CAPE ELIZABETH — It’s been a good couple of days for Ryan Smith.

On Friday, he and his wife, Abby, announced that they are expecting a baby. On Saturday, he won the Maine men’s title at the TD Beach to Beacon 10K – and made it look easy.

Pounding through the heat and humidity, the 23-year-old Smith earned the Maine championship with a time of 30 minutes, 50 seconds – 52 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Ben Decker of Yarmouth. Spencer McElwain of Portland finished third in 31:57.

“I’ve been on Cloud Nine since (Friday),” said Smith, who moved to Farmington last June from his native Indiana. “One day my kids are going to be looking at these results. And they’re going to grow up watching me race, God willing, and I just want to be an inspiration. (The announcement) puts a jolt in your step. I have something to race for other than myself.”

Unlike the 2017 race, where Rob Gomez dramatically helped Jesse Orach across the finish line, there was no suspense. Smith pulled away in the second mile and never was challenged.

“I wanted to keep the pace strong,” said Smith. “I’m training for a marathon, so I knew I had the strength. And when it hurt on the hills, I just kept pouring it on.”

The Maine women’s race, similarly, lacked drama as Michelle Lilienthal of Portland won for the third time. She finished in 36:16, 37 seconds faster than Erica Jesseman of Scarborough. Tracy Guerrette of St. Agatha was third at 36:55.

Lilienthal and Guerrette, both running with the wave of elite women who start 12 minutes before the rest of the field, were the first two Maine women across the finish line. But Jesseman later came in with a net time that was seconds ahead of Guerrette’s.

“I didn’t know I was second when I finished,” said Jesseman, 29. “I had gone into the medical tent (after falling when she crossed the finish line) and when I came out, I found out.

“I just feel so blessed.”

The conditions were brutal for most of the runners. When Lilienthal felt the humidity Saturday morning, she immediately readjusted her goals.

“The goal was to be the first Mainer,” she said. “My time goal, before I knew how humid it was going to be, I wanted to be under 35 minutes. My workouts had indicated I could be right around 35. With the humidity, I had to adjust my time goal. It would take better conditions to run that fast for me.”

She knew it was going to be difficult, no matter what.

“It hurt,” said Lilienthal, 36. “I knew I needed to make it hurt today because Tracy is running so well, and Erica and Sheri (Piers) … everyone is so good, you never know.”

Guerrette, a 37-year-old former University of Maine basketball player who took up running four years ago, pushed the pace early – faster than Lilienthal wanted, a 5:30 first mile. “And she kept reminding me,” Guerrette said.

The two settled in, and Lilinethal made a move from Mile 3, a downhill section, to Mile 4.

“She got away from me at 3,” said Guerrette. “I tried to keep her in sight, but she had a really good last mile. She had a great finish.”

Lilienthal wanted to finish strong. She was second last year after winning in 2016. Her other championship came in 2014, when she set the Maine course record that still stands.

“This is a special race for me,” she said.

“Our little running community here puts a lot of emphasis on this race. We’re so lucky to have Joan (Benoit Samuelson) in our little town, in our race community. She’s paving the way. So it means a lot in terms of what it is.”

Smith had watched the race last year from the sidelines and knew he had to run this year.

“When I moved here (in June 2017), I didn’t know about the Beach to Beacon,” he said. “I had just come from Indiana, where I was born and raised. I wasn’t fit enough to sign up and it was probably too late to sign up. So I came and spectated, and just because of the atmosphere, I knew I was running this year.”

The race also fit well into his training regimen, with the Hartford Marathon coming up in October. Smith was in control throughout. He ran a 4:44 first mile, then really took off.

“He’s in great shape and is a great competitor,” Decker said of Smith. “I was with him for the first mile. That was definitely too fast for me but just right for him. And he kept pushing through in Mile 2. It was very evident from me early on that he was in great shape, so I decided to run my own race.”

And Smith never let up. “That’s the way I race,” he said. “I just gun it.”

As for Orach and Gomez?

Gomez was scheduled to race but decided Saturday morning to sit it out, citing recent marathon training that has left him with tired legs.

Orach, 24, originally from Gorham but now from Auburn, finished fourth with a time of 32:02. And for him, that was fine. He hadn’t raced since June and wasn’t in shape to compete for a top spot.

“I’m just in a different place this year then last,” he said. “Running had to take a back seat the last couple of months and I had to come to grips with that, which was tough.

“I still wanted to come out, but I came out with a different mentality then last year. I just wanted to finish the race and be happy with my time, and not think that winning was the only thing that mattered.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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