At about 5 o’clock Saturday morning, three hours before the scheduled start of Saturday’s sixth Peoples Beach to Beacon 10K road race, race director Dave McGillivray dropped two tables on his big toe, possibly breaking it. Bad omen.

An hour before the race, heavy rain fell over Cape Elizabeth as traffic backed up and runners wearing garbage-bag vests scurried to reach the remote starting line near Crescent Beach State Park.

And yet when the horn sounded to start the race, a little behind schedule at 8:11 a.m., the rain had stopped and sunshine could be seen.

“Too many good people come to the race, ” said the Beach to Beacon founder, Joan Benoit Samuelson, “and so much good is done as a result of this race, that the pressure was there for the weather to cooperate.”

The sixth running of Maine’s largest road race produced a record-setting performance by Kenyan Gilbert Okari on his 25th birthday – he won in 27 minutes, 27.5 seconds to shave 20 seconds off Khalid Khannouchi’s 4-year-old mark.

And it marked a fifth title for Catherine Ndereba of Kenya in a time (31:52.5) second only to her 2000 course record, and more finishers (4,273) than ever before.

Also, Maggie Hanson, 23, of Bowdoinham won bragging rights among Maine women, ending the two-year reign of Christine Snow-Reaser.

But the morning’s most surprising development was the emergence of Eric Giddings, 16, of South Portland, a high school junior who stunned everyone by winning the Maine men’s race over veterans twice his age, including Andy Spaulding of Freeport and Bob Winn of Ogunquit, two-time winners both.

Moreover, Spaulding didn’t discover he was the runner-up until after he had crossed the finish line, been announced as winner, received a congratulatory hug from Samuelson, and stood next to Giddings in the chute.

“So,” Giddings said shyly, “who was the next Maine runner after us?”

Spaulding’s eyes opened wide. Us?

Shocked and disappointed, Spaulding nevertheless managed grace.

“Usually when you’re second in the race you have a lot of time to accept it, ” he said after finishing 10 seconds behind Giddings, who won in 31:17.5.

– From the Aug. 3, 2003 edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram

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