CAPE ELIZABETH – Duncan Kibet pointed one finger toward the sky and leaned into the finish-line tape with authority as sweat poured from his brow.

It was humid Saturday morning – downright hot for many of the more than 5,000 runners at the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K.

But not too hot for Kibet.

With visions of a course record all but completely faded after a 4:36 opening mile, Kibet settled into a steady pace. The Kenyan then passed three runners in the final 600 meters of the race – including countryman Evans Cheryiout just steps before the finish – to earn the win in the 10th running of what has become one of the fastest and most well-recognized 10K races in the world.

“I came into Bix (last week) and the course was tough, but I still won,” Kibet said. “Here, at the Beach to Beacon, the weather was hot, so the time I ran, I am happy with the time.”

Cheryiout, who placed fourth last year, did his best to out-kick Kibet at the finish, but couldn’t quite hold him off. Kibet’s margin of victory was just six-tenths of a second.

On the women’s side, the seventh time was a charm for Romanian Luminita Talpos, who surged to the front at the start, and never looked back.

“At 5K, I thought I had it,” Talpos said. “I push, push, push, push to 5K, and then I thought I was O.K.”

In years past, Talpos had relied on other women to set her pace. This time, in her seventh try and with the heat, and a deeper field than ever, she wasn’t going to take any chances. She finished in 32:20.

“I pushed from the start,” Talpos said. “I didn’t wait until the finish. I was ready from the beginning.”

Kibet, meanwhile, let a rabbit go out in front. For much of the race, Kenyan William Chebon led the field, and maintained his lead at a distance.

“When I saw all the guys with me, I realized it was going to be tough,” said Kibet, who has made a habit of running away early. “I usually go by myself, but today there were five guys with me.”

The win is his third in as many races in the United States since July 1, and Kibet is easily the world’s hottest distance runner headed into next week’s Falmouth Road Race in Falmouth, Mass.

American Meb Keflezighi made a run at the top spot late in the race, too, and was one of the three runners Kibet passed at the end. Keflezighi finished fourth, but still broke the 28-minute mark.

In all, 4,839 runners finished the race, which started in a muggy morning mist. For a while, it appeared the sun would burn off what was left of the low clouds, but just after the elite runners finished, the sticky air settled back in. Portland Head Light, which has come to symbolize the race as a beacon of light shining on youth, was once again swallowed up by the shroud of fog.

Twenty-one countries and 41 states sent runners to this year’s event, which helped raise money for STRIVE, a South Portland-based, non-profit organization designed to assist developmentally disabled youth. TD Banknorth provided a cash donation of $30,000, and STRIVE will also benefit from fundraising activities and publicity.

In the wheelchair division, Patrick Doak of Concord, Mass., lowered his own course record he set last year, finishing in 23:27. Tony Nogueira of Glen Ridge, N.J. finished second, and he, too broke last year’s record with a time of 23:42.

 


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