CAPE ELIZABETH — Saturday’s TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K is considered the jewel for Maine’s top road racers and the winner of the Maine Resident race each year wears the unofficial crown as the Maine Road Race Champion.
In the women’s race, the question is whether 22-year-old Erica Jesseman of Scarborough is finally ready to wrest the title away from her two training partners. Sheri Piers, 40, of Falmouth and Kristin Barry, 37, of Scarborough, have won the past three titles and have each held the course record (Piers’ 34:17 is the present record).
The intrigue has been building this summer. Piers won the L.L. Bean 10K Road Race on July 4 while Jesseman, a former University of New Hampshire standout, was busy winning the Bridgton Four on the Fourth. They met head-to-head two weeks later at the Clam Festival 5-Miler and Jesseman won by 14 seconds. Over the weekend Barry, the reigning TD Bank Beach to Beacon Maine champ, edged Jesseman at the Ocean Park 5K Road Race. The stage is now set for Saturday’s showdown.
In the Maine men’s race, a new winner will be crowned as defending champ Patrick Tarpy of Yarmouth is not able to take part this year.
That leaves Ellsworth’s Louie Luchini as the favorite. Maine’s most decorated collegiate athlete ever, the 30-year-old Luchini was a 10-time All-American at Stanford and now serves as a Maine state representative. He will be pushed by Jonny Wilson, 23, of Falmouth, who won the July 16 Pat’s Pizza Clam Festival Classic 5-Miler in Yarmouth (24:58) and the Ocean Park 5K (14:56).
Other contenders include Ethan Shaw, 21, of Falmouth; University of Maine standout Riley Masters, 21, Nick Wheeler, 25, of Rockland, and Josh Zolla, 25, of Freeport, who won the L.L. Bean 10K Road Race in July and finished second in the Ocean Park 5K.
The race begins at 8 a.m. in Cape Elizabeth near Crescent Beach State Park on Route 77 and ends at Fort Williams.