Baucas goes down, gets up, moves on

January 11, 2004|by ANDY MASON

Anyone with any interest in running, politics or the wonders of the human spirit should appreciate this photo.

Go to news/nov03JFK50M.html on the Internet, scroll halfway down the page and you'll see a rather gruesome photo of Sen. Max Baucus, of Montana, finishing the 41st annual JFK 50-Miler in Washington County on Nov. 22.

Baucus, just days shy of his 62nd birthday, covered the grueling course in 10 hours, 55 minutes, 47 seconds, placing 510th out of 837 finishers.

What's more amazing is that he did the majority of this after taking a nasty spill on the Appalachian Trail around Mile 8. That explains the huge gash above his eye and the streams of blood caked to his face in the photo.


That also probably explains why Baucus had emergency surgery Friday to relieve pressure on his brain, likely caused by the trauma from his fall on the trail.

Dr. Mark Sanz, Baucus' personal physician, said in an Associated Press story that Baucus is expected to fully recover from the surgery, which involved draining away fluid and blood that had built up on the outside of his brain - a condition known as subdural hematoma.

"He's great," Sanz said. "He's alert."

"Max is strong as an ox both physically and mentally," Baucus spokesman Barrett Kaiser said in the AP story. "He sailed through the procedure and we expect him to be back to 100 percent very soon."

Baucus is in his fifth term since being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978 and is the senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

"I wish the son of a gun would run for president," JFK race director Mike Spinnler said. "I think it's amazing. Most people, regardless of profession, who get an injury like that have to stop. He refused to stop, despite pleas from our medical support staff, and still finished, and then was immediately whisked off to the emergency room (where he received stitches).

"If that's the kind of character we want in our politicians, this guy passed with flying colors."

Apparently, Baucus, who's run seven marathons, is one for adventure and the open road.

On his Web site (, it says he "enjoys motorcycling across Montana" in his spare time.

The JFK, Baucus' first ultramarathon, was to serve as his tuneup for the 100-Mile Western States Endurance Run in Squaw Valley, Calif., this June.

"Running is my salvation," Baucus told the Great Falls Tribune shortly after the JFK.

"The (JFK) was fun," he said. "There was camaraderie, exercise, endorphins, adrenaline, and strangely, I never tired."

If he were to run for president, I know of at least 836 more votes he'd likely receive.

Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Morning Herald. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at

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