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Estwanik excels in first-ever marathon

Chris Estwanik ran one of the fastest marathons, if not the fastest, by a local runner in his debut race at the 26.2 mile distance in last weekend’s Shamrock Marathon.

He described last weekend’s event in Virginia Beach, Virginia, as “the hardest, most exhausting physical race” he had ever done but plans to run more having caught the long-distance bug.

The four-time May 24 Derby winner admits it was a “humbling experience” and had to dig deep to even complete the race, finishing second despite suffering from dehydration and cramp.

Crossing the line in two hours and 24 minutes, a similar time run by Peter Lever at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth in 1981, Estwanik said he had plenty to learn about the science of long-distance running.

His wife Ashley Estwanik also made her marathon bow, placing sixth overall in a time of three hours and 30 seconds.

“It was a humbling experience for seasoned runners like me and Ashley,” said Estwanik. “Neither of us had much control of bodies during the last few miles which has never happened to us before.

“We went into it with our eyes wide open and didn’t really know what to expect . . . It’s was so much different from any other race we had done.”

The race started at a blistering pace with Estwanik choosing to conserve his energy before storming the field, picking off his rivals one-by-one until he found himself in second position.

Swallowing up ground on the leader, Estwanik was on target for a dream marathon debut before he hit the proverbial wall on mile 21, with his pace slowing considerably.

“There’s was a group of Kenyans and Ethiopians who took the race out pretty fast, so I hung back in about sixth place and let them do all the work up front,” said Estwanik who, along with Ashley, was running in his first race outside Bermuda since 2007.

“I conserved some energy and basically just kept picking guys off and by mile 16 I was in second place and closing on the leader.

“But, the inevitable happened and by mile twenty one I hit the wall. I had a few tell-tale signs from my body that I was massively dehydrated and I hadn’t done my proper nutrition throughout the race.”

Estwanik’s hamstring completely locked a mile shy of the finishing line, with the 31-year-old having to hobble his way for much of the remainder of the race.

“It was the hardest, my exhausting physical race I have had done. It’s a very different experience, even from a half-marathon because there’s so much science behind it,” he said.

“You have to take your gels at the appropriate times, you have to drink a mix of gatorade and water along the course or your body gets in trouble. I have a lot of room for improvement in that area.”

Estwanik will be gunning for an even quicker marathon time once he has taken care of defending his May 24 Marathon Derby.

Chris Estwanik successfully defended his title and set a new course record of 24 minutes 46 seconds in yesterday's Barcardi 8k Road Race. (Photo by Akil Simmons) ¬

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Published March 23, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 23, 2012 at 9:25 am)

Estwanik excels in first-ever marathon

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