CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine (August 1, 2009) – Ed Muge repeated as the men’s champ and Irene Limika glided in for the women’s crown in the 12th edition of the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race on Saturday in Cape Elizabeth.
In the Maine races, Ben True of North Yarmouth (29:10) and Sheri Piers of Falmouth (34:17) shattered course records to win the Maine titles and each finished 10th overall – a first for Maine runners in the international road race.
The winners were among the record-setting 5,624 finishers from 16 countries and 43 U.S. states who finished the winding, ocean-hugging, 6.2-mile course on a warm and sunny morning on the Maine coast. Thousands of spectators lined the course to cheer the runners.
Among the elites, Muge (28:05) withstood a challenge by fellow Kenyan Boaz Cheboiywo (28:09) to win his second title in as many tries – only the second man to repeat in the race’s history. Ibrahim Jeilan Gashu of Ethiopia took third (28:20) and three-time Beach to Beacon champ Gilbert Okari of Kenya grabbed fourth (28:22) in his return to the race he once dominated.
In the women’s elite race, Limika of Kenya (32:06) pulled away from Nadia Ejjafini of Ethiopia (32:13) to continue her surge on the American roads in recent weeks. Running legend Berhane Adere of Ethiopia (32:28) recovered from a bad fall early in the race to take third, and Ethiopian Aheza Kiros (32:31) took fourth.
In the Maine races, all eyes were on True and Piers, who have been dominant in Maine road races all year and had their sights set on course records in this race. They did not disappoint.
True, 23, again overpowered the field to repeat as the Maine champ. His time of 29:10 lowered the previous course record, held by Eric Giddings of South Portland, by almost a minute and a half – a new mark that will likely stand for some time.
True is re-locating to Oregon to focus on a professional running career with the Oregon Track Club Elite. Nineteen-year-old Sintayehu Taye of Cape Elizabeth took second (31:32), Jonathan Wilson, 21, of Falmouth , third (31:39) and Curtis Wheeler, 23, of Buxton, fourth (32:00).
Piers, 38, won her first Beach to Beacon title after finishing second in 2008 to friend and training partner Kristin Barry, who set a course record (34:37) last year. Confident and strong, Piers’ 34:17 shaved another 20 seconds off Barry’s mark.
Susannah Beck, 41, of Brunswick , took second (35:31), which was good enough to also win the Masters race. Barry, 35, of Scarborough, who is returning from injury, finished third (36:03) and Carry Buterbaugh, 37, of South Portland, placed fourth (37:14).
Both True and Piers took home $2,000 for their efforts – $1,000 for winning the Maine race, $500 for setting course records and $500 more for finishing 10th overall.
In all, prize money of more than $60,000 was awarded to the runners, including $10,000 for the overall winner, $5,000 for the second place winner and cash prizes for the top 10 finishers and in the different categories.
Race President David Weatherbie, who ran the race, said the brilliant morning sun seemed to bring out the best in the participants, volunteers and spectators along the course.
“It was a fantastic day, a really special one from a lot of different perspectives,” Weatherbie said. “I heard from so many people afterwards about how impressed they were with the course set up, the plentiful water stops, and the enthusiastic crowds picking them up along the way. Then you see these course records falling and these incredible performances. It was another great experience for all involved. The sun was shining today in so many ways.”
The elite runners, many with marathon backgrounds, set a slower, more tactical pace than usual on a course known for fast times. A lead pack of 10 runners eventually dwindled as Muge, returning to competitive racing for the first time since a February injury, began to push the pace at Mile 5. By the time they entered Fort Williams , it was a two-man race with only Cheboiywo, who finished fifth last year, in a position to beat Muge, who held on for the win.
The women’s race filled with drama early on when Adere, a former world champ and one of the all-time greats, was tripped from behind by a male runner and flopped to the pavement, falling hard on her left side. But she managed to get back up, bleeding from the hip and arm, and re-join the lead pack. In the end, Limika, who will represent Kenya in the marathon at the World Championships in three weeks, proved too strong. Her time of 32:06 is her second personal best of the summer.
Other winners included: Masters Men – James Koskei, 40, of Kenya (30:01); Masters Women – Susannah Beck, 41, of Brunswick, Maine (35:31); Wheelchair Division, Men – Tony Nogueira, 41, of Glen Ridge, N.J. (23:34), and Women – Jacqui Kapinowski, 46, of Point Pleasant, N.J. (42:33).
In the Senior Division (50+) – Men – Brian Pilcher, 52, of Ross , California (33:51); Women – Jeanne Hackett, 50, of Scarborough , Maine (39:39).
Also, in the Corporate Challenge, pitting teams of athletes from a number of New England corporations and businesses, Unum again won first place in the mixed team division, BIW won the men’s division and LL Bean the women’s division. Berry , Dunn, McNeil & Parker again won the category for first-time runners.
This summer marks the 25th anniversary of race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson’s historic Olympic gold medal performance in the first women’s marathon. Samuelson spent most of Saturday’s event at the finish line cheering and greeting recreational runners.
“This race is all about these people who set goals, work hard and achieve those goals by participating in this event,” Samuelson said. “Watching these finishers today just gives me such a sense of pride and admiration. I really can’t put it into words.”
Founded by Maine ’s largest bank, TD Banknorth, along with Samuelson, the race benefits a different charity each year.
The race beneficiary this year is Maine Handicapped Skiing, a non-profit organization that promotes year-round education and training for Maine children with physical disabilities. Based in Newry, Maine, the organization provides more than 3,700 lessons free of charge in winter and summer with the help of more than 390 volunteers – making it the state’s largest year-round adaptive recreation program for children and adults with physical disabilities. For more information, visitwww.skimhs.org.
TD Banknorth, through the TD Charitable Foundation, provided a cash donation of $30,000, plus the organization benefited from fundraising activities and publicity.
In addition to TD Banknorth, the title sponsor, other major corporate partners this year include Hannaford, Fairchild Semiconductor, Poland Spring, Northeast Delta Dental, Nike, MaineHealth and WCSH6.
The race director is Dave McGillivray, who has organized every TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon. He also serves as the race director of the BAA Boston Marathon.
The race course winds through the idyllic coastal town of Cape Elizabeth , starting near Crescent Beach State Park on Route 77 and ending at the Portland Head Light, the most photographed lighthouse in the world.
“What can you say, it was another wonderful race day, filled with grit and determination and ending with a lot of smiling faces ” said Larry Wold, president of TD Banknorth in Maine , who finished his 12th straight TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon. “We are so pleased to be a part of this special event”
About TD Banknorth and TD Bank
Following TD Bank Financial Group’s acquisition of Commerce Bancorp Inc. on March 31, 2008, TD Banknorth and Commerce Bank merged on May 31, 2008, to become TD Bank, America ‘s Most Convenient Bank. Today, TD Banknorth and TD Bank form one of the 15 largest commercial banks in the United States with more than $126 billion in assets, and provide customers with a full range of financial products and services at more than 1,000 convenient locations from Maine to Florida. TD Bank, N.A., is headquartered in Cherry Hill , N.J. , and Portland , Maine . TD Banknorth and TD Bank are trade names of TD Bank, N.A. For more information, visit www.tdbanknorth.com and www.tdbank.com.
TD Banknorth and TD Bank, America ’s Most Convenient Bank, are members of TD Bank Financial Group of Toronto , Canada , a top 10 financial services company in North America and one of just three triple-AAA-rated banks on the New York Stock Exchange.