Entering Fort Williams Park on Saturday it was a three-man race heading toward the finish for the 11th Annual Beach to Beacon 10K. Maregu Zewdie of Ethiopia and Ed Muge of Kenya were locked in a battle that went all the way to the lighthouse. Muge had taken the lead at the six-mile mark, only to be passed by Zewdie. But Muge had one more kick left in him as he sprinted to the finish line in 27:52.4 to 27:53 for Zewdie.

“I was not expecting to win,” said Muge after the race while sitting in the shadow of a giant poster of race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson looking down from Portland Head Light. “I expected Maregu.”

But Muge knew when they entered the park running neck and neck, that he had a great shot at the prize.

“I thought I had the better kick,” Muge said.

It turns out he was right. Muge claimed his first win in Maine’s premier road race and the $11,000 prize that goes with it.

Kiplimo Kimutai, who paced Muge and the rest of the elite runners over the hills and through the woods of Shore Road wound up finishing in third place with a time of 27:58.1.

In the early going, the lead pack set a blistering pace with a 4:12 first mile with Kimutai out front. Kimutai set out to thin the field early in the going. He would push and slow repeatedly looking to shake his competition.

The strategy paid off somewhat as the lead pack went from six at the two-mile mark to four at the midway mark. When the leaders turned onto Shore Road, it was down to three men. That set up the furious run to the finish with Muge taking the top spot.

On the women’s side, it was 41-year-old Edith Masai of Kenya who was the victor. Masai is old enough to compete in the Masters category, but didn’t let that stop her from dominating the elite women’s race. She won with a time of 31:55.6 to best second place Liudmila Biktasheva who recorded a time of 32:03.2.

Masai held a rather convincing lead at the five mile mark and held off Biktasheva down the stretch to take her first Beach to Beacon win. Yuri Kano of Tokyo Japan was third.

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