Race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson congratulates Ryan Smith of Farmington after he finished as the top Mainer in the 21st annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race Saturday in Cape Elizabeth. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
CAPE ELIZABETH — For Ryan Smith, the goal was to finish as the top Maine male finisher at the Beach to Beacon 10k on Saturday.
Born and raised in Indiana and having attended Goshen College, Smith moved to Maine last year a couple of months prior to the famous Cape Elizabeth 10k and was too late to sign up. Smith came and watched the runners, knowing that the next year he would be battling with elite runners from all over the world.
“I came and spectated and the atmosphere, I just knew I was running this race (this) year,” Smith said. “There’s no way I am not. It fits perfectly in my training.”
Smith finished as the top Mainer with a time of 30:50.10, which was good enough for 17th overall, defeating second-place Ben Decker by 52 seconds. Saturday’s race was plagued by extreme humidity that runners suffered through, and some collapsed at the finish line. Smith has been preparing for the heat every morning during his 6 a.m. runs. He also did extensive research on the course itself.
“I train at 6 a.m. So I have the coolest part of the day, but I try to wear jackets and long sleeves so I can acclimate as best as I can,” Smith said. “I watched like ten videos online and I studied the elevation maps from GPS data from people in the past.”
Living in Farmington, Smith has found a training partner in Robbie Hollis, who has been working out with Smith as much as possible and also ran his first Beach to Beacon on Saturday in a time of 33:55.
“We live in the same building,” Hollis said. “Him and I have been training throughout the summer and it’s been a good build-up. I have been doing a lot of hilly races to prepare for today, but the humidity was saturated. It’s that extra barrier. … It was a fun race, though, being able to see all the elite racers and such a wide spectrum of runners.”
Smith had some extra motivation on Saturday, not counting the bacon smell at the fifth-mile marker, as him and his wife, former Edward Little High School race walk standout Abby Dunn, announced Friday that they were expecting their first child.
“It’s been a great day because we announced it yesterday and I have just been on cloud nine ever since. One day my kid’s going to be looking back at these results, they’re going to grow up watching me race, God willing, and I just want to be an inspiration. It’s that extra jolt in your step because you have something to run for besides myself.”
As for the lead pack in the men’s race, Jake Robertson of New Zealand won the elite title with a time of 27:37. Robertson ran the first two miles of the race in a time of 8:40, completely blitzing the competition from the start, making it a battle for second place.
“I am happy,” Robertson said. “If you set your mind to doing something, and you believe in yourself and you deliver, you feel good about yourself. I sadly didn’t get the course record, but at least I gave it my best.”
Robertson was set on running his best through the harsh conditions, coming just 10 seconds shy of the course record.
“I don’t ever want to show up somewhere and feel like I never gave it my best,” Robertson said. “I gave my best and it was good enough to win today.”
The quote from legendary Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine, ‘To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift,’ is a quote that Robertson lives by and exemplified during the Beach to Beacon. There was no shortage of gratitude post-race for the winner.
“I am a big fan of that quote and that’s really the way I like it,” Robertson said. “I came here on behalf of my family, my training group, my sponsors and everybody that supports me, and ever since I have been here in Maine everyone has been so good to me. I feel like giving back and giving a performance that everyone can be proud of.”
Maine native Ben True finished third with a time of 28:29, behind Roberston and Kenya’s Stephen Sambu. He knew early on that it wasn’t going to be his day, with Robertson gunning it from the start.
“It was weather-wise, it was one of the hardest races I have run here, and I knew it was going to be a fast one,” True said. “The race blew up really quickly, there was no settling at all. Right from the gun we went hard. It just made it a longer grind of a race.”
In the women’s race, Sandrafelis Chebet Tuei, of Kenya, won with a time of 31:20, defeating Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh by just five seconds. American Molly Huddle finished in third in 31:40.
Former Cheverus High School and University of Connecticut runner Emily Durgin finished 10th in 33:54.
In eighth was Gwen Jorgensen, the gold medal-winning triathlete turned marathon runner who finished with a time of 33:19. Jorgensen has been getting help from all over as she transitions to the marathon, even from Ben True and his wife, Sarah.
“I used to compete with Sarah a bunch,” Jorgensen said. “(Ben) won this event, so that’s pretty awesome and he got third today. It’s pretty awesome to have that.”
Maine’s top woman finisher was Michelle Lilienthal of Portland, who finished in a time of 36:16.
Jake Robertson of New Zealand crosses the finish line to win the 21st annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race Saturday in Cape Elizabeth. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Sandrafelis Chebet Tuei, of Kenya, approaches the finish line to win the women’s division of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race Saturday in Cape Elizabeth. (Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald Photo)
Jake Robertson of New Zealand runs all alone on his way to winning the 21st annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race Saturday in Cape Elizabeth. Robertson, 28, finished with an unofficial time of 27 minutes, 37 seconds, nearly a minute faster than the rest of the field. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Stephan Sambu of Kenya, right, finishes in second place while American Ben True takes third in the 21st annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race Saturday in Cape Elizabeth. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Ryan Smith, of Farmington, celebrates as he approaches the finish line to be the top Mainer in the 21st annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race Saturday in Cape Elizabeth. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Michelle Lilienthal, of Portland, finishes as the top Mainer in the women’s division of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race Saturday in Cape Elizabeth. (Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald Photo)