This was after James Koskei, having learned from last year’s too-early sprint, outkicked Henrick Ramaala to win by one second.

This was after Adriana Fernandez, eight months after giving birth, dethroned the four-time champion, Catherine Ndereba. This was more than two hours after the fifth annual Peoples Beach to Beacon 10K road race had snaked its way through Cape Elizabeth on Saturday, past Crescent Beach, around Old Ocean House Road and up to Route 77, under a white arch of firetruck ladders supporting an enormous American flag.

Firefighters and police officers both locally and from New York crowded an awards platform. Don Campbell strummed his guitar and asked a crowd of 4,000-plus runners and their families to join hands on a hillside overlooking the mouth of Portland Harbor and sing along to “America the Beautiful” as a fireboat sprayed plumes of colored water – blue off the bow, red off the stern and white from above.

That’s when Joan Benoit Samuelson, founder of this race, stepped to the microphone and attempted to describe her experience of participating in this event not only as an organizer, but finally, for the first time, as a runner.

“This year, I saw the race like I’ve never seen it before,” she said. “You all made it very special.”

She spent the morning greeting friends, solving last-minute snafus, accompanying a New York firefighter, John Gleason, through the race, hugging her 81-year-old Freeport neighbor, Nelson Soule (who recovered from a heart attack near the end of the inaugural Beach to Beacon) after he completed the course, and making sure all 4,109 finishers felt welcome.

Of course, none felt so welcome as Koskei, 33, a Kenyan who became the fifth different men’s winner in a time of 28 minutes, 11 seconds, or Fernandez, 31, a Mexican who pulled away from Ndereba to win the women’s race in 31:56.

The Maine champions defended their titles. Andy Spaulding of Freeport overcame a five-second deficit inside the fort to beat course-record holder Bob Winn of Ogunquit in 31:26. Christine Snow-Reaser of Dayton held off Jenna Richardson of Waterville to win in 36:30.

– From the Aug. 4, 2002 edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram

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