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Posted: July 30, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

(RWire) Athletics: TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K Attracts Top Runners in World, New England and Maine

Sold-out field, $60,000 prize purse for 12th edition of premier 10K along the picturesque Maine coast

CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine - (July 27, 2009) - The top road racers in Maine, New England and around the globe are set to gather again in Cape Elizabeth for the 12th running of the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K on Saturday.

The professional athletes will share the picturesque coastal course with thousands of recreational runners who are cheered on by an enthusiastic throng of spectators. The atmosphere created confirms the reputation of the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon as a world class event with an appealing small-town charm.

This year's field of 6,000 includes runners from 16 countries and 43 U.S. states.

More than $60,000 in prize money is at stake, including a $10,000 prize to the top man and woman. 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.

Returning Champ Set to Defend in Talented Men's Race; Women's Race Wide Open

The men's field includes the returning champ, the third-fastest marathoner ever and one of the hotter road racers on the road circuit, plus the last-minute entry by a three-time Beach to Beacon champ. And even then, there are at least three other entrants who are legitimate threats.

"The top seven or eight men are as good a group as we've ever assembled for this race, and that's saying a lot when you look at the history of this event," said Larry Barthlow, the elite athlete coordinator.

Defending champ Ed Muge, who sprinted to victory in 2008 in 27 minutes, 52 seconds, has been training in altitude in Kenya and will arrive in Maine with fresh legs. Still, he'll have his work cut out of him.

James Kwambai of Kenya ran the third fastest marathon in history 2:04:20 in Rotterdam earlier this year in a thrilling duel with Duncan Kibet, the 2007 Beach to Beacon champ. Youngster Gashu Ibrahinm Jeilan of Ethiopia, a 2008 World Junior Champ at 10,000m with a personal best 27:02 on the track, finished third at the Peachtree 10K earlier this month. Kenyan Gilbert Okari knows the course well after winning the Beach to Beacon three straight years 2003-05.

Other favorites include Felix Limo of Kenya, the 2005 Chicago Marathon champ who remains among the best in the world; Boaz Cheboiywo of Kenya, with a personal best 27:46 who is intent on improving on a fifth-place finish last year, and Ridouane Harroufi of Morocco, who won the Utica Boilermaker 15K two weeks ago and also finished second at Peachtree. Ethiopia's Dejene Berhanu, who finished fifth at 5000m at the 2004 Olympics, also will be in the mix.

"This field is deep and talented with a lot of fresh legs, and what's interesting is we've got these strong marathoners together with some real blazers at the shorter distances," Barthlow said. "It's shaping up to be a real interesting race."

On the woman's side, the complexion of the race changed with news that defending champ Edith Masai withdrew due to visa issues. That leaves 21-year-old Kenyan Lineth Chepkurui as the race favorite, with a running legend and an Olympian on her heels.

Chepkurui is perhaps the hottest runner on the circuit right now, with five major wins so far this year, including the recent Peachtree 10K, where she clocked 31:31 the fifth faster 10K in the world in 2009.

Another favorite is running legend Berhane Adere of Ethiopia, a former 10,000m world champion whose 30:04 in 2003 set an African record and remains the sixth-fastest time ever recorded. She also has won the Chicago Marathon twice and the prestigious Dubai Marathon.

Mariya Konovalova of Russia finished fifth at 10,000m (30:35) at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and recently finished second at the Russian Championships with a 30:31. Volha Krautsova of Belarus in another contender who competed at 5000m in the 2008 Olympics. Kenyan Irina Limika, who was picked to represent Kenya in the marathon at the 2007 World Championships, also could contend.

"The women's race is wide open," Barthlow said. "It's unfortunate that Edith ran into trouble getting here, but we've got some really strong runners, including a real legend in Berhane, who are going to put on a good, competitive show."

Maine Road Race Champions to be Crowned (Unofficial)

The TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon is considered the jewel for Maine's top road racers and the winner each year wears the unofficial crown as the Maine Road Racing Champion.

This years race is expected to have a strong favorite among the men defending champ Ben True, 23, of North Yarmouth and a two-woman duel featuring Sheri Piers, 38, of Falmouth and 2008 champ Kristin Barry, 35, of Scarborough, each with course records on their minds.

Other contenders on the men's side include the four runners who finished behind True in 2008 - Judson Cake, 31, of Bar Harbor (31:48); Jon Wilson, 21, of Falmouth (31:51); 2004 champ Ethan Hemphill, 37 (31:56) and 2006 champ Donny Drake, 24, of Portland (31:59). Twins Curtis and Nicholas Wheeler of Buxton, 23, also are running strongly right now and could be in the hunt.

On the women's side, Piers will be gunning for the crown and lowering the course record after finishing second in 2008 (34:47) to training partner Barry, who set a new course record (34:37). With Barry back running strongly, their fierce but friendly competition is expected to continue. Susannah Beck, 41, of Brunswick, the 2004 champ, also could be in the mix.

The race beneficiary this year is Maine Handicapped Skiing, a non-profit organization that promotes year-round education and training for Maine children with physical disabilities. Based in Newry, Maine, the organization provides more than 3,700 lessons free of charge in winter and summer with the help of more than 390 volunteers making it the states largest year-round adaptive recreation program for children and adults with physical disabilities. For more information, visit: www.skimhs.org

TD Banknorth, through the TD Charitable Foundation, will provide a cash donation of $30,000, plus the organization will benefit from fundraising activities and publicity.

For additional info, visit www.Beach2Beacon.org or call the race hotline at (888) 480-6940.


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