Cool temperatures, no threat of rain or fog, cloud cover for sensitive skin, the gentlest of breezes, sunshine on the awards ceremony and two women breaking the old course record.

The latest edition of the Beach to Beacon 10K road race had it all.

“It was Lucky 13, what can I say?” said Joan Benoit Samuelson, standing on a hill overlooking the Portland Head Lighthouse early Saturday afternoon. “We’ve been blessed.”

Lineth Chepkurui, a 22-year-old Kenyan who was forced to miss the race the previous two years because of back and ankle injuries, turned in the first sub-31 minute performance for a woman in this annual race from Crescent Beach to Fort Williams that Samuelson started in 1998.

Chepkurui led from opening air horn to closing tape-breaking beneath a graceful arch of white and green balloons in a record time of 30 minutes, 59.4 seconds. Wude Ayalew of Ethiopia, a year older, was seven seconds behind. Until Saturday, the fastest women’s time had been 31:26 by Alevtina Ivanova of Russia, set in 2006.

In a tactical men’s race featuring three runners within a stride of each other as they entered the old gate of Fort Williams Park, Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia used a superior finishing kick to surge past a pair of Kenyans and win in 27:40.4.

The winners each earned $10,000 in prize money, with Chepkurui receiving an added $2,500 for setting a course record. Gebremariam, who finished a second and change ahead of 20-year-old Alan Kiprono, ended a string of 10 consecutive victories for Kenyan men at the Beach to Beacon.

Among Maine residents, Pat Tarpy of Yarmouth joined Ben True, a North Yarmouth native who now lives in New Hampshire, as the only local men to finish under a half-hour. Tarpy’s time of 29:28 bested runner-up Phil Richert of Bar Harbor by a full minute. True, who set the course record of 29:10 a year ago, ran in the elite division after having turned professional. He placed 12th overall, out of the money, a shade over 29 minutes.

Kristin Barry of Scarborough won her second Maine women’s title in three years, but didn’t cross the finish line until she had reached back to clasp hands with her training partner and good friend, Sheri Piers of Falmouth, whose time was three tenths behind Barry’s official clocking of 34:34.9.

In all, 5,671 runners and walkers crossed the finish line, a slight increase from last year. David Weatherbie, the race president, noted that 23 Maine men ran faster than 33 minutes, from Tarpy to Wade Davis of Hallowell, showing remarkable strength in the state’s road-racing community.

– From the Aug. 8 2010 edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram

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