Alumni Spotlight: David Ploskonka


David Ploskanka was number 34 when he ran in the Badwater Marathon. After the marathon was over, he had placed eight over all.

Shannon Olsen, Lifestyles Editor

Twenty eight hours, 31 minutes, and 50 seconds after the start of the ultramarathon, David Ploskonka, class of ’99, crossed the finish in the 135-mile Badwater Marathon across Death Valley.

When preparing for the marathon, Ploskonka made sure that his body was not only able to handle the long distance, but also to withstand the extreme temperatures in the desert.

“Running that consistently for that long in varied conditions helped not only physically, but also mentally, in that I was prepared for both the extreme heat during the day and the frigid cold at night,” Ploskonka said.

Over the summer, when temperatures in Maryland rose into the high 90’s and low 100’s, Ploskonka was out running. Even though it was hot in Maryland, it would be even hotter running in Death Valley with temperatures getting as high as 115 degrees.

After running Badwater in 2010, Ploskonka found many areas for him to improve upon. These desired improvements became his motivation to continue running the race multiple times.

His crew team is also a great source of encouragement and keeps him going.

“I felt like I owed it to my crew to run faster for them because of all the work they put into supporting me,” Ploskonka said.

Ploskonka first heard about Badwater in 2007 when a friend mentioned it. At that time, Ploskonka had just finished running the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon for the third consecutive year.

“I thought that it [the Badwater Marathon]was a pretty good idea, and that he was crazy for talking about doing a race like that someday,” Ploskonka said.

Ploskonka ran his first official ultramarathon, the North Face, after the Boston Marathon in 2007. Unlike the standard 26.2-mile marathon, an ultramarathon is longer, although the exact distance depends on the race.

After placing ninth in the 50-mile North Face ultramarathon, he decided that it was “not such a crazy idea” to run a race that was 135 miles.  He hoped that one day he could run Badwater. In 2010, he got his first chance.

Ploskonka plans on running the Badwater Marathon one more time in 2013.  He wants to run for a charity and improve his time: “If I develop a plan that’s more focused for the race, I think I can go even faster, and I’d like to try.”

Shannon Olsen is a Lifestyles Editor for The Patriot and