Ploskonka starts, finishes world's toughest footrace

David Ploskonka almost did himself in with an impatient early pace but recovered to finish what is billed as the world's toughest footrace for the second time.

Ploskonka, who first competed in running at John Carroll School, finished the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon the second time, on July 10-11 in Death Valley, Calif., in 38 hours and 18 minutes, enduring cooler-than-normal temperatures as high as 115 degrees.

The 29-year-old engineer was one of 94 runners from 25 states and 14 countries who ran from Death Valley to Mount Whitney under the unblinking scrutiny of AdventureCorp film crews.

He ran in second place early in the race, covering his first 26 miles in just over 4 hours. Before he reached the midway point, however, he was on the verge of elimination.

"My calves and quads started to cramp violently, and my stomach was in knots. My body was failing me, shutting down, telling me that it wanted no part in this," wrote Ploskonka in a post-race blog post.

Revitalized by a half-hour nap and rehydration, he resumed the chase and went on to finish 10 minutes faster than he did in last year's race.

"Badwater is more than just a 135-mile race through Death Valley in the hottest week of the summer, designed for lunatics or people who feel that they need to do something this 'macho' to prove themselves to others," Ploskonka wrote. "Badwater is a test of yourself, to find your limits and your weaknesses, to face them head-on and to conquer them."

Colopietro, Jakubowski lead 5K

Dan Colopietro won his first road-race victory, as did Cassandra Jakubowski, Saturday in the Summer Fun 5K in Bel Air.

The two set the pace for a field of 84 men and women in the race, which began and finished at the Arena Club.

Colopietro, 19, of Bel Air, finished 100 meters ahead of his nearest pursuer to win in 17:13. Sixteen-year-old Eric Barton of Perryville finished second in 17:33. Rich Seitz of Baltimore was third in 17:54, and Frank Sanchez of Crownsville, fourth in 17:58.

Others in the men's top 10 were Niko Temple, 18:11; Joe Dragunas, 19:05; Austin Poist, 19:15; Mark Dawson, 19:23; Matthew Kondilas, 19:38; and Chris Swartz, 20:38.

Jakubowski, 30, of Bel Air, won the women's race in 22:27, finishing 22 seconds ahead of Kristen Relihan of Bel Air. Melissa Riddle of Abingdon was third in 23:37, and Stephanie Williams of Street, fourth in 24:41.

Kim Dawson, 25:21; Abbie Kraus, 25:48; Jessica Wheeler, 25:58; Jennifer Gerace, 26:25; Amanda Davis, 26:40; and Jordan Brown, 26:51, finished in the top 10.

In races elsewhere...

George Stewart of Bel Air took the first-place prize in the men's 65-69 age group of the Sunset Challenge Triathlon in Vineland, N.J., Saturday. He completed a quarter-mile swim in 8:10, biked 13 miles in 38:49 and ran 3.11 miles in 32:21.

Ryan Holleran of Forest Hill finished 43rd among 2,239 runners in the Rotary Twilight 8K in Rockville Saturday. He ran the 4.97 miles in 27:54. Megan DiGregorio of White Marsh placed 10th among the women in 30:21.

Brad Ensor of Bel Air placed second in the 14-18 age group in 22:06 in a 5K that drew 422 runners at Dewey Beach, Del., Sunday. Nina Smeltzer of Bel Air took second in the 50-54 age group in 27:20. Aubrey Hoover, 10, of Bel Air, placed fourth among girls 10-13.

Ryan Stasiowski led a field of 153 runners in the Sweet Air Trail Race held by the Baltimore Road Runners Club and RASAC in Gunpowder State Park July 10. He completed the 7-mile course in 42:23. Charles Powell II of Abingdon finished third in 46:07 and Rob Bartholomew of Aberdeen was 10th in 51:09. Kaylyn Peck led the women in 53:05.

Coming races

July 24 - Harford County Farm Fair 5K, Equestrian Center, Bel Air, 8 a.m.,

July 31 - Hadassah Check it Out Challenge 8K, Goucher College in Towson, 8 a.m., 410-4848-9590

July 31 - RASAC Robin Hood Rd 10K, Sherwood Lane, Havre de Grace, 410-273-9487

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