CAPE ELIZABETH – The four-day transformation is nearly complete. Yellow signs on telephone poles warn motorists of road closures. White tents and green nylon mesh fencing have sprung up throughout Fort Williams Park. Portable toilets stand like sentinels between Crescent Beach State Park and Ram Island Farm Road.

“This infrastructure is massive,” said Dave McGillivray, race director for the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K. “It takes four days to build it.”

Most of the 32 races put on each year by his DMSE event management company require only a morning setup, he said. A race earlier this year that finished in Fenway Park required only a few balloon columns to mark the end.

Beach to Beacon includes 20 tents. The starting area is basically a road through open fields. The finish area winds through Fort Williams Park, which is crawling with spectators, before ending in sight of the Portland Head Light.

“This race requires more fencing and barricades than any other race I do,” said McGillivray, who has directed the Boston Marathon since 2001. “We use hundreds of steel barricades and thousands of feet of nylon mesh fencing.”

Now 56, McGillivray has learned to delegate most of the responsibilities at each race to his capable staff. At least, he delegates for 30 of those events. He’s still hands-on in Boston. Ditto for Beach to Beacon.

“I’ll never give this one up,” he said.

NORTH YARMOUTH native Ben True is back in town one year after he set a course record for Maine residents of 29 minutes, 10 seconds. Now running professionally with his residence listed as Eugene, Ore., True will compete among the elites today and wear bib number 9.

“I love this race,” he said. “I always try to keep it open every year.”

The Oregon experiment didn’t work out so well, however, so True has moved back to Maine. He and his dog, Otzi (a husky-shepherd mix), made the 3,200-mile drive back to Maine. Along the way, they stopped in Iowa so True could run the Bix 7-Miler in Davenport, where he finished seventh in what he called his best race of the season.

“I’m not a city person,” he said. “Most people don’t view Eugene as a city, but I see it as a huge metropolis. My training wasn’t the best out there.”

True has joined a nascent running group connected with a charitable foundation called In The Arena. Along with four others, True will begin training next month in Lyme, N.H., located about 10 miles north of Hanover, home of True’s alma mater, Dartmouth.

“I’m very excited it’s in Lyme,” said True, who plans to run the Falmouth Road Race next weekend on Cape Cod.

AMONG TODAY’S runners will be three generations of the Morris family of Cape Elizabeth, running as Team Ali Katz to raise awareness of cystic fibrosis. Terri Morris, 81, lives in Venice, Fla., after many years in Scarborough. Her daughter, Patty Morris, staffed a booth at the race expo with information on cystic fibrosis and flyers for a benefit 5K on the Eastern Prom scheduled for Sept. 26.

Patty’s daughter, Ali Donahue, is a recent summa cum laude graduate in English from the University of Southern Maine. Donahue is 22 and has cystic fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems of about 30,000 children and adults in this country and 70,000 worldwide.

A few decades ago, it was viewed as a childhood disease, with a median life expectancy of 18. Today, thanks to advancements in medicine and research, the median age is 37.

“That’s a huge leap,” said Patty Morris, who will be joined by six other friends and family members in today’s race.

FOR THE FIRST time in memory, a wheelchair racer was among the elite athletes at the prerace press conference Friday morning. Craig Blanchette of Battle Ground, Wash., is a 21-time world record holder, an eight-time world champion and a bronze medalist from the 1988 Paralympics. Now 42, he was born without femurs, knees, fibulas or hip sockets.

Blanchette bumped into Joan Benoit Samuelson this spring at the Lilac Bloomsday 12K in Spokane, Wash., where he was racing a wheelchair for the first time in eight years.

“He was the best wheelchair racer in the ’90s,” said Samuelson, who invited him to take part in the Beach to Beacon. “He had taken some time off, and was making a concerted effort to race again.”

Blanchette said a chance meeting with his old coach, Kevin Hansen, prompted him to return to competition. He plans to race next weekend at the Falmouth Road Race.

Like all the other elite athletes, Blanchette is staying with a host family. Such hospitality “is a very nice touch,” Blanchette said. “You really get to connect with the locals.”

REGISTERED RUNNERS hail from 17 countries and 40 states. The four biggest outside of Maine are Massachusetts (631), New Hampshire (221), New York (133) and Vermont (89). Four runners are the only representatives from their state — Iowa, Montana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The missing 10 states? Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

[email protected]


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