CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine – Kenyan Lineth Chepkurui shattered the women’s course record and Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia sprinted to the men’s title in the 13th edition of the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race on Saturday in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
In the Maine Resident races, Kristin Barry (34:34.9) of Scarborough reclaimed the women’s title, edging defending champ Sheri Piers (34:35.2) of Falmouth by the slimmest of margins, while Patrick Tarpy (29:28) of Yarmouth cruised to his first men’s title.
The winners were among the record-setting 5,668 runners from 17 countries and 41 U.S. states who finished the winding, picturesque 6.2-mile course on a cool, blue-skied, idyllic morning on the Maine coast. Thousands of spectators lined the course to cheer the runners.
Chepkurui (30:59) confirmed her reputation as this season’s most dominant road racer by clipping 26 seconds off the course record and becoming the first women to run a sub-31 10K on Maine soil. Wude Ayalew, 23, of Ethiopia also broke the course record (31:07), but it was not enough on this day against 22-year-old Chepkurui. Edna Kipligat, 30, of Kenya took third (31:33). Defending champ Irene Limika, 30, of Kenya finished fourth (33:06).
Kipligat, Ayalew and Chepkurui, each ranked in the top 20 in the world, set a blistering pace early on, nearly staying with the lead pack of men for the first mile and distancing themselves from the other women. By the time they reached Fort Williams and the climb to the finish at the Portland Headlight, Kipligat had fallen off the pace, leaving Chepkurui to fend off a challenge by Ayalew. Legendary marathoner and two-time Olympic silver medalist Catherine Ndereba, 38, of Kenya, a five-time TD Bank Beach to Beacon champ and former course record holder, placed sixth (33:34). Heidi Westhover, 29, of Walpole, N.H. was the first American finisher with a 34:11, good for eighth place.
On the men’s side, 25-year-old Gebremariam (27:40), known as G.G., entered the race as one of the hottest runners on the circuit and did not disappoint. He traded places for much of the race with runner up Alan Kiprono (27:42), Wilson Chebet (27:45), and Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet (27:51), all Kenyans, before relying on his well-known sprinter’s kick at the finish. Two-time defending champ Ed Muge, 27, of Kenya ran a 28:08, a nearly identical time as 2009, but it was only good enough for fifth this year. Ben True, a two-time Maine Resident champ now training in Oregon, finished 12th (29:02) running as an elite – the first American to finish.
A lead pack of 13 elite runners set a slow pace early on, which perhaps hindered Gebremariam’s shot at the course record 27:28. By Mile 3, Chebet, 25, a skilled half marathoner, began to push the pace and spread the pack, followed by G.G. as well as Kiprono, 20, and Kipkosgei-Kibet, 23, a pair of relatively unknown young Kenyans running on American soil for the first time. Chebet still held the lead at Mile 5 before Gebremariam exerted his will.
Race President David Weatherbie, who ran the race, said the picture-perfect weather made for ideal running conditions and helped create a special day for participants, volunteers and spectators alike.
“We had an incredibly deep field of elite athletes and they really put on a show, but they weren’t alone,” Weatherbie said. “We also had 20 Maine resident men who ran sub-33 minutes, which is a prime example of the depth and quality of this year’s race from top to bottom. The best weather in 11 years really brought out the best for all involved.”
Twenty Maine men may have recorded sub-33s, but only one, 28-year-old Tarpy, led from start to finish. Race favorite Tarpy, a former Brown University standout who has competed in the race as an elite athlete, ran away from a strong field to win by more than a minute over Phil Richert, 23, of Bar Harbor (30:28) and Robert Gomez, 27, of Westbrook (31:05).
The real excitement was in the Maine women’s race, where Barry and Piers, close friends and training partners, dueled throughout the race. The pair crossed the finish line together, and judges awarded first place to Barry, who had beaten Piers and set a course record in 2008. Last year, Barry missed the race and Piers broke her course record. This year, Piers held onto the course record, but Barry gets bragging rights. Erica Jesseman, 21, of Scarborough took third (35:49).
Barry received $1,000 for winning the Maine race and an addition $500 for finishing 10th overall – matching Piers overall finish from 2009.
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. Chepkurui also received a $2,500 bonus for setting a new course record.
Other winners included: Masters Men – James Koskei, 41, of Kenya (29:55) – his second straight title; Masters Women – Christine Reaser, 44, of Dayton, Maine (39:18); Wheelchair Division, Men – legendary wheelchair athlete Craig Blanchette, 42, of Battle Ground, Wash. (24:12), and Women – Catherine Jalbert, 23, of Brewer, Maine (1:30).
In the Senior Division (50+) – Men – Norm Larson, 54, of Burlington, Vermont (33:30); Women – Jeanne Hackett, 51, of Scarborough, Maine (39:48).
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.
The TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K is one of the most popular road races in the country, combining small-town charm with big-city crowds and top world-class athletes, year in and year out. Founded by TD Bank and Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, a Cape Elizabeth native, the race benefits a different charity each year.
The 2010 race beneficiary was Junior Achievement of Maine ( www.jamaine.org ), a non-profit organization providing economic education programs that help inspire Maine children to develop the skills, attitudes and behaviors of success in a global economy. The TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, provided a cash donation of $30,000 to the organization, which also benefited from fundraising activities and publicity through its association with the race.
Samuelson, a running legend who remains a role model for women athletes worldwide, spent most of Saturday’s event at the finish line cheering and greeting recreational runners.
“It’s great to see the elite athletes at the finish line, but the real inspiring stories are towards the end,” Samuelson said. “Every runner who crosses the line has a story to tell, some heartwarming and some heart wrenching. That’s what is really inspiring for me. I see how this race continues to change lives.”
In addition to TD Bank, 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 Bank Beach to Beacon. He also serves as the race director of the BAA Boston Marathon.
The race course winds through the 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.
Larry Wold, president of TD Bank in Maine, completed the race for the 13th time on Saturday, this time in 40:08, which placed him in the top 6 percent of all runners.
“There was an excitement out on the course that was just contagious, and it seems to grow every year,” said Wold. “We at TD Bank feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of this world-class event, one of the best road races in the country. The dedication and commitment to this race from everyone involved, from the sponsors to the organizers, the town of Cape Elizabeth and the volunteers and runners, is just tremendous. It was another special day.”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. Since its inception in 2002, the Foundation has distributed over $199 million and more than 19,400 grants through donations to local nonprofits from Maine to Florida. More information on the TD Charitable Foundation, including the online grant application, is available at TDBank.com.
About TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank ®
TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 9 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,200 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In management services through TD Wealth ®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. To learn more, visit www.tdbank.com. Find TD Bank on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDBank and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US.
TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of the Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol “TD”. To learn more, visit www.td.com.