The Stars are in Maine: Meb, Shalane, Patrick Makau, Ben True, Jordan Hasay, Sam Chelanga Updates from TD Beach to Beacon

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By Jonathan Gault
August 1, 2014

CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — The 17th annual TD Beach to Beacon 10k will be held on Saturday and the elite men and women were all at Friday morning’s press conference at the scenic Inn by the Sea. Race Results’ Weekly’s Chris Lotsbom already previewed the race, but in case you missed that, the top men’s entrants include 2013 & 2011 Beach to Beacon champ Micah Kogo, former marathon world record holder Patrick Makau, 26:52 man Bedan Karoki, 2014 Boston Marathon champ Meb Keflezighi and local favorite Ben True, who grew up 25 miles away from Cape Elizabeth in North Yarmouth. The women’s field includes 2013 runner-up Gemma Steel, 2:19 marathoner Aselefech Mergia, Shalane Flanagan (gearing up for next month’s Berlin Marathon) and U.S. 10,000 runner-up Jordan Hasay.

Below are interviews with several of the top contenders. Topics ranged from Flanagan’s decision to run Berlin over New York and Chicago, why Hasay is hitting the roads and why Keflezighi would be happy with his career if he retired today.

Meb Keflezighi is happy with a fulfilled career

Keflezighi was still riding the high from his emotional victory in Boston in April and said that he hasn’t had much time to get consistent training in because he’s been traveling almost every weekend since. His travel schedule has finally slowed down and he’s running Beach to Beacon and Falmouth in two weeks before gearing up for November’s New York City Marathon. Keflezighi said that while he’s in general good conditioning, he’s not “super fit” like some of the other shorter distance guys might be right now. Keflezighi said he is in a “transition” phase between Boston in April and New York in November and knows that it will be tough for the win on Saturday with men such as Kogo and Makau up front. Keflezighi will be measuring his performance against the course and how he feels more than any specific place on Saturday.

I asked him whether he’d consider slowing down or stopping after the Rio Olympics in 2016 — Keflezighi is 39 — but he said that doesn’t have any immediate plans to stop. With that said, he was very content with the career he’s had and feels that he’s already accomplished so much (New York champion, Boston champion, Olympic silver medal) that anything else is a bonus.

Will Shalane Be Smiling this Weekend?

Will Shalane Be Smiling this Weekend?

Shalane Flanagan wants to honor Joan Benoit Samuelson with a win on Saturday

Tuesday is the 30th anniversary of Beach to Beacon founder Joan Benoit Samuelson‘s victory in the inaugural women’s Olympic marathon in Los Angeles, and Flanagan said that she’s drawn inspiration from Samuelson in her own career. Flanagan consulted Samuelson when deciding on which fall marathon to run and ultimately Flanagan and coach Jerry Schumacher decided on Berlin on September 28. Flanagan was tempted to run Chicago, but she feels that now, at age 33, is the time to go for a very fast time (with an eye on Deena Kastor‘s U.S. record of 2:19:36). Flanagan cited the lightning quick course and weather (Berlin in September is more of a sure thing than Chicago in October or New York in November) as reasons for why she opted for Berlin over a U.S. marathon this fall.

She said that she drew confidence from her 2:22 in Boston, the best-ever time by an American on the historic course. Up until that point, Flanagan said that she had always been “a little intimidated” by the marathon and that was the first time that she was really aggressive in a marathon. Now that she has the experience of going out hard at the front of a marathon, Flanagan feels all the pieces are in place for a 2:19 in Berlin.

While Berlin is Flanagan’s focus, she still feels she can contend for the win in Cape Elizabeth, especially now that Kenya’s Commonwealth Games gold and bronze medallists Joyce Chepkirui and Emily Chebet were barred from competing by the Kenyan Olympic Committee. Flanagan enjoys tough, fast races and felt that it would have been a tougher with Chepkirui and Chebet in the field but she views their absence as a chance for her to try to become the first American champion (male or female) in the 17-year history of the race.

Ben True is still focusing on the 5,000 and is looking forward to the final two Diamond League 5,000s 

True hasn’t raced since Paris on July 5 where he ran 13:13 and he is planning on using Beach to Beacon as a rust-buster before going after 13:00 again in the final two DL 5,000s in Stockholm and Zurich. He’s also looking forward to a showdown with training partner Sam Chelanga and feels that both are in shape to run well on Saturday.

True last raced here in 2010 (he was 12th in 29:02) and said that, four years later, everything has changed as he was racing to be the top Mainer runner back then and now he’s battling for the overall title.

Jordan Hasay is giving the roads a try after a career year on the track

Hasay has PR’d at 1500, 5k and 10k on the track this year and narrowly missed winning the U.S. 10k title in Sacramento, but said that she and coach Alberto Salazar decided it was time to try something different. Hasay has raced a lot, and after a DNF in Monaco on July 18, they felt it was best to move to the roads where she feels she can be more competitive, adding that “it can be difficult to see progress while I’m at the back of the pack (on the track).” Hasay also said that she credits her improvement under Salazar (she’s dropped 3 seconds in the 1500, 9 in the 5k and 7 in the 10k since 2013) to harder training and being able to focus more on training and recovery than she could while a student at Oregon.

As for Saturday’s race, Hasay feels fit wants to try and run close to her track PR of 31:39.

Defending champ Micah Kogo is happy to be back at Beach to Beacon and ready to defend his title

Kogo is running New York in the fall, but that’s not until November so he’s added in 400s, 800s and 1200s to his training to prepare for the 10k distance at Beach to Beacon. Kogo won this race in 2011 and 2013 and though he had a subpar effort at Boston this spring (17th in 2:17), he said he’s happy with how his body has responded to the track work and feels good ahead of the race.

Patrick Makau is hoping for a fast second half of the race

Makau,the former world record holder in the marathon, has only raced once this year (second in a half marathon in Hawaii on April 13 in 68:42) so it will be interesting to see how fit he is on Saturday. Makau said he thinks he’s in good shape and wants to run a fast last 5k as he knows that, as a marathoner, he might not have the best finish if it comes down to a kick.

I asked him about his fall marathon plans (he hasn’t raced one since London last year) and he said that he’s running one and that Beach to Beacon is part of his preparation for it. I thought he said he’s running Tokyo, but that race isn’t until February so perhaps I misheard him.

Sam Chelanga is ready to roll after rough spring

Chelanga ran 13:04 and 7:45 indoors but he got hurt and had a tough spring (running 27:59 for 10,000 at Pre). It took some time to get back, but Chelanga said workouts have been going well and that he’s now fully healthy and ready to run fast tomorrow. He said that he thinks training partner Ben True is in better shape at the moment but he’s excited to race him (the two haven’t squared off since the NYRR Dash to the Finish 5k in November, where Chelanga got the better of True, 13:46 to 13:58). True said in his interview that he felt that encounter in New York wasn’t on a “level playing field” as he wasn’t fully fit, so it should be fun to see who comes out on top on Saturday.

One last note: if you’re looking for a reason to root for Chelanga, he told me before our interview that he’s a frequent LetsRun visitor. Readers, you are in good company!