CAPE ELIZABETH – Near the entrance to the Robinson Woods trail system, just before the Mile 5 marker and before the undulating hills of Shore Road, Stanley Biwott of Kenya accepted a cup of water from a volunteer.

Instead of drinking it, however, Biwott passed the cup to a fellow Kenyan, Stephen Kipkosgei-Kibet, who was running alongside Biwott’s left shoulder, the only remainder of what had been a 13-man pack at the first mile.

“Stephen said he needed it,” said Biwott later. “We know each other.”

Even with the liquid refreshment, Kipkosgei-Kibet could not keep pace with Biwott, who won the 15th Beach to Beacon 10K road race on a muggy Saturday morning in a time of 27 minutes, 59.1 seconds.

Over the previous nine years, the only winning time slower than Saturday’s was Ed Muge’s 28:05 in 2009.

“It was hot,” said Biwott, 26, sweating profusely as he was atop a massage table minutes after the race. “The course was not easy.”

Biwott earned $10,000 for first place, while Kipkosgei-Kibet picked up $5,000 for second in 28:02. The first six places went to Kenyans, with Lucas Kimeli Rotich (28:11), Kiplimo Kumatai (28:13), Muge (28:18) and Allan Kiprono (28:22) crossing the line before Gebretsadik Abraha (28:29) of Ethiopia.

Silas Kipruto of Kenya, the winner of last week’s Bix 7-miler in Iowa, seemed to be driving the pace through four miles and was abreast of Biwott and Kipkosgei-Kibet until reaching Pond Cove. There, he heard a lone bagpiper, took in the gorgeous view of the glistening waters of Casco Bay and felt a twinge in his left hamstring.

“It was like a race car blowing a gasket,” said Larry Barthlow, the elite athlete coordinator who watched the race unfold from the back of a motorcycle. “I thought he was going to win at (Mile) 4 and then next thing you know, he went boom! Knockout punch.

“That’s why we race.”

An initial pack of 12 African runners and 27-year-old Sean Quigley, a former NCAA champion at LaSalle, covered the first mile in 4:28 with temperatures in the low 70s and barely any breeze. Quigley dropped off the pace by the turn onto Old Ocean House Road to leave a dozen runners passing Turkey Hill Farm together after a 4:39 second mile.

The pack started to string out as Kipruto led the way past Alewives Brook Farm and up a few twisting hills back to Route 77, the challenging third mile passing in 4:18 with a quartet of Kipruto, Abraha, Biwott and Kipkosgei-Kibet separating themselves from the rest.

They reached the halfway point of 5 kilometers in 13:54 and proceeded through the center of town, beneath the enormous American flag draped between fire truck ladders on either side of Route 77, with Abraha dropping behind the three Kenyans as they turned right onto Shore Road.

Rotich, last year’s runner-up, seemed within striking distance as the leaders completed their fourth mile in 4:27, but he would eventually catch only Kipruto, who faded to eighth after his hamstring problem.

By the time the leaders returned to leafy shade after the brilliant sunshine of rocky Pond Cove, only Biwott and Kipkosgei-Kibet, dressed in identical outfits of red on high and light blue below, remained in contention.

“He pulled away in the last mile,” said Kipkosgei-Kibet, who took fourth in 2010 under much less humid conditions, in a time (27:51) that would have won Saturday’s race.

Biwott, an alternate who was on and off the Kenyan Olympic marathon team at various times earlier this summer, first provided a drink to his countryman before delivering a kick that could not be matched.

“This race is very good,” Biwott said. “I like it.” 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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