It’s not every competition where 14-minute milers are greeted at the finish line with handshakes and high-fives from an Olympic gold medalist, but Joan Benoit Samuelson’s Beach to Beacon 10K is not your ordinary road race.

Resplendent in red after running the 6.2-mile course herself alongside fellow marathon legends Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter and 77-year-old former L.L. Bean president Leon Gorman, Samuelson welcomed walkers and runners as if they were long-lost friends.

Behind her, half a dozen volunteers in red vests with large white crosses below the word “MEDICAL” watched for anyone suffering unduly from the heat and humidity.

Yes, it was another hot time in Cape Elizabeth on Saturday morning, with approximately six dozen runners treated in the medical tent and one transported to a local hospital.

Even so, more folks made the journey by foot or wheelchair from near Crescent Beach to the Portland Head Light on this first Saturday in August than in any of the previous 14 editions of this annual event: 6,177.

“There were a lot of people out there struggling,” Samuelson said, “but they knew their bounds, and they were walking and running and jogging accordingly.”

With few clouds, temperatures in the mid 70s and barely a breath of wind, Saturday was not a day for records. Stanley Biwott of Kenya was the only runner to finish in under 28 minutes. His time of 27:58.6 was the second-slowest for a winner in nine years.

Only once since 2002 has the winner taken longer to pass beneath the arch of green and white balloons inside Fort Williams, when Ed Muge ran 28:05 in 2009.

Muge placed fifth Saturday in 28:18, but his wife, Emily Chebet, nearly stole the women’s title when each of the two women ahead of her, fellow Kenyans Margaret Wangari-Muriuki and Lineth Chepkurui, misjudged the finish line.

Wangari won in 31:51.6 with Chebet six tenths of a second behind. Chepkurui was another two seconds behind followed four seconds later by Rita Jeptoo in one of the closest, most crowded conclusions in race history.

In the Maine women’s category, Sheri Piers of Falmouth won her second straight title and third overall, in a time (34:23) six seconds off the course record she set in 2007. At 41, Piers also won her second straight women’s masters title.

Among Maine men, two former Falmouth High teammates battled for the title, with Ethan Shaw overtaking Jonny Wilson in the final mile to win by 14 seconds in 30:37.

– From the Aug. 5, 2012 edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram

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