Ruth White, center, of Orono High won the Maine women’s division at the Beach to Beacon 10K on Saturday. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

CAPE ELIZABETH — She’s dominated the state’s high school cross country scene since the moment she arrived at Orono High. But Ruth White found a way to take her running career to new heights Saturday morning.

White, a 17-year-old rising senior, won the Maine women’s division at the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, crossing the finish line in 34 minutes and 56 seconds. She was nearly a minute faster than Cumberland’s Alexis Wilbert, who finished in 35:46, while Falmouth’s Veronica Graziano took third in 36:15. Defending champion Alyson Ursiny of Yarmouth was fourth in 36:21, and Scarborough’s Parley Hannan was fifth in 36:27.

Moments after she crossed the finish line, White was cautious, initially sidestepping a question about winning the Maine division until the results were official. It was clear early on, however, that none of the other Maine runners could keep up with the 4-foot-8 standout.

“It was just a really fun race,” White said. “The crowds just pulled me through. I felt really good. … I just wanted to have fun, and see if I could run faster than last year. It’s really cool to run among the Maine women. It’s not about beating them. It’s about representing our state.”

White ran the same exact time she did last year en route to a second-place finish, but this time she started up front with the elite runners. For the first mile, White ran with the fastest runners – surprising herself in the process.

“It was really cool. I was a little bit nervous about that. I was like ‘I’m not sure if I should be here,'” she said. “I was like, it’s a cool experience, and if I get tired, I get tired. It’s worth just going out, and I’ve never crashed in a race. I’ve gotten tired and slowed down at the end, but I figured I might as well give it all I’ve got and see how long I could hold on.”


White has won the last two New England high school cross country championships, becoming the first Maine runner to win two straight regional titles, and was named Varsity Maine girls’ cross country Runner of the Year in 2021 and 2022. Winning the Maine women’s Beach to Beacon title, however, is a highlight.

“(It’s) such an honor, just to do that for Joan Benoit Samuelson, because she’s such an inspiration,” White said. “(It’s) a big honor to do that for her, in her race.”

Wilbert started behind the elites but beat her time (36:35) and third-place finish from a year ago. She wasn’t sure she’d even be racing, as a head cold that started Tuesday lingered into Friday and prevented her from running any miles in the days before the event.

“Up until last night, I wasn’t sure if I was going to run today,” said Wilbert, 38. “I didn’t know if I was going to be running 7-minute miles. … It went OK. Not my best, but good enough.”

With the illness on her mind, Wilbert dropped herself from the elite field to starting with the rest of the runners. She crossed the line after Ursiny but had a faster net time.

“I like starting with the big group, because then I have more people to run with,” she said. “If I went out with the pros, I know that the pro women are going to be way ahead. And I didn’t want to run by myself. … I push a lot harder when I have people near me and I can try to track down the next person in front of me.”

Ursiny said she battled stomach discomfort during the race.

“Today was definitely not my day,” she said. “You never know if it’s nerves, or my son was sick earlier this week, so maybe it was a little bit of that. … I honestly wasn’t even going to start with the pro group, and then I saw that Ruth was and so I was like ‘You know what? I will.’ And then Ruth kind of took off.”

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