As the saying goes, you never forget your first, and the XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail Run was indeed memorable for Michael Daigeaun and Jackie Palmer.
The Brandywine Creek Trail Run was the very first event for the new XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series, and Daigeaun and Palmer were the overall winners.
More than 120 runners from seven different states participated in the inaugural race at Brandywine Creek State Park in Wilmington, Delaware. It was the first of four races in the 2013 XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series.
Daigeaun came over from Philadelphia to participate in the race, and he ran away from the competition. He completed the 12-kilometer course in 48 minutes, 32 seconds, which was more than two minutes faster than the other top runners.
"For the most part, I got out front pretty early in the race," he said. "Once we hit some flat double-track after the downhill at the start, I moved to the front and slowly pulled away."
Daigeaun, who is an experienced road racer, described the course as "a nice mix of varied terrain."
"You had nice run-able single-track with enough technical sections and hills to keep you on your toes," he added. "When you got to the last two-and-a-half miles, you were on rolling wide open fields. If you had speed and gas left in the tank, this is where you could really open it up."
Mike Monagle from Wilmington placed second in 50:44, and Derek Schultz from Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, was third in 51:14.
Daigeaun and Schultz were two of the more than 50 runners who came over from Pennyslvania to participate in the race. They were both runners in the former XTERRA Philly Trail Run Series, which went on hiatus in 2011.
"I was surprised to see so many fast guys and returning XTERRA runners, as I only heard about this race two days prior from Don Morrison (former director of the XTERRA Philly Series)," Schultz said. "Seeing other Philly runners like Dan Dix there made it feel more like the family reunions they used to be."
Schultz said he enjoyed this race so much that he plans to enter the remaining three races in the 2013 XTERRA Atlantic Series. "Hopefully pull together some more of the old crew and car pool," he said. "I do like that these races are a tad longer than the previous series. I now primarily focus on ultra distances, so the longer the better."
Palmer was the top female, finishing with a time of 1:01:12. She also dominated the field, finishing nearly four minutes ahead of the other top women.
"This course was could definitely play to a lot of strengths," said Palmer, who is from Newark, Delaware. "There were some steep hills where good climbers could really excel, as well as a couple miles of flat section along the creek where strong road runners could pick up speed. I really like hybrid courses like this. The trail conditions were dry but there was a lot of wind that you could really feel when you hit the open field sections. The last mile and a half was especially tough just getting blasted by head wind on the way to the finish!"
Palmer said she entered the race as part of her training for upcoming ultra marathons, and did not realize how big of a gap she had on the other women.
"Most of the women seemed to take the rocky downhill pretty conservatively, while I barreled down, so I think this is where I started my gap," she explained. "Downhill trail running is my favorite! I didn't really know how far ahead I was; I was just running my race."
The next race in the Atlantic Trail Run Series will be the XTERRA Seneca Creek Trail Run on April 6 at Gaithersburg, Maryland. All races in the series are open to runners of all ages and skill levels. For more information, please visit www.adventuregeekproductions.com.
About the XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series
The XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. In the 2012-13 season, there will be seven races available for runners, with the courses ranging in length from 5 kilometers to 42 kilometers. The top runners in every age group will receive points after each race that will count toward the overall series standings. At the conclusion of the series, each age-group champion will receive a free entry to represent the Atlantic at the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. Atlantic is one of 17 regions hosting an XTERRA Trail Run Series. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Southern California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. To learn more about the Atlantic Series, please visitwww.adventuregeekproductions.com.