The lead pack of elite male runners rounds the first curve in the TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race in Cape Elizabeth in 2018. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

For the second year in a row, the streets of Cape Elizabeth will be without hordes of runners and spectators on the first Saturday of August.

Organizers of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race decided against an in-person event this year, citing concerns about holding the race during the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the 2021 Beach to Beacon will be a virtual event, with T-shirts and medals awarded to those who pay a $35 registration fee and run 10 kilometers on their favorite route anytime between July 23 and Aug. 8. Not coincidentally, those are the dates of the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.

“We explored every possible option for hosting an in-person event this year,” said race president David Backer in a statement released Thursday morning. “Although the U.S., along with many other parts of the world, is thankfully emerging from the pandemic, the design of any in-person 2021 event would have required that we omit most of the features that make the TDB2B10K the celebratory, gala event that people are accustomed to.”

Founded by Cape Elizabeth native and 1984 Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, the annual race began in 1998 and continued without interruption until 2020. It proved to be the highlight of Maine’s road racing calendar, drawing international talent from all over the world and filling up in minutes of registration opening each March.

“Safety has always been of paramount importance to us as well as making it an enjoyable event for all participants,” Samuelson wrote in an email. “Obviously I/we are disappointed we couldn’t make it an in-person event. However, I believe the right decision was made. We look forward to the virtual event and are planning for the best TDB2B10K ever in 2022.”

Two months ago, race organizers announced a virtual component to this year’s Beach to Beacon but also signaled an intention to explore an in-person option. In early April, the state issued guidelines that would allow road racing to resume in Maine, although host towns and cities would still be responsible for issuing permits.

Opening registration only to vaccinated runners seemed another path organizers might follow. Instead, the decision was made to stay entirely virtual.

“After talking with members of our medical team and with town public safety officials, it ultimately became clear that the safest decision for our runners, volunteers, and the community is for us to stage only a virtual event in 2021.” Backer said.

Online registration will open at 10 a.m. June 2 and close on Aug. 6. A virtual Kids Fun Run will cost $10. All who register will receive an official Beach to Beacon shirt. Official finisher’s medals will be awarded to those who submit their race times.

Although no race was held last year, the designated beneficiary (Jobs for Maine’s Graduates) nonetheless received a $30,000 grant from the TD Charitable Foundation and continues on as beneficiary for this year’s virtual event.

“We do not anticipate a second grant,” said Lisa Gardner, director of stewardship for JMG. “We’re just happy that the committee was able to pivot the way they’ve done and excited that they’re able to have an event for the runners. And we’re still grateful to be the beneficiary.”

By partnering with public education and private business, JGM works with students from sixth grade through college completion and helps them pursue meaningful careers.


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