CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine - Perhaps the most touching moment at Saturday’s TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K occurred when Maine’s two fastest women runners, who just happen to be best friends and training partners, shared an emotional hug after crossing the finish line at Fort Williams Park.
Yes, Kristin Pierce-Barry of Scarborough won her first Maine Beach to Beacon crown, breaking a decade-old course record with a speedy time of 34 minutes, 37 seconds, but when Sheri McCarthy-Piers crossed the line 10 seconds later, everyone meandering around the finish line area could tell what was coming.
“This was a dream race for both of us, it really couldn’ t have gone any better. It feels great,” said Barry, who obliterated the course record of 34:56 set by Julia Kirtland of South Harpswell in the inaugural Beach to Beacon in 1998.
Carry Buterbaugh finished third among Mainers in 36:46, Mandy Ivey of South Paris fourth in 37:21 and China’ s Jenna Krajewski rounded out the top five in 37:27.
The Maine men’ s race also produced a first-time champ in former Greely of Cumberland Center star Ben True, who broke the tape in 31:01, 47 seconds ahead of runner-up Judson Cake of Bar Harbor.
Jon Wilson of Falmouth was third in 31:50, Freeport’ s Ethan Hemphill fourth in 31:55 and Donny Drake of Portland fifth in 31:58.
Portland Head Light was decorated with a photo of race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson running in last summer’ s race.
It was the same photo that was showcased at Macy’ s in Boston during April’ s Olympic marathon trials, Samuelson’ s final competitive marathon.
Barry and Piers fed off each other very well throughout the race, and both runners were clicking off fast splits.
“We wanted to be at 28 minutes at the five-mile mark, but when we got to the five-mile mark I was at 27:51,” said Piers, who along with Barry competed in the Olympic trials earlier this year.
After the two friends embraced at the finish line, they took one gander at their watches, which produced a bewildered look.
“I kept asking her, I don’ t think my watch is right, I think it’ s wrong,” said Piers, whose finish was also under Kirtland’ s old mark.
Though baffled, Barry couldn’ t have been happier.
“It feels great. I know why we got out there every day and why we do it,” she said.
Barry, Piers and the rest of the 5,258 finishers — the largest field in race history, benefited from an ideal day for running, as temperatures hovered in the 60s.
“I felt really good until the last mile, then I had to dig,” said Barry. “Comparatively speaking, I felt much better this year than any other year.”
Now, Barry has crossed winning the Beach to Beacon off her running to-do list.
“I think everybody who runs in Maine probably does [dream of winning],” she said.
Erica Jesseman of Scarborough, who will be a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire this fall, finished sixth among Mainers in 37:29.
True, entering his senior year at Dartmouth College, ran away from a deep contingent of Maine’ s top runners and was the first American to finish, placing 11th overall.
He had never run this race competitively before, as it had usually fallen during the timetable in his summer training when he started to taper for the fall cross country season.
“I’ ve always gone out real slow and kind of enjoyed it. I’ ve never raced it,” he said.
He emerged from a pack that included Cake and Wilson about two miles into the race and was never threatened again.
“I was real surprised. I just assumed they were running right off the back of me the whole time,” said True.
After taking some time off in the spring, this victory was special for True.
“It’ s great, it’ s real great, it’ s the Maine race, it’ s nice to be able to come here to my home state and be able to run in front of the home crowd,” he said.
P.J. Gorneault of Caribou finished sixth in the Maine division, while Evan Graves of Presque Isle was seventh, Robert Gomez of Waldoboro eighth and Farmington’ s Matt Dunlap ninth.