The TD Beach to Beacon 10K is many things. It’s an annual celebration of fitness and health, an opportunity for runners to set and achieve goals, to test themselves in the company of friends and family. For volunteers, it’s an opportunity to give back and make a difference. For a fortunate Maine charity, the race is a spotlight and a platform to tell their story. For world-class athletes, it’s a high-level, not-to-be-missed competition.
And for Joan Benoit Samuelson, the TD Beach to Beacon simply is a dream come true.
This year marks the special 20th running of Samuelson’s one-time dream, a reason to celebrate, to commemorate and to reflect.
An event now on the shortlist of iconic American road races was once merely a training route for a teenage girl growing up in Cape Elizabeth. Young Joan Benoit would later rise to running stardom at Bowdoin College, win the Boston Marathon and, in 1984, win Gold in the very first Olympic women’s marathon in Los Angeles.
But she never forgot her roots.
In the late 90s, anxious to give back to her community, she conceived the idea to stage a major, world-class road race in Cape Elizabeth. She took her dream to the higher ups at what is now TD Bank and found shared enthusiasm.
The race debuted in 1998 with 2,408 runners crossing the finish line. Joanie’s reputation within the running community, together with strong corporate support and a picturesque course, quickly elevated the stature of the race.
Famed race director Dave McGillivray of DMSE Sports also got on board from the start, adding polish and professionalism to the event. The TD Beach to Beacon was on the map – earning a reputation as a big-time race with small-town charm. As demand grew, the field steadily expanded and now fills in just minutes.
The most decorated and talented world-class athletes – think Catherine Ndereba and Khalid Khannouchi in the early years, Meb Keflezighi and Deena Kastor more recently – made regular appearances, charmed by the hospitality and the spurred by the strong competition.
In 2016, 6,336 runners from 15 countries, 43 states and more than 265 Maine cities and towns finished the winding, rolling, often breathtaking 6.2-mile coastal course
They are supported by more than 800 volunteers and cheered by thousands of spectators along the tree-lined streets and stunning ocean vistas and in Fort Williams at the finish, when the historic Portland Head Light, the most photographed lighthouse in the world, comes into view.
And there beyond the finish line, Joan Benoit Samuelson can be found greeting exhausted, satisfied runners with handshakes and hugs.
On Aug. 5, when the starter’s horn sounds along Route 77 for the 20th time, Samuelson will commemorate the special day by joining the field, her Field of Dreams.
Enjoy this look back – there’s still much more to come!
To celebrate the special 20th running of the TD Beach to Beacon, several events, changes and enhancements have been added to what already is in place for runners, volunteers, OC members and kids.
TD Beach to Beacon Timeline | A year-by-year recap of the race >
Past Open & Maine Champions | Check out past champions in the major categories >
Category Winners Over the Years | Check out the Year-by-Year Category Winners >
Top 10 Finishers | See a year-by-year breakdown of Top 10 finishers? >
From the beginning, charitable giving has remained an important component of our world-class road race. Each year, the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of title sponsor TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank®, provides a cash donation of $30,000 to a different Maine charity serving children as a way to support and benefit the state. The chosen organization also benefits from fundraising activities and opportunities and publicity through its association with one of Maine’s premiere sporting events.
The 2017 race beneficiary is Let’s Go! , is a nationally recognized program of The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center focused on increasing physical activity and healthy eating for children from birth to age 18.
With its donation to Let’s Go!, the TD Charitable Foundation has now donated $600,000 to Maine charities over the 20-year history of the TD Beach to Beacon 10k Road Race.
In addition, the TD Beach to Beacon enables current and past beneficiaries to obtain highly-coveted race entries to utilize in fundraising efforts. The bib program alone has helped generate more than $1.5 million for Maine charities since the race began, pushing the overall money raised as a result of the race beyond $2 million.
Kindness to the planet and environmental awareness have been important objectives of the TD Beach to Beacon from the outset. And the race that started out green has continued to find ways to get greener still and now, after last year’s race, it’s about as green as can be.
The TD Beach to Beacon in 2016 earned the top-level Evergreen Certification for its sustainability efforts and achievements from the Council for Responsible Sport, an international assessment organization, following a rigorous review of all aspects of the race’s environmental and social sustainability programs, from comprehensive recycling to reducing carbon emissions to leaving a positive legacy in the community.
The TD Beach to Beacon, which earned Silver in 2012 and Gold in 2014, is the first major U.S. road race to reach the lofty Evergreen status.
By diverting 90 percent of all waste generated last year, the race qualified as a ‘zero waste’ event. Also, the 5.6 ton ‘carbon footprint’ of the event was offset, making the event carbon neutral. A bike valet program started just two years ago continues to grow. Did you know the runner tech shirts provided by Nike are made from recycled plastic? Credit for growing and expanding the program goes to Bruce Rayner and his team at Athletes for a Fit Planet, the race’s sustainability consulting partner, as well as sustainability sponsor ON Semiconductor. Environmental awareness is now deeply ingrained in the minds of participants, volunteers and spectators.
Corporate Partners who have been with the TD Beach to Beacon over its entire history include title sponsor TD Bank as well as Nike , Hannaford , Poland Spring and MaineHealth . Other long-time Corporate Partners include IDEXX , WCSH6 , Northeast Delta Dental and Olympia Sports . Maine Magazine is new this year.
Long-time sponsors with expanded roles this year include Oakhurst Dairy , which is presenting both youth-focused events – the B2B High School Mile and the Kids Fun Run – in Fort Williams on the eve of the 10K race. Also, Dunkin’ Donuts , in partnership with their local franchise owners, will again provide the prize money for the American-only runner category, which debuted in 2015. The lure of a $23,000 purse each year now attracts many of the top American distance runners to Maine.