CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine (August 2, 2008) – Ed Muge sprinted to the finish to earn the men’s crown and ageless Edith Masai cruised to victory in the women’s race in the 11th edition of the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race on Saturday in Cape Elizabeth.
Muge of Kenya (27:52.4) edged Ethiopia’s Maregu Zewdie (27:53), the world’s top-ranked road racer, down the homestretch in thrilling fashion to win his second straight major road race. Kiplomo Kimutai of Kenya, who pushed the pace earlier, finished third (27:58) while reigning champ Duncan Kibet of Kenya took fourth (28:21).
In the women’s race, Masai, 41, of Kenya, (31:55.6) proved that her win at the Bix 7M last weekend was no fluke as she led for much of the race against her younger competitors. Lyudmila Biktasheva of Russia took second (32:03) while Yuri Kano of Japan finished third (32:17). Also, Masai set a new course record in the Master’s category for women.
The elite athletes were among the record-setting 5,258 runners from 14 countries and 41 U.S. states who finished the winding, ocean-hugging, 6.2-mile course on a cool, humid and foggy morning on the Maine coast. It was the most finishers yet for the popular road race that filled up within 26 hours of opening registration in March. Thousands of spectators lined the course to cheer the runners in the morning mist.
In the Maine races, Kristin Barry, 34, of Scarborough (34:37) shattered the longest standing course record, set by Julia Kirtland of South Harpswell with a 34:56 in 1998, the race’s inaugural year. Barry’s running partner, Sheri McCarthy-Piers, 37, of Falmouth, finished second (34:47), as the pair finished well ahead of their nearest competitors.
In the men’s race, Ben True, 22, of North Yarmouth (31:02) dominated a strong Maine field to win by 47 seconds. He was the first American finisher in the race, finishing 11th overall. A senior at Dartmouth, where he has developed into one of the nation’s top Nordic skiers, True is known as perhaps the best schoolboy cross country runner ever in Maine. He has run the Beach to Beacon before, but never competitively due to his t raining schedule.
Judson Cake, 30, of Bar Harbor took second (31:48) while Jon Wilson, 20, of Falmouth (31:51) took third. Ethan Hemphill, 36, the 2004 champ, finished fourth (31:56) and the 2006 champ, Donny Drake, 23, of Portland, finished fifth (31:59). Defending champ Ayalew Taye, 20, was registered but did not run, and Eric Giddings, 21, the course record holder and Stanford runner, participated but ran a leisurely pace.
This year’s race beneficiary is the Susan L. Curtis Foundation, the sponsor of Camp Susan Curtis, a summer camp dedicated to improving the lives of economically disadvantaged Maine children ages 8-18. For more information, visit www.susancurtisfoundation.org. TD Banknorth, through the TD Charitable Foundation, provided a cash donation of $30,000.
Race officials awarded more than $60,000 in prize money, including $10,000 to Muge and Masai plus $5,000 for the second place winner and cash prizes for the top 10 finishers. Winners in the other categories also received $1,000 top prizes. Barry earned an additional $500 for the Maine course record.
Race President David Weatherbie said the overcast skies did nothing to dampen the spirits of the competitors, the 700 or so volunteers or the enthusiastic spectators.
“It was a great day, a great day,” Weatherbie said. “I’m really proud of the fact that for the first time ever we had more than 5,000 official finishers. Besides a record number of participants, we had course records broken, thrilling finishes, bands and music along the course and a really festive atmosphere overall, as always.”
The elite runners set a blistering pace at the start with a 4:12 first mile as Kimutai pushed the pace in the lead pack, then pulled back and pushed again. Muge and Zewdie finally took over inside Fort Williams and it turned into a two-man race down the stretch.
Last week at the Bix 7M, Ed Muge had zoomed past Zewdie after the Ethiopian slowed prematurely, mistakenly believing he had reached the finish. This time, both men were on equal footing and sprinted for the finish tape together, with a crowd roaring around them.
Edith Masai kept a steady pace throughout, fronting a lead pack that included Biktasheva and Kano, a top Japanese marathoner. Masai came late to competitive running but continues to defy the odds. Just like at her victory at the Bix 7M, she became the oldest runner to ever win the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon. A 2004 Olympian, Masai burst on the Kenyan running scene by winning a national cross country championship at the age of 33.
Other winners included: Masters Men – Dan Franek, 42, of South Portland, Maine (32:55); Masters Women – Edith Masai, 41, Kenya (31:56) (course record); Wheelchair Division, Men – Patrick Doak, 40, of Concord, Mass., (23:35), and Women – Jacqui Kapinowski, 45, of Point Pleasant, N.J. (40:29).
In the new Senior Division (50+) – Men – Norm Larson, 52, Burlington, Vermont (33:51); Women – Ellie Tucker, 53, North Yarmouth (41:27).
Also, in the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maine 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, L.L. Bean won both the men’s and women’s division, while Berry, Dunn, McNeil & Parker won the category for first-time runners.
Founded by Maine’s largest bank, TD Banknorth, and Maine’s most famous athlete, Joan Benoit Samuelson, the race benefits a different charity each year as part of the TD Banknorth Shining the Light for Maine Youth program. 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.
McGillivray, who typically watches the race from the rear of a motorcycle, ran in the race for the first time on Saturday. “Everyone seemed to be in good spirits and really enjoying themselves,” he said. “I thought everything went extremely well. I was very impressed by the crowds and the volunteers. It was nice to get a different perspective.”
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.
Race organizers surprised Samuelson by draping the famous lighthouse with a 40-foot poster of her running in last year’s Beach to Beacon. The banner had been hung from Macy’s this spring during Samuelson’s record setting performance at the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials.
“It was a fabulous race day and a great race,” said Larry Wold, president of TD Banknorth in Maine, who finished his 11th straight TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon on Saturday in 40:27, good enough to place in the top 300. “This race really epitomizes what can be accomplished when a community joins together – all the runners, the volunteers, the sponsors, the spectators – toward a common goal. We are so pleased to be a part of this special event”