Experience plays a key role in the half-marathon race
A year of experience made a big difference in Eric Sambolec and Jaclyn Shokey racing to big wins at the XTERRA Earth Conservancy Trail Run at Mocanaqua, Pennsylvania.
Sambolec was the overall winner of the half-marathon (13.1 miles) trail race, and Shokey was the top female. The event – which was the fourth of five races in the 2013 XTERRA Pocono Trail Run Series – was completed on June 15 at the Earth Conservancy Land.
Sambolec completed the course in 1 hour, 27 minutes, 53 seconds, to win the event for the second consecutive year. He also won the race in 2012, and said the experience from a year ago played a key role in improving his time by nearly two minutes.
“It helped me to know where to push, and more importantly, where to ease up and save some energy,” he said. “Also, the top three finishers were the same as last year, so I had a sense of how the other guys would approach the race.”
Just like last year, Tony Korch (1:33:38) placed second and Grant Farrell (1:38:49) was third.
“I ran with Grant Farrell for the first four to five miles, and then I broke away on the flat sections at the top of the course,” Sambolec said. “I knew I was widening my lead after halfway, but wasn’t sure by how much so I worked pretty hard in the second half and tried to run a good time.”
Sambolec, 35, drove nearly three hours from Ithaca, New York, to enter the race. He said the challenging course at Mocanaqua has become a reason for him to make the trip every year.
“The course is tough with constant climbing over the first three miles, then it levels out at the top of the mountain and has some really tough descents in the last few miles,” he said.
Shokey placed 14th overall with a time of 1:49:24, and she finished more than 20 minutes ahead of the other women. She finished second in this same race a year ago, but said the experience led her to the convincing victory this year.
“I was more familiar with the course so I knew not to go out as hard in the beginning and to save myself for areas of the course where I could pick up the pace,” she said.
She described the course at Mocanaqua as “one of the most challenging of the XTERRA Pocono Series,” because of the steep climbs in the first half of the race.
“Those hills are extremely steep, making it difficult to walk up, let alone trying to run up them,” she said. “Due to the excessive amount of rain we had a few days prior to the race, the course was very muddy and had many deep puddles.”
Shokey’s victory came just seven days after she placed second in another half-marathon trail race – the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run in Richmond, Virginia.
“Occasionally I will run back-to-back races in one weekend so running two half-marathons on back-to-back weekends wasn't all that bad,” said Shokey, who resides in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. “I didn't push as hard for the Richmond half because I had the stomach bug, and I knew I had Mocanaqua the following week. I wanted to be prepared for that race.”
The finale of the 2013 XTERRA Pocono Trail Run Series will be the XTERRA Gouldsboro Trail Run on June 29 at Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania. The 13-kilometer race is open to runners of all ages and skill levels, from all states. To register for the race or learn more about the series, please visit www.wilkesbarreracing.com.