Under a bright sky and thin, scattered clouds Saturday, the eighth TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K road race sparkled again through the streets of Cape Elizabeth, ending at a postcard-perfect Fort Williams Park. Leading the pack of 4,306 runners who finished was Gilbert Okari, a tall Kenyan who wore the champion’s laurel wreath for the third straight year. His time was 27 minutes, 37.8 seconds, nine seconds off the race record he set in 2003.

The humidity was low and the temperature was 70 degrees at race time, comfortable conditions, especially in the shade of Cape’s tree-lined streets.

But perspective is everything. Lornah Kiplagat, the women’s champion, wasn’t so comfortable.

“I just came two days ago from Europe. It was a cold day in Holland, rainy and chilly, ” Kiplagat said. “For me this is hot.”

Kiplagat just missed the women’s course record by 1.4 seconds, finishing in 31:34.2.

One record fell as Eric Giddings, 18, of South Portland stretched his youthful legs over the course in 30:34.0, setting a Maine men’s record, beating Bob Winn’s mark of 30:52.

More teenagers followed, and their parents, and octogenarians. This race used to have such a fitting name when it was the Peoples Beach to Beacon 10K. But the race sponsor, Peoples Bank, merged and changed its name to TD Banknorth.

It is still the people’s race, and it is still Joan’s Race, as the race founder, Joan Benoit Samuelson, bounced across the park, wearing a green cap and backpack, shaking hands, congratulating winners and, as always, promoting her sport.

“How many of you ran their first race today?” Samuelson asked the crowd at the awards ceremony. “Hopefully it’s the first of many.”

For most, this was not their first race, nor their first Beach to Beacon.

Peter Bottomley, 43, of Cape Elizabeth, ran in his sixth Beach to Beacon, placing third in the Maine men masters division. He likes the race and the local pride that surfaces every August.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful venue. We like to show it off.”

– From the Aug. 7, 2005 edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram

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