Now it's Becky's turn

14-year-old Rebecca Smith to follow in her family's sore footsteps in he own JFK 50 mile

14-year-old Rebecca Smith to follow in her family's sore footsteps in he own JFK 50 mile

November 18, 2005|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Editor's note: This installment of The Next Generation series is the fifth story in a six-part series about some of the people who will compete in the JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon Saturday in Washington County.

HAGERSTOWN - Training for the JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon is enough to make even a seasoned runner back down.

So why would Rebecca Smith, a nonrunner, want to make the endurance test her first running event?

Because her older brother and older sisters have done it. And because her mother and father have walked it a few times, too.

"Now, it's Becky's turn," said her mother, Merrily Smith.

The JFK 50 Mile is America's oldest ultramarathon. The event, which will be Saturday, takes participants from Boonsboro to Williamsport along paved roads, the Appalachian Trail and the C&O Canal towpath.

Rebecca, 14, is the youngest Washington County resident registered for the race.

"I admire this girl's spirit of adventure and we wish her the best of luck," JFK 50 Mile race director Mike Spinnler said.


Rebecca, a Smithsburg High School freshman who played junior varsity soccer, said she is determined to stride her way to the finish this year.

She attempted to walk the event with her mother last year but had to stop at the 19-mile mark after pulling a muscle in her leg.

Merrily Smith, who also is registered for the race, said the two were on par to finish within the 14-hour time limit. But by the time they got to the C&O Canal towpath, Rebecca's leg was throbbing and they had to stop.

"The tiny stones felt like boulders to our feet," Rebecca said.

A drizzling rain came in spells, forcing the trees along the course to serve as makeshift umbrellas, Rebecca said. The early portion of the race, a winding route along the Appalachian Trail, was sticky with mud, she said.

"I didn't expect myself to finish that year," Rebecca said. "That way you can't be disappointed."

She said if she doesn't finish again this year, she hopes at least to make it farther than she did last year.

Her training consists of running the hills along Jefferson Boulevard after school. She even runs in the rain, she said.

"When I first got out there, I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it," she said. "Then I started running and I was like, 'Man this is pretty easy.' I kept telling myself I'd stop the next time I passed my house, but I just kept going."

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