Friday, December 6, 2013
Where did you finish? What was your time?
Terry Cronin can't answer her husband when she returns to their Scarborough home later on Saturday morning. He always asks and she never thinks to check the results of the TD Beach to Beacon 10k road race before she leaves Fort Williams Park.
"I think finishing the race is the accomplishment," said Cronin, 47. "Where I placed isn't important to me."
Rick Lovering will make his way down the long and wide chute that carries runners away from the finish line. He might glance at the few dozen elite runners who finished 22 minutes earlier and are relaxing under open-air tents giving interviews or getting massages.
"I'll walk up that long hill to the food," said Lovering, 50, of Cape Elizabeth. "I'll grab a banana and talk to other runners."
Then he'll get on line for the buses that shuttle most of the 6,000 runners to the parking lots miles away. Like Cronin, he won't join the small crowd checking the computerized results. He won't stay for the awards ceremony that finds 100 to 200 people lounging on the grass waiting for the elite winners and the category winners to be introduced.
Cronin and Lovering and thousands more like them simply melt away. They are the heart of the road race that was Joan Samuelson's dream 15 years ago. But when the praise and congratulations are sung and the laurel wreaths and flowers and money are distributed, they are long gone.
The tangible rewards are not their deal and that's OK. They try to explain but wonder if the pedestrians among us can understand. They are our neighbors and co-workers, our friends and family. But for 40 minutes or 2 hours they are testing themselves in ways they couldn't imagine. That they passed these tests of will and endurance is their prize.
"With the elite runners, I think the race is kind of their job," said Cronin, who has run Beach to Beacon four times. "For the rest of us, it is the race.
"I'm not a true, trained runner. At times it is painful, without question. But you look at the smiles on the faces of the people you're running with. You hear their encouragement. You see the smiles of everybody lining the road. I've never done anything that's so uplifting."
Which is why she and everyone else comes back for more.
The Beach to Beacon race route runs by Lovering's neighborhood in Cape Elizabeth. Even from the side of the road he could feel the energy. At age 45 he entered for the first time. Saturday's race will be his fourth.
"It's exhilarating, it's extraordinary."
Eric Knutsen, 48, of South Portland has run the race 11 or 12 times. Lately it's been with his sons, Sam, 20, and Max, 18. He brings a camera partly because there's so many people and things he doesn't want to forget. "When you run this race, everybody is in a good place."
He has never pointed his camera at an elite runner. He has never asked to have his photo taken with them. He has no interest, unless he was standing next to Joan Samuelson.
Knutsen, like the others, has perspective. "You can't play golf on the same course with Tiger Woods on the same day in a tournament. Saturday, I'll be in a race with the best in the world."
Cindy Juskiewicz of Gorham has never run a race of any distance. Her husband, Matthew, put her name into the lottery when he registered. Why not, said Cindy. Winning anything would be a first.
She won a bib number and days before her debut you couldn't hear a hint of anxiety in her voice. Her daughters, 13 and 10, have made sure she's done some training.
"They've told me," said Juskiewicz, 42. "You can't embarrass us, Mom." Juskiewicz did go to the 2011 Beach to Beacon results and scrolled all the way down to last place. She believes she will do better than 2 hours, 32 minutes, and 10 seconds.
Erin Coyne, 22, of South Portland is running for the second time. She won't be socializing with the elites or the others either. "This is a fabulous race. Just to get you in shape."
She'll leave quickly after her finish. She has tickets to the sold-out Mumford & Sons concert Saturday night.
"I think I want to rest up for that."
Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: