July 31, 2013

Boston Marathon bombings centerpiece of Saturday's Beach to Beacon race

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH — The beefed-up police presence at Saturday’s Beach to Beacon will probably go unnoticed by the thousands of runners and spectators at the 10-kilometer road race, said Cape Elizabeth Police Chief Neil Williams.

click image to enlarge

Matt Tobin and Jeremy Gardner paint the starting line on Route 77 in Cape Elizabeth in advance of the upcoming Beach to Beacon road race. Tobin, an employee of Pioneer Athletics, put the finishing touches on painted Boston Strong ribbon in memory of this year's Boston Marathon tragedy.

Portland Press Herald photo by John Ewing

click image to enlarge

Boston Marathon bombing victim Karen Rand meets supporters in Old Orchard Beach for a fundraiser to help build a handicapped accessible home for Rand. Rand graduated from Westbrook High School and will be the ceremonial starter for this year's Beach to Beacon 10K race.

Portland Press Herald photo by Carl D. Walsh

But other changes made to the annual event in response to the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April will be more apparent.

A blue-and-gold ribbon with the words Boston Strong was painted on Route 77 on Wednesday morning, above the race’s starting line.

Runners will take off Saturday morning at the sound of a horn blown by Karen Rand, a former Westbrook resident who lost her left leg in one of the blasts as she waited for her boyfriend at the finish line of the marathon on April 15.

And a moment of silence will recognize the three people who were killed and hundreds who were injured by the two bombs.

Since the attack, Dave McGillivray — director of both the Boston Marathon and the Beach to Beacon — has had a hand in several other races throughout the country that have acknowledged the victims of the bombings. Other races have sent posters and banners that hang in the marathon’s office to show support, he said.

But most of those races aren’t as closely linked to the Boston Marathon as the TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race.

“There’s a strong connection to the Beach to Beacon, just because of the people involved,” McGillivray said, referring to himself and Joan Benoit Samuelson, who founded the race in 1998. Samuelson, a Cape Elizabeth native, won gold in the first Olympic marathon, in 1984 in Los Angeles, and twice won the Boston Marathon, setting course records both times and beating the world record with her 1983 win.

Police officers in Scarborough see Saturday’s race as an opportunity for them to show support for the marathon bombing victims.

Usually, six or seven members of the department are paid to provide extra security at the race, said Scarborough Police Chief Robert Moulton. This year, about 25 officers are volunteering their time to patrol the event, to support Cape Elizabeth police and make the site more secure.

They’re donating the money they’re usually paid — about $1,500 — to victims of the bombings, but the significance is “more symbolic,” Moulton said.

Williams, Cape Elizabeth’s police chief, said the extra Scarborough officers will bring the police force up to about 40. He wouldn’t give details about the security plans or say whether federal law enforcement agencies will be involved.

“The security plan for the past 15 years has been the same, and what we did this year is we enhanced it a little bit,” Williams said.

He would talk about only one change specifically, because it will affect people at the event.

Runners who want to leave belongings, such as car keys or clothing, at the starting line and pick them up after the race must put them in clear plastic bags, which will be provided, he said.

Williams wouldn’t say that the change is a direct response to the Boston bombings. “We learn from all other events,” he said.

Both first-time and veteran Beach to Beacon runners said Wednesday that the marathon bombings haven’t dampened their excitement about Saturday’s race.

“I haven’t even given it a thought,” said Dan Paul of Dayton, a marathon runner who was excited to get a bib for the Beach to Beacon for the first time, after trying for several years.

Mary Takach of Cape Elizabeth, who has run every Beach to Beacon, said she thought about the race briefly after the bombings in Boston, where both of her sons were in college at the time.

Takach has since come to think of the marathon attack as “one of those terrible incidences that was an isolated incident,” she said.

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