CAPE ELIZABETH — Paralympian Tony Nogueira of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, dominated the TD Beach to Beacon 10K in the men’s wheelchair division once again Saturday, winning in 24 minutes, 4 seconds – 1:20 ahead of the field. It was his ninth victory at Beach to Beacon.

An art teacher at Rafael De J. Cordero Elementary School in Jersey City, New Jersey, Nogueira knows well the dedication needed to be a world-class wheelchair racer. Nogueira competed for the United States in the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics and for Portugal, his homeland, in the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics.

But Nogueira also had help in making it to his first Beach to Beacon nine years ago.

Nogueira said Joan Benoit Samuelson personally invited him and told him not to worry about the cost.

“She was so generous. She put me up in a hotel. There were no sponsors. She paid out of her own pocket,” Nogueira said.

Now 46, what brings Nogueira back year after year, he said, is the very same warmth and hospitality shown by the spectators.


“I love the people. The course is pretty, but the people are so lovely,” he said. “I do love the rolling hills. My favorite view is (on Shore Road) when you see the ocean. I’m tired then, but I always take a look. It just grabs you. It reminds me of the Portugal coast, near my home, Porto. The coast is rocky there, too.”

Gary Brendel, 55, of Sterling, Massachusetts, finished second in 25:24 and Alinco Omojola, 25, of Newark, New Jersey, was third in 26:12.

Omojola, who immigrated to the United States two years ago, has little time to train because he is looking for work. He said he is able to train thanks to Nogueira, who guides him on the best roads around Newark. Omojola also was able to travel to the Maine race because of Nogueira.

“He will win it next year, believe me,” Nogueira said of Omojola. “He’s young. He needs new equipment. But he will win it.”

The winner of the women’s wheelchair race also is familiar with the enthusiasm and fan support that has become a signature of the Cape Elizabeth race.

Christina Kouros, 19, of Cape Elizabeth captured the women’s division in 39:33 – her third win in four years. This year and last, she was the only participant in the women’s division. But Kouros continues to get faster, and now is considering getting more competitive in wheelchair racing.


Kouros competes in cross- country skiing events in the winter and hopes to make the Paralympics on the Nordic ski team. She also may consider the Summer Paralympics.

Last year Kouros won in 41:17, which was 1:10 faster than her runner-up time in 2012. This year’s time was 1:44 faster than last year.

“As I get older, I get stronger. And I went to college this year and the hills (at the University of New Hampshire) helped make me stronger, just going to class,” Kouros said. “I want to make the Paralympics in skiing. I do this mostly for training for that. But I’ll see how I continue to do.”

Kouros said most of the competitive women’s wheelchair racers compete in the Midwest, and many attend the University of Illinois, where there is a wheelchair racing team that includes 2014 Boston Marathon winner Tatyana McFadden. Kouros is considering continuing her college education there.

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