Big Elk Marathon
Starting from the fairgrounds, the course will travel north on road for approximately ¾ mile before turning right onto the Orange trail. The orange trail consists of mostly double-track with some single track sections and enough rock gardens to make you thankful you chose to wear your trail specific racing shoes. This segment will feature some light rolling hills for about 1.5 miles before turning onto some unnamed single track. After a quick downhill and easy stream crossing, the course will zigzag up and down a series of hairpin turns before letting out on a short, steep rocky downhill that will serve as a great separation point for the mountain goats from the trail sprouts. At the bottom of this trail, runners will follow some grassy double-track along the Big Elk Creek before crossing over on a bridge and reaching the first aid station (~mile 3.5).
From the first aid station, runners will proceed briefly on some double-track/service road before jumping on uphill single track bringing you to the Route 273 crossing. After going over the bridge, you will have a brief flat gravel road to stretch your legs out before turning right on some more single track. This single track is mostly non-technical but will bring you through a series of sharp turns before letting you out back onto the gravel road surrounding the creek. Water and aid will be waiting for you at the end of this trail (~mile 5).
After another brief (.25 mile) on gravel road along the water, you will again cross the Big Elk creek onto the Yellow trail. You will follow this single-track rolling trail on the west side of the creek for slightly over a mile before crossing over the gravel road (possible self serve water-refill spot) and through a field to get to the 7 Bridges trail. This single-track section will feature some significantly technical sections from roots, with a few steep changes in grade as you wind through the woods in this area of the park. This trail will let you back out onto the gravel road which you will follow up to Gallaher Rd, and crossing into the parking lot for the red trail where full aid will be waiting (~mile 8.5).
The race will then travel through the inner red-loop featuring some rooted sections and small stream crossings for 1.5 miles, before traveling uphill towards Big Elk Chapel Road. Water will be waiting at the road crossing (~mile 10.5). You will then continue through a field before entering trails surrounding the training grounds. This trail will wind around and gently roll, as well as featuring some small stream crossings. The course will then continue along the edge of the field travelling east with a quick aid station available (~mile 11.5).
In the final segment of the course you will travel briefly uphill on some moderately rooted single-track trail, continue across a training field before joining the last 1.5 mile segment of rooted single track bringing you back to the fairgrounds.
Overall, the course features rolling hills with no significant “climbs”. Depending on the rainfall leading up to race day, keeping your feet dry may be an option, although it may require a bit of extra effort! The course has some technical elements with rocks along the first several miles of the course, leaving way for significant roots waiting to trip you up over the last half of each loop.
Inaugural race set for March 9, with three others to follow in 2013
March 4, 2013 – The XTERRA Trail Run Series has hit the trails near the Pacific Ocean for several years. Now it will also make its way to the Atlantic.
The XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series will make its debut next weekend, and the 2013 schedule will bring races to the states of Delaware and Maryland. The new Atlantic Series will feature four races (two in each state) – March 9 at Wilmington, Delaware; April 6 at Gaithersburg, Maryland; May 25 at Bear, Delaware; June 22 at Elkton, Maryland.
Each race in the Atlantic Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels, from any state. Online registration is available for all four races: ATLANTIC SERIES REGISTRATION.
“Delaware has a strong trail system, ranging from rocky and rooted hilly trails to smooth dirt that is frequented by both runners and mountain bikers,” Atlantic Series director Kristen Thomas said. “Maryland parks are in no shortage, either, as they are all over the place and are all frequently used and raced on. There is a very wide range with the Eastern states presenting some smoother, rolling terrain, and the terrain getting more mountainous as you reach the Appalachian Trail.”
Runners are excited to participate in the Atlantic Series, as it will take them on some of the most scenic – and challenging – trails in the area.
“These races are going to be a great time, that’s for certain,” said Steven Leibowitz, who plans to enter all four events. “Each race promises its own adventure and there are distance options for everyone.”
Each event in the series will offer two course options – one long and one short – to accommodate the various levels of runners. The short course distances will be 5 kilometers; the long course distances will range from 10 kilometers to 42 kilometers.
The top age-group finishers on the long course of each event will be awarded points toward the Atlantic Series, and standings will be updated after each race. At the end of the season, each age-group champion will be awarded a free entry to the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Ogden, Utah, in September.
Leibowitz said he has experience on the Seneca Creek Trail in Gaithersburg, Maryland. “The trail undulates across roots and dirt,” he said. “Not far from the urban sounds of our nation’s capital, this place offers a calm respite to the outside world, and will certainly play host to a challenging and rewarding race experience.”
Leibowitz said he is unfamiliar with the other three courses in the Atlantic Series, but is looking forward to the challenge of a new adventure.
“Not having been to the other three trails makes me both nervous and excited,” he said. “For the locations that will be new to me, there will be plenty of map studying beforehand if I am not able to make it out in advance. The races are likely to be competitive, grueling, and dirty. Sounds like fun to me!”
The Atlantic Series is one of 16 regions across the United States that hosting XTERRA Trail Run events in 2013. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Southern California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Utah.
To enter a race in the Atlantic Series or to learn more about it, please visit www.adventuregeekproductions.com or www.xterratrailrun.com.
2013 XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series
3/9/13 –XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail Run – Wilmington, DE – 12km/5km – Atlantic Series #1 2013
4/6/13 – XTERRA Seneca Creek Trail Run – Gaithersburg, MD - 10km/5km – Atlantic Series #2 2013
5/25/13 –XTERRA Lums Pond Trail Run – Bear, DE – 10km/5km – Atlantic Series #3 2013
6/22/13 – XTERRA Big Elk Trail Run – Elkton, MD - 42km/21km – Atlantic Series #4 2013
I was awake before my alarm went off at 6:30 last Saturday morning. I have had trouble sleeping the past couple nights in anticipation of my first road race in two years. The thought of long, flat, open stretches of road are daunting in my mind. For those unaware, I’m an avid trail runner. I am at home covering technical single-track, climbing mountains and exploring new paths through the woods. This skill-set will be less beneficial in the Fly with the Eagles Half-Marathon which begins in a few hours.
Much to my surprise as I look out my bedroom window, there was an inch or so of fresh snow and ice on the ground. The forecast calls for 20 degrees with 20+ mph winds at the race start, resulting in a wind-chill of 7deg F! Our winter has been rather mild here in south-central Illinois; that is up until the day before the race. The gun is set to go off at 9am and I need to be ready to toe the line, I have to forget the snow and continue my race-day regiment. After coffee, yogurt and granola I’m suiting up to make my way to the race.
Upon arriving at the race venue, I find runners sitting in their cars soaking up the heat as they pin on race numbers and make last minute decisions on attire. The race directors have indoor/unheated warehouse space available, but I forgo this to warm-up with a jog to locate the start line.
10 minutes to the start. I remove my warm-ups and jacket, exposing myself to the energy sapping winds. A short jog to the start and it’s time to get this show on the road. There are a few runners with only shorts on; many making comments on their insanity as final race directions are shouted over the freezing crowd.
Bang! We’re off. The course began with a 1/8th mile of frozen dirt road, leading into the first paved section. As the first mile marker passed, everyone had found their pace and was well on their way. After 3-4 miles we hit gravel and were crossing a lake as those 20mph winds hit from the right. Up to this point I was strong, maintaining my pace. Once across the lake we ran a loop of gravel roads covered in snow, shaded from the sun and wind. It has been hard to hydrate, as it is so cold. Once past the half-way point, we were back into the wind. This is where I began to feel my energy diminishing. Needless to say the remainder of the race was difficult, but I pushed through the fatigue and stiffness to avoid the dreaded DNF. Ultimately finishing with a 1:39.45, 10 minutes shy of my PR in the 2010 Clemson Easter Bunny Run. I crossed the finish line stiff from the cold and dehydration. My hands were numb, resulting in a major loss of dexterity; I couldn’t even remove my own race bib tab!
Needless to say this race was a learning experience for me. Having never run in weather below 28 degrees, I was unprepared for that cold of weather and wind. While I had all my skin covered (except my face), I should have worn more. This would have helped make it easier to hydrate and maintain pace. A simple bandana could have covered my face and warmed the air before entering my lungs. A wind-breaking layer would have also been a huge help! While I was plenty warm the first 1/3 of the race, the heat was eventually sapped out; remember to plan for the long run!
Not every race, or even training run, will necessarily go as planned. While a poor performance may be difficult to deal with at times, remember it’s how we bounce back from those days that’s most important! Personally, I’m back at home running my trails working towards longer and longer runs. I’m looking forward to the King’s Mountain Marathon in April where all my hill training will be quite beneficial. I hope to see you and many others at the start in a couple months!!
Keep setting those goals and pushing yourselves my fellow runners!
P.S. I’m coming for YOU, Jared.