August 4, 2013

Beach to Beacon is 16 and still so sweet

The Beach to Beacon, in its 16th running, continues to amaze the elite runners who travel the world

By Glenn Jordan
Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH - The day started somber and gray, with 10 seconds of respectful silence to remember victims of the April 15 bomb blasts near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

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Silas Kipruto glances over his shoulder Saturday as he and the eventual race winner, Micah Kogo, set the pace early in the Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Runners jockey for position at the start of the race on Route 77.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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It ended, for the first time in the 16-year history of the Beach to Beacon 10K road race, amid raindrops inside Fort Williams Park. Not for every finisher, mind you.

Men's winner Micah Kogo of Kenya got wet at Pond Cove but beat the sprinkles to the break tape in 28 minutes, 3.2 seconds, his second victory in three years.

Women's winner Joyce Chepkirui held off a surprising and determined Gemma Steel of Great Britain for a 12-second victory in 31:23.2.

The shower lasted only a few minutes, however, and although the crowds along the course and inside the fort seemed smaller this year, the mood was no less triumphant.

"There just seemed to be renewed energy here this year," said the race founder, Joan Benoit Samuelson, the Olympic champion and Cape Elizabeth native.

"It's always a great event but it just seemed like a lot of people were so happy to be here. I saw a lot of first-time runners, a lot of legacy runners (who have run all 16 Beach to Beacons) and a lot of families running together."

Veazie native Riley Masters, who returned last week from his first professional track races in Europe without the racing gear emblazoned with his sponsor's name, tugged at the MAINE on the Maine Track Club singlet he purchased for $20 at Friday's prerace expo just before crossing the line as the Maine men's champ in 30:19.3, good for 15th overall.

"Home-state pride," Masters, 23, said of his gesture. "There's a lot of pride for winning this."

Erica Jesseman of Scarborough collapsed and sat on the grass for several minutes after a finishing sprint that wound up six-tenths of a second shy of a course record in the Maine women's category. Still, she won her first Beach to Beacon title in 34:17.6.

"I went out too hard," said Jesseman, 24, "but I'm a young runner and I'm still proud of what I went out and accomplished. No one can complain off a (personal record). You've got to be happy and satisfied."

That sentiment certainly prevailed among most of the runners pouring across the finish line on a day decidedly less than delightful for spectators.

"Although we like it to be sunny and picnic weather, it's perfect racing conditions," said Deena Kastor, the marathon bronze medalist in the 2004 Athens Games and the woman who lowered the American marathon record held for 18 years by Samuelson. "All the runners are definitely grateful for the cloud cover and cool breeze."

Kastor, 40, shattered the women's masters record by more than a minute, finishing seventh overall in 32:28. That time is also faster than the American women's masters record of 32:50 run by Colleen De Reuck in 2004.

Two years ago, Kastor came to Cape Elizabeth with the intention of running but was waylaid by a 24-hour bug, and opted against competing with nothing in her stomach but a bland piece of toast. On Saturday, she marveled at her surroundings on a bluff above Casco Bay.

"This is hands-down the most beautiful finish line in the world and the greatest hospitality I've ever seen in any race," she said. "And I'm old, so that's saying a lot! I've been to a lot of races."

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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An officer positioned atop the Portland Head Light added a measure of security after the tragedy of Boston.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Fryeburg Academy graduate Silas Eastman, right, and Nate Hathaway of Scarborough run through the rain toward the finish line in Fort Williams.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Race founder and former Olympic marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson talks with American elite runner Meb Keflezighi after Saturday’s race.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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