Joyciline Jepkosgei (100) went in front early and never let up en route to her victory at the Beach to Beach 10K Saturday in Cape Elizabeth. Sandrafelis Chebet-Tuei (107) of Kenya, last year’s winner, finished second. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

CAPE ELIZABETH — Joyciline Jepkosgei entered her first TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race with one thought: set the course record.

She didn’t do that. But on Saturday morning, Jepkosgei, a 25-year-old from Kenya, made sure that the race had no drama.

Moving into the front in the first strides of the race, Jepkosgei ran away from the elite women’s pack, finishing in a time of 31 minutes and four seconds. That was more than a half-minute faster than runner-up Sandrafelis Chebet-Tuei, also of Kenya and last year’s Beach to Beacon winner.

“I didn’t expect to win,” said Jepkosgei. “I think the field … everybody was strong so to win for me is great.”

Chebet-Tuei would finish second in 31:36, falling behind Jepkosgei just after the 2-mile mark and never able to make a push closer. England’s Charlotte Purdue was third at 32:16 and Emily Infeld, of Portland, Oregon, was the first American finisher, in fourth with a time of 32:38.

Jepkosgei and Chebet-Tuei separated from the pack in the opening seconds of the race. And while the weather was ideal for running, those who watched Jepkosgei – who holds the world record in the 10K (29:43) as well as the half-marathon (1:04:51) – pull away were more than happy to let her go.

“So fast,” said Purdue, a marathon runner by trade. “This was obviously short and fast and I knew I could not go out that fast. I’m just not built to run that fast at this moment. Even the pace I was running was pretty fast. But their pace was way too fast for me. So I just let them go.”

“It’s amazing, if I were to try to go with them, I would have been crawling at the end,” said Infeld, who was running her first race since undergoing hip surgery six months ago (and her first 10k road race in five years). “If I was going try to go with them, I wasn’t going to run my race. Let them run their race, I was going to run my race.”

At the mile mark, which Jepkosgei reached in 4:55, the two were about 150 feet ahead of the pack. Chebet-Tuei did her best to stay on Jepkosgei’s left shoulder. But as they made a right-hand turn onto Old Ocean House Road, Jepkosgei pulled ahead. First slowly, then methodically. By the time they got back onto Route 77, she was 150 feet ahead of Chebet-Tuei and the only question was whether she could break the course record of 30:41, set by Kenya’s Mary Keitany in 2017.

Running alone, Jepkosgei said she kept focused on what she was doing. “Whether alone or in a pack, I focus on something,” she said. “My mind is targeting something to focus on, not on somebody else.”

That focus was on the course record. But she couldn’t keep up the pace. “It was tough,” said Jepkosgei. “Especially that last mile.”

Still, she said, “I didn’t get the record, but I’m happy.”

And while Chebet-Tuei could never catch Jepkosgei, she was pleased with her race. “My first time to come here was last year and I won,” she said. “This year I was second. And second is not bad.”

Purdue, who pulled away from the rest of the pack at the 3-mile mark, said the race was good preparation for the upcoming world championships in eight weeks. “When we got to  one mile to go, I already had used up all my energy,” said Purdue. “I was running just on fuel, adrenaline and the crowd.”

And Infeld? “I’m stoked,” she said. “It feels good to go out and work really hard and really hurt.”


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