Sheri Piers grabbed a long-sleeved shirt and headed to the starting line of the 14th Beach to Beacon 10K road race near Crescent Beach State Park. After a short warmup, that shirt was soaked with sweat.

“I said, ‘I can’t believe this!'” Piers said. “‘It’s going to be hot today.’ And it was hotter than ever. I don’t know what happened.”

The unexpected heat and humidity made for a muggy morning along the scenic 6.2-mile course as a record-setting parade of 5,876 runners, walkers and wheelchair racers crossed the finish line in sight of the Portland Head Light.

Piers wound up winning her second Maine women’s title Saturday, but in a time nearly a minute slower than the course record she set two years ago.

Micah Kogo of Kenya was on pace for a course record through five miles but downshifted though the rolling hills of the final 1.2 miles and won in 27 minutes, 46.9 seconds, well off Gilbert Okari’s 8-year-old record and 6 seconds behind the time of last year’s winner, Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia.

That country’s athletic federation kept Gebremariam home this year to prepare for the track and field world championships in South Korea later this month, so the first seven men to finish Saturday all hailed from Kenya.

But Aheza Kiros became the Beach to Beacon’s second Ethiopian champion, beating all other women in 32:08.7, more than a minute slower than last year’s winning time, the course record of 30:59 set by Lineth Chepkurui.

Similarly, Maine’s top male – Louie Luchini of Ellsworth – was 1:07 slower than Patrick Tarpy’s winning time of a year ago. Luchini came in at 30:35.5 – still the fourth-fastest winning time for the in-state division – and 7 seconds ahead of runner-up Jonny Wilson of Falmouth in what turned out to be the closest of the event’s four major competitions.

– From the Aug. 7, 2011 edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram