The other day I got a question about the Beach to Beacon from Peggy Kulbe:
Good morning . . . I happily have a number for BtoB, and would LOVE some training advice. I live in NJ and can not join the weekly runs. Can you let me know what each mile is like, i.e., flat, uphill, type of surface . . . or could you let me know where I could obtain that kind of info. I’ve done sprint tri’s and this is my first 10K. I appreciate any and all advice . . .
my best, Peggy
I figured that that was a great question, so I recorded an answer and am now going to take you right through the entire course so you can see the entire thing before you get here:
Download This Video: MP4 – MP3 – Watch on YouTube
Hello! This is Blaine Moore, from RunToWin.com, and I recently got a comment on the blog from Peggy. It says, “Good morning… I happily have a number for the Beach to Beacon, and would love some training advice. I live in New Jersey and cannot join the weekly runs. Can you let me know what each mile is like, that is, flat, uphill, type of surface . . . or could you let me know where I could obtain that kind of info. I’ve done sprint tri’s and this is my first 10K. I appreciate any and all advice.”
Well, you’re in luck, Peggy, because I’m going to walk you through the entire course.
The Beach to Beacon takes place in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. It’s a net downhill race near Crescent Beach to the Portland Headlight, so you’ll have some great ocean views along the way.
Now there are some uphill climbs in the race, but they are all followed by some pretty good downhills where you can more than make up any time that you lost on the uphills, and it’s actually kind of a nice break up as you go along.
This is one of the fastest courses of the world. It’s not uncommon for one of the fastest times in the world to be run here from year to year. So lets go over the full course!
When you get there, you’re probably going to have to either park well back of the starting line, or you’re going to have to take a shuttle to get there. If you get there really early, you can park at the finish line and take a shuttle all the way to the start line. That’s convenient because your car will be right there when you’re ready to leave, but those parking spots fill up really fast because they have to have a lot of room for the volunteers and for the people that are working the finish line. There’s a couple of hundred people that are working in that finish area.
Another option is to park over behind the starting line. There are some fields in here. I’m not sure exactly which ones they are on the map here, but they’ll direct you where to go as you’re driving into Cape Elizabeth. It’s a short walk from there down the road, and then you’ll have the baggage buses right here, behind the starting line.
So as you’re coming up the road here… let’s turn this in the right direction… So as you’re coming up the road towards the starting line, the baggage buses will be arrayed over on the left side of the road, and you can drop off any gear that you want on the finish line, so it’ll be waiting for you when you get there. They’ll also have tables with water, and there will be some porta-potties. It does get a little congested, because you will have five-six thousand people on a relatively narrow road, but it’s not too bad and with the downhill start, it does clear up pretty quick.
Now the starting line is very easy to find. They paint it every year. so if you go there the day before, you’ll be able to… go over and… let’s see… we need to go this way… oops! So as you come up to the starting line, you’ll see it painted right on the road, and you’ll be able to come up and drive the course and take a look and see what it’s going to look like.
Now the first half-mile or so of the race is downhill, so don’t be a little worried if you get to the first mile marker and you find that your split is a little bit fast. You’re going to go downhill for about that half-mile and then it flattens out pretty quickly, and just try not to go out too fast as you’re running along.
So this is where Crescent Beach is. I highly recommend after the race that you come over here and take a dip in the ocean. You’re going to run by the entrance a half-mile to a mile into the race.
The first mile marker is somewhere in this general vicinity. Each mile is marked. It’s painted on the road, and there will be a sign there with somebody. There will probably be a clock that you’ll be able to take a look at.
So you keep following the road. Once you get over towards some of these stores, the road’s going to kind of turn around and go towards the left here, and so you can see you’ll just keep following, and what you’re going to do, is you’re going to stay on 77, and take a right into a back neighborhood.
Now this section of the course is a little bit uphill, but it’s a pretty gentle uphill, and you’re not going to really notice it too much as you’re going along. But once you hit the 2 mile marker, which is going to be right after you make the right turn right here, and we’ll see the 2 mile marker. I think this might actually even be the 2 mile. It’s either the speed limit sign, or a sign for the 2 mile marker. I can’t tell from the street view.
But once you make that left on that first turn…you take the right on to this road, and then you make this left, and the road is going to drop pretty quickly after that. You have a nice downhill section through this neighborhood. It’s usually pretty shady through here, as you can see from the trees. And then once you start heading up the hill to come out of the neighborhood, the 5K marker is going to be right before you get back on the route 77.
It’s always good to kind of just see where you’re at for your first half. Now, it’s not uncommon to run a negative split here. You should take a look at your time, and then whatever that time is, try and run faster for the second half of the race. The 5K marker is right about in this section right here.
After you turn back on to route 77, you’ll come out here, you’ll make this right turn, then you’re going to run by the high school. Now if you don’t want to park at the starting or finish line, the place that I go every year is the high school. They have plenty of parking in this area. The middle school is actually right back here, behind the high school. If you park at either one of those, you’ll be able to get a shuttle to the starting line, or you can just take a right out of the parking lot from the high school, and just head right down 77, and it’s about 2 to 2 and a half miles to the starting line, and that makes for a good warm up if you like to have a longer warm up.
As you’re running down to 77, this is a really short stretch. It’s very flat, and you’re going to find the fire department will have a big banner over the road, and you’re going to have a huge cheering section. This whole intersection right here, is just full of people yelling for you and cheering you on.
And then this is about 3 and a half miles into the race, and it’s a little flat when you first turn on to Shore Drive, but it goes downhill. Right after this first turn, you start having a little bit of a downhill stretch, and from 3 and a half to 4 and a half, if you look at the elevation profile, you’ll notice that you have a really steep downhill section from right in here. It looks like it drops from about 100 feet elevation, all the way down to pretty much sea level.
It’s a good angle for running at without pounding yourself too much as you run down the road, and once you get past all of these trees, there’s some nice ocean views right at the bottom. Right in here, if you look off to your right… oh! that’s not the spot. Here we go. If you look off to the the right, you’ll have some nice views of some big houses and you get to see the ocean. If I can actually navigate this, then you would get to see it on the street view.
Once you hit mile 5, which is going to be right about here, you’re going to start going up a pretty big hill. Now, it’s not one large hill. You actually have a series of rolling hills. It’ll kind of go up, and then you’ll have a little dip or flat, and you go around some turns. But this is the toughest part of the course, in terms of elevation-wise, but it’s my favorite part of the course because you can always catch some people.
Once you get near the park, you’ll be able to see people coming in and finishing right off to your right on the other side of the fence. So you know when you can see people to your right, that you’re just about done, and that the hill is almost over.
You’ll continue coming up the hill, and here’s the top of it, right here. You’ll see people finishing right over here onto your right. Then once you get over this last little bump, you’re going to have a downhill stretch to get to the park, and you’re going to take that right turn right into the park, and then it will be another right turn to go up this really short hill… it is steep, but it’s only a couple of hundred feet long. A really short hill. And then once you get up to the top of that, it’s a half-mile downhill finish.
So we’ll get out of the street view. So from here, it’s about a half mile to the finish line. And the mile 6 is right in this area, right here, and you finish right at Portland Headlight.
The entire race is on the roads. It is a paved path inside the park, once you get in there, and then you’ll have the last couple of hundred feet will be on grass, but it’s a road race the entire way.
And then once you get to the finish line, they’ll have a lot of volunteers; about a hundred people helping you along, and they’ll just keep you moving, and you climb up a little hill, and right in this area is where all the water and food is going to be. There will be some showers back in this area over here.
And then as you cross over out of the finishing area, there will be a lot more food, other than just a little bit. They’ll have all the cookies, and bananas, and soups, and everything like that will be in the fields on this side. And when you want to go get your baggage, as you finish, you’ll come up this little hill, and this is after the race, so you’ll be able to walk and take your time, but all the baggage will be laid out over here behind everything so it’s out of the way and easy for you to go grab, and then come back and join all the festivities.
If you’re bringing any kids, then they’ll have a small kid’s fun run up in this area as well, and the shuttle buses will be leaving from over here, to bring you back to the start or to the high school, depending on where you’re at. Or if you did park at the high school, you can just follow the course backwards, and it’s about 3 miles to get to the end.
So that is the Beach to Beacon, and I’m looking forward to seeing you when you get here.
Have you run the Beach to Beacon before? If so, let me know what you think in the comments below. Was this an accurate portrayal? Would you suggest a different strategy than what I recommend in the video? Or will this year be your first Beach to Beacon?