TOMMY LEONARD CELEBRATES 81ST BIRTHDAY

Tommy Leonard with Pittsfield, Ma. Hi School girls cross country team

Tommy Leonard with Pittsfield, Ma. Hi School girls cross country team

 

Falmouth, Ma. — Last year a multitude of fans and friends celebrated Falmouth Road Race founder Tommy Leonard‘s 80th birthday with a big surprise party at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel.  This year it was back to business as usual.  Last night Tommy was in his element hard along the bar at the Quarterdeck Restaurant on Main Street as old friends and new acolytes alike helped him toast his 81st birthday. As people wandered in to sign up for his 24th annual Falmouth Walk Saturday morning, like the pope of Falmouth Tommy sat atop his bar stool greeting visitors from far and wide.

“I cant’ hear anymore, and I can’t see,” said Tommy amidst sips from a savory brew. “But I can still laugh.”

Among those on hand were the girls of the Pittsfield, Mass. High School cross country team, led by their coach Theresa Apple. As the bar clogged and laughter rose, you could hear many a tall tale being told about the lovable guru of the Falmouth Road Race, and ex-barman of the legendary Eliot Lounge in Boston. But through it all Coach Apple’s story came as close to explaining the quality that has made T.L. such a rare paragon of the sport. Continue reading

2014 MAINE TRAVELS

It is back to Southern California today after our annual week in Maine for the TD Beach to Beacon 10K.  On our final day in the Pinetree state Toya and I joined our hosts Bill & Linda Nickerson on a day trip to New Harbor, Bristol, Brunswick and Christmas Cove in South Bristol.  Here are some of the sights.

 

Pemaquid Lighthouse

Pemaquid Lighthouse

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REMEMBERING JOANIE, LOS ANGELES 1984

A Win for the Ages

A Win for the Ages

There is no champion like time itself.  Nothing moves as swiftly, nor as relentlessly.  It will outrun us all one day.  Yet it is hard to believe it has been thirty years since Joan Benoit won the inaugural Women’s OIympic Marathon in Los Angeles, California August 5, 1984. But calendars are rather dispassionate, not in the habit of subjective reckoning.

In the dark ages before the internet, or wide spread coverage of running, when Joan raced to a 2:22:43 win at the 1983 Boston Marathon — nearly three minutes faster than Norwegian great Grete Waitz’s world record set the day before in London at 2:25:29 — there were many who chose to believe there were other factors in play beyond the steely-eyed drive and talent of the Cape Elizabeth, Maine native.

This past week as Joanie welcomed thousands of runners to her 17th TD Beach to Beacon 10K, the hometown race she founded that traverses one of her old training loops, it is particularly timely to look back to where we stood those 30 years ago when women were about to first express their talents over the classic Olympic running distance. Continue reading

FAMILY AFFAIR AT TD BEACH TO BEACON 10K

Cape Elizabeth, ME. — The sport of road racing, especially here in New England where the tradition is so deeply-seated, has always been much more than simply a competition from Point A to Point B.  In the olden days before money and sponsors came into the sport at current levels road trips and shared housing was the standard.  Thus one of the throwback pleasures of Joanie Samuelson’s TD Beach to Beacon 10K in her hometown of Cape Elizabeth, Maine is the tradition of housing invited athletes and guests with local families. This was the 14th  year that we have been lucky enough to return to the home of Bill and Linda Nickerson, who have become dear friends over those years, as have their children Julie and Geoff.   That feeling is universal among the professional athletes who cherish an invitation to this most quintessential of New England races.  Throughout the weekend the pre and post-race activities are a reflection of the family atmosphere Joanie has engendered.   The pictures below give a taste of the quality of what has made the New England running community so special through the years, and why an invite to the TD B2B is so highly prized.

Our hosts Bill & Linda Nickerson

Our hosts Bill & Linda Nickerson

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2014 TD BEACH TO BEACON 10K VIEWS FROM THE LEAD TRUCK

Cape Elizabeth, ME. —  The 17th TD Beach to Beacon 10K produced gut churning races and personal bests galore despite humidity that was as thick as a Downeast Mainers accent  in the hometown to race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson.

While calling the race from the men’s lead vehicle I had my trusty Sony camera in hand, and though I’m no Victah in terms of photog excellence, the pics below at least capture some of the intensity on display.  With the Lobster Bake still on the evening docket, I’ll have to wait till the morrow to write a more complete appraisal of the day’s events. Till then…

 

Ready to Roll near Crescent Beach State Park

Ready to Roll near Crescent Beach State Park

 

The goal, Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park, oldest commissioned light house in America

The goal, Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park, oldest commissioned light house in America

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2014 TD BEACH TO BEACON 10K PREVIEW

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The 2014 TD Beach to Beacon 10K professional fields gathered at the elegant Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine this morning to be introduced to the media one day before the 17th running of the classic road race founded by local girl made good Joan Benoit Samuelson. Three times in its first 16 years the rolling B2B 10K has produced the fastest road 10K of the year, including in 2003 when Gilbert Okari of Kenya established the standing course record of 27:28. This year the best mark for the distance is held by Wilson Kiprono Too of Kenya while winning the Laredo 10K in Spain March 22nd in 27:39.

With defending champion and 2008 Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist Micah Kogo (28:02) leading another strong east African contingent, depending on how aggressive the field is, that world-leading time may again come under pressure on the rolling, but net downhill layout. Continue reading