Ken Shapiro of Cumberland races in the Beach to Beacon 10K last Saturday with his recumbent tricycle. Contributed / Maine Adaptive

Twelve years after suffering a debilitating stroke at age 40, Ken Shapiro was expecting to finish “dead last” in the Beach to Beacon 10K on Saturday. It was the first time he’d be riding in a race of that length in his customized recumbent tricycle, after all.

“I had ridden 5Ks before, but this was my first 10K,” said Shapiro, a Cumberland resident. “The 5Ks I’ve done predominantly on a flat area, which took me about an hour.”

Shapiro said he expected it to take him upwards of two hours to finish the course in Cape Elizabeth. He pictured being last and having the roads reopening to traffic right behind him. Instead, he finished in 41:15. (In comparison, the top winning time in the men’s Wheelchair Division was 23:11.)

“It absolutely exceeded my expectations,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to the downhills for that. I’m not used to being able to pick up so much time on a downhill.”

Inclines were challenging, he said, but “they did allow my wife to volunteer for the race and ride along behind me on her bicycle and give me an assist if I was struggling on a hill.”


As a result of the stroke, Shapiro has no mobility in his left arm and limited mobility in his left leg. His customized recumbent tricycle served him well on Saturday, he said.

“Because I really only have functional use of my right hand, it’s a must for me to have that stability and balance and power, but also all the gear and braking controls are on the right handlebar,” he said.

Beach to Beacon has a different beneficiary every year, and this year it benefited The Cromwell Center for Disabilities Awareness, for which Shapiro is a board member.

“Our mission is to promote safe, respectful and inclusive schools and communities,” said Susan Greenwood, executive director of the Portland-based organization. “Our programs help kids understand that having a disability is just one way that, as humans, we differ from each other; it’s just an aspect of diversity.”

The partnership between Beach to Beacon and The Cromwell Center spawned a new event, “Walk, Run, Roll,” which took place on Friday between the High School Mile and Kids Fun Run.

“We had people participating of all different ages and abilities,” Greenwood said. “It looks like this is something that really has the potential to become an official part of (race weekend).”


Debra Maxfield, coordinator of Beach to Beacon’s Wheelchair Division, said the Walk, Run, Roll is a great way to make race weekend more accessible and inclusive.

“It’s an opportunity to set them up for success, as opposed to encouraging them to participate in (other events) which maybe doesn’t work for everyone,” Maxfield said.

Shapiro praised Maxfield for helping make the new event a success and hopes to see it continue.

“There was a great focus on disability inclusion at this year’s race,” Shapiro said. “We certainly don’t want to lose that momentum.”

Shapiro plans to train harder and complete the race without assistance next year. He also hopes to work on the creation of a Recumbent Tricycle Division, he said, “as it is unique from the Wheelchair Division in terms of the kinds of disabilities it supports.”

But for now, Shapiro is still soaking in the thrills of the weekend.

“I couldn’t really properly imagine what I was in for between what the course would be like and just the experience of being out there with the Cape Elizabeth community cheering me on from the sidelines,” he said. “For me, being able to do this event on my recumbent tricycle was an amazing and satisfying accomplishment.”

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