Hannah Babalola, 28, of Nigeria won the women’s race in her first Beach to Beacon attempt. She finished in 28:26, 90 seconds ahead of Yen Hoang of Champaign, Illinois. With this time, she has qualified for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
“Tony (Nogueira) told me about it when we raced at the Boston 10K,” Babalola said. “I said I’d give it a try. It’s a nice race. The people are lovely. I feel at home.”
On her Facebook page, Babalola said after her qualification for the Commonwealth Games: “Sometime in Life we all have pains, we all have sorrow but d future will be bright, lean on me when you are not strong, I will be happy to be there for you, but it wouldn’t be long am gonna also need you back. The world is a global village.”
There were just three wheelchair competitors last year and four in 2015. There hadn’t been more than one woman competitor in five years.
“It’s the racers who recruited other racers,” said race coordinator Deb Maxfield, a volunteer who works as the communication director of Maine Adaptive. “They are committed to raising the profile of wheelchair sports. It’s pretty exciting. We had four scratches in the past two weeks or we would have had the most ever (there were also 10 wheelchair racers in 2012).”
Schabort, a native of South Africa, last raced at Beach to Beacon four years ago, winning the race. He then switched to triathlons and competed for the U.S. Paralympic team in Rio de Janeiro last year.
He found the Cape Elizabeth race course much better than in 2013 because it had been repaved. He said it was a joy to be able to put his head down and push his wheelchair without worrying about potholes.
“These wheels like it smooth. Very seldom can I put my head down and push,” said Schabort, a two-time winner of the New York City Marathon. “It was nice to be able to do that.”
Schabort and the course record-holder, James Senbeta (who set the record of 21:46 in 2015), traded the lead for the first five miles. But when they hit the rolling hills, Schabort took the lead for good. Senbeta, of Savoy, Illinois, finished third in 23:30.
In the women’s race, five-time champion Christina Kouros of Cape Elizabeth finished third (37:34). She was thrilled with the larger field because she was able to chase Richard Agee of Brooks, Kentucky, who finished sixth in the men’s race (36:13).
“It’s great with all these professionals,” Kouros said.
Krige Schabort of Rome, Georgia, won the men’s wheelchair race Saturday at the 20th TD Beach to Beacon 10K in one of the event’s largest fields.
Schabort, 53, topped a field of seven men’s and three women’s wheelchair racers. He finished in 22 minutes, 14 seconds – almost a minute ahead of 10-time champion Tony Nogueira of Glen Ridge, New Jersey.
The oldest woman to finish was Terri Morris, 88, who moved to Florida from Portland six years ago. She has 10 children, 14 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
She said she started running at age 50, “because all my children finally left home and I felt free.”
Morris ran a 14:35-mile pace and crossed the line in 1:30:33. She had won nine consecutive age-group championships until placing second in the 80-and-over category Saturday to Westbrook’s venerable Polly Kenniston, 80, who ran 1:09:47.
Robert Mountain, 89, of Gorham won the men’s Johnny Kelly Award as the oldest finisher for the third straight year. His time was 1:58:56.