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Saturday, June 6, 2009 -- Morgantown, WV / Hazel Ruby-McQuain Park
Deckers Creek Trail Half Marathon (iPO Event Id#: 11862)

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Record Numbers Raise $8,000 for the Trail

Story by Julie Black with photos by Maria af Rolen

Deckers Run photo by Maria af Rolen
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A foggy morning turned into a beautiful day for the runners on National Trails Day (NTD) at the Deckers Creek Trail Half Marathon. Accompanied by the occasional chipmunk, our photographer for the day was stationed by a scenic bridge along the trail halfway between Masontown and the Riverfront Park in Morgantown, West Virginia.

This year's event had some of the fastest finishing times-to-date. The quickest overall pace of 5:17 is comparable to 2006's #1 pace of 5:15. It was also the largest-to-date, with over 400 registered from more than 10 different states.

Followed by a myriad of runners, the first two competitors to hit the 7-mile mark were Daniel Dewitt and Jaron Hawkins, both from Frostburg, Maryland. The two runners have been known to battle on the long course.

Frostburg is located near the Allegheny Front and sits at about 2900+ feet. It has a colder, wetter climate than the rest of Allegany County. Runners who live there are accustomed to the fluctuations of the Allegheny Mountains. The area is known to produce strong long-course racers thanks to long-standing area running groups and high-ranking school running programs.

Deckers Run photo by Maria af Rolen
DeWitt and Hawkins battle at mile 7
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In January, Hawkins used his "Frostburg advantage" to win first in the Run to Read Half-Marathon. DeWitt finished fourth in that event, also bested by Frostburg's Jeremy Rice.

Jaron Hawkins is a member of the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club, an Olympic development running group. He has completed three marathons with a PR of 2:25:32, which he ran at the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon to finish third.

In 2008 Dan DeWitt was a senior at Lehigh who ran both cross country and track. Ashley Hicks, a Patriot League Media and External Relations Assistant writes, "DeWitt, inspired by "Running with the Buffaloes," a book that chronicled the 1998 season of the Colorado Buffaloes men's cross country team and has become a favorite read of cross country runners, is writing his own memoir of Lehigh's cross country and track seasons this year."

Hawkins and DeWitt, both sharing the Frostburg background and influence, battled to mile seven on the . Dewitt lead, closely followed by Hawkins less than 50 yards apart, but it was Dewitt's day. He spread the 50 yards to a 34 second lead and finished first with a time of 1:09:25.66.

Hawkins stayed strong ahead of 18 year old Sterling Snyder of Kingwood, WV and claimed second overall in 1:09:59.09. Snyder (1:15:08.16), took home a respectable third.

In the women's race, Kate Walker of Arlington, Virginia finished 9 seconds ahead of last year's winner, Heather Parks of Bruceton Mills, WV. Walkers time of 1:23:34.75 earned her fourteenth overall and the first place women's prize. Parks was 6th overall last year with a pace of 6:45, but this year her pace 6:23 was good to place for fifteenth proving that this year's female race was fast as well.

Deckers Run photo by Maria af Rolen
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Shannon Kovack of nearby Connellsville PA took the third women's spot with a time of 1:24:43.39, good for 18th overall.

Post-race time at Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park consisted of treats, lots of water, and the celebration National Trails Day.

All of the race proceeds went to benefit Mon River Trails Conservancy (MRTC) to help construct, manage, and maintain the Mon River and Deckers Creek Trails. This year's event raised over $8,000 for the rail-trails.

Many thanks to the race sponsors who make this event possible:

West Virginia University Hospitals for the bus shuttle to the race start, Morgantown Roadrunners for the race timing, rockin' mountain-made music by Sam Lamont (guitar and vocals) and Vince Farsetta (banjo and vocals), refreshments from Casa D'Amici, Clarion Hotel Morgan, The Flying Fish and Co., Maxwell's Restaurant, Oliverio's Marketplace, Pepsi Bottling Company, PowerBar, and Waterfront Place Hotel. With funding from Adventure's Edge, AECOM, Boston Beanery, Dynamic Physical Therapy, Francis Engineering, MedExpress, Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield, Pat Wildeman, Wamsley Cycles, Waterfront Jeep, and the city of Morgantown.

Thanks to the Morgantown RoadRunners for providing professional timing.

Thanks also goes out to the many volunteers that provided race support at race registration, start, along the course, at water stops, and at the finish line, to EMS, Morgantown Fire Department, city and county law enforcement for essential traffic control, cold-water sprays, and medical care.

Your generosity and time made this a safe and successful event.

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