CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — This year's TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race has been canceled in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The board of directors voted Tuesday to cancel the race scheduled for August 1, citing concerns regarding the impact of COVID-19 as well as recent guidelines announced by Governor Janet Mills' office.
The $55 race entry fees will be automatically refunded to all registered runners over the coming weeks. Additionally, given demand for registration, race organizers have announced that all 2020 registrants will have an opportunity for early entry into the 2021 race. Race organizers will release details about the early entry process when it's finalized.
The 2020 race beneficiary, JMG, will remain the beneficiary for the 23rd running of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, which is scheduled to be held, as is tradition, on the first Saturday in August of 2021.
“COVID-19 and its impact on our state, the nation, and the world is unprecedented and after significant review and in partnership with our medical partners we have made this very difficult decision," David Backer, President of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K, said. "We know this will be disappointing for those of us who look forward to the race each year but the health and safety of our runners, volunteers, spectators, staff, and community remains paramount."
The race began in 1998 and was founded by Cape Elizabeth native Joan Benoit Samuelson, winner of the first Olympic Women's Marathon at the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles.
"We've always kept the runners' safety and well-being as our top priority and, that being the case, we knew that we would have a real challenge in trying to put on the race this year," Samuelson said. "We wanted it to be that bright light in a Maine summer, especially during this bicentennial year, but we just couldn't do it."
When asked about whether there were strong considerations to postpone the race rather than cancel it, Samuelson said there were many concerns about scheduling conflicts.
"We did talk about postponement but the problem with postponement is everybody else wants to postpone," Samuelson said. "And then finding a date was a challenge and then thinking about school hopefully being back in session and kids trying to get to their own sporting events. And then tying up the roads of Cape Elizabeth would present another problem. So we just thought it best to cancel the event."
In 1998 the field of runners was about 3,000. In 2019 the race included 6,417 finishers from nine countries, 42 states, and almost 260 Maine cities and towns.
The race route begins on Route 77 near the Crescent Beach State Park entrance, winds along tree-lined streets and past the ocean, and ends in Fort Williams Park at Portland Head Light.
"I've been in touch with a lot of the elite athletes and they're just chomping at the bit to get going. And we were hoping, beyond hope really, that we could be that bright light," Samuelson said. "But the TD Beach to Beacon 10K is a strong event and our sport is strong and this was the right thing to do."
This year, more than $90,000 in prize money would have been up for grabs across a number of categories including Open, American-only, Masters, Maine and wheelchair.
"Our volunteers and our sponsors and our participants are what it's all about and we just wanted to keep them safe and coming back for more hopefully next year as a stronger and even better event," Samuelson said.
Race organizers said they will share updates in the coming weeks on plans for how the TD Beach to Beacon 10K community can stay connected during this time.