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JFK notebook

November 20, 2005|By KEVIN SPRADLIN

First-year assistant race director Tim Mason had many thankless tasks to perform during the John F. Kennedy 50-mile ultramarathon. His most difficult job may have been pulling runners off the course.

"I was cursed at, screamed at, yelled at. ... I'm tired," Mason said after pulling several people off at the "38 Special" aid station at 38 miles.

"I had to be a real (jerk) to a few people today, but I was good at it," Mason said.

"The rules are rules," Mason said.

It is important for Mason to get the runners off the course for their own safety. All runners are briefed before each race that they will be pulled if they don't hit certain marks within a certain time.

As race director Mike Spinnler's right-hand man, Mason was also responsible for ensuring aid stations were properly supplied before runners arrived, coordinating radio traffic between race officials and helping authorities, including the Washington County Sheriff's Department, be in the right place at the right time.



The JFK would not be possible without the help of countless volunteers. One of the most appreciated groups, however, might be the volunteers from the Williamsport Ambulance Company.

Dwight Polk, a 16-year volunteer, also teaches a course to paramedic students at University of Maryland-Baltimore County. Eleven juniors in their first year of internships volunteered to help out in the post-race area.

"We see about 40-50 patients," Polk said. "Dehydration we see the most, along with cold exposure and lots of sore knees and ankles and an awful lot of blisters."

For the record

Though New Orleans resident Jorge Cotes will not be listed as the competitor with the slowest time, the 26-year-old was the last runner to cross the finish line.

Cotes was one of thousands of residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. So what made him run the JFK?

"We committed to doing it before the hurricane," Cotes said. "I just wanted to help show that New Orleans, and Louisiana, will be strong again. We'll be back."

Cotes was one of a record 951 finishers, the most ever in JFK history. The number of finishers was also the highest for any ultramarathon held in the United States.

Hornbecker & Hornbecker

Around mile 22, Williamsport resident Bob Hornbecker could see the end. Sort of.

"I don't care if I finish in 14 hours," Hornbecker said. "I just want to finish. That'll put me in the 500-Mile Club" with 10 JFK finishes.

Hornbecker easily beat the 14-hour time limit in 12:25:04. His brother, Doug Hornbecker, also completed his 10th JFK in 9:36:26.

Now that both have earned membership into the exclusive 500-Mile Club by completing at least 10 JFK races, "we're both going to take a few years off," Bob Hornbecker said.

Wood solid again

Former Hagerstown resident Liz Wood, 25, of Superior, Colo., completed her 12th consecutive JFK. Wood finished in 9:53:17.

"Hey, it's only an hour slower than my best time," Wood said. "That's not bad. I'm totally happy with that."

Wood clocked an 8:56:05 in 1996 while a sophomore at South Hagerstown High School. That time is still the junior women's (19-and-under) record.

Be careful what you wish for

Limping from the Springfield Middle School gymnasium, it seemed as if Winter Park, Fla., resident Thomas Roehlk got exactly what he asked for.

A veteran of 31 marathons, the lure of the 50-miler drew him to Boonsboro.

"Once you do enough marathons, you kinda want a bigger challenge," Roehlk said.

Though Roehlk finished, he did so at a cost. He covered 40 of the 50 miles with a sprained ankle. One might wonder what Roehlk's next challenge will be.

"Nothing," Roehlk said. "I'm going home and sitting."

Official results

Robert "Nut" Hall will post official race results on the event's Web site,, possibly as soon as Monday. All times and places listed today are unofficial.

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