Alex Korio is approached by Joan Benoit Samuelson after winning men’s title at the Beach to Beacon 10K on Saturday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

CAPE ELIZABETH — In the opening mile of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, adjacent to a pick-your-own-strawberries field near Crescent Beach, Alex Korio of Kenya looked around and motioned for someone else to take the lead.

Nobody answered his call. Again, he waved his hand, to no avail. So off he went.

“He just ran away with it,” said Australian Brett Robinson, one of the three nearby runners who failed to accept Korio’s invitation. “Maybe I should have led, and it would have slowed the paced down so I could have kept up.”

In the 22-year history of Beach to Beacon, only one runner has kept up with the pace set Saturday by Korio – who won by nearly a minute in 27 minutes, 34 seconds. Three-time champion Gilbert Okari set the course record of 27:28 in 2003.

On a glorious morning for running, with wispy clouds, low humidity and temperatures in the 60s, Korio unspooled a pack of four on Old Ocean House Road and ran unchallenged beneath fire truck ladders near the center of town and all the way through the rolling hills of Shore Road before peeling off into Fort Williams Park for the final stretch.

“In my mind, I was thinking: smash the course record,” said Korio, 28, a last-minute entrant brought in because visa snafus prevented two of his countrymen from making the trip.

Korio earned $10,000 for winning the race. Jairus Kipchoge-Birech of Kenya was second in 28:28 and earned $5,000. Third place, good for $3,000, went to Bashir Abdi of Belgium in 28:34, and Robinson took fourth ($2,000) in 28:42.

That was the quartet that separated from the pack at Mile 1, and their order didn’t change from Alewives Brook Farm to the Head Light.

“From the start, we were going really fast,” said Abdi, who spent his first 12 years in Somalia before immigrating to Belgium. “He was going faster. We decided, ‘Oh, you’re good. Just keep going.’”

Korio had never been to Maine before. He hadn’t even considered running this race until a Thursday afternoon phone call interrupted his nap in Ngong, a town in southwestern Kenya not far from Nairobi.

As for the winding course, Korio was seeing it for the first time, so forget about tangents. He stuck to the double yellow line.

“Apart from the competition,” he said, “you need to enjoy the race with the other guys. It’s also good to run together so that the race can be interesting.”

Korio had been a pacer at marathons in Chicago and Philadelphia, dropping out after fulfilling his duties. He had not raced on the roads since May in Nigeria and is aiming toward qualifying at 10,000 meters for the World Championships this fall in Doha, Qatar.

“That is my main target,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of preparation.”

All totaled, Korio spent less than 24 hours in Maine. He flew into Boston’s Logan Airport on Friday afternoon, arrived in Cape Elizabeth in time for a late dinner, and was up at 6 a.m. Saturday, drinking coffee and eating bread with honey before venturing to the starting line.

“He wanted us to help out,” Robinson said, “but I don’t think anyone could (Saturday). He was too good.”

The race’s $90,000 prize purse paid out 10 places in the overall standings and five deep among American runners.

Scott Fauble, 27, of Flagstaff, Arizona pocketed $5,000 as the top U.S. male and another $900 for placing sixth overall, in 28:59.

Four-time U.S. Olympian Abdi Abdirahman, 40, won the masters division in 29:21 to earn $1,000 but finished sixth among American runners, just out of the money. He was 16th overall.


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