Tony Nogueira approaches the finish line to win the wheelchair division of the 22nd annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K on Saturday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

CAPE ELIZABETH — Twenty-one years after winning his first TD Beach to Beacon 10K title, Tony Nogueira is still on a roll.

On Saturday, Nogueira took home his 12th title in the wheelchair division. He finished in 22 minutes and 51 seconds, nearly half a minute faster than his winning time of 23:22 last year.

“It’s a beautiful race (with) beautiful people,” said Nogueira. Now 51, he won the inaugural race in 1998. “It’s on the schedule, so I try to focus my training around this race. I know there will be good competition.”

Nogueira broke from the pack of 12 racers early in the race on the downhill portion of the course and maintained a significant lead until the finish.

Jason Robinson, 16, of Rome, New York, finished 17 seconds behind Nogueira with a personal best of 23:08.

“It was a fast course and we had a nice tail wind at the beginning,” said Robinson, who was competing in the event for the third year. “I like that (the course) is a little deceiving, because you think it’s all downhill at the beginning, but when you hit the last mile or two, it’s basically all rolling hills and the climbs are very nice.”

As the youngest participant, Robinson said it was an honor to race behind a decorated veteran like Nogueira.

“He’s a phenomenal racer,” said Robinson. “He’s really hard to catch on those downhills, especially. You can kind of narrow the gaps when it hits the flats and the uphills, since I’m a lighter guy and I can climb pretty well, but he really just took off from start and we really couldn’t catch him from there.”

Nogueira was encouraged to see the teenager do well.

“I’m so glad that these kids are into it and they’re pursuing this sport, because otherwise the sport isn’t going to grow. We need to support these kids and encourage them to keep training and keep racing so that wheelchair racing stays around for a long time to come.”

Michelle Wheeler wins the women’s wheelchair division. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Michelle Wheeler, 32, of Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, was the top female finisher and sixth overall in 30:25.

“A very slow time, (since) I was injured and just getting back into it,” said Wheeler, who finished second among females last year, “but it’s just a beautiful atmosphere, the weather, the people, I love it.”

Michelle’s daughter, Eva, 10, was waiting for her at the finish line.

Asked to describe her mother’s racing, Eva had one word: “Amazing.”

Twelve racers participated in this year’s event, slightly down from last year’s 14, making it the first time since 2016 that the wheelchair field hasn’t grown.

Nogueira’s 20-year-old son, Pelle, ran in the open division.

“There’s something about this race for him,” said Pelle Nogueira, who runs track and cross country at Manhattan College in New York City. “There are a guys here who have the raw ability to beat him, but he’s able to use his experience.”

“It’s inspiring to have him as a motivator since I was young, and for him to give me the opportunity to participate in races like this. It’s kind of a gift for me.”

MICHELLE LILIENTHAL of Portland won the 2014, 1016 and 2018 Maine women’s titles but finished in 43:49 Saturday, nearly eight minutes behind category champion Sofie Matson, a rising junior at Falmouth High.

Of course, Lilienthal, 37, is seven months pregnant with her first child and ran alongside her husband, Marc Halverson.

“I was a little tempted to go faster, but you kept holding me back,” Lilienthal said to Halverson after finishing at a 7:04-mile pace.

“She went too fast,” Halverson said. “I think she told me to be quiet in stronger words at one point.”

Lilienthal and Leah Frost of Portland, who placed fourth in the Maine women’s category last year, shared a hug after finishing Saturday. Frost is also pregnant, only two weeks behind Lilienthal, she said.

“It was fun,” Lilienthal said. “I never felt like I was pushing. I felt really in control.”

ERICA JESSEMAN WAS another former Maine women’s division winner slightly off her peak performance. The 30-year-old from Scarborough recently learned she has an iron deficiency. She finished in 37:17, seventh among Maine women. But she considered the day a “blessing,” and a way to pay tribute to Wendy Vachon-Hanson, the mother of Jesseman’s best friend, who died from bone cancer two months ago. “She was like a second mom to me,” Jesseman said. Dragonflies were among Vachon’s favorite creatures. She believed they carried blessings to people. “About three and a half miles into the race, I wasn’t feeling good and a dragonfly landed on my shoulder. Then I felt strong,” Jesseman said.

Robert Mountain shakes hands with Joan Benoit Samuelson after winning the distinction of the oldest runner to finish the 2019 Beach to Beacon 10K. Mountain is age 91. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

ROBERT MOUNTAIN was again the race’s oldest runner. Mountain, 91, finished in 1 hour, 53 minutes, 11 seconds. It was his 11th Beach to Beacon. His first was when he was 80, and it was the first road race he’d ever entered. “I was running three miles a day for years, but it was just for fun,” Mountain said. “Today I had a lot of inspiration. I was running with three granddaughters and one great-granddaughter. They ran with me. Well, they ran and walked with me.”

LARRY WOLD HAS more than a casual interest in the Beach to Beacon 10K. As president of TD Bank, the race’s chief corporate sponsor, he’s closely aligned with the race. But he’s also one of about 108 “legacy” runners who have run in each of the 22 races.

After finishing in 43:51, he said, “I finished, and I finished with dignity.”

Looking back, he said no one could have foreseen the success of the race. “When we were at the last organizing committee meeting on Wednesday, going over the final details, and (Joan Benoit Samuelson) got up and said, ‘This race has exceeded my expectations,’” he said. “I was next at the agenda and looked at everybody and said, ‘Did you hear that? We exceeded Joan’s expectations. This is a woman who does not set low expectations.’ I’d be lying to you if I said I envisioned this. It has become just such an integral part of the community and been embraced by Cape Elizabeth and runners in general.”

The TD Charitable Foundation provided $30,000 to The Telling Room, this year’s race charity. Wold noted that the runners also donated another $25,000 through the registration process. “That says so much about the running community,” he said. “And that the charitable component means as much to everybody as it does to the bank.”

Aaron Burdeau, 27, of Portland, jubilantly crosses the finish line, beating his previous personal record race time by 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

COMPETITIVE GOALS are never far from the minds of top runners. For Brunswick’s Will Geoghegan, his first B2B since 2015 was a promising return after a tough summer. He ran pain-free and finished third among Maine men in 30:48. The former Dartmouth College and Univesity of Oregon runner was planning to compete in either the 1,500 or 5,000 meters at last weekend’s U.S. track and field championships, but inflammation in a pelvic bone forced a shutdown. “It’s something where you just have to wait for the (inflammation) to die down. It was eight to 10 weeks right in what would have been the meat of my outdoor season,” Geoghegan said.

Geoghegan, who is sponsored by Nike, said he’ll now shift his focus to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials. His goal is to hit the Olympic standard time of 13:13.50 in the 5,000 before the trials. His current best time is 13:17. “It’s definitely within striking distance I think. I want to say there will be eight to 10 (American men) who will wind up with the standard.”

Maine men’s runner-up Ryan Smith, 24, who recently moved to Auburn from Farmington, is trying to reach the Olympic Trials marathon standard of 2 hours, 19 minutes. On June 22, Smith ran a personal best 2:21:07 in the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. It was his second marathon. His third will be in Hartford, Connecticut, on Oct. 12. “I’ve got to train to cut my PR by over two minutes in the next 10 weeks,” he said.

Maine women’s runner-up Corey Dowe of Farmington said she’s hyped for the U.S. Mountain Running Championship on Sept. 29, in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. Dowe, originally from Barrington, New Hampshire, first tried mountain racing two years ago “and I loved it.” Races are roughly a 10K distance consisting of two laps of running up and down a mountain. The top four finishers at Waterville Valley make the U.S. team that will compete at the World Mountain Running Championships in Argentina in November.

THE BICYCLE COALITION of Maine’s valet service received a record-high 325 bicycles, according to Jim Tasse, the coalition’s assistant director. First offered in 2016, the free service allows participants and spectators to ride and park their bikes at the finish line at Fort Williams Park and take a shuttle to the start line at Crescent Beach State Park.

THERE WERE NO issues in the medical tent. In fact, there was hardly anyone in it.

Mike Baumann, the medical director, said 16 people were treated after the race. Normally, the average is about 50, he said.

“It was shockingly low volume, medically, in a good way,” said Baumann. “It was a hot and a little humid. I was worried.”

Baumann said about a dozen runners needed to be immersed in ice baths.

Emily Infeld is embraced by race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson after being the first American woman finisher. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

AFTER SHE ran the 6.2 miles of the race, England’s Charlotte Purdue went on a 4-mile cooldown run. Combine that with her 2-mile warm-up before the race, and she had a busy day.

But that’s nothing for Purdue, a marathoner by trade. She’s preparing for the upcoming world championships and felt the Beach to Beacon would be handy training. “I’m used to getting into a rhythm and sticking at a certain pace, and that pace is a lot slower than this pace,” she said. “Coming back to the 10K is good training because it teaches your body, obviously, to run quicker and the marathon pace goes slightly easier. So it’s good. Obviously, it was out of my comfort zone, which is why I wanted to come here.”

HANNAFORD SUPERMARKETS provided postrace food for participants, a feat that takes months of planning and nearly two full days of onsite preparation, according to food tent coordinator Adin Wolfgram.

Wolfgram’s team of 44 volunteers handed out approximately 3,200 bananas, slices from 90 watermelons, 50 cases of oranges and 62 cases of blueberries.

“I basically live here for a couple of days before the race,” said Wolfgram.

The Blue Spoon, a restaurant and catering service based in Portland, provided food for volunteers and race officials. The husband-and-wife ownership duo Liz Koenigsberg and Will Lavey served up 20 quiches and 12,000 baked goods on the morning of the race and were preparing 525 lobsters for a postrace dinner Saturday evening.

– Staff writers Mike Lowe, Steve Craig and Glenn Jordan contributed to this notebook.


Comments are not available on this story.