CAPE ELIZABETH — Moments before the start of the 20th edition of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson delivered a message to a record-setting field of 6,880.

“Let’s party!”

On an overcast Saturday morning that falsely threatened rain, the 60-year-old Cape Elizabeth native and 1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist let a great time roll, completing the 6.2-mile course in 39 minutes, 19 seconds – faster than the American 10K road race record for women 60 and older.

“It’s incredible to see how she keeps reinventing herself and finding a way to push barriers,” said Deena Kastor, the 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist invited to run as Samuelson’s special guest. “She always has some lofty goals to keep her going. I think that’s why the fire has never died in her.”

It marked the fourth time running the race for Samuelson, who accompanied New York City firefighters in Year 5, overlooked 1980 Boston Marathon champion Jacqueline Gareau in Year 10 and fellow marathon legends Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter in Year 15. After crossing the line and catching her breath, Samuelson turned to see her daughter, 29-year-old Abby, arrive in 39:41.

“Had I known she was so close,” Samuelson said, “it would have been really special to run in with Abby and Deena, an inspiration to both of us.”

Samuelson said she noticed many friends on course and was happy about efforts to incorporate more music. As was the case in Year 10, race organizers surprised Samuelson by decorating the Portland Head Light with her larger-than-life poster.

Fog obscured the icon-on-icon image for late arrivals to Fort Williams, but Kenyan champions Stephen Kosgei Kibet (by one second over 2016 winner Ben True) and Mary Keitany (another course record) saw it clearly, as did Abdi Abdirahman, 40, who broke a 17-year-old course record for masters.

The USA Track & Field website lists the 60-plus women’s record as 39:24, by Christine Kennedy in 2015 in Dedham, Massachusetts.

There was some confusion about whether Samuelson’s time will be certified as a U.S. age group record because Beach to Beacon is a point-to-point course, thus susceptible to assistance from wind. What little breeze there was Saturday morning seemed come off the ocean more as headwind than tailwind. And there is precedent: Mbarak Hussein set the USATF men’s 45-49 record of 29:55 at the 2010 Beach to Beacon.

“All in all, I think it was a great way to celebrate the 20th,” Samuelson said. “It didn’t rain. The sun would have been nice, but you know, it’s amazing in 20 years we have not had a major rainstorm and that we’ve kept the health of the event intact, as far as not having lost anybody along the course.”

“With a race in August, that’s always my primary concern. So kudos to our medical team and kudos to our volunteers and our sponsors. I think there a lot of happy runners and spectators.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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