CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — Under no circumstances was Kristin Barry crossing the finish line without Sheri Piers.
The training partners and best friends were prohibitive favorites in the Maine delegation of women runners in Saturday’s Beach to Beacon 10K road race, so it was only fitting they broke the tape at Fort Williams Park together.
“We didn’t care what time we got, we were crossing that line together,” Piers said.
And they did, hand in hand, both completing the 6.2 miles in 34 minutes, 34.9 seconds, and finish judges awarded the official victory to Scarborough’s Barry, her second B2B win in three years.
Erica Jesseman of Scarborough finished third in 35:49.
Pat Tarpy of Yarmouth led from wire to wire in claiming his first B2B win in the Maine men’s field, becoming only the second Maine runner to break 30 minutes in the process.
He was timed in 29:27, 17 seconds slower than Ben True’s 2009 course record.
Phil Richert of Bar Harbor finished over a minute back in 30:28 while Robert Gomez of Westbrook’s 31:05 rounded out the top three.
Lineth Chepkurui set a record to capture the overall women’s title with a time of 30:59 while Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia won the men’s race in 27:40.
After Barry was informed that the judges had indeed awarded her the victory, she and Piers jokingly fought over it for a little bit.
“If we both run well, it doesn’t matter, if we don’t run well, it’s another story,” Barry said. “I’d rather have them just say it was her,” she humbly added.
But both runners ran exceptionally well Saturday, with Barry holding a slight lead for most of the way while Piers caught up just after a steep Fort Williams incline.
“She said, ‘come on,’ and I was like, ‘I’m coming,”’ said Falmouth’s Piers.
Barry also finished 10th overall among women, and her efforts earned her $1,500, as she and Piers took advantage of a cool August morning in which temperatures stayed in the low 60s.
“Our workouts have been really hard because of the heat, I said to [Kristin], the clouds are still there, it’s going to be an OK day,” Piers said.
Both runners had taken some downtime from racing over the course of the summer, and it paid off.
“We felt much better than we have all summer,” Barry said. “It gave us a little more life in our legs, I think.”
While the elite women charged out of the gate, Barry and Piers stuck to their own game plan.
“We were just cranking out our pace. We set a goal to run 5:30 pace,” Piers said.
With Piers right beside her as the Portland Head Light appeared on the horizon, Barry whispered to her that they would clasp hands upon crossing the finish line, providing a flashback to the Philadelphia Marathon and a fitting finish to Maine’s top road race.
Tarpy blew away his competition in the men’s race in similar fashion to True’s winning effort last summer, taking the lead from the gun and not letting go of it.
“[Staying with] Ben True was my goal, I got behind him [but] I only made it with him for halfway and then he pulled away,” said Tarpy, a former Brown University running star.
True had moved to Oregon and this was Tarpy’s first time competing in the Maine category, as he moved back to his home state last fall and took a job at Bath Iron Works.
“In 2007 I ran it in the elite category and I think I was 13th that year,” he said.
An impressive 20 Maine male residents broke the 33-minute barrier, race president Dave Weatherbie said.
Among them were University of Maine junior-to-be Riley Masters of Bangor, who ran 31:58; Black Bears’ teammate Spencer McElwain of Caribou, 32:35; Caribou High cross country coach P.J. Gourneault, 32:34; Adam Goode of Bangor, 32:37; and Caribou’s Evan Graves, 32:49.