CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — The 15th annual running of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race will boast its deepest field in the event’s history, according to organizers.
Some 6,000 runners are expected to participate in the Beach to Beacon, which starts at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4. The race begins near the Crescent Beach State Park entrance on Route 77 in Cape Elizabeth and ends 6.2 miles later in Fort Williams Park at the Portland Head Light.
The men’s field includes 11 runners who have recorded sub 28-minute 10Ks during their careers, putting the course record of 27:27.7 set by Kenyan Gilbert Okeri in 2003 within reach. Last year’s winner, Micah Kogo of Kenya, is competing in the Olympics in the 10K.
Defending champion Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia is set to lead a women’s field that includes six runners with personal-best sub-30-minute clockings for the 6.2-mile distance.
“With all the excitement surrounding the London Games, this field is going to showcase a number of Olympic-caliber athletes right here in Maine,” said race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson, the 1984 Olympic marathon champion who will join the Beach to Beacon field this year to commemorate the 15-year anniversary. “Many of our athletes who just missed the cut on their Kenyan or Ethiopian Olympic teams would have been competing for medals at 5,000 or 10,000 meters in London.”
Among the favorites in the men’s field will be 20-year-old Atsedu Tsegay of Ethiopia, an Olympic team alternate who has run the fastest half-marathon in the world this year (58:47) and has a personal best of 27:46 for 10 kilometers.
Other contenders include 21-year-old Ethiopian Abera Kuma, 21, who ran a 27:18 10K two weeks ago in Belgium; 2011 Beach to Beacon runner-up Lucas Rotich of Kenya, who has run a 26:43 10K on the track; and fellow Kenyan Stanley Biwott, who already this year has set course records at the Paris Marathon (2:05:11) and Paris Half Marathon (59:04).
Kenyan veteran Ed Muge, who won the 2008 TD Beach to Beacon 10K, will be back for his fifth consecutive Beach to Beacon after placing third last year and fifth in 2010.
The top American in the men’s field is 27-year-old Sean Quigley, a former NCAA champion at LaSalle.
Kiros became the first Ethiopian woman to win the Beach to Beacon title in 2011 with a time of 32:09, but she faces several major challengers led by 24-year-old Kenyan Lineth Chepkurai, who set the course record of 30:59 in winning the 2010 Beach to Beacon.
Ethiopian Wude Ayaleu has the second-fastest time in Beach to Beacon women’s history, with her 31:07 finish good for second to Chepkurai in 2010.
Leading Americans in the women’s field include Lindsey Sherf, fourth at the 2012 USA 15K Championship and second at the USA 25K Championship; Rebecca Donaghue, fifth at the 2009 Beach to Beacon and among the top 20 at the U.S. Olympic trials in both the marathon and 10,000-meter run; and Katie McGregor, 11th at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials after narrowly missing the 2004 and 2008 Olympics with consecutive fourth place finishes at 10,000 meters.
Luchini won’t defend Maine men’s title
Louie Luchini of Ellsworth, the Maine men’s champion at the 2011 TD Beach to Beacon race, won’t be on hand to defend his title next weekend.
Instead he’ll be an ocean away — as a fan.
Luchini, who finished last year’s race in 30 minutes, 36 seconds to edge second-place Jonny Wilson of Falmouth by six seconds, leaves Monday for London where he’ll attend the Summer Olympics with an eye toward following the distance races in track and field.
The trip will represent a mini-reunion of sorts for Luchini, a former 11-time All-American during his college days at Stanford University. While in London he plans to meet up with several former Stanford teammates to root on another teammate, U.S. Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall, as well as other Olympians they have befriended during their track and field and cross-country careers.
That includes one of Luchini’s former Oregon Track Club teammates, U.S. Olympic Trials 800-meter champion Nick Symmonds.
“I had planned on running the Beach to Beacon again and had talked to the race directors about it, but then this came up,” said Luchini, a state legislator who plans to spend a couple of weeks in London before returning to Maine to begin his duties as an assistant cross-country coach at Ellsworth High School.
“It’s the chance of a lifetime for me to get back together with these guys.”
The 24-year-old Wilson, a 2011 University of Richmond graduate who has won several major Maine road races this year, most recently last Saturday’s Yarmouth Clam Festival 5-miler in 24:31, is considered a favorite to finish as the top Mainer at this year’s Beach to Beach.
The 2011 women’s champion, 41-year-old Sheri Piers of Falmouth, looks to be in strong form to defend her title after breaking her own Yarmouth Clam Festival course record last weekend by winning the women’s division and placing eighth overall in 27:39.
Piers, also the top Maine women’s finisher in the 2009 Beach to Beacon, won last year’s in-state crown with a time of 35:11.
Bucksport Bay Festival 5K on tap
The ninth race of the Tradewinds Marketplace/Sub 5 Track Club Road Race Series is the Bucksport Bay Festival 5K, scheduled for Saturday, July 28.
Race day registration begins at 7 a.m. at the Verso Paper Fitness Center on Route 15 in Bucksport with the race to begin at 8 a.m. — followed by the Bucksport Bay Festival Parade at 9:30 a.m.
Caleb Lander and Kristine Guaraldo, both of Brewer, currently lead the men’s and women’s point standings. Lander, who has competed in four of the series’ first eight races, holds a narrow lead in the men’s points over Judson Cake of Bar Harbor and Adam Goode of Bangor, both of whom have raced in three events.
Guaraldo has won the women’s division in all six series races she has entered to build a comfortable lead over second-place Phoebe Peckenham of Orland and third-place Katherine Collins of Winterport.