The sun danced on the ocean again. The world’s best runners returned Saturday and dazzled as well.

The town of Cape Elizabeth wrapped its arms around the event for a third year, as thousands of people lined the curves of the course, waving flags, shouting encouragement, offering water, soaking in the sights.

Even with controversy at the finish of the elite women’s race, which provoked debate all morning, the third Peoples Beach to Beacon 10K road race matched its young legacy: It drew top talent, provided a showcase for New England running, and served up a spectacle for people who woke up early, just to watch.

The morning started cool. And as the dew on the grass dried, 3,429 runners made their way along the 6.2-mile course – the largest field to run the race.

Organizers estimate 7,000 to 8,000 spectators watched from pockets along the course and at Fort Williams. Even that’s up. Last year the crowd estimate was 6,000.

Joseph Kimani of Kenya, the world record-holder in the 10K, and last year’s second-place finisher, owned the men’s race from early going.

Kimani peeked behind his shoulder at mile 4 and saw a gap. The distance between him and the second-place finisher just continued to grow over the last 2.2 miles. He won in 28 minutes, 7 seconds.

But it was the women’s race that provided the drama. It was the closest and most exciting … of the day.

Catherine Ndereba of Kenya was judged the winner, her third Beach to Beacon title.

But she and Libbie Hickman of Colorado Springs, Colo., sprinted to the end; each of them thought she’d won. Hickman said she touched the finish line first – a plastic ribbon, stretched not quite correctly across the end.

But all three judges ruled Ndereba broke the plane first. Both runners recorded times of 32:19.

– From the Aug. 6, 2000 edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram