Dan Curts slows to a stop after finishing as the first Mainer in the 22nd annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K on Saturday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

CAPE ELIZABETH — Their expectations were different entering the TD Beach to Beacon 10K.

But the victories by Dan Curts and Sofie Matson as Maine champions surely impressed other competitors.

Curts, 23, a recent Iowa State graduate from Ellsworth, was 12th overall in the world-class field and the seventh-fastest American with a time of 29 minutes, 26 seconds. It was the second-fastest time ever for a Maine resident, trailing only Ben True’s 29:10  in 2009.

“Dan Curts is just very fit right now. I ran (23) seconds faster than when I won last year,” said defending Maine champ Ryan Smith, who finished second in 30:27.

“Dan Curts is in fantastic shape,” agreed Will Geoghegan, a Nike-sponsored runner who has returned to his hometown of Brunswick and was the third Maine man in 30:48. “He got separation from me.”

Matson drew superlatives because she’s only 16. That the junior-to-be at Falmouth High seemed barely winded after cruising across the finish line in 36:02 was also noticed.

“She’s talented. She’s the real deal,” said three-time Maine winner Sheri Piers of Falmouth, who was fourth this year.

“I wouldn’t have even wanted to do 10Ks when I was 16,” said Corey Dowe of Farmington, a former steeplechaser at Cornell University who was second in 36:34. “That’s just crazy. Good for her.”

Matson is the youngest and first teenage winner in the Maine women’s division.

“It means a lot. It’s an incredible honor in a race like this,” Matson said.

Eric Giddings was also 16 when he won the Maine men’s race in 2003. Giddings again in 2005, Ayalew Taye in 2007 and Ben Decker in 2015 were also teenage winners on the men’s side.

“I actually didn’t expect to win,” Matson said. “It was kind of a surprise because I was around eighth or ninth last year. I did know at the halfway point I was having a good race, though.”

Sofie Matson, 16, of Falmouth was the fastest female from Maine at the 22nd annual Beach to Beacon 10K on Saturday. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

On a comfortable morning for running, Matson posted the fourth slowest Maine women’s winning time in the race’s 22-year history. The overall depth of the field was weakened a bit this year. Three-time champ Michelle Lilienthal (43:49) ran while seven-plus months pregnant, and two-time champ Erica Jesseman (37:17) has been battling anemia.

Heather Gallant, 38, of Wayne placed third among Maine women in 36:58, a second ahead of Piers, 48, and two seconds quicker than Susie Fitzpatrick, 28, of Kennebunk.

It was the third time Matson has run Beach to Beacon. Saturday was a 10K personal best by more than two-and-a-half minutes.

“Last year I was coming off a spring injury, so I didn’t have as much fitness built up. I have that much more aerobic fitness now,” said Matson, who won both the 1,600 and 3,200 meters at the Class A outdoor track meet.

Now Matson will have to figure out whether she can accept the $1,000 first-place prize without endangering future NCAA eligibility.

While Matson ran her race solo, without a clear idea that she was top Mainer, Curts said he “knew the Maine faces,” and winning the Maine race and the $1,000 first-place prize was part of his prerace plan.

“I wanted to run closer to 29 minutes but, you know, I can point toward that next year,” he said.

Curts will be directing his attention to a return to the track and, hopefully, finding a team and sponsor to run for.

“That’s still up in the air. I haven’t figured that out yet,” he said.

His effort on Saturday could help raise awareness. Curts beat the past four champions in Smith (2018), Geoghegan (2014), fourth-place finisher Jesse Orach (2016, 2017) and Decker (2015), who finished fifth.


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