McDonald is ultra-mad

June 13, 2004|By ANDY MASON

Matt McDonald is nuts. Even he admits it.

"I should have my head examined," said McDonald, 34, of Hagerstown, just days before competing in his longest race - Saturday's 25th annual Laurel Highlands Ultra, a 70 1/2-mile trail run in Western Pennsylvania.

"I don't know why I just don't stick to the 5Ks and 10Ks," he said.

But after experiencing so much recent success at the JFK 50-Miler, with three straight top-10 finishes, it's hard to question McDonald's desire to swallow as much ground as his legs can chew.

Still, 70 1/2 miles on tough terrain?

"It's very difficult. It's one of the tougher trail runs out there," said Laurel Highlands race official Rick Freeman. "It's rocky and runs along mountain ridges. A lot of people say it's as difficult as an easy 100."


Now, there can't be anything easy about that. However, based on his continued success Saturday, McDonald maybe will try to find out for himself some day.

"Maybe," said McDonald, who finished fourth overall in 14 hours, 45 seconds. "That would take a lot more mental preparation."

Latrobe, Pa.'s Andy Herr, a 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon, won in 12:10:07. He also won the race in 2001.

"That was an interesting run," McDonald said. "There were some good hills. It was awesome."

He said the final 20 miles made reaching the finish line especially heavenly.

"I was running about 10-minute (per mile) pace until the aid station at 51 miles," McDonald said. "But after I started running again, it was like rigor mortis set in and I couldn't run any faster than 15-minute pace. I wanted to run faster, but I was just so happy to hit the finish line."

So what's the immediate future hold in store for the area's top ultramarathoner?

"I'm going to go home and take a bath and go to bed," McDonald said.

Now, that's a sane answer.

In other races Saturday:

Troy Harrison, 28, of Hustontown, Pa., won the fifth annual Jack Barr 5K in Sharpsburg in 16:38.9. Tim Marshall, 40, of Winchester, Va., was second in 17:19.6 and Matt Rouse, 18, of Williamsport, was third in 17:29.7.

Maria Spinnler, 42, of Hagerstown, won the women's title in a course-record 19:14.9. Sharon Webb, 35, of Hagerstown, was second in 19:30.9, and Sarah Skoczen, 24, of Gettysburg, Pa., was third in 20:13.0.

At the sixth annual Frederick Memorial Hospital 5-Miler, Susan Graham-Gray, 36, of Greencastle, Pa., defended her women's title in 29:52. John Piggott, 39, of Newport News, Va., was the men's winner in 26:42, and Mike Fitzgerald, 49, of Hagerstown, was the men's masters winner in 29:19.

Wayne Vaughn, 58, of Hagerstown, who recently returned to the racing circuit after a lengthy layoff, finished in 35:31. Vaughn, a South Hagerstown graduate, was the 1964 Maryland state cross country champ.

-- Running for Fun and Health, a new four-week class at Hagerstown Community College, begins July 7 at 6 p.m. For more information, call 301-790-2800, ext. 236, or 304-264-4783.

Tri-State Racing Schedule


Ausherman X-C Series No. 2, Greencastle-Antrim High School, 7 p.m., 717-263-0168.


Vince Tantillo Memorial 5K, Long Meadow Shopping Center, Hagerstown, 8:30 a.m., 301-739-3990.

June 22

Pete Wright Memorial All-Comers Track & Field Series No. 1, Boonsboro, 6 p.m., 301-739-7004.

June 29

Ausherman X-C Series No. 3, Waynesboro High School, 7 p.m., 717-263-0168.

July 3

Firecracker 5K, Waynesboro, 8:30 a.m., 717-765-6564.

July 6

Pete Wright Memorial All-Comers Track & Field Series No. 2, Boonsboro, 6 p.m., 301-739-7004.

July 13

Ausherman X-C Series No. 4, James Buchanan High School, Mercersburg, 7 p.m., 717-263-0168.

July 16

Tim & Susan Cook Memorial Mile, Chambersburg, 7 p.m., 717-264-7101.

July 17

Bill Beckwith Memorial 5K, Smithsburg, 8:30 a.m., 301-824-2468.

July 20

Pete Wright Memorial All-Comers Track & Field Series No. 3, Boonsboro, 6 p.m., 301-739-7004.

July 27

Ausherman X-C Series No. 5, Shippensburg High School, 7 p.m., 717-263-0168.

July 31

Fred Kaley Memorial 5K, Greencastle, 8:30 a.m., 717-597-8028 or 717-597-8568.

Shippensburg Fair 5K, 8 a.m., 717-264-3775.

Aug. 7

Tom Ausherman Memorial 5-Miler, Chambersburg, 717-264-6715.

Aug. 10

Ausherman X-C Series No. 6, Falling Spring Elementary, Chambersburg, 7 p.m., 717-263-0168.

Aug. 28

Gary Brown Memorial C&O Canal 5-Miler, Williamsport, 8 a.m., 301-739-7004.

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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