CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — The $1,000 prize Riley Masters won by being the first Maine resident to cross the finish line at the TD Beach to Beacon 10K on Saturday is likely the biggest such check of his fledgling professional running career.
But the Veazie native’s reaction to his performance in the state’s premier road race suggested that this victory was about much more than the bottom line.
“I think if you grow up in Maine everyone knows the Beach to Beacon and everyone wants to be the first Mainer here,” said the 23-year-old Masters, a Bangor High School graduate who went on to earn NCAA Division I All-American track honors in the indoor mile at both the University of Maine and the University of Oklahoma, from where he graduated this spring.
“That was my goal coming in, and there’s a lot of pride that comes with crossing the finish line here as the first Mainer.”
Sharing in that Pine Tree State pride was 24-year-old Erica Jesseman of Scarborough, who defeated one of her mentors, two-time defending champion Sheri Piers of Falmouth, to finish first in the Maine resident women’s division.
Jesseman was timed in 34 minutes, 17.6 seconds, just 0.6 seconds off Piers’ 2009 Maine women’s Beach to Beacon record but more than a minute better than her previous best for the 6.2-mile route of 35:30.
“I had a time goal, and I got my time goal so I’m happy,” said Jesseman, the runner-up to Piers here each of the last two years. “I wanted to break my PR and that was a PR on the road for me, so I’m real happy with that.”
Masters was timed in 30:19.3, 14.4 seconds ahead of recent Dartmouth College graduate Will Geoghegan of Brunswick.
Masters, who recently signed a professional contract with Seattle, Wash.- based Brooks Running and had spent the last previous weeks racing in Europe, allowed the other main contenders for the Maine men’s title — Geoghegan, Jonny Wilson of Falmouth and Rob Gomez of Saco — to establish the early pace.
“The 10K’s really not my area of expertise, so I just wanted to make sure I let them do the pace work,” said Masters. “Time-wise I wasn’t really worried about it, I just wanted to cross the finish line first for the Mainers.”
Masters finally asserted himself during Mile 5, with Geoghegan the last of his challengers to be passed.
“I got lucky enough where I saw the other Mainers who were going for it jump to a good pace early so I just tagged along with them for about 4½ miles,” said Masters. “I wanted to make sure I felt good through the first 5K, and once I got to about 4½ miles I knew I was going to feel good enough to take the lead from there and kind of run away from them.
“I made a good move at 4½ miles and it was mine to lose from there, I guess.”
Geoghegan finished second among the Maine men in 30:33.7, with Wilson (30:49.3), Gomez (31:22.4) and Henry Sterling of South Freeport (31:24.5) rounding out the top five.
Jesseman, a former running standout at Scarborough and the University of New Hampshire and now an assistant track and cross country coach at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, set a blistering early pace of 16:39 for the first 5 kilometers.
Then she withstood a late comeback effort from the 42-year-old Piers before reaching the literal end of her racing day — as an exhausted Jesseman crossed the finish line, she immediately took a seat on the plush Fort Williams Park grass.
“I was completely dead,” said Jesseman, who trains regularly with Piers and two-time TD Beach to Beacon champion Kristin Barry of Scarborough. “I fell apart big time and was completely out of it by the end. I didn’t really notice (Piers), I really didn’t see, I really didn’t care. I was aiming for my time goal. I was just looking at the finish line.”
Emily Durgin, 19, of Standish was third among Maine women finishers with a time of 36:12.3, with 17-year-old Kirstin Sandreuter of North Yarmouth fourth in 36:17.5 and Carly Dion of Biddeford fifth in 36:30.6.