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World's Elite Runners Gather for Maine's Beach to Beacon
08/02/2013   Reported By: Irwin Gratz

More than 6,000 will run in tomorrow's 16th annual TD Beach to Beacon 10-K. The race, created by Olympic marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson, has grown into one of the state's premier road races. Today, runners and race officials gathered to talk about the event, and, as Irwin Gratz reports, touch on a sensitive subject.

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Beach to Beacon 1

Joan Benoit Samuelson (seated center, in blue windbreaker) joins elite runners converging in Maine for the 16th annual Beach to Beacon race.

Since the Boston Marathon bombings this past April, security has become even more of a concern for organizers of large public events. For Beach to Beacon Race Director Dave McGillivray, it's an issue that has special significance, since he was also the race director in Boston.

"I think it's more just being more vigilant," McGillivray says, "and knowing that, you know, it's a tough world out there sometimes and you've just got to be aware."

Beach to Beacon 1McGillivray (left in photo at left, with Joan Benoit Samuelson) told reporters, runners, and race supporters in Cape Elizabeth he thought what happened in Boston has actually strengthened the sport of running. But, mostly, the speakers under a tent at the Inn by the Sea heaped praise on the race sponsors who help fund it, town officials who accommodate it and the hundreds of volunteers who make the race work.

"This year, we had 780 people who volunteered for this race," says Maya Cohen, a recruiter of volunteers who help keep the race organized and safe. "We have about 130 people who are volunteering for the medical team. We have well over 100 people who helped with registration, and then we have people who get up very, very early on Saturday mornng and they help with flagging and parking and shuttle buses."

Cohen, who was in Boston for this year's marathon, says the Beach to Beacon has been a welcome project. "For me, getting back to work and working for our race was an important piece of normalcy."

Her partner in the volunteer effort, Angela Best, says what happened in Boston has strengthened people's desire to get involved. "I heard from people sooner, rather than later, how can I help? Where do you need me?" Best says. "And it was, really, much easier in some respects."

Tomorrow, of course, will be for the runners.

"I hope tomorrow will be a top race," says Micah Koko, of Kenya. Koko says his country has produced some strong runners this year. "They have have some very strong guys," he says. "They have some good times, like Manuel Attai, the Ethiopian guy, 2:04."

Koko is one of the elite runners - this year's second-place finisher in the Boston Marathon. He is philosophical about what the marathon bombings mean to his spport.

"Yeah, what happened in Boston - I think it's happening everywhere in the world, so it's something like normal," he says. "But it's just maybe for security to keep tight, tighten."

Security will no doubt be tighter. But when I asked race Director Dave McGillivray, "Will there be any difference at all for the runners this year? Will they do anything differently?"

"They won't notice any difference at all," he replied.

Photos:  Irwin Gratz


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