TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race: World-class success
Success breeds success. Since 2000 we New England Patriots fans have become familiar hearing that phrase in conjunction with the Pats.
Posted Monday, 25 June, 2007
Under the outstanding ownership of Bob Kraft and led by pigskin Poo-bah Bill Belichick, gridiron god Tom Brady, and a cast of unsung worker bees, the Patriots have not only captured three Super Bowl crowns in six years but have also become the model for all professional sports franchises on how to run a successful team.
Substitute football for running, ownership for sponsorship, Belichick for Joan Benoit Samuelson/Dave McGillivray, Brady for world-class runners, worker bees for volunteers, team for road race, and voila, we have another successful and model New England entity: the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race.
The 10th running of this scenic, seaside, 6.2-miler - which begins at Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and finishes at Portland Head Light, the nation's first commissioned lighthouse - is Saturday, Aug. 4, 2007, at 8 a.m.
The road to success
While Forrest Gump's mom said life was like a box of chocolates and you never know what you’re gonna get, Dave McGillivray knew what he was in for when Joan Benoit Samuelson, the race founder, asked him to become the Beach to Beacon race director.
"From day one I knew that because of Joanie (Benoit Samuelson) and with sponsorship, this race was going to be special," said McGillivray, president of DSME, Inc., a nationally recognized event management company, who has been the race's director since its inception in 1998.
"I like being involved in high-profile, significant events and the intent was to build Beach to Beacon into a world-class event."
Joan Benoit Samuelson, a Cape Elizabeth native, who won the first-ever women's Olympic Marathon gold medal in 1984, had a dream of creating a race in which athletes could run and enjoy her favorite training routes and experience the same environment and history which played an important role in her life.
And that dream was realized with the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race, which drew 3,000 runners its first year in 1998, and has become not only Maine's largest road race - attracting runners from all over the country and globe - but also one of the most competitive races in the world.
"This was Joanie's idea, her pursuit," McGillivray said. "She brings a special cache to the proceedings."
As testament to the race's popularity, registration for 2007 is already closed - two months before the race - with 5,500 runners.
"There are a few ingredients that result in making the race a success," said Dave Weatherbie, the race's president since the beginning, who also works with the race's sponsors.
"Joanie (Benoit Samuelson) is obviously a draw. Along with her, the decision to bring Dave McGillivray on as race director was big. Dave is at the top of his field. He is detailed-oriented and meticulous and his management group of people has been embraced by the locals. There's a very strong bond and trust between Dave and his team and the local folks."
In addition to Benoit Samuelson and McGillivray, the other "ingredients" to the race's success are its many volunteers - nearly 800 - and the race sponsors, namely TD Banknorth.
"In order to put on a race like this you need strong sponsorship,” Weatherbie said. "As for the volunteers, they are committed and are the backbone of the race."
And like the folks of Falmouth, Mass., - home to the annual CIGNA Falmouth Road Race, New England's other seaside summer sizzler - the townspeople of Cape Elizabeth have embraced the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K.
"They (Cape Elizabeth residents) could have said, 'We don't want anything to do with the race,' " said Weatherbie, a lifelong Mainer. "But the town has opened its arms to the race and embraced it. Between the people in the town who run the race and those (in town) who volunteer, about half of Cape Elizabeth is involved in that race. It's a true partnership."
While all the aforementioned ingredients have made the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K a Patriots-like success, the fleet-footed elite men and women who descend upon the Pine Tree State from all over the globe put the "world" into this world-class race, said McGillivray.
"They (elite runners) elevate the race to world class; they are the engine," McGillivray said. "And a lot of them come to run TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K because of Joanie."
The race awards about $60,000 in prize money, including $10,000 to the top finishing male and female runners. In addition, $1,000 is given to the first male and female master’s runners, wheelchair competitors, and Maine residents. Course record bonuses are also offered. Gilbert Okari holds the men's course record of 27:28 (2003); Alventina Ivanva has the fastest women's time 31:26 (2006), and Eric Giddings boasts the Maine record of 30:35 (2005).
"For a few years, when (Gilbert) Okari was running in the 27:30s and below (2003-2005), the race had the fastest (men's time) 10K on the road in the world," Weatherbie said. "The course is fast, and usually we have a handful of guys who break 28:00."
The certified point-to-point course, which hugs the ocean, starts at an altitude of 50 feet above sea level with a finishing altitude about 25 feet above sea level. Hence fast times and plenty of competition, including the best of the best from Maine.
While the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race is not the official Maine state road race championship, it is viewed that way by Maine's fleetest of foot.
"If you are from Maine and are the top finisher from the state at Beach to Beacon, it's a big deal," Weatherbie said, noting that the race attracts not only a world-class field but also top regional runners. "We get a good group of New England runners. If you look at the results after the top (world-class) runners, there's no hole (gap in the results). Whether you are running 30:00 or 45:00 there are always people to run with."
A race for charity
Since the inaugural race in 1998, the TD Banknorth Beach 10K has raised approximately $500,000 for children's charities, according to Weatherbie.
"One of the race's missions is to give back to the youth in Maine and help improve their lives," Weatherbie said, noting the race benefits a different charity each year as part of the TD Banknorth Shining the Light for Maine Youth program.
The beneficiary of the 2007 race is STRIVE, a non-profit organization "with a mission to assist teens and young adults with intellectual and emotional disabilities in utilizing resources within their community so they can participate as viable members of the community."
TD Banknorth, through the TD Banknorth Charitable Foundation, will provide a cash donation of $30,000 to STRIVE, and STRIVE will also benefit from fundraising activities and publicity.
Hewins / Carlson Wagonlit Travel of Portland, Maine, is the official travel agency of the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race. For lodging information, please contact Hewins / Carlson Wagonlit Travel at 800-370-0888 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit its website: www.hewinstravel.com. Runners should identify themselves as a "Beach to Beacon" attendee.
Other information may be found by contacting the Visitor Information Center in Portland, Maine at 207-772-5800 or at the website: www.visitportland.com.
Run with the pros
While the New England Patriots have become the model organization in all of professional sports, chances are, unless you are about 6-foot-5-inches tall and weigh 300 pounds, then you will never play for them or be on the same field competing against them.
Yet one of the beauties of road running, in particular the TD Banknorth Beach 10K, is that you, average coolunning.com reader, can be part of the same race as some of the best athletes in the world. And you may get to meet some of these stars after the race.
"The world-class athletes are very receptive to mingling with the crowd and appreciate talking to runners after the race," Weatherbie said. "For us runners, we can't participate in a Red Sox or Patriots game but we can run (in the same race) with some of the best athletes in the world."
If you missed out on entry for this year's race, come join the nearly 10,000 spectators along the picturesque race route. And as for next year, register early, for the TD Banknorth Beach 10K Road Race - like the Patriots - is only going to get better, as success breeds success.
For information on all aspects of the 10th annual TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K, visit the race's website at: http://www.beach2beacon.org.