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CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine – (July 25, 2012) – The deepest and most talented world class field ever assembled for the TD Beach to Beacon 10K will toe the line for the special 15th running of the acclaimed road race on Saturday, August 4 in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, race organizers have announced.
The 30-plus men and women distance runners in the 2012 field include some of the top racers on the American circuit as well as a strong contingent of Kenyan and Ethiopian track athletes who narrowly missed the London Olympics, where some would have contended for medals.
The men’s field features 11 runners who have recorded sub-28:00 10Ks in their careers, with even faster times on the track, putting the race’s 9-year-old course record (27:28) in jeopardy.
In the women’s race, returning champ Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia is pitted against a stellar field with no less than six runners with sub 31:30 10Ks, including two women with the fastest times ever on the course as well as fellow Ethiopian Aberu Kebede, who might be the most talented distance athlete in the world not competing in London, according to Larry Barthlow, the elite athlete coordinator for the TD Beach to Beacon.
“I really believe we’ve put together the deepest overall field we’ve ever had, something special for the 15th running,” Barthlow said. “We have runners who have been winning on the American roads this year, but also many new faces fresh off the tracks in Europe who are determined to make some noise here. With the right conditions, both course records could fall.”
Running icon Joan Benoit Samuelson, winner of the first Olympic Marathon for women in 1984 and founder of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K in her native Maine, agreed.
“With all the excitement surrounding the London Games, this field is going to showcase a number of Olympic-caliber athletes right here in Maine,” said Benoit Samuelson, who will join the field this year to commemorate 15 years. “Many of our athletes who just missed the cut on their Kenyan or Ethiopian Olympic teams would have been competing for medals at 5000 or 10,000 meters in London.”
Prize money for the winner of the men’s and women’s races is $10,000. In all, nearly $60,000 in prize money will be awarded to the top finishers and place winners in the various categories for men and women. A $2500 bonus also is available for any runner who breaks an open course record.
The men’s field is wide open, Barthlow said, with at least eight runners in legitimate contention for the title.
One of the favorites is Atsedu Tsegay, 20, of Ethiopia, whose 58:47 in Prague this spring remains the fastest half-marathon in the world so far in 2012 and is only 24 seconds off the world record. He is an Olympic team alternate for Ethiopia with a personal best (PR) of 27:46 at 10K.
He will be challenged by another young Ethiopian, Abera Kuma, 21, who finished fifth at the 2011 World Championships at 5000m (13:26) and clocked a 27:18 at 10,000m two weeks ago in Belgium.
Lucas Rotich, 22, of Kenya, is back after finishing second at the 2011 TD Beach to Beacon (27:56) and winning the Falmouth Road Race a week later. He has since recorded a blazing 26:43 on the track at 10,000m.
Then there’s Kenyan Stanley Biwott, 26, who broke course records at both the Paris Marathon (2:05:11) and Paris Half Marathon (59:04) already in 2012. And keep an eye on Ethiopians Gebretsadik Abraha, 20, who took silver at the 2010 World Junior Championships at 10,000m, and Azmeraw Bekele, 26, winner of the 10,000m at the 2011 Ethiopian Athletic Championships.
Ed Muge, 29, of Kenya, who won the TD Beach to Beacon 10K in 2008 (setting a PR 27:52) and 2009, is back for his fifth consecutive race. He finished third last year and fifth in 2010.
The field is so deep that one of the most decorated runners on the American road race circuit so far in 2012 – Allan Kiprono, 22, of Kenya – is almost an afterthought among title contenders. Kiprono has already won three major U.S. road races – Bellin Run, Lilac Bloomsday Run and BolderBOULDER 10K – and is returning after finishing fifth in 2011 and second in 2010.
Who else? Lelisa Desisa, 22, is an alternate on the Ethiopian Olympic team after recording a 27:12 earlier this summer. Lewis Nyariki, 23, of Kenya, has run 27:22 at 10,000m. Kiplomo Kumatai, 30, of Kenya, is returning to the TD Beach to Beacon for the first time since his third place finish (a PR of 27:59) in 2008 and has recorded 27:17 on the track. Sammy Chelanga, 27, of Kenya, was an NCAA Cross Country champion at Liberty University and set an NCAA record at 10,000m (27:08.49).
The leading American entered is Sean Quigley, 27, a top U.S. distance runner and former NCAA champion at LaSalle.
On the women’s side, Aheza Kiros, 26, is back after becoming the first Ethiopian woman to win the TD Beach to Beacon title (32:09) in 2011. She will likely need a significantly faster time to compete this year – although her 31:06 PR at 10,000m suggests she is more than capable.
Lineth Chepkurai knows all about speed along the picturesque TD Beach to Beacon course. The 24-year-old Kenyan shaved 26 seconds off the course record with a blistering 30:59 to win the 2010 race. It was the first sub 31:00 10K ever on Maine soil. She has finished in the top 10 in the World Cross Country championships three times, and also won the Lilac Bloomsday Run and the Bay to Breakers three times each. Her PR for the 10K is 30:45.
The woman with the second fastest time (31:07) on the TD Beach to Beacon course is Wude Ayalew, 25, of Ethiopia, who finished second to Chepkurai’s record setting performance in 2010. She returned a week later to beat Chepkurai at the Falmouth Road Race. Ayalew is in top form after finishing second at the 2011 All-Africa Games. She has clocked 30:11 for 10,000m.
Aberu Kebede, 22, of Ethiopia, just missed making the highly-competitive Ethiopian Olympic team and will be anxious to put on a good show, Barthlow said. Her 1:07.39 is the second fastest Half Marathon ever run by an Ethiopian. She earned a bronze in the Half at the World Championships and her 2:20:33 marathon is among the top 20 all time for women.
Two top Russian distance athletes are also in the field. Valentina Galimova, 25, is a Russian 10,000m champion who finished a disappointing fifth at the 2012 Olympic qualifier, while Kseniya Agafonova, 29, a Russian indoor champ who finished fifth at 5000m at the 2007 IAAF World Athletics Final and has a PR of 31:08 at 10,000m.
Other top contenders include: Margaret Wangari-Muriuki, 26, of Kenya, who finished sixth at the 2010 World Cross Country Championships running barefoot and second at the African Cross Country Championships earlier this year; Pauline Njeri-Kahenya, 27, of Kenya, who is on the rise after recording a PR 31:25 in Paris in April; Rita Jeptoo, 31, of Kenya, the 2006 B.A.A Boston Marathon champ who has clocked 31:12 at 10K; and Jelliah Tinega, 26, of Kenya, who finished second at the 2011 TD Beach to Beacon and has victories at the Bellin Run and Cherry Blossom 10 Mile already in 2012.
A strong contingent of American women also is entered. Lindsey Sherf, 25, took fourth at the 2012 USA 15K Championship and runner-up at the USA 25K Championship. The Harvard graduate has recorded a personal best 32:51 at 10K. Rebecca Donaghue, 36, finished fifth at the 2009 TD Beach to Beacon, which she followed up with an impressive second at Falmouth a week later. This year, she finished in the top 20 in the U.S.
Olympic Trials for both the marathon and 10,000m. Katie McGregor, 34, finished 11th at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston after narrowly missing the 2004 and 2008 Olympics with consecutive fourth place finishes at 10,000m, where her PR is 31:21. She took second at the 2011 USA 10K Championship.
The professional athletes will join a race day field of 6,000 for the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, one of the gems on the U.S. road race circuit. The race begins near the Crescent Beach State Park entrance on Route 77 in Cape Elizabeth and ends 6.2 miles later in Fort Williams Park at the Portland Head Light, the most photographed lighthouse in America.
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