CAPE ELIZABETH — Saturday was not Michelle Lilienthal’s first trip to the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, but it was her first time running as a Maine resident.

That meant a change in approach for the two-time Olympic trials marathoner, who now calls Portland home.

“This year now that I’m a Mainer, I kind of focused a little bit more on it and tapered for this race,” Lilienthal said. “My hope was to be under 34 (minutes). I wanted to be the first Mainer, and what I really cared most about was PR-ing and getting under 34 minutes. I was really pushing hard to get under 34 minutes.”

Lilienthal, 32, who moved to Maine from Minnesota last winter, shattered her expectations and the Maine women’s record, finishing as the top in-state woman in 33 minutes, 38.8 seconds. Lilienthal was the 13th female finisher overall and topped her previous best by 22 seconds.

The Maine women’s record was 34:17.0, set by Lilienthal’s good friend, Sheri Piers of Falmouth, in 2009.

Erica Jesseman, 25, of Scarborough was the Maine women’s runner-up. Piers, 43, was the third woman from Maine to finish and also won the overall women’s master’s race in 35:45.0.


Perhaps because Lilienthal is still relatively unknown in Maine, the finish-line announcer said Jesseman was the Maine winner, leading to momentary confusion for the audience and a bit of concern for Lilienthal.

“Personally, getting the glory at that moment, I don’t care about that,” Lilienthal said. “I knew it would get straightened out. I’m more excited about getting a personal best. I’ve been running 10Ks for 15 years and I’m really happy to do it, especially on this course. This course is tough.”

Jesseman, the 14th overall woman, said she knew she was trailing Lilienthal throughout the 6.2-mile course and is eager to catch her in the future.

“I’m very lucky to have (Lilienthal) here now,” Jesseman said. “It’s definitely pushed me to work that much harder. You know, the more competitive a state gets – and our state is getting very competitive – it forces you to work harder and get better.”

Jesseman also broke Piers’ record, finishing in 34:16.5.

“I got my PR and I’m happy with it,” Jesseman said. “But I am a little frustrated because I wanted to break 34 (minutes) and that was my main objective coming into this race and I didn’t do it. I’m very lucky, very fortunate, very blessed to be able to do all that, but I was in shape to do it and that’s what’s so frustrating.”


Lilienthal (who ran last year as Michelle Frye) ran a strong 34:17 in 2013 without tapering off her marathon-based training. Her 2013 Beach to Beacon race proved noteworthy for another reason. That was the weekend Piers introduced her to former University of Maine runner Marc Halverson. Halverson (who finished 68th overall in 34:16) and Lilienthal are now a couple, prompting Lilienthal’s move from Minnesota.

Piers was excited for Lilienthal’s success.

“We knew it was going to happen,” Piers said. “Records are made to be broken, and good for Michelle. Now, she better stay here in Maine.”

Finishing fourth among the Maine women was 18-year-old Kirstin Sandreuter, a recent Greely High graduate from North Yarmouth. Sandreuter, training for her first cross country season at Cornell University, finished in 36:26.6. Piers’ longtime friend and training partner, Kirstin Barry, 40, of Scarborough was the fifth Maine woman in 37:00.8. Barry was also the second overall master’s woman.

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