CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — He had just run the fastest time by a Maine runner in the history of the Beach to Beacon 10K, pocketed $2,000 in prize money, and earned the unofficial title of Maine’s road racing champion for the second year in a row.
You’d think Ben True would’ve been the happiest 23-year-old in Fort Williams Park.
He was, but he was slightly disappointed as well.
The North Yarmouth runner did shatter Eric Giddings’ course record by more than a minute, completing the 6.2 miles in 29 minutes, 10.3 seconds. He finished in the top 10 overall and was the first American to cross the finish line.
And even though True was pleased with that, he pointed to one element Maine runners haven’t been dealing with all summer.
“It was a hard day, hot. [But] at least it didn’t rain,” True said. “I wanted to go under 29 pretty bad.”
True was content with the record time, the $1,000 first-place prize, $500 for breaking the course record and $500 more for his top-10 overall finish.
Runner-up Sintayheu Taye of Cape Elizabeth finished second among Mainers in 31:31.9 while Jon Wilson of Falmouth was a close third in 31:39.0.
Rounding out the top five were Curtis Wheeler of Buxton in 32:00.4 and Claton Conrad of North Yarmouth at 32:04.8.
True wasn’t the only Mainer to rewrite the record books Saturday, as Sheri Piers of Falmouth continued a storybook season by winning her first Beach to Beacon title, completing the race in 34:17, 17 seconds under Kristin Pierce-Barry’s 2008 mark.
Susannah Beck of Brunswick earned second in 35:31.2 while also winning the Maine Masters’ division with that effort.
Barry, of South Portland, who has returned to the roads after a leg injury in March, posted a 36:03.0 to finish third while Carry Buterbaugh was fourth in 37:14.2 and Mandy Ivey of South Paris fifth in 39:07.9.
True to form (no pun intended), True averaged a 4:42 mile throughout the race while hanging near the top 10.
“That was the goal, trail [the elite runners] and try to pick some of them off, but I knew I couldn’t run with the fast[est] guys so I just tried to pick off as many guys as possible,” said True, who was right on pace to bring his goal to fruition by going through the halfway mark in 14:20.
Any other day, it could have happened, but the tough uphills were coming, and it was humid on the course, making it somewhat of a challenge for True to maintain that blistering pace.
Plus, he paced with elite runner Richard Limo throughout the middle miles before realizing it was time to make a move five miles in.
“I started running really well, but I got complacent,” True said. “I was a little disappointed, I tried to give it everything I had that last mile. It was hard.”
But in this case, True’s glass was definitely half-full.
“I really can’t complain too much I guess,” said True, who is heading to Oregon in September to turn pro and join the prestigious Oregon Track Club, whose alums include the late, legendary Steve Prefontaine.
Piers’ triumph in the women’s race was gratifying, adding to an illustrious list of 2009 accomplishments that include wins at two of Maine’s top races in the L.L. Bean 10K and Clam Festival Classic 5-miler, and a third-place finish among American women at the Boston Marathon.
But there was something missing from this equation: Her training partner, Barry, wasn’t up there with Piers as was the case last year.
“It just seems like when one of us is up, one’s down. We haven’t quite been in the middle yet,” said Piers. “That’s our goal, get back at it and both be healthy at the same time.”
Barry did run an outstanding race, and the two friends exchanged a warm hug at the finish line after Barry came in.
Piers used the same winning formula she’s employed on the circuit throughout the summer, going out fairly quickly over the first mile (5:18), and maintaining a consistent pace throughout, thanks to yet another local competitor.
“Jesse Hugo, we’ve been racing before throughout the season at [the] Father’s Day [5K], L.L. Bean, Clam Festival,” Piers said. “When I saw him I was like, I’m right where I should be and I’m going to stay with him and he was extremely helpful.”
Piers thought her quick first mile was going to prove problematic on a course that’s somewhat similar to the Boston Marathon in the sense where the downhills are early and the uphills are late.
“The problem with this race is, it’s over before you know it,” she said. “You can’t really make mistakes along the way.”
And the first mile almost bit Piers.
“I thought that [5:18] was going to get us in the end,” she said.
Piers had said Friday morning that setting a personal best would mean more then getting a course record.
How do both sound?
“Lucky day for me,” Piers said, humbly.
She also went home with $2,000 for the course record, Maine victory and top-10 overall finish.