Imagine playing long toss with Manny Ramirez. Or catching Tim Wakefield for an inning.

Good luck.

But for Gary Weber, 61, and his wife Jeannie, 59, of Lewiston, running the Beach to Beacon each year is just like that – well, for runners anyway.

“It’s fun to get out with the big guys,” Gary said. “One year I was warming up out front there, and I was warming up with (Khalid) Khannouchi, who’d set a world record in the marathon. I was warming up with him, running right alongside of the guy. Where else do you do that? If I went to see the Red Sox, am I going to get out in the field and run along with (Manny) Ramirez or something? Of course not. The opportunity to be around these guys who can really go, you get a sense of just how good they are.”

Getting into the race to begin with was no problem for the Webers, even though they hadn’t run competitively for a little while.

“I’ve run the Boston Marathon a couple of times, I’ve probably done 15 or 16 marathons over the years,” Gary said. “Joannie Benoit was anybody’s idol who did any running back then. When she put this thing on, I had already stopped doing races for a while, but when she put this one on, I was going to support it, go down there every year and run it for as long as I can.”

Jeannie missed her only race a couple of years back, when she had a thyroid problem and couldn’t even walk the course. Dick walked it last year, despite suffering from knee troubles.

“I had my two knees scoped last year. Last year was the first year I walked it,” Gary said. “I was having medial meniscus problems in both my knees.”

This year, both runners are back in running form, and ready to once again tackle the crown jewel of Maine’s road racing scene.


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