Runners battle oppressive heat and humidity at 10th annual Palm Beaches Marathon and Run Fest


Bryan Sharkey had a gratifying win Sunday at the 10th annual Palm Beaches Marathon and Run Fest.

Sharkey, a former distance runner at Gulliver Prep, came through the finish line gasping for air and kissed the ground as planned.

What wasn’t planned was the way he collapsed from exhaustion due to the rising morning humidity, resulting in treatment for an hour at the medical tent to take two bags of fluids. He did make it back outside just in time for the Marathon awards ceremony, though.

“I pushed my body to the limit,” said Starkey, 26, who crossed the tape in 2 hours 43 minutes 47 seconds, well ahead of New York’s Carlos Abellan Ossenbach (2:45:52) and Bernd Weis (2:51:24) of Germany.

‘This is what you train to do. Luckily I won.”

Like Sharkey, Ossenbach was worn out by the end of the race. At the start of the race, temperatures were in the mid-70s and had climbed into the 80s by mid-race. In addition to the humidity, early morning winds challenged the runners, particularly those who ran the full marathon.

“Right now I don't want to think about another marathon,” said Ossenbach, 30, who ran in his first marathon. “I expected I could push a different pace. But by [Monday] I will feel better and maybe want to try again.”

Jennifer Sober, 40, of Deep Creek, Md., won her first marathon in the women’s division (3:24:03) in her third appearance in West Palm Beach.

“This was the hottest marathon I have ever done,” she said of her 17th career race. “I live in the Appalachians and I knew I would have to adjust and be conservative. But my goal was to win from the start.”

Sober easily defeated second-place West Palm Beach resident Molly Ragsdale (3:29:02) and third-place Robyn Miller (3:31:30) of Melbourne Beach.

“To get second on my home course is beyond a dream come true,” said Ragsdale, who ran the full marathon in this race for the first time and recorded her best finish in 22 career marathons. “It's so much fun, all of my neighbors, friends and clients were out. How could I fail? I loved it.”

Entries to the race surged 35 percent from 2,700 a year ago to more than 3,600 this year. The weekend’s events included the Publix Health & Fitness Expo and an evening waterfront 5K/10K run.

“I felt good through 22, 23 miles” said Sharkey, who was fourth in the 2010 Miami Marathon. “But then I hit the wall. My legs started giving out, and I got dizzy. It was a struggle.

“It’s a runner's dream to do a marathon. The big thing is the marathon. But I’m happy to do it, especially in South Florida. But 26 miles is 26 miles. It gets you no matter how hard you train.”

If you would like to have your event showcase in the Miami Herald please email Corey W. Campbell, at Campbell.corey@gmail.com

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