CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine - Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson are close friends who journey to the Bix 7-mile road race in Davenport, Iowa, every summer.
So when the four-time Boston and New York marathon winner and three-time Falmouth (Mass.) Road Race champ was invited to run in his first TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K since the inaugural race in 1998, he couldn’ t pass it up.
“It’ s fun to be back. It’ s great to be back at Beach to Beacon, it’ s such a cool race,” said Rodgers at a press conference Friday morning at the Inn by the Sea.
“We just started talking about the race and I said, “Yeah, I’ d love to come to it.’ “
Rodgers finished 491st overall in 43 minutes, 2 seconds on Saturday morning.
He still holds the 50-over age- group record of 32:55. Seniors champ Norm Larson of Burlington, Vt., posted a winning time of 33:51 Saturday.
The Boxboro, Mass., resident was more than thrilled to find out about the new division in the race for runners age 50 and up, something he didn’ t know about until speaking with the media Friday.
“I think it’ s a fantastic idea. It’ s kind of groundbreaking, it’ s a smart move,” he said.
Rodgers, who once held the American record in the marathon at 2:09:27 and currently holds American records at the 15K, 20K and 25K distances (he was once a world-record holder in the 25K), had modest goals for Saturday’ s 6.2-mile race.
“I want to run and make it without an injury,” he said. “I’ ve been fighting a calf injury since May. I still like to compete but I don’ t know where my competition is. Sometimes they’ re way the hell ahead of me.”
He’ s marveled at how well the small town of Cape Elizabeth supports the race.
“You need the support of the community, that believes in what you’ re trying to do,” Rodgers said.
And, Rodgers was thrilled to come to Maine for a weekend.
“I love Maine, Joan is a buddy, and I see some other friends here, too,” he said. “All the running community knows Joannie and they respect her, what she did and what she’ s done and what she’ s doing not only athletically but as a person here at Beach to Beacon.”
Time for a break
Winning the Maine women’ s division of the Beach to Beacon was a dream come true for Kristin Pierce-Barry of Scarborough, and the fact that she and training partner Sheri McCarthy-Piers of Falmouth both finished under Julia Kirtland’ s 1998 course record of 34:56 made it even more special.
However, like any other sport, running is a grind, and these ladies log 100-mile weeks, meeting for workouts while other runners are still in bed.
“Some days it’ s 4:30, some days it’ s 5, some days we meet at 5:30 for [hard] workouts,” said Piers.
Now, after a race which these close friends have had on their radar since the Olympic marathon trials in April, what happens next?
“I’ m ready for a rest, a nice long break,” said Piers.
No matter how long the break is, it’ ll certainly be a well-deserved one.
True to form
Ben True has never run the Beach to Beacon competitively, always soaking in the breathtaking, oceanside 6.2-mile course while gearing his focus on the fall cross-country season at Dartmouth College.
However, you could tell something was very different even before the gun went off Saturday, as the North Yarmouth resident had a win-or-go-home look on his face.
After what he called a rough season of spring track, True’ s 31:02 victory in the Maine men’ s field produced redemption.
“I kind of overtrained a little bit. Last fall I took some time off to focus on skiing,” said True, who “really ramped up” his running training and had some tough results.
“I couldn’ t walk, basically. I tried to make a go of it for outdoor track and the Olympic trials, but I had to cut my season short because I had no footspeed, no stamina at all,” True explained.
He took “well over a month off,” the longest break from training True has ever had.
Camp Susan Curtis benefits
The TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K benefits a different charity each year as part of the TD Banknorth Shining the Light for Maine Youth program. This year’ s beneficiary was the Susan L. Curtis Foundation, the sponsor of Camp Susan Curtis, a summer camp dedicated to improving the lives of economically disadvantaged Maine children ages 8-18. TD Banknorth, through the TD Charitable Foundation, provided a cash donation of $30,000.