Check in on JFK 50 participants

Some set records, while others set sights on 2006

Some set records, while others set sights on 2006

November 21, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Editor's note: Last week, The Herald-Mail profiled seven participants in the JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon held Saturday in Washington County. Here's how they fared.

On Saturday, Paul Betker ran 50 miles in about 10 hours and 30 minutes. On Sunday the 60-year-old walked a much shorter distance outside his Hagerstown home, making sure everything worked.

"I didn't wear on my muscles too bad," he said.

Aside from swollen and blistered feet, Betker also came out of Saturday's 43rd Annual JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon with his third-worst time in his 24th consecutive finish.

Now, he's thinking about No. 25.

"The speed aspect isn't there like it was when I was younger," Betker said. "I get to a point where I am going to be a speed racer or be consecutive."


Pushing for a faster time can end in fatigue or injury, he said.

The course can be treacherous, as runners go from Boonsboro to Williamsport along paved roads, the Appalachian Trail and the C&O Canal towpath.

Barbara Hunt of Charles Town, W.Va., ran the first 27 1/2 miles of the course with her 18-year-old daughter, Heather. But Heather was forced to stop because of painful blisters.

"Her feet were really hurting her," Hunt said of Heather. "Then she took her shoes off, and I was like, 'Oooo, honey.'"

One blister was at least one inch wide.

Hunt continued alone until the last 10 miles, when she and another woman ran and talked together. Hunt finished in 13 hours 29 minutes - her fastest time in four finishes.

Hunt and her daughter finished short of the 14-hour time limit last year.

"I was definitely hoping to do a little faster," she said. "But I don't really go for time. I just try to get it under 14 hours. I did train a little more this year."

Randy Ward of State Line, Pa., finished the race in 11 hours 38 minutes. His best time is just more than 10 hours, but Ward said he wasn't running for speed Saturday.

"I was just with three or four other people and we sort of stayed together for the day," he said. "I go across the finish line and I'm not too concerned with what time I get there."

This was his 15th consecutive finish, and Ward, 52, said he will start running and training for next year's race in about one week.

"The JFK 50 is my physical yardstick," he said. "As long as I can complete that every year, I think I'm in pretty good shape."

Rebecca Smith, 14, of Hagerstown, said she did not finish the course last year and stopped Saturday after 27 miles - eight miles more than she completed last year.

"I found the trail a lot easier this year," she said. "I knew what to expect."

Stations set up along the course had a specific cutoff time. Anyone not progressing at that pace was asked to stop running because it was likely they would not finish. Rebecca said she was about 30 minutes behind the designated time limit after 27 miles.

"I want to race next year," she said. "My goal is to finish."

Robert Klinger ran for 38.4 miles and missed that station's cutoff time by six minutes. With only about 12 miles left in the race, Klinger said he believes he would have finished with 10 minutes to spare but was asked to stop the race.

"I could have continued," he said. "But those are the rules."

Klinger was the last to finish the race in 2005, and has completed the ultramarathon for the past three years, each within the last hour.

He said he sets his pace to finish the race and did not realize the individual stations would affect him.

Klinger said he will not change the way he trains for next year's race, but he will alter his timing during the run.

"This is the first time I have not finished," he said. "I came out of it feeling pretty good, but disappointed I couldn't finish. I'm looking forward to 2006."

Liz Wood, 25, finished in 9 hours 53 minutes - her second-best time in 12 races. After the marathon, she had dinner, took a three-hour nap and drove to Baltimore. She took a flight back to Colorado and immediately went to the Denver Broncos football game, where she ran up and down bleachers selling beer to fans.

"I didn't want to miss that game," she said. "I was a little sore, but one of the best ways to recover is to keep moving."

Wood said she was happy with her time in the JFK 50 and is looking forward to next year's race. Her fast finish also has motivated her to train more and hopefully finish with a faster time next year.

"Now, I'm more motivated to train and run," she said. "I'm going to start working toward it now."

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