Every year more than 800 people join us as volunteers to ensure that the TD Beach to Beacon 10K is an elite race experience for all runners and participants. Some of these volunteers have been coming back to help for more than 20 years. Their stories about why they do this every year are filled with excitement, pride and passion and we think they are worth sharing in the hope that you will join us and be a part of this great event.
Like many of the long-time volunteers at the TD Beach to Beacon, massage therapist Kate Anagnostis is inspired by race founder, Joan Benoit Samuelson.
“The TD Beach to Beacon 10K is a great event and you just want to get involved,” says Kate. “Everyone is happy. You see Joanie putting in all the effort and you just want to help. The race is so well organized, so that makes it easy to jump in.”
Kate has been a massage therapist for 22 years and has been involved with TD Beach to Beacon for 21 years. She’s part of a team of around 12-15 therapists, some of whom have worked at the Olympics and the Boston Marathon. What Kate loves is the enthusiasm and appreciation of runners at all levels.
“The runners are so appreciative. They wait patiently and then thank us so much for that 10-minute massage. It’s a great atmosphere,” Kate says. “There’s such a community feeling, and you get to meet interesting people from all over.”
She adds, “A lot of racers come back year after year. It’s fun to watch running events on TV and pick out people you’ve seen at TD Beach to Beacon.”
Kate says TD Beach to Beacon provides great networking opportunities, and a chance to meet people from all over the world. “It’s good exposure for local massage therapists, and hanging your race credentials in your office can be a great conversation starter.”
While the massage therapy team loves recruiting volunteers with sports massage experience, they can provide training on race day. Kate says massage therapy volunteers typically work on race day from about 6:30 – 11:30 AM.
Physical therapist Paul Brown has been volunteering at the TD Beach to Beacon 10K for 20 years—nearly the entire history of the race. He first reached out to “do whatever I could to help,” which in those early years meant putting up sponsors’ banners, taking inventory and ensuring the banners were returned at the end of the event.
Today, advertising signage for the event is produced by the race organizers and much easier to manage, and Paul has moved on to overseeing more than 1,000 runners’ gear—a big job that he says is just one of the things that sets the TD Beach to Beacon apart from other road races.
“The TD Beach to Beacon offers exceptional service compared to other races,” says Paul, who has, for the last five years, organized gear by bib number and ensured it is transported from start line to finish line. “This is one of the few races that offers this type of option.”
Paul has also volunteered for the Boston Marathon and feels that the TD Beach to Beacon is run at the same high standards. “Runners thank us all the time, shouting, ‘You guys do it right! This is awesome!’” Paul adds, “This is not your average road race.”
A runner himself, Paul says he is proud to be part of the TD Beach to Beacon, and gets his satisfaction from knowing he is helping create a special experience for runners at all levels.
“It’s truly an international event, attended by runners from all around the world,” says Paul. “To see everyday runners alongside elite athletes and Olympians—it’s really cool.”
“When you volunteer for TD Beach to Beacon, you know you are part of something really special.”
Maya Cohen never dreamed that a new home would lead to a career with one of the nation’s most prestigious and popular road races.
Back in 1998, Maya and her husband, Mylan, had purchased a new home in Cape Elizabeth, which happened to be the former residence of the grandmother of TD Beach to Beacon founder, Joan Benoit Samuelson. As the Cohens prepared to make some renovations, they reached out to Joanie, who provided many old photos and history of the house, and an invitation.
“Do you want to volunteer for my race?” Maya recalls Joanie asking. They said yes, and in 1999 signed up as a host family, welcoming runners from China and then Romania. “It’s a lot of fun, having that kind of energy in your home,” says Maya. “You get to be an ambassador for your hometown and learn about other cultures.”
In December 2000, Maya spotted a tiny ad in the Cape Courier seeking a volunteer coordinator for the TD Beach to Beacon 10K. Maya, whose background was as a clinical pharmacist, believed that her experience working in an operating room gave her the organization and focus to coordinate the volunteers needed to make the race possible. The hiring committee agreed, and offered Maya the job.
During Maya’s tenure, the volunteer program has grown from 700 to more than 800 volunteers who provide transportation, medical care, hosting, on-course assistance and more. “People always say it’s such a big job. I never saw it that way; to me, it was a puzzle I put together every year.”
The 2019 TD Beach to Beacon will be Maya’s last in the role of volunteer coordinator; in 2020 she will serve as an advisor to the program. While she finds the transition bittersweet, she recognizes that change is good, both for her and the organization, and she is leaving the program in better shape than she found it. “Nineteen years is an unusually long time [to be volunteer coordinator] in an event like this,” Maya said. “I stuck with it because of the community.”
One of the things Maya has learned is the impact volunteering for this event has on people’s lives. “One woman, who was a legacy runner was initially disappointed she couldn’t run in the race due to an injury. She found that volunteering, for her, was just as excited as running the race.”
Volunteer registration for the 2019 TD Beach to Beacon will begin on April 1 at www.beach2beacon.org/volunteer for all positions, including registration, course set up, transportation, parking, medical support and more. Visit the website for a full list of volunteer opportunities.
Liz and Bud Elliott have been part of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K since the very beginning, hosting elite runners in their Cape Elizabeth home each year. Bud, a legacy runner, has run in the TD Beach to Beacon every year.
Liz recalls the wonderful experiences the husband and wife team have had, even in the first year when the photographer they were supposed to host didn’t come. “We participated in all the activities, and loved the community-based feel to the event,” says Liz. “It was exciting to see this high quality elite event coming to Cape Elizabeth.”
In the years since, they have hosted several elite runners, including one couple who has stayed with the Elliotts since 2000
and have become good friends. “Mimi and Jimmy, who are now in their 50s, invited us to their wedding, and have seen our kids grow up. They are like family now.”
Liz acknowledges that it’s a big commitment to serve as a host family—elite runners generally arrive on Thursday or Friday and stay through the lobster bake that happens after the race on Saturday afternoon. The rewards are more than worth the effort, though.
“I’ve met volunteers of all ages, and they are all dedicated to making this a great event. We want to support Joanie—we’re so proud of how she has put Cape Elizabeth on the map with this amazing event,” says Liz, echoing the sentiments of
volunteers and runners alike toward race founder and world-renowned runner Joan Benoit Samuelson.
Liz notes that volunteering for the TD Beach to Beacon would be a great way for newer Cape Elizabeth residents to get to know their neighbors. “You meet so many people and learn more about the Cape Elizabeth community,” Liz says. “It’s great to get to know folks beyond those you might meet through your kids’ school or your immediate neighbors.”
Karl Moulton became an avid runner in his early 40s, running 5K and 10K races and moving up to 15 marathons. When he placed in his division at his first 5K, he caught the running bug and loved the energy and the people he met along the way.
For the past 11 years, he has helped other runners train for the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, and never tires of seeing people get into the sport of running for the first time.
Karl serves as a pacer during a series of training runs sponsored by Hannaford, that take place on four Tuesdays in July for TD Beach to Beacon runners. Pacers wear tags that state their minutes-per-mile running pace, so runners in training can work toward their individual goals. “Years ago I was the 7-minute pacer; now I do the 8-minute pace,” says Karl.
Karl works for Hannaford and has been very involved with the company’s corporate team. Hannaford, a race sponsor, gets 50 race bibs that they distribute to employees via lottery. Karl is also involved in designing the shirts, hats and other swag for the Hannaford team.
What motivates Karl to keep volunteering? “Unquestionably, the best aspect of being a volunteer is encouraging people to live a healthy lifestyle,” says Karl, who especially loves working with first-time runners. “I find that if you run well and with no judgment it can be inspiring, meeting them where they are in their run and being at their pace to help them develop.”
Karl has also loved getting to know Joan Benoit Samuelson over the years, since she joins the last training run. “Clearly there is no other stage that gives you the opportunity to run with elite runners—that is pretty cool.”
Roberta Pinkham’s first experience with the TD Beach to Beacon 10K came 13 years ago, when one of her Hannaford coworkers asked her to help with the training runs their company sponsors at Back Cove. Roberta helped direct runners through the neighborhood route on the night Joan Benoit ran with the group.
The environment was so infectious Roberta decided she wanted to be part of the main event, so she volunteered for the food tent, handing out bananas and oranges to runners at the end of the race.
The next year, watermelon was introduced to the food tent—and Roberta became the watermelon cutter. Watermelon became such a popular treat, Roberta was given her own tent outside the main food tent.
“It’s so exciting to see the masses of runners coming in and being able to interact with them,” says Roberta, who notes that she enjoys seeing many runners from Hannaford that come back year after year. “Not being a runner myself, I have great respect for anyone getting out there.”
While Roberta is modest about her role, others recognize the unique role she plays in supporting the thousands of runners. Hannaford invited Joanie and some of the other TD Beach to Beacon organizers in to a special presentation, during which Roberta received a personally engraved carving knife to commemorate her years of service as the watermelon cutter.
Certified Athletic Trainer, Chris Troyanos has been Medical Coordinator of TD Beach to Beacon for 16 of the race’s 22 years. His work involves the medical coordination of Southern Maine’s iconic sporting event. He, along with Co-Medical Directors (Mylan Cohen, MD and Michael Baumann, MD) lead a medical committee of 12 volunteers, and a medical team of over 100 people, including volunteers and public safety officials.
It’s a big job—the team can typically provide care to 45 to over 75 runners in a 2 to 2 1/2 hour timeframe, all of which is weather dependent. According to Chris, the August heat poses a particular challenge to runners because of the high risk of heat stroke—a condition that, left untreated, can be life-threatening. The team also treats a variety of issues including sprains and strains.
“Time is of the essence in treating heat stroke,” says Chris, noting that the body needs to cool down within 30 minutes period to avoid permanent damage or even death. “Given that timeframe, there is not enough time to send these runners to the hospital.” Chris’s team has access to 25 ice tubs large enough to submerge an affected runner right on site, helping provide immediate, potentially life-saving treatment.
Chris is quick to point out that, while their work is serious, the medical team has a lot of fun together. “We’re like family—and many of us are friends and colleagues. There are some great medical professionals in Maine who enjoy giving back in this way.” We have created a unique and very cohesive team. Everyone that takes part is pulling to achieve one goal – to make this event as safe as possible for all participants. I am honored to work alongside such a dedicated group of professionals.
Medical volunteers work not only at the finish line medical tent but along the race course, looking for runners in distress to ensure they are transported quickly and safely to the teams who can assess and treat issues.
In addition, the medical team provides tips to runners ahead of the race on hydration, preventive measures for running in various weather conditions, and more.
Chris notes that the medical team welcomes volunteers from the full gamut of healthcare professions and even has non-clinical positions to fill. “We are looking for a multi-faceted group to work as a seamless unit to meet the needs of our runners.”