Cape Elizabeth, ME –  A race is all about urgency, whether along the cutting edge of competition itself, or in the honing of that edge leading up to the moment when the starter raises his/her arm and a hush falls over the assemblage.  

Every training session, then, every meal, every elimination, every hour of sleep is oriented against that unrelenting time frame. Yet, not all races are created equal, meaning one racer’s focus may be another’s stepping stone. 

Tomorrow’s 21st annual TD to Beach to Beacon 10K is one such dual purpose race. Two of the favorites going in are 2016 champion and last year’s runner-up Ben True, the North Yarmouth, Maine native who returns home from the European Diamond League track circuit, and New Zealand’s Jake Robertson who’s coming off a two month training stint at his home base in Iten, Kenya. 

“Not as 10k specific,” is how Ben True characterizes his condition for tomorrow’s race. “I want to do well in the (5000m) Diamond League Final in Brussels later this month. So I haven’t tapered down for this. It will be interesting to see how the legs are tomorrow.”

American record holders Ben True and Molly Huddle

Yet True, 32, the former Dartmouth College All-American, always performs well in his home state’s most prestigious race. In 2008 and 2009 he won the Maine resident’s title. Then, he returned as a pro in 2014 to place third in 27:50 – the fastest road 10K by an American in 29 years – before winning the race outright in 2016 (28:16), the first American to take the B2B title. Finally, he finished one second behind Kenya’s Stephen Kosgei-Kibet last year in 27:55.

In March, True debuted in the half marathon at the NYC Half and became the first American ever to win that big-time event. He then placed 2nd at the 2018 BAA 5K in April.

Jake Robertson, 28, is making his first appearance at Joan Samuelson’s hometown event. He and twin brother Zane moved to Kenya as 17 year-olds, and have harvested the fruits of that commitment. To date, the New Zealander is undefeated on U.S. soil in 2018. This January he took top honors at the Houston Half Marathon (60:01) against a strong international field.  Then he went gun-to-tape at the Crescent City Classic 10K in New Orleans in April in a sensational 27:28, the fifth fastest road 10k in the world this year. He then set the NZL national 10,000m record (27:30.9) while placing 5th at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, one of five national records recorded in a six-week stretch.

“And I was pretty tired, too, coming off those five national records and my marathon debut (2:08:26 3rd, Lake Biwa Marathon in Japan).”

Robertson returned to his and twin brother Zane’s training base in Iten, Kenya after the Commonwealth Games for what he categorized as two months of “exceptional training”.  It’s left him hungry for a big performance on the rolling hills of the B2B course. 

New Zealand record setter Jake Robertson speaking with the press

“I’ve seen the hills, and they are nothing like the hills in Kenya,” Jake told me at today’s pre-race presser at Ft. Williams Park. “I kill the good guys in Kenya on hills, and everyone who knows me says ‘you’ve got to run the Boston Marathon’. So that’s a major target of mine in the future.”

As far as strategy for tomorrow’s race goes, Robertson is “open to anything”.  At the same time, he is straight forward about his intention of wanting to take down Gilbert Okari’s 2003 course record 27:28, the same time Jake posted in winning the Crescent City Classic in April. 

But the heat and humidity have been quite high in the Portland area this weekend, making records a long shot. Notwithstanding, look for Jake to team up with pals Shadrack Biwott, 33, the Kenyan-born American who showed third at this year’s Boston Marathon and Callum Hawkins, 26, the Scottish half marathon record holder (60:00) who finished 9th in the marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 4th at the 2017 World Championships in London. Hawkins also ran the 2018 Commonwealth Games Marathon in Australia’s Gold Coast where he infamously held a two minutes advantage entering the final mile, only to hit the wall and fail to finish. 

 Nevertheless, “one of us will win the race”, predicted Robertson.  “Ben True might not want to be the one front running.”

How’s that for stepping out?  


4 thoughts on “2018 TD BEACH TO BEACON 10K – TALES OF TWO FAVES

  1. tomorrow the smartest runner will stay buried in the lead pack and wait until the last moment to blitz a fast finish for the win, as the humidity will sap the leg speed of the marathoners.

  2. Toni:

    Sorry to not be there this year. I will miss the beautiful scenery, the race, the people, and the delicious lobster bake! What a nice event that Maine puts on every year in CE.

    I have to say that at age 32, Ben True is still running really well even at the shorter races on the track. And, now soon moving up into the half and marathon distances, too. I think he has done a wise thing trying to get his top performances from 1 mile to 5K on the track…down as fast as possible and go for any medals and titles he can win there at his prime…..before he slows due to age or injury…. rather than going to the marathon too early… which really screws up the track leg biomechanics. Once you go to the marathon it is really hard to get the “fast legs” back again! It may not have been commercially the most successful approach… but as a pure athletic standpoint, I think he did the right thing. Good luck to Ben and all the athletes of both genders tomorrow. And, never bet against Molly Huddle in a fast road race.

  3. On paper, Jake looks like the favorite, especially if he gobbles up hills like he says he does. And temps don’t look too bad tomorrow at race time. But the humidity will be much higher than anything he experiences in Kenya and just may be his downfall. Thanks for whetting our appetite Toni.

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