June 10, 2017
At the Xterra Big Elk Marathon, you're in for 26.2 miles of rollicking terrain at the Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area Fair Grounds. The course is 5% fire road, 30% double track, and 65% single track, and has a great mix of short and mid-sized climbs. The first third of the trail has a healthy amount of rock gardens to keep you alert and on your toes while the rest of the course has a fair amount of roots to keep you engaged. The Marathon is a 13.1 x 2 loop course.
Review: I ran this marathon in 2016 (5:35) & 2017 (6:12). It's twice around a mostly wooded trail with quite a bit of up & down, but none of the hills are very long or steep. The aid stations were fine, but I was glad for my Camelbak as it was on the warm side both years. There are sections of the course that are somewhat technical (rocks, roots ... even some horse poop) & overall I'd rate is as on the "tough side" (to put my 5 - 6 hour finishes in perspective, I'm a 4:30 road marathoner.) Exhorting us to pay attention to the trail marks, the RD noted that Fairhill has more than 50 miles of trails. They did an excellent job with the markings & you'd really have to be very inattentive to get lost. In 2016 I recall thinking they should have run us around in the open a little further so as to stretch out the field before the single track trail. Not sure if they changed the course or if it's just because I was so much slower in 2017 that I didn't have that issue (probably b/c I was slower). The vast majority of the crowd ran the half, so the 2nd half was very sparse - great if you like running in solitude (as I do). Despite such a small field, they have age group awards at 5-year intervals. Turns out I won my age group, but didn't have the presence of mind to check the standings, so I left w/out the beer glass. I'll be back.
Total Number of Participants: 60
New York 0
Percentage of Total Finishers:
New York 0.0%
Note: Data based off of 2016 race results