CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine (August 4, 2012) – Kenyans Stanley Biwott and Margaret Wangari-Muriuki prevailed in hot, humid conditions Saturday morning, winning the men’s and women’s titles at the special 15th edition of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Biwott (27:59) ran a strong race, seemingly less affected by 80-degree weather and 60 percent humidity that took a toll on the field, while Wangari-Muriuki (31:51.6) continued her winning streak on the American roads by edging Emily Chebet (31:52.2) of Kenya in one of the closest women’s finishes in the history of the TD Beach to Beacon ( www.beach2beacon.org ).
In the Maine Resident races, 41-year-old Sheri Piers of Falmouth dominated the field to repeat as champion while Ethan Shaw, 22, of Falmouth, a recent Dartmouth graduate, broke through against a strong field to win his first men’s title.
The winners were among the record-setting 6,117 runners from 17 countries, 44 states and more than 240 Maine cities and town who finished the winding, picturesque 6.2-mile course on a sunny, hot and humid morning on the Maine coast. Thousands of spectators lined the course and filled bleachers at the finish to cheer the runners.
In honor of the 15th running, race founder and Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson completed the race alongside fellow marathon legends Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter, who won Olympic gold in 1972.
“It was truly inspiring and gratifying to be on the course this morning and see the faces of runners who are so committed to pursuing their dreams and seeing their lives changed by this experience,” said Samuelson, who returned to the finish line to cheer and greet runners behind her. “And it was doubly satisfying to run with Bill, Frank and Leon (Gorman), three men who have had such a significant impact on my life. Everyone was a champion today.”
Leon Gorman, 77, is the former president and current Chairman of the Board at L.L. Bean and wore Bib #1 on Saturday. Samuelson, winner of the first Olympic women’s marathon in 1984, Shorter, 64, who also won silver at the 1976 Olympics, and Rodgers, 64, an Olympian and four-time winner of both the Boston Marathon and NYC Marathon, ran Gorman’s 11-minute pace to finish together.
The world-class athletes who were vying for the $10,000 first-place prize glided through the course at a much faster clip.
Biwott, 26, who has shattered course records at the Paris Marathon and Paris Half Marathons already in 2012, moved into the lead pack early on and never relinquished as others fell off the pace. Kenyans Silas Kipruto, who won the Quad-City Bix 7 last weekend, Lucas Rotich, Allan Kiprono, Kiplimo Kumatai and Ethiopian newcomer Gebretsadik Abraha all found their way to the front only to fall off the pace as the race progressed. By Mile 5, it came down to a two-man race featuring Biwott and Kenyan Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet, 25, who finished fourth at the 2010 TD Beach to Beacon.
Biwott beat Kipkosgei-Kibet (28:02) to the finish line, with 22-year-old Rotich (28:10) following behind in third. Ed Muge, 29, of Kenya, the 2008 and 2009 TD Beach to Beacon champ, finished fifth (28:18). Despite a fastest TD Beach to Beacon field ever, the humidity protected the course record 27:28 set in 2003 by Gilbert Okari of Kenya.
The first American finisher was Sean Quigley (29:45) of Boulder, Col., who finished 11th.
On the women’s side, Wangari-Muriuki, 26, coming off her victory at the Quad-City Bix 7 last weekend in Iowa, stretched her winning streak to two – but just barely. She joined Kenyans Emily Chebet and Lineth Chepkurui (31:54), the course record holder and 2010 TD Beach to Beacon champ, to form a lead pack that pushed the pace. The speedy Wangari-Muriuki, who finished third at 1500m at the 2012 African Championships, stumbled at the finish, missing the break tape, but was able to hold off a fast-closing Chebet by .6 of a second. Chepkurai took third with Kenyan Rita Jeptoo, 31, the 2006 Boston Marathon champ, in fourth (31:58).
Renee Baillie, 30, of Bend, Ore., was the first American finisher with a 32:31 for fifth place, just ahead of Julia Lucas, 28, of Eugene, Ore., who took sixth in 32:40.
In the Maine races, Piers (34:22) joined Emily LeVan and Julia Kirtland as the only Maine women to win TD Beach to Beacon three times. Despite the difficult weather conditions, Piers, who has been on a tear this season, including a master’s win and 13th overall finish at the Peachtree 10K, still managed to challenge her 2009 course record of 34:17. She finished just out of the top 10 at 11th place overall and also won the Masters Women title.
Erica Jesseman, 23, of Scarborough, finished a strong second (35:43) while celebrated Maine schoolgirl runner Abbey Leonardi, 18, of Kennebunkport, who will attend Oregon on a scholarship, took third (36:27).
The Maine men’s race featured a friendly showdown between former Falmouth High School teammates Shaw and Jonny Wilson, 24, who entered the race as the dominant runner on the Maine roads in 2012, winning a series of top races. But he had yet to compete against Shaw (30:37), a Dartmouth track star who is back in Maine following a stellar senior year. Shaw finished 13th overall. Wilson (30:51) had to settle for second this time, with Robert Gomez (31:50), 29, of Saco finishing third.
In all, prize money of more than $60,000 was awarded to the runners, including $10,000 for the overall male and female winners, $5,000 for the second place winners and cash prizes for the top 10 finishers and in the different categories. The Maine Resident winners received $1,000.
Other winners included: Masters Men – Dennis Simonaitis, 50, of Rochester, N.Y. (32:32); Masters Women – Sheri Piers, 41, of Falmouth (34:22); Wheelchair Division, Men – Craig Blanchette, 44, of Battle Ground, Wash. (23:38) – his second title, and Women – Cheri Blauwet, 32, of Boston (34:43).
In the Senior Division (50+) – Men – Dennis Simonaitis, 50, of Rochester, N.Y.. (33:32); Women – Erin Chalat, 51, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine (43:26).
Also, in the IDEXX 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, Maine Health the women’s division, and IDEXX for the first time 10K division.
“This race was as spectacular as all the others have been,” said David Weatherbie, race president for each of the 15 years. “We’ve had some warm and humid conditions the past few years, but that’s done little to dampen the enthusiasm of all involved, including the runners. A ton of work and effort goes into the TD Beach to Beacon and I am very proud and grateful of our sponsors, organizing committee, volunteers, DMSE, and the Town of Cape Elizabeth and its residents for their efforts, year in and year out.”
The TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K is one of the most sought-after road races in the country, combining small-town charm with big-city crowds and top world-class athletes. In 2012 for the first time, more than 6,000 runners followed the winding course through the coastal town of Cape Elizabeth, starting near Crescent Beach State Park on Route 77, and crossed the finish line at the Portland Head Light, the most photographed lighthouse in the world.
Each finisher of Saturday’s race will receive a special medal commemorating the 15th race.
Founded by TD Bank and Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, a Cape Elizabeth native, the TD Beach to Beacon benefits a different charity each year.
The beneficiary of this year’s race is the Center for Grieving Children ( www.cgcmaine.org ), a Portland, Maine-based nonprofit organization providing support to bereaved children and families, which received a $30,000 donation from the TD Charitable Foundation. TD Bank has now donated a total of $450,000 to Maine charities over the history of the race.
Larry Wold, TD Bank president in Maine, completed the race for the 15th consecutive time on Saturday.
“What strikes me most about this event, each and every year, is the spirit of the runners and the volunteers, everyone who participates,” he said. “We at TD Bank feel tremendously fortunate to be a part of this world-class event.”
The race is directed by Dave McGillivray of DMSE Sports ( www.dmsesports.com ), who has organized every TD Bank Beach to Beacon and also directs the B.A.A Boston Marathon and other events around the world.
In addition to title sponsor TD Bank, other major corporate partners this year include Hannaford, Poland Spring, MaineHealth, Fairchild Semiconductor, Nike, Northeast Delta Dental, IDEXX and WCSH6.