Beach To Beacon Attracts Top Runners

Kenyan Ed Muge will attempt a three-peat at Maine’s summer classic 10K this weekend.

Top road racers from around the globe will gather with the best in Maine and New England in Cape Elizabeth on Saturday morning for the 13th running of the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race.

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The professional athletes will share the scenic coastal course with thousands of recreational runners who are cheered on by a multitude of enthusiastic spectators. The festive atmosphere each year re-affirms the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K’s reputation as a world class event with small-town charm.

This year’s field of 6,000 includes runners from 17 countries and 41 U.S. states.

More than $60,000 in prize money is at stake, including a $10,000 prize to the race champions. Also, a $2500 bonus is available for an Open course record and $500 for a course record in the Maine category, providing added incentive in a race that consistently ranks among the fastest and most competitive 10Ks in the world.

The race beneficiary this year is Junior Achievement of Maine, a non-profit organization providing economic education programs that help inspire Maine children to develop the skills, attitudes and behaviors of success in a global economy. The TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, will provide a cash donation of $30,000 to the organization, which also is benefiting from fundraising activities and publicity through its association with the race.

“At TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, we are pleased to remain a part of such a special event that seems to get better year after year, thanks to the hard work of all involved, including the volunteers, runners, race organizers and the Town of Cape Elizabeth,” said Larry Wold, president of TD Bank Maine who has run in every previous TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10k and will again toe the start line on Saturday. “This year it is an honor to donate to JA of Maine, a like-minded organization, as we cannot stress enough the value and importance of financial literacy. TD Bank is pleased to offer free financial literacy lessons, WOW! Zones, across our footprint and we are pleased to support non-profits that reach out to impress positive financial lessons upon our youth.”

The pro field will include a pair of running legends -Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba and the U.S.’s Khalid Khannouchiand the two defending champs, Kenyans Ed Muge and Irene Limika. But don’t be surprised if Saturday’s winners come from outside this impressive quartet.

In the men’s race, the favorite to spoil Muge’s attempt at three straight titles has to be Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia, who is coming off a high-quality win (27:56) at the AJC Peachtree Road Race and is ranked 14th in the world by Running Times.

Another top contender is Martin Lel of Kenya, who is one of the world’s top marathoners with three London Marathon and two New York City Marathon titles. Lel finished fifth in the marathon at the 2008 Olympics.

The field also includes Boaz Cheboiywo of Kenya, who finished second to Muge at the TD Bank Beach to Beacon last year and fifth in 2008; Andrew Lemoncello, a British Olympian, and Dejene Berhanu of Ethiopia, another Olympian. Elite Athlete Coordinator Larry Barthlow also is expecting good things from a pair of relative unknowns on the American road race circuit: Kenyans Joel Kemboi Kimurer and Stephen Kosgei. Ben True, who set a Maine state course record (29:10) in winning that division last year, is now living out of state and returns looking for a Top 10 finish.

On the women’s side, Limika has her work cut out for her against a star-studded collection of young runners.

Leading the way is Kenyan Lineth Chepkurui, 22, who is ranked 9th in the world by Running Times. She is coming off a dominating victory at the AJC Peachtree 10K (30:51) and also ran the fastest 10K (30:45) so far in 2010 at the Crescent City Classic and set a world record at 12K (38:07) at the ING Bay to Breakers.

She will be pushed by Wude Ayalew Yimer, 23, of Ethiopia, who is returning for the first time since getting tangled with another runner and finishing fourth in the 2007. She set a course record (31:58) to win the 2010 World 10K Run in India.

Also in the field is Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, who set a course record (47:57) in July to win the Utica Boilermaker 15K, and Worknesh Kidane of Ethiopia, a former World Cross Country champion and World Championship silver medalist on the track. She took third (31:18) in a strong field at the NYRR New York Mini 10K in June. Top American runners Rebecca Donaghue, Ilsa Paulson, Heidi Westover and Clara Peterson also are in the field.

“We’ve got a little bit of everything is each of these races,” Barthlow said. “Catherine and Khalid are crowd favorites, the defending champs will be looking for repeats, and Gebre and Lineth are coming here to win, period. I can’t wait.”

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