PORTLAND PRESS HERALD
Krige Schabort of Rome, Georgia, won the men’s wheelchair race Saturday at the 20th TD Beach to Beacon 10K in one of the event’s largest fields.
Schabort, 53, topped a field of seven men’s and three women’s wheelchair racers. He finished in 22 minutes, 14 seconds – almost a minute ahead of 10-time champion Tony Nogueira of Glen Ridge, New Jersey.
Hannah Babalola, 28, of Nigeria won the women’s race in her first Beach to Beacon attempt. She finished in 28:26, 90 seconds ahead of Yen Hoang of Champaign, Illinois.
“Tony (Nogueira) told me about it when we raced at the Boston 10K,” Babalola said. “I said I’d give it a try. It’s a nice race. The people are lovely. I feel at home.”
There were just three wheelchair competitors last year and four in 2015. There hadn’t been more than one woman competitor in five years.
“It’s the racers who recruited other racers,” said race coordinator Deb Maxfield, a volunteer who works as the communication director of Maine Adaptive. “They are committed to raising the profile of wheelchair sports. It’s pretty exciting. We had four scratches in the past two weeks or we would have had the most ever (there were also 10 wheelchair racers in 2012).”
Schabort, a native of South Africa, last raced at Beach to Beacon four years ago, winning the race. He then switched to triathlons and competed for the U.S. Paralympic team in Rio de Janeiro last year.
He found the Cape Elizabeth race course much better than in 2013 because it had been repaved. He said it was a joy to be able to put his head down and push his wheelchair without worrying about potholes.
“These wheels like it smooth. Very seldom can I put my head down and push,” said Schabort, a two-time winner of the New York City Marathon. “It was nice to be able to do that.”
Schabort and the course record-holder, James Senbeta (who set the record of 21:46 in 2015), traded the lead for the first five miles. But when they hit the rolling hills, Schabort took the lead for good. Senbeta, of Savoy, Illinois, finished third in 23:30.
In the women’s race, five-time champion Christina Kouros of Cape Elizabeth finished third (37:34). She was thrilled with the larger field because she was able to chase Richard Agee of Brooks, Kentucky, who finished sixth in the men’s race (36:13).
“It’s great with all these professionals,” Kouros said.
SHALANE FLANAGAN, the top American woman, said she was thrilled when she found out she shares a passion with this year’s Beach to Beacon designated Maine charity, Let’s Go!, a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program.
Flanagan co-authored a New York Times bestsellers’ list cookbook with Elyse Kopecky called “Run Fast, Eat Slow,” and has plans to write a second version targeting younger athletes.
“I didn’t know they were going to be the major charity, and at the press conference I was really impressed because that’s something I’m passionate about as well, getting kids moving and eating well, and learning to cook for themselves,” Flanagan said.
Tory Rogers, the medical director of Let’s Go!, said 250 runners sported the same white T-shirt she was wearing with the organization’s signature 5-2-1-0 logo. The logo represents a philosophy of five fruits or vegetables per day, no more than two hours of screen time, one hour or more of physical activity and zero sugary drinks.
Of those wearing the shirts, “about 50,” were official fundraisers who got coveted entry numbers through the race’s charity bib program. Designated charities can purchase bibs from Beach to Beacon, then sell them to raise money.
Rogers estimated the runners using the extra bib numbers produced $20,000 for Let’s Go! in addition to the $30,000 received from the TD Charitable Foundation.
“We will be good stewards of this money,” Rogers said.
MEN’S CHAMPION Stephen Kosgei Kibet stayed with the Berman family of Cape Elizabeth. Jeff Berman, 56, a legacy runner along with his brother Garry, 53, of Simsbury, Connecticut, asked his Kenyan guest about the parts of his name.
Kosgei, Berman was told, is his father’s name, and Kibet has to do with the time of day he was born, at midday. Had he been born at sunset, he would have been Kiplagat. Had everyone been asleep? Cheruiyot.
SEVERAL TOP athletes talked about upcoming marathon plans. On the women’s side, winner Mary Keitany said she intends to try to win the New York City Marathon for a fourth straight year. Women’s runner-up Purity Rionoripo said Saturday’s strong effort was “good progression” for her next marathon, “maybe” in Chicago.
Flanagan played it coy about whether she would be in New York in November, Chicago in October, or perhaps a different locale, but said a late-year marathon is definitely in the works.
Michelle Lilienthal, 35, of Portland is looking at Chicago as the likely spot to get an Olympic trials qualifying time.
“At least the B time (of 2:45) and maybe the A time (of 2:37),” said Lilienthal, who has a marathon PR of 2:34. Lilienthal qualified for the 2016 Olympic marathon trials but didn’t run.
TWO HOURS after the start of the race, there were just 12 runners in the medical tent in ice baths, said the medical coordinator, Chris Troyanos, who also coordinates the Boston Marathon medical tent. He said that’s about average for the race.
“Their core body temperatures are up at 105. We have to cool them down and get them to normal temperatures,” Troyanos said. “It’s nothing unusual.”
Mike Baumann, the medical director, said the highest body temperature for a runner getting attention was 107.7. He said the heat exhaustion mostly was due to the fact conditions were ideal, so recreational runners pushed themselves harder than they would on a hot summer day.
“This was a good day to race. The sun was not too hot,” Baumann said of the 70-degree morning. “These are the runners just under the elite level trying to run a personal best. We rarely get elite runners (in the medical tent).”
THE SON of 10-time wheelchair champion Tony Nogueira ran Beach to Beacon for the second time. After improving by two minutes to finish in 33:50, Pelle Nogueira said he may look to be more competitive in the race in the future.
“I’m not very experienced,” said Nogueira, who will run cross country at The College of New Jersey as a freshman this fall. “It was nice being able to run it since my dad is a 10-time champion. I’ve watched him for years. I paced really well. The fact it wasn’t very hot really made my day.”
THE OLDEST WOMAN to finish was Terri Morris, 88, who moved to Florida from Portland six years ago. She has 10 children, 14 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
She said she started running at age 50, “because all my children finally left home and I felt free.”
Morris ran a 14:35-mile pace and crossed the line in 1:30:33. She had won nine consecutive age-group championships until placing second in the 80-and-over category Saturday to Westbrook’s venerable Polly Kenniston, 80, who ran 1:09:47.
Robert Mountain, 89, of Gorham won the men’s Johnny Kelly Award as the oldest finisher for the third straight year. His time was 1:58:56.
FOR THE SECOND straight year, Luke Laverdiere of Yarmouth opted for the 10K race instead of running Friday’s High School Mile. A 17-year-old senior, Laverdiere was the fastest teenager by more than a minute. His time of 32:30 placed him fifth among all Maine men.
IN ADDITION to overall runner-up Ben True, the Greely High graduate who ran at Dartmouth before turning professional, there were three former Maine high school stars now living out of state who placed among the top 10 American men.
Matt Rand (Cape Elizabeth, age 26) was eighth in 30:54, Jonny Wilson (Falmouth, age 29) was ninth in 31:02 and Henry Sterling (North Yarmouth Academy, age 26) was 10th in 31:19. They now reside in New York, Arizona and Rhode Island, respectively.
A MOMENT OF SILENCE for longtime race volunteer Shawn McKenna was held before the start. A native of Bath, McKenna died of cancer in June at age 61. For many years, he drove a motorcycle carrying race director Dave McGillivray ahead of the lead pack.
McGILLIVRAY RAN Saturday’s race accompanied by his 11-year-old son, Luke, and a voice recorder to make notes on possible improvements. Two such tweaks to this year’s race were more bands, and longer and both-sides-of-the-road water stops.
“That was one of the initiatives, to have more entertainment on the course,” McGillivray said. “It really made a difference. It was a humid day and I think it perked people up.”
As for the water stops, McGillivray said spreading them out allows for everyone to get a drink.
“You can have enough water for 30,000 people,” he said, “but if you can’t distribute it at the rate of speed as the runners coming across, it’s as if the water’s not there.”
HOW IMPORTANT to the success of Beach to Beacon is the practice of placing elite runners with host families? Plenty, said Deena Kastor, the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist and American marathon and half marathon record holder.
“Our profession is living in hotels and out of bags,” she said. “And to be welcomed here to one of the best road races in the world and be brought into a family who takes care of you, the comforts run deep, so it’s very nice. It’s where relationships start. You can never take that away.”