CAPE ELIZABETH – Craig Blanchette looked around him and knew he was in for a tough race.

The wheelchair division of the 15th TD Beach to Beacon 10K included four former winners, including Blanchette, and promised to be tightly contested.

Early on, Blanchette ended the drama. Taking the lead in the first mile, the 44-year-old from Battleground, Wash., eased to his second Beach to Beacon title in three years. Blanchette finished in 23 minutes, 38 seconds, 1:13 ahead of Patrick Doak, who still holds the course record set in 2007.

“This is definitely the deepest field they’ve had here yet,” said Blanchette. “Quite frankly this is so much fun to race. It was nice that a lot of the course was in the shade. The roads are really nice, lots of rolly hills. It’s just a fabulous event. Overall it’s a spectacularly run race.”

Cheri Blauwet of Boston, competing in her first Beach to Beacon, won the women’s wheelchair division. Her time was 34:43.

Christina Kouros, a Cape Elizabeth teenager who was last year’s winner, finished second in 42:27.

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Blanchette said he was looking forward to the race, given its competitive field. He, Doak and two other former champs, Tony Nogueira and Jason Fowler, often compete against each other.

“We all want to win and sometimes we do,” he said. “It’s just fun to go out and challenge yourself and say, ‘How bad do I want to work today? How bad do I want it?’

“It’s always good to keep asking yourself those types of questions and then seeing what kind of answers you get. I had some good answers today. I liked my answers.”

Nogueira, the 44-year-old eight-time winner of this race, took the early lead. But then Doak overtook him and Blanchette decided to go for the lead. “I was still feeling fresh and decided to go for it,” he said.

After passing Doak, he slowly lengthened the lead.

Blauwet never trailed in the women’s race. Then again, she brings another level to the sport.

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Blauwet has competed in the last two Paralympic Games, in 2004 and 2008.

She retired after the 2008 games in Beijing to go back to medical school. She works at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, practicing physical medicine and rehabilitation.

“I’ve wanted to come here and race for a long time,” she said. “This is a fun course.”

Kouros, the 17-year-old from Cape, set a personal best. She won last year in 53:33, so she cut more than 10 minutes off. More important, she finished before the elite runners.

“That was a big goal of mine,” she said.

“Last year they caught up with me and I was forced to one side of the road so I wouldn’t run into them. It was scary.” 

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Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

 


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