CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine – Both of last year’s winners, Kenyans Ed Muge and Edith Masai, are returning to defend their titles against strong fields of world-class athletes in the 2009 TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K on August 1 in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, race officials announced Wednesday.
The TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon ( www.beach2beacon.org ), one of the gems on the U.S. road race circuit, again has attracted some of the world’s top elite runners to Maine’s craggy coastline for the 12th edition of the race founded by Olympic champion Joan Benoit Samuelson, a Maine native and running icon.
“Ed and Edith are fantastic competitors who really put on a show last year, but they’re going to have their work cut out for them if they want to repeat,” said Larry Barthlow, the race’s elite athlete coordinator. “There are some really fast runners as well as a few of the top marathoners in the world and a bunch of Olympians. We’re in for a pair of exciting races.”
The field will include James Kwambai of Kenya, who recorded the third fastest marathon of all-time (2:04:26.7) earlier this year, and Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya, the 6th-ranked women in the world who already has won four major road races in 2009.
The group of 30 or so elite athletes will be joined by the best in Maine and New England and thousands of recreational runners for the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon on Saturday, Aug. 1 in scenic Cape Elizabeth.
Muge needed a sprint to the finish to win the 2008 race in 27:52, the 16th fastest 10K time in the world last year. He likely will need to run even faster to retain his crown.
Other favorites include Evans Cheryiout of Kenya, who clocked a 27:52 to place second in the 2007 TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon and will be gunning for a title after a one-year absence. The winner of the 2008 Chicago Marathon, he has developed into one of the top marathoners in the world.
Kwambai is testing the 10K waters after his thrilling marathon duel with Duncan Kibet in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in April. Kibet, the 2007 TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon champ, edged Kwambai at the tape, but both men were given identical times – the third fastest on record.
Boaz Cheboiywo of Kenya, with a personal best 27:46, also will contend after a disappointing fifth-place finish last year. He is running strong right now, finishing fourth at the Peachtree 10K over the weekend. Youngster Gashu Ibrahinm Jeilan of Ethiopia also is a blazer who finished just ahead of Cheboiywo in Atlanta. A World Junior Champ at 10,000M, he has run 27:02 on the track.
On the woman’s side, the ageless Masai, 42, will face her stiffest challenge from a woman half her age. Lineth Chepkurui, 21, is perhaps the hottest runner on the circuit right now. She won the Peachtree 10K in 31:31, the fifth faster 10K in the world so far in 2009, adding to her impressive wins at the Lilac Bloomsday 12K, Bay to Breakers 12K, Cherry Blossom 10-Miler and Crescent City 10K.
Other top challengers will include Ukrainian Nataliya Berkut, a two-time Olympian who finished second at the 2007 TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon; Jane Gathoni of Kenya, who finished fifth in Maine last year; and Tatyana Arasova of Russia, who made the 10,000M finals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Barthlow also is expecting to add Mariya Konovolava of Russia, who finished fifth at 10,000M (30:35) in the 2008 Olympics.
“We’ve got really competitive fields on both sides and I’m hoping to add some top Americans later this month to round things out,” Barthlow said.
The ocean-hugging course begins at Crescent Beach along Route 77 in Cape Elizabeth and ends 6.2 miles later in Fort Williams Park at Portland Head, the most photographed lighthouse in the world.
Prize money for the winner of the men’s and women’s races is $10,000. In all, nearly $60,000 in prize money will be awarded to the top finishers and place winners in the various categories for men and women. A $2,500 bonus also is available for any runner who breaks an open course record.
TD Banknorth is the title sponsor of the race founded by Joan Benoit Samuelson, the Olympic gold medalist and Maine’s most admired athlete.
The race director is Dave McGillivray, president of DMSE, Inc., a nationally recognized event management company. McGillivray also serves as the race director of the BAA Boston Marathon.
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, will provide a cash donation of $30,000 to Maine Handicapped Skiing. The non-profit organization also will benefit from fundraising activities and publicity through its association with the race.
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. For additional info about the race, visit www.beach2beacon.org or call the race hotline at (888) 480-6940.
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.