Community Partnerships Can Change Lives: My Beach to Beacon Story

If you don’t know about this race, let me fill you in. The Beach to Beacon is an iconic race which has been a staple in Maine since 1998. Joan Benoit Samuelson is the founder. Who is Joan? She was the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal for a marathon. She won the inaugural woman’s marathon in 1984.

We first need to start back several years….high school. Remember having to run the mile in gym class? I do and it was terrible. I was overweight and generally unhealthy. I have this vivid memory of my freshman year when another girl and I were the last 2 rounding the bend, slowly. She was popular, I was not. 4-5 of the popular boys ran back to her and literally pushed and pulled her across the finish line. They yelled things like “you’re not going to be last, you’re not a loser.” They also said a variety of other not nice things toward me for being last. Needless to say, that experience in no way empowered me to become healthier.

Now let’s fast forward to 2012. This is the point where my husband’s running journey started. He was a school bus driver and had the opportunity to transport a group to and from the Beach to Beacon. He was able to watch the elite runners cross the finish line, it was nothing like he had seen before. The strength and endurance they displayed had my husband in awe. Back on the bus, as the racers loaded on, everyone seemed to have this glow about them. Also, they all had medals. My husband thought that was cool and thought to himself, “I want a medal.” Literally the next day he started running. The following year he would go on to run several 5ks, a couple of 10ks, and a 1/2 marathon.

James encouraged me to run. He was always there to support me. I struggled with running, it was not fun. After focusing on healthy eating, general exercise, and lots of stretching, I was ready to try some races. My first 5k was in October 2014, the L.L. Bean Bright Night 5k. Yep, I came in dead last. Though this time, everyone was cheering me on. After the race people approached me and said congrats and wow you were amazing. It felt great. I knew then I was going to keep running!
1st 10k

In February 2015, I remember being on the treadmill at my gym, Anytime Fitness. I finished a 5k, then decided to try for 4 miles, then I kept going hit 5 miles, well then I thought I’m almost there and got to 6.2 miles….a 10k. I couldn’t believe what I had done, “Who am I?” I thought. I decided then and there to try and get into the Beach to Beacon. 


August, 2015 I ran the B2B, my first official 10k. What an amazing race experience. The running community is so supportive. I felt more empowered with every step. I am proud to have participated in 2016, 2017, and will again in 2018.

At the B2B, I won the raffle for a free entry into the Lake Auburn 1/2 marathon and I completed my first half that September. Yep, I was dead last again. I had no ill feelings though, only positivity. Everyone was so supportive, cheering me on. I have since completed 8 half marathons! Something I never thought I was capable of.

I have extended my “miles” by having mileage club each summer in my childcare. We have a .5 mile, 1 mile, 2 mile, and 4 mile route (for our oldest only!) The children love the medals my husband and I have earned. So, I created a “medal” for the children. Everyone has their own necklace and for every mile they walk, a foot is added. One year the challenge was who could get to 500 miles first Sasha, or the children collectively. Another year we tracked our progress on a State of Maine Map. As we accumulated miles, we marked on a map of the State of Maine. This year we are simple tracking with a goal to collectively reach 500 miles. By the end of June we had already completed 107 miles!

What do we learn in mileage club?!? So much! It fills me with joy when the children request a walk, and want to challenge themselves by going further or running faster. Below is from our newsletter explaining the how our mileage connects to Maine’s Developmental Learning Standards.

We use this activity to meet a variety of learning goals as put forth by the State of Maine. It is so much more than us simply going for a walk. Maine’s Development Standards are written as a continuum from age 3 to 5. Maine also has infant/toddler guidelines which feed into the Preschool Age Standards.

Social/Emotional Development: plays beside and interacts with peers, participates in group glee, impulse control, anticipates and follows routines, follow safety guidelines

Approaches to Learning: participates in an increasing variety of tasks and activities, begins to set goals, develop plans and complete tasks

Language Standards: vocabulary acquisition and use

Safety: seeks adult approval before approaching unknown pets

Motor Skills: walks/runs well, increase of jumping, hopping, skipping skills

Physical Health Status: maintains physical growth within the CDC recommended body mass index, develops and awareness of personal health and fitness

Math: rote count to 10 and beyond, recognizes written numerals 0-5, responds with number words and/or counting strategy when asked the question How many, transitions from rote counting to 1:1 correspondence, color recognition, recognize and duplicate patterns, represents data using simple graphs

Physical/Earth Science describes temperature, weather and seasons using words such as, rainy, cold, warm, sunny and identifies items used for protection, safety and enjoyment in different weather conditions, makes simple observations about the sky and connects observations to what we do outside

Social Studies: understands the reasons for rules in the home and classroom and for laws in the community, displays awareness that rules and laws change, participates in developing classroom rules and decisions, recognize that people share the environment with other people, animals and plants, recognizes aspects of the environment such as roads, buildings, trees, gardens, uses words to describe time such as yesterday, tomorrow, before, and after

In 2017, Let’s Go 5210, was the beneficiary for the Beach to Beacon. Since Shunk Child Care was (and still is) a Let’s Go Gold Site and my coordinator knew I was running the B2B, we were asked to host Joan Benoit Samuelson.

The Beach to Beacon helped to change my life. If my husband hadn’t initially been to the event, he would have never started running. Without his encouragement, I would have never started running. Though, I might have still started mileage club, it would not be at the level it is today. For certain, Joan would have never visited the program and most importantly a picture of my bathroom would have never garnered over 600 likes!


Though I realize not everyone wants to start running. I would encourage everyone to try and be a bit more active and find a way to incorporate with the children you care for. Teach them at a young age to be supportive and help each other.

I am fundraising this year for Let’s Go 5210. Below is a link to my page.

For More Information:

Beach to Beacon:

Let’s Go 5210:

Maine Developmental Standards:

Where I purchased the mileage club supplies: