The horror stories were plentiful and poignant.

“Oh my God, the Beach to Beacon? It’s a disaster,” one friend told me a few weeks before the famed 10-kilometer race.

“I hate that race but try and enjoy it,” another one told me. “If you like being in big crowds then you’ll be OK. Logistically, though, it’s just an awful race. Oh, and the hills suck after Mile 5.”

Terrific! It’s just what I longed to hear in the days leading up to my first Beach to Beacon.

An awful race? A logistical nightmare? Hills after what mile?


It was after listening to them I realized that I had two choices: One, Tune out the noise, trust the training and soak in the race; or two, keep digesting the stories and go to Cape Elizabeth with a bundle of nerves and stress.

I chose the former (keeping an open mind is refreshing) and the experience proved to be exhilarating.

Yes, thousands of runners flock to the Maine coast like flies to a horse on a hot summer’s day. Yes, parking is at a premium. And, yes, there is a hill or two after Mile 5.

But the Beach to Beacon came as hoped for this novice runner. The course was far from easy, but it was far from nightmarish, too.

Further, it was clear from the get-go that organizers were in complete control and could pull off a race of this magnitude with (relative?) ease. Of course, there is nothing “easy” about organizing and managing a race of this magnitude, but from where I stood, it sure seemed that way.

After making our way to the starting line — we parked at Cape Elizabeth High School and rode a school bus to our destination — the nerves started to creep in.

“I just need to start running,” I told myself over and over and over again.

Soon, I did.

Three minutes after the gun sounded, I broke through the starting line and embarked on a course that was equal parts challenging (for me, anyway) and forgiving.

I maintained my ideal pace and allowed myself to enjoy the scenery and crowds.

“Embrace it,” I thought to myself.

The hills — or bumps as some of my runner friends call them — came as anticipated somewhere around the five-mile mark.

I pushed through, passing several runners-turned-walkers.

After working my way through Fort Williams (what’s up with that short yet steep path in the park?), I had enough left in the proverbial tank to sprint to the finish line. That, of course, felt great.

The finish line was a beautiful sight.

I came to the race feeling I had 6.2 miles — no more, no less — in me, and that’s what I gave.

The emotions were palpable and, after chugging two bottles of water, I vowed to go for it again next year — with the horror stories subverted.

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