CAPE ELIZABETH — Joan Benoit Samuelson isn’t one to play favorites, wishing all runners success Saturday in the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, which she founded in 1998 in her hometown.

But she wouldn’t mind if a Maine native wins the road race.

“I would love to see Ben win the whole thing,” said Samuelson, the 1984 women’s Olympic marathon champion, of North Yarmouth native Ben True. “How could you not root for him?”

True, who holds the American record for a 5K road race, placed third in the 2014 Beach to Beacon. He is competing this year only because he came up short in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters at last month’s U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

Other top American men include Eric Jenkins of New Hampshire, who won the American category last year; Sam Chelanga, a two-time NCAA cross country champion and former training partner of True; Bangor native Riley Masters, who placed ninth last year; and former Olympians Dathan Ritzenhein and Abdi Abdirahman.

Top American women include Jordan Hasay, who made her pro debut at the 2014 Beach to Beacon, and Emily Sisson, the 2015 indoor and outdoor NCAA champion at 5,000 meters.


For the first time, elite women (including such Maine runners as Erica Jesseman, Sheri Piers, Kristin Barry and Michelle Lilienthal) will take off at 8 a.m. with the rest of the 6,600-plus field to follow 12 minutes later.

“I’m excited about it,” Samuelson said Wednesday morning between the finish line and Portland Head Light. “I think it will make for a really interesting race for the elite women as well as the spectators. There’s always a race within the race, and then a race within that race. To have the women start and then have the men start and see how it all goes is going to add another element of excitement to the whole race.”

Another added element for Year 19 is a High School Mile on Friday afternoon for a select group of Maine girls and boys, each of whom needed a qualifying time. They will run a two-lap course within Fort Williams (girls begin at 4 p.m., boys at 4:15) and break the tape at the B2B finish line.

“A lot of other races include a high school mile,” Samuelson said. “What’s a little different about our mile, it’s not on a track. I think it will be a crowd pleaser and get a lot of people out here if the weather cooperates, which it should.”

By next year, the race hopes to improve its sustainability certification from the Council for Responsible Sport from Gold status to Evergreen, which would make it unique among road races in the United States.

“It means a great deal to me personally because I love this state,” Samuelson said. “People come to Maine because they think it’s an environmentally friendly and beautiful state with all our amazing resources.”

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