Molly Huddle crosses the finish line as she win the women's 10,000 meters at the U.S. Championships athletics meet Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Des Moines, Iowa. Credit: Charlie Neibergall | AP

Maine native Ben True, the 2017 race runner-up, and two-time U.S. Olympian Molly Huddle, the reigning American record holder in the women’s 10,000-meter run, are among 46 professionals who will compete at the 21st TD Beach to Beacon 10K Aug. 4.

“Ben is a homegrown hero, so it’s going to be a treat to watch him try to reclaim his title, and having Molly in our race this year is truly special,” Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson said in a press release. Samuelson founded the TD Beach to Beacon in her native Cape Elizabeth.

“But they’ve got their work cut out for them as the field is once again deep and talented and guaranteed to provide a highly competitive day of road racing on Aug. 4,” Samuelson said.

Other elite runners set to take on the 6.2-mile route are U.S. Olympic gold medal triathlete Gwen Jorgenson, two-time U.S. Olympian Lopez Lomong, Ethiopian Buze Diriba, Kenya-based New Zealander Jake Robertson and 2012 Beach to Beacon champion Stanley Biwott of Kenya, as well as a host of other Olympians, All-Americans and rising stars from East Africa.

The reigning champions, Kenyans Stephen Kosgei Kibet and course record holder Mary Keitany, will not return to defend their titles.

This year’s top contenders will join a field of more than 6,500 runners who will wind along the fast, relatively flat course that begins near Crescent Beach State Park on Route 77 in Cape Elizabeth and ends in Fort Williams Park near Portland Head Light.

The elite athletes will compete for part of $90,000 in prize money, with $10,000 awarded to the winners in the men’s and women’s open races, and payouts to the top 10 runners overall. Also included is a $23,000 purse for American men and women split evenly among the top five American finishers in each gender with a $5,000 top prize.

True, 32, earned both top payouts, $15,000 in all, in 2016 when he become the first American to win the race in a time of 28 minutes, 16 seconds. He fell just short of defending his title last year, finishing second despite a faster time of 27:56.

A North Yarmouth native and former Greely High School and Dartmouth College All-American, True will run the Beach to Beacon 10K for the ninth time. He won the Maine resident title in 2008 and 2009, then returned as a professional in 2014 and placed third in a personal-best time of 27:50.

Huddle, who lives and trains in Providence, Rhode Island, once labeled the TD Beach to Beacon a “bucket list” event. When she makes her debut in Cape Elizabeth she’ll have her sights on a podium spot in a field with as many as 12 athletes who have run sub-32-minute 10Ks.

Huddle holds numerous American records, including 30:13.17 for the 10K, and finished sixth at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 1:07.25 in the half-marathon in Houston last January. Huddle also won the USATF 15K Championship earlier this year in 47:50.

Her career-best 10K is 31:21 at the USATF 10K Championship in Boston in 2015, an American record for an all-women’s race. Huddle also holds the American 5K and 12K records and has won the NYC Half Marathon three times, most recently in 2017.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...