CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine ( July 22, 2016 ) – Ethiopia’s Wude Ayalew is competing in her fifth TD Beach to Beacon 10K this year, but when she returns to defend her title on Aug. 6 it will mark the first time she won’t be required to navigate in and around male runners to finish the race.
In addition to unveiling the 27-member professional field for the 2016 race, TD Beach to Beacon organizers on Friday also announced that for the first time in the 19-year history of the event, the TD Beach to Beacon 10K will feature an Elite Women’s Start. The women’s field will start at 8 a.m., 12 minutes ahead of the men and the rest of the race field.
The Elite Women’s Start will give the top female athletes a better opportunity to compete head to head and also provide their race with more exposure among spectators and media, said Race Director Dave McGillivray, who also directs the B.A.A. Boston Marathon and Falmouth Road Race, two other prominent races that start the women earlier than the men.
“We thought it would be a nice idea this year to showcase the women more, that is, enable everyone to see them better in the race rather than mixed in with the men,” he said.
Ironically, there may be no bigger proponent of the Elite Women’s Start for the TD Beach to Beacon than the defending champion – and for good reason. In 2007, Ayalew arrived in Cape Elizabeth for her first TD Beach to Beacon as one of the favorites, but her dreams were diminished after she got tangled with a male runner and could not improve her fourth-place position.
Ayalew, who returned in 2010 and ran the second fastest time ever on the course (31:07) only to place second on course-record day, finally broke through last year for her first TD Beach to Beacon crown.
The reigning men’s champion, Stephen Kosgei Kibet of Kenya, could not secure a visa and will not return to defend his title, said Elite Athlete Coordinator Larry Barthlow, opening the door for someone among an assembled list of young track speedsters, former world champions and high-level marathoners.
In addition, a $23,000 prize purse for American men and women, sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts, is back for a second year, and has again drawn many top American distance runners to the TD Beach to Beacon. The prize money, among the more generous offered at a U.S. road race, is split evenly among the top five American men and women and breaks down: $5,000 for first, $3,000, $2,000, $1,000 and $500.
In all, the total prize money available at the TD Beach to Beacon is more than $90,000, with $10,000 awarded to the winners in the men’s and women’s open races and payouts to the top 10 runners overall.
The world-class athletes will join a race day field of more than 6,600 runners who will wind along the fast, relatively flat course that begins near the Crescent Beach State Park entrance on Route 77 in Cape Elizabeth and ends 6.2 miles later in Fort Williams Park at the Portland Head Light, the most photographed lighthouse in America. The race was founded by Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson , who trained on the same roads while growing up in Cape Elizabeth.
Eric Jenkins , a New Hampshire native and former Oregon standout who won the inaugural American-only prize category last year, is returning to defend his title after finishing fourth at 5000m at the U.S. Olympic Trials, just missing a trip to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
He will be challenged by Dathan Ritzheimer , a two-time Olympian who once held the American record at 5000m and finished ninth in the marathon at the 2008 London Olympics; Abdi Abdirahman , a four-time Olympian who was the third American in last year’s race and seventh overall; and Sammy Chelanga , a two-time NCAA Cross Country Champion who has run 27:08:39 on the track at 10,000m.
The American men will look to make inroads into the Open Top 10 against a strong field of international athletes, led by Micah Kogo of Kenya, who won Bronze at the 2008 Olympics at 10,000m. He is a two-time TD Beach to Beacon champ (27:47 in 2011 and 28:03 in 2013) and finished fifth a year ago. Kenyans Daniel Salel , who finished third in 2015 and has a PB 27:41 at 10K, and Patrick Makau , a 2:03 marathoner who took fourth (27:57) at the 2014 TD Beach to Beacon, also will challenge, as well as Adunga Takela of Ethiopia, who recently ran 27:20:65 at 10,000m in the Ethiopian Olympic Trials.
Barthlow said he also is intrigued by a pair of Kenyan track burners who train in Japan: William Malel Sitonik , who finished second behind Mo Farah in the 10,000m at the Prefontaine Classic in late May with a blazing 26:54:66, and James Mwangi Macharia , who has clocked 27:23:04 at 10,000m.
On the women’s side, Wude Ayalew , a World Championship Bronze medalist, will seek a repeat against a stellar field, including Kenyan Joyce Chepkirui , who won the 2013 TD Beach to Beacon in 31:23 – the third fastest time on the course. Her best 10K time is 30:37 and she recently finished second to American Molly Huddle in an exciting photo finish at the NYC Half Marathon.
The field also includes Mary Keitany of Kenya, one of the best marathoners in the world with a NYC Marathon win and two London Marathon titles; Berhane Dibaba , one of Ethiopia’s top young marathoners; and Kim Smith of New Zealand, a three-time Olympian who has held national records at 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m.
The American field is anchored by Jordan Hasay , a high school phenom and 16-time All-American at Oregon who ran her first 10K as a professional runner at the 2014 TD Beach to Beacon, finishing fourth with an impressive 32:20. She will be challenged byEmily Sisson , who won both the NCAA Indoor (in record time) and Outdoor 5000m in 2015 and has a PB 32:18 at 10K since turning pro last fall.
Barthlow said he is pleased with the field despite the challenges encountered in an Olympic year.
“The main issue with the Olympics is you are waiting until the last-minute to see who makes a team and who doesn’t,” Barthlow said. “And in many cases, top athletes who don’t make their teams and would otherwise be available are mentally and physically exhausted from the effort. We lost a few athletes who just decided to shut it down. But all in all, we’ve got some tremendous athletes and I think we’re going to see highly competitive races from both the men and the women.”
The TD Beach to Beacon 10K is directed by Dave McGillivray of DMSE Sports (www.dmsesports.com ), who also directs the B.A.A Boston Marathon and is regarded as one of the world’s elite race directors.
In 2015, a record-setting 6,602 runners from 15 countries, 41 states and more than 265 Maine cities and towns finished the winding, rolling, often breathtaking 6.2-mile coastal course.
The 2016 race beneficiary is My Place Teen Center (MPTC), a free, year-round, after-school youth development program for kids in Greater Portland, which receives a $30,000 donation from the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®. TD Bank has now donated $570,000 to Maine charities over the history of the race.In addition to TD Bank, other major corporate partners include Nike, Hannaford, Poland Spring, MaineHealth, L.L.Bean, IDEXX, Northeast Delta Dental, WCSH6 TV and Olympia Sports. For additional information about the race, visit www.beach2beacon.org, and find the TD Beach to Beacon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About the TD Charitable Foundation
The TD Charitable Foundation is the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank ®, one of the 10 largest commercial banking organizations in the United States. The Foundation’s mission is to support, respect and improve the quality of life in the diverse communities where we live and do business. Since its inception in 2002, the Foundation has distributed more than $174.1 million and more than 17,000 grants in charitable donations from Maine to Florida. The TD Charitable Foundation focuses on supporting the following community needs: affordable housing, economic development, neighborhood revitalization, financial literacy, and human services. Recently, more than 90 percent of the grants awarded by the Foundation benefited low-and moderate- income communities and individuals. More information on the TD Charitable Foundation, including an online grant application, is available at www.TDBank.com .
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UPDATED Elite Athlete Fields for the 2016 TD Beach to Beacon 10K (as of July 25, 2016)
Micah Kogo, Kenya
Patrick Makau, Kenya
William Malel Sitonik, Kenya
James Mwangi Macharia, Kenya
Daniel Salel, Kenya
Adugna Takele, Ethiopia – OUT (Visa issue)
Tariku Bekele, Ethiopia
Markos Geneti, Ethiopia
Eric Jenkins, USA
Dathan Ritzenhein, USA
Abdi Abdirahman, USA
Sam Chelanga, USA
Maverick Darling, USA
Joe Bosshard, USA
Brendan Gregg, USA
Wude Ayalew, Ethiopia
Joyce Chepkirui, Kenya
Mary Keitany, Kenya
Gladys Yator, Kenya
Caroline Chepoech, Kenya – ADDED
Berhane Dibaba, Ethiopia – OUT
Wudnesh Takele, Ethiopia
Kim Smith, New Zealand – OUT
Lily Partridge, United Kingdom
Tina Muir, United Kingdom
Emily Sisson, USA
Jordan Hasay, USA
Sara Hall, USA
Aliphine Chepkerker Tuliamuk, USA – ADDED