Grueling Finish for XTERRA Pocono Series
Downey and Dymun win for first time
The inaugural XTERRA Pocono Trail Run Series came to a grueling conclusion last weekend (Saturday, July 9), as runners battled the heat and a rugged course in the XTERRA Pocono Half Marathon.
The 21-kilometer course at the Mocanaqua Loop Trail System featured a variety of terrain surfaces and challenging hill climbs. In the end, a couple of surprise winners emerged.
Jim Downey, competing in his first XTERRA Trail Run, finished first overall. He completed the course in 1 hour, 41 minutes, 10 seconds.
Masters standout Tony Korch placed second with a time of 1:43:01. Korch, 51, went undefeated in his age group during the XTERRA Pocono Series 2011 season.
But much of the post-race buzz centered on the women's race. Jess Dymun of Elizabethtown, Pa., won her first XTERRA race of the season, completing the course in 2:08:25. Jen Stec-Gagliardi was second 2:10:14.
Pre-race favorites Nadalie Solomon and Jaclyn Shokey finished well behind, but with legitimate reason. Both runners got lost along the course and lost valuable time.
Solomon placed fourth among the women with a time of 2:21:30. Shokey was next at 2:23:08. Solomon and Shokey had combined to win the previous four XTERRA Pocono Series races, with two victories each.
"Unfortunately, I went off course and by the time I found my way back, a lot of the runners had passed," Solomon said. "It was interesting because Jackie told me she got lost too, but we got lost at different points of the race. It looks like she had to run about the same distance I did. A little disappointing … still fun, though."
Solomon is 31 and Shokey is 33, so they also happen to be in the same age group. By finishing ahead of Shokey at the final race, Solomon claimed the 2011 season title by a mere 10 points (390-380).
"It was funny because it seemed like when I had a good race, she had an off day, and then when she had a good race, I had an off day," Solomon said. "And then for both of us to get lost in this last race … I guess we both had an off race at the same time."
The anticlimactic finish to their season-long duel hardly dampened the spirits of Solomon.
"This was an absolutely great series, and I'm so glad they started an XTERRA series here," said Solomon, who is 31 and resides in Nuangola, Pa. "All of the courses were great. Every course had something different, but they were all technical."
XTERRA Pocono Series director Reginald Thomas said he plans to bring races back to the area again next year, and may even schedule "off-season" races to help introduce people to trail running in a casual environment.
For more information on the XTERRA Pocono Trail Run Series, please visit www.wilkesbarreracing.com.
The XTERRA Pocono Half Marathon was the fifth and final race of the 2011 season for the Pocono Series. The age-group champions from the final overall standings received free entry to the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Ogden, Utah, on Sept. 25.
Here are the 2011 XTERRA Pocono Series champions:
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