Daigeaun, Palmer win marathon; Prada, Starr win half-marathon
More than 240 runners from 15 different states were treated to a challenging adventure at the XTERRA Big Elk Trail Run last weekend at Elkton, Maryland.
The event was completed on June 22, and it featured both a full-marathon (26.2 miles) and a half-marathon (13.1 miles). Both courses took runners along the picturesque trails at Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area.
Michael Dageaun from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Jackie Palmer from Newark, Delaware, were the overall winners for the full marathon. Juan Prada from Newark, Delaware, and Emma Starr from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, were the overall winners for the half-marathon.
"I would describe the course as a kind of potpourri," Dageaun said. "You had a bit of everything imaginable. One moment you'd be running some rolling rooty single track in the woods, and the next, you'd be on some flat double track through a field. There were a couple of road crossings and stream hops that really rounded out the course. Also, lots of twists and turns on the trail itself which at times made getting a good rhythm difficult."
Heat and humidity were also factors, as temperatures were in the 80s throughout the race.
"It was extremely hot, especially during the last two hours as the mid-day heat came in," Palmer said. "I was stopping at every aid station the second lap to dump water on me and try to keep from overheating."
Daigeaun and Palmer were up for the challenge, and they both ran away from the competition. Daigeaun placed first overall, completing the course in 3 hours, 18 minutes, 30 seconds. He finished an astonishing 42 minutes ahead of the other runners.
"Within the first 100 yards, I started to pull away from the rest of the field, so I was out front pretty much all day," he explained. "Being alone for such a long time can test the mind and due to the heat it certainly did. However, between doing long solo training runs that go from 22 to 25 miles rather regularly and racing ultras, it is a feeling I am used to."
Palmer also had an impressive performance, placing second overall and first among all females with a time of 4:01:08. She finished more than an hour ahead of the other women in the race.
"I was wondering why I didn't see many guys the second lap," she said. "I was actually impressed thinking everyone must be running a very consistently paced race. Then at the finish I realized I hadn't seen anyone because there was only one guy in front of me!"
Pierre Olivier Jacques from Canada placed third overall at 4:04:04, and Zachary Hughes from Wadsworth, Ohio, was fourth at 4:08:18. Sarah Colwell from Frederick, Maryland, was the second female at 5:02:19.
The half-marathon field featured nearly 200 runners, and Prada led the way from start to finish. He completed the course in 1:40:14, which was nearly four minutes ahead of the other top runners.
"The course was really hard, with a lot of sharp turns," Prada said. "There were not any long hills, but the trails were very stiff and rocky, so they were tough. The day was perfect - very warm, but inside the woods it was nice. The course was very entertaining, changing at every moment."
Prada is originally from Colombia, but is currently working at the University of Delaware as a visiting scholar. His brother, Luis Prada, also entered the half-marathon and placed sixth overall.
Steven Leibowitz from Baltimore, Maryland, was second overall in 1:44:11, and Joe Gonzalez from Fort Washington, Maryland, was third in 1:46:03.
Emma Starr was the first female in 1:56:28, and her victory was somewhat surprising because running is not her first sport of choice. She is a member of the soccer team at George Mason University, and enters running races during the summers as a way to stay in shape.
"I love trail runs," she said. "I love the environment and the constant twists and turns of the trails. I just started competing in half marathons this summer."
The XTERRA Big Elk Trail Run was the fourth, and final, race of the 2013 XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series. The series will return in 2014, and runners of all ages and skill levels can enter. To learn more about it, please visit www.adventuregeekproductions.com.