The TD Beach to Beacon 10K, one of the country’s most prestigious running races and a source of income and pride in Cape Elizabeth, has been canceled for the first time in 22 years because of the coronavirus crisis.
The race had been scheduled for Aug. 1, but on Wednesday organizers said they had called it off because of health concerns and ongoing state restrictions on large public gatherings.
“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,” the race’s president, David Backer, said in a news release.
“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.”
Over 6,500 runners — from professional, world-class athletes to casual joggers — were expected to ply the 6.2-mile Cape Elizabeth course. In 2019, the race field comprised 6,417 runners from nine countries, 42 states and nearly 260 Maine cities and towns.
The event is typically an economic boost for Cape Elizabeth and the Portland area. Thousands of spectators, vendors, media and others flock the course, which begins near Crescent Beach State Park, winds along tree-lined streets and ends in Fort Williams. This year’s race was supported by over two dozen sponsors, including L.L. Bean Inc., MaineHealth and Unum Group, as well as the title sponsor, TD Bank.
As part of the race each year, the bank’s philanthropic arm makes a $30,000 donation to a Maine charity. The 2020 race beneficiary, JMG, will remain the recipient next year, when the race is again planned for the first Saturday of August, according to the release.
JMG is a statewide, private nonprofit that partners with public education and private businesses to help Maine students graduate high school, earn post-secondary credentials and pursue careers. To date, the TD Bank Charitable Foundation has donated $600,000 to Maine charities over the history of the race.
Beach to Beacon was founded in 1998 by Joan Benoit Samuelson, the Cape Elizabeth native, Freeport resident and famed runner who won the first Olympic women’s marathon in 1984. Today the race is the largest running event in Maine.
“This has been a heartbreaking decision for all of us but is the right and only decision to be made at this time of uncertainty and unknowns,” Benoit Samuelson said in the release. “The TD Beach to Beacon 10K will return next year, consistent with the enduring nature of our sport, team and community.”
Registered runners will get refunds of the $55 race entry fee over the coming weeks, according to the release. Registrants will also be able to sign up early for the 2021 race.
COVID-19 concerns led to the cancellation of another high-profile Maine sports event, the Live + Work in Maine pro golf tournament, two weeks ago. The tournament, to have taken place in June at the Falmouth Country Club, was expected to draw 150 international-caliber players and to add $8 million to the regional economy. Organizers have said the competition will tee off in 2021 and then annually through 2026.