CAPE ELIZABETH — Sandrafelis Chebet Tuei had a headache at the finish of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K on Saturday and had to be rushed to the medical tent. But that was after the diminutive Kenyan with the big kick won the women’s race in 31 minutes, 21 seconds.

“Up to 700 yards (to go), I was leading. We went over a steep climb and I kicked hard with 400 meters to go,” said Chebet Tuei, 20, who in January ran a 10K personal best of 30:57 in Spain. “It’s not a bad time. It feels good. It is my first time running in the U.S. and my first time running here. Next year, I will be here.”

Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia ran behind Chebet Tuei for the final three miles but couldn’t keep pace after the final steep hill just inside Fort Williams and finished second in 31.26.

Two-time Olympian Molly Huddle of Providence, Rhode Island, was third in 31.40.

Huddle, 33, broke the American record in the 10,000 meters (30:13.17) at the 2016 Rio Olympics and was trying to become the first American woman to claim the Beach to Beacon title.

“You’re used to hearing about the Kenyans and the Ethiopians winning on the road,” Huddle said. “To be a New Englander and win a New England race would be pretty special. The course is really challenging. You don’t get a break with the hills. I’d love to try to win this.”

The top three women were all competing at Beach to Beacon for the first time. They ran most of the race in a pack of four that included Pauline Kaveke Kamulu of Kenya.

After a mile-and-a-half, the four pulled away from the field of elite women, easily putting 100 yards between them and the next runner, Emily Sisson, 26, an 11-time All-American who still holds the NCAA indoor record at 5,000 meters.

Kaveke Kamulu led for the first three miles, while Huddle ran off her right shoulder with Chebet Tuei and Yeshaneh behind. At the 3-mile marker, Kaveke Kamulu and Huddle pulled slightly ahead, but not long after, Huddle began to fade. Soon after, Chebet Tuei took the lead, followed by Yeshaneh and Kaveke Kamulu. The pack ran the first four miles at 5:02 pace.

On Shore Road, Chebet Tuei and Yeshaneh pulled away, with Yeshaneh running directly behind the leader.

“I was with them the first 5K and was hoping to stay with them a little longer,” Huddle said. “But I was right on the edge of my fitness. Their PRs are faster. The last 800 (meters), they had a lot left.”

Yeshaneh improved her previous best time by 27 seconds, but said Chebet Tuei’s kick at the end was too much.

“The course was too hot and hard. There were lots of ups and downs, and she was very strong,” said Yeshaneh, 27, through translator Tariku Bekele, an Ethiopian who finished 10th in the men’s race.

“I’m happy because this was very hot. It is cold in Ethiopia. This is good.”

Kaveke Kamulu, the early leader, fell 100 yards back at Mile 5 and finished fourth (31:55). Sisson, who also lives in Providence, was fifth in 32:09, and Buze Diriba of Ethiopia was sixth (33:17).

Gwen Jorgensen, who won the triathlon at the 2016 Rio Games, was eighth in 33:19. Jorgensen said she felt fatigued from recent marathon training, but was happy with her effort in the humidity.

“I wish I had gone a little harder a little sooner. But I’m happy,” Jorgensen said. “If I want to run a fast marathon I have to do some fast 10Ks.”

Former Cheverus High standout Emily Durgin was 10th in 33:54. Durgin, who now lives outside Boston, was the top Maine woman at last year’s Beach to Beacon.

Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: FlemingPph

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