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Saturday, April 21, 2007 -- Bruceton Mills, WV / Big Bear Lake WV
Big Bear Lake 20K-MSTR #2 (iPO Event Id#: 10038)

[Photos] [Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

Article and photos by JR Petsko

Big Bear 20K-Photo by JR Petsko
Among the towering trees
This past Saturday runners from around the state descended on Big Bear Lake camp ground in Bruceton Mills, WV for the first annual Big Bear Lake 20k trail run. This race was round two of the Moutnain State Trail Runner (MSTR) Series.

The weather was more than anyone could have ever asked for this early in the year. After weeks of cold rain, the sunny, warm temperatures final decided to show up in the mountain state. Sixty five degrees and more sun than you could shake a stick at would rule the day.

As the runners assembled at the starting line for the event all the usual suspects of trail runners where present, but there also were some new faces to the trail running scene on hand. It was nothing new to see the Bee brothers and the Offutt's getting ready to race, but to my surprise none other than Jim Bank of Scottdale, PA (2006 MAGP Series Champion) was on hand to take on his first ever trail run.

Big Bear 20K-Photo by JR Petsko
Outside on a sunny spring day
I should have not been that surprised knowing what was out there in woods waiting for these runners. The trails at Big Bear are by far some of the best running, cycling and hiking trails the state has to offer. With over 4,000 acres of existing paved road, gravel roads, scenic single track, rock gardens, and heart pounding descents how you go wrong?!

The racers prepared to start, so I jumped in my car to head out to everyones favorite part of the course to take my first set of photos. I set up my camera under the tower pines at the top of the mountain and waited for the first of the races to make their way to my location.

Not long after I settled into my position, Derek Clark of Morgantown, WV made his way through the giant pine forest. Clark looked strong, showing no signs of pain or weakness on his face. Just a few seconds later, Michael Bee of Pennsboro, WV came into site. Bee was hot on the heels of Clark looking to make a move past him for the overall lead.

Big Bear 20K-Photo by JR Petsko
Miles of smiles at Big Bear
Michael Bee is the defending 2006 MSTR series champion and looked to be in great form to make 2007 his year once again. Right behind Michael was his brother David Bee also of Pennsboro, WV. David Bee finished just two seconds behind his brother at round number one of the series at the Babcock Gristmill Grinder MSTR #1 and was determined to reverse that finishing order by the end of the day.

As more and more runners past me though the picturesque forest, Jim Banks came into view. Jim was looking strong running alongside MSTR leading light Dan Lehmann of Helvetia, WV. As the last few people disappeared from my view it was time to drive on and catch the finish.

The finish offered a long uphill climb. Derek Clark was able to hold onto his lead though out the race. Clark crossed the line in 1:20:13, taking home the overall victory.

Don Parks-Photo by JR Petsko
Don Parks, iPlayOutside
Moving his way into second place somewhere out on the trail was David Bee finishing 39 seconds behind Clark. It was clear that Bee found a little extra something out on the trails and hammered home to the finish. Coming across the line in third was Daniel Evans of Sissonville, WV crossing the line in 1:25:07.

Michael Bee would fall to sixth overall on the day opening up the overall series point lead to his brother David with 225 points. Michael retained second in the points standing just 10 points behind his brother. Michael Dolin of Charleston, WV moved into third overall all in the points series after his strong finish of fourth overall at the Big Bear race. Doing a great job himself was Jim Banks finishing in 1:42:18.36 in his first trail run. Great job Jim, hope to see you out on the trail more often now.

Female Marshall University runner, Sarah Sturgill of Hurricane, WV put on a show of her skills to take home the women's overall win with a time of 1:45:22. Ashley Dolin of Charleston, WV took second overall for the ladies crossing the line in 1:51:09 followed closely by Sandy Offutt of Fairmont WV.

It was a wonderful event. The weather, course, and company could'nt have been any better. Special thanks to Heather and Don Parks, and to all of their volunteers. Can't wait to see you all at Big Bear next year.