz cafe in downtown Cape Elizabeth. It was the second year they have held a pre-race get-together to connect with others who share their passion for running in general and this race in particular.

Few have a closer connection to the race than Marjorie Adams, 65, of Cumberland.

Once a 3-hour, 10-minute marathoner, Adams did training runs with Samuelson “20 years ago.” It was during one of those runs that Adams first heard Samuelson talk about her desire to organize a race that would bring elite athletes and everyday runners to her favorite training grounds.

Adams ran the first race with her then 17-year-old daughter, Morgan Lake Adams. Other years she and good friend Jennifer DeSena trained hard with the purpose of posting competitive times.

Then came 2005. Marjorie Adams was a few months into physically draining chemotherapy to treat breast cancer. She had kept running to give herself a sense of normalcy and maintain as much strength as possible, but completing a 6.2-mile race was something else.

“All I know is that Jennifer and Morgan said you have to race, and at that point (the streak) had been eight years,” Adams said.

She put a hat on her bald head and, leaning on her daughter and friend for emotional support, finished the race.

Morgan Adams, 34, and DeSena, 60, are also legacy runners. Morgan Adams has twice run the race while pregnant.

“Watching my mom run through her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, pregnancy isn’t anything after that,” Morgan Adams said.

All three women are also members of the 800-plus volunteer group that helps make Maine’s largest road race a well-organized event.

Marjorie Adams actually has a double streak going. She has volunteered each year, organizing and overseeing the vendor expo and registration packet pickup held Thursday and Friday at Cape Elizabeth.

Adams said she’s ready to hand over the expo responsibilities in 2016. She has no intention of giving up her starting spot in the race.

“There really isn’t any reason not to keep running,” Adams said. “As long as I’m able, I’ll do it.”

AS TIME GOES BY

Of course, the number of legacy runners can only decrease.

At Tuesday’s gathering, DeSena, the event organizer, asked the group to share a moment of silence for Phil Ortolani, a Cape Elizabeth resident who died in March. Ortolani was struck and killed by a car while walking on a sidewalk in Tampa, Florida.

He had run the first 17 Beach to Beacons.

“There should have been 121 of you except for a tragic accident,” DeSena said. “Let’s honor Phil by living each day to our fullest.”

Dave Howard, 49, of Portland, was in Canada on Tuesday. He didn’t hear DeSena’s advice first-hand but had already taken it to heart.

Howard, among the top age-group 5K runners in the state, has used the Beach to Beacon as his personal goal to accelerate recovery from reconstructive knee surgery in May. Doctors used bone to “plug two holes in my knee,” and also purposely broke and reset his right fibula.

“The only 10Ks I’ve ever done are the 17 that Joanie has put on,” Howard said. “I haven’t missed one. I do it for Joanie. I’m a very goal-oriented person and it’s always been a goal of mine just to continue the streak.”

In early July, Howard wasn’t sure if he would be able to make it back even as a walker. But last Sunday he walked 51/2 miles over flat terrain.

“Right now I can’t do one stride (of running), but I don’t think I’ll have trouble walking the course,” Howard said.

Age inevitably will slow all of the legacy runners. According to Gary Lamberth, that just gives them more time to enjoy the occasion.

“Most of these (legacy runners) I don’t know, but we all share how important it is to be healthy and to be part of something bigger than yourself,” Lamberth said.