For some, running the TD Beach to Beacon 10K is about the thrill of competition, both with other runners and with the ticking hands of time.

For others, the race is about camaraderie, seeing familiar faces in a familiar — and healthy — setting each August.

A select few continue to run the race, first completed in 1998, because they’ve never known what it’s like not to run the race.

Whatever the reason, people continue to sign up — or attempt to enter — in droves.

Friday morning, 4,000 entry slots filled in 3 minutes, 43 seconds, shattering last year’s then-record time of 4:15.

Fastest on the keyboard this year was Jason Huddy of Cumberland, who completed his entry in 39 seconds. The 34-year-old Unum employee broke the previous record of 45.27 seconds, set in 2013.

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His secret?

“I used form-fill in the browser where possible, and then fell back to intensely focused typing/clicking on page elements not covered by the auto fill,” Huddy said. It’s a fun hand-eye coordination exercise, and the adrenaline surrounding the registration process certainly helps move things along.”

This year’s race is Huddy’s second, and while he did get in last year, he had to make a change or two to his methodology to help ease the anxiety.

“The one adjustment I made from last year’s registration experience was to use a payment method other than American Express, as it wasn’t accepted,” Huddy said. “I didn’t test fate this morning to see if this has changed.”

The race draws interest from average runners around the country, and from elite runners around the world. Many of the best runners across the globe have competed in Cape Elizabeth, at a race founded by an icon of the sport, Joan Samuelson, who after the race will stand at the finish line and greet as many runners as possible.

“It’s a great course, a fun vibe, and the support from the crowd and community for all the runners is phenomenal, right down to Joan herself greeting finishers, fast and slow,” said Leif Erickson, a Gorham resident, Massachusetts native and well-known radio host at Frank-FM in Portland.

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The race’s appeal has grown strong in the past decade, particularly among Maine residents. What started as a 3,000-runner field and 2,408 finishers in 1998 has exploded into a nearly 7,000-person field. In 2015, more than 6,600 people from 15 countries, 41 states and more than 265 Maine cities and towns finished the winding, rolling, 6.2-mile coastal course.

“It’s amazing to have seen the growth of the event, not just as an exhibition for the world’s top runners in Maine, but as a goal of average Mainers to achieve,” Auburn Mayor and avid runner Jonathan LaBonte said.

LaBonte ran his first Beach to Beacon in 2002.

“Watching everyday people embark on that 10k with the community of Cape Elizabeth cheering them on is very inspiring,” he said. “It reminds me of how our community has rallied around events like the Triple Crown that encourage everyone, regardless of ability, to take on running to get and stay healthy.”

Political platitudes aside, LaBonte, like many of the runners, holds the race in particular esteem because of personal memories.

“Of all the (Beach to Beacons) I have run, the first was by far the most special, since I got to run it alongside my father, as he had taken on running to lose weight and fight his diabetes,” LaBonte said.

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And while LaBonte has been running for a while — off and on at the big race for 14 years — one Lewiston runner, Kelly Brown, is among the select group of 118 people to have completed all 18 Beach to Beacon races to date.

Brown is registered for this year’s 19th edition.

“I’m still so awestruck when I see (all of the elite runners),” Brown said. “And then there’s the beautiful Maine coast, lined with a ton of people cheering you on. Then, after the finish, you usually see runner friends who you haven’t seen in years. It’s great to catch up. And because the competition is so strong, it’s a great race to peak for and to run with women who will push you until the end.”

In the very first race in 1998, Brown was the third Maine women’s finisher, and earned $250.

Brown is hoping for a bookend performance this year. This may be her 19th Beach to Beacon, but she has no intention of jogging off into the sunset anytime soon.

“My goal is to make top three in the 50-and-older (after the elite athletes) at least once more,” Brown said. “I had a great race in 2014; I was third behind Erin Chalat from Maine and a woman from New York.”

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This year’s race is even more special for Brown, too, because her daughter, Kirby Rodrigue, will be running the race with her for the first time.

“She is the type who has so much faith in what I say and do that any advice I give her about running is sacred to her,” Brown said. “I’m so excited she will be able to see the best runners in the world. She may not know this, but she has taught me to be strong and independent by her actions.”

Even beyond the longtime Maine residents and elite, legacy runners, the race’s appeal is far-reaching. Lewiston High School graduate Heather Wellman has lived in Seattle for nearly 10 years, though her family remains in southern Maine.

Friday, she woke up at 3:45 a.m. in her Seattle home and registered for the race for the first time.

“The year I was born, Joan Benoit Samuelson won the Boston Marathon,” Wellman said. “She was always this elusive legend to me when I was a kid, even though I grew up in Lewiston, inactive and overweight. I found relief in running after my dad passed away when I was 21. The sport still helps me connect with another part of myself: the strong, confident, courageous part.

“I’m at a big transition point in my life, so this seems like the perfect year to finally make this race happen,” Wellman continued. “It’s why I was up at 3:45 to register from the other side of the country. I am thrilled to head home for this race in August. I spent all of my summers through college on Higgins Beach, where my family still lives, just down the road from the Cape. This will be a homecoming for me in many ways.”

Whether homecoming, a passion for fitness or sheer habit, everyone who toes the line in Cape Elizabeth on the first Saturday of August will have a reason for being there, and a growing number of people will wish they’d been just a few seconds faster … with their fingers, rather than their feet.


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