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Runners in JFK 50 give final update on 2006 race

November 20, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

TRI-STATE - As he neared the 10th mile of a 50-mile ultramarathon, Larry Herman was 10 minutes ahead of the pace he had set for himself.

Herman, of Frederick, Md., said he was having a great run on the Appalachian Trail during Saturday's JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon.

"I was feeling really great," he said. "But there was a rock, and it had something else in mind for me."

Herman stepped on the rock covered with leaves just before Gathland State Park near Burkittsville, Md. He fell and was forced to stop the race.

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Herman was the only one of eight local people profiled last week by The Herald-Mail who did not finish the race.

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

Herman, who owns a chiropractic business in Waynesboro, Pa., said he suffered a severe sprain and a possible fracture.

"I heard a pop on the inside and outside of the left ankle," he said.

Herman said at first he believed he might have been able to finish the race, which he completed last year in his first attempt.

"I'll be there next year, though," he said.

He said his entry fee would be in the mail today.

Dave Downin, 60, of Sharpsburg, finished the race in 9 hours and 44 minutes. It was Downin's 20th consecutive JFK 50 finish, placing him in an elite 1,000-mile club.

"That's 10 minutes slower than last year, but a finish is a finish," he said.

On Sunday morning, Downin was back on the towpath, where he walked several miles. He said he was mostly craving food Sunday, but he was not overly sore.

During Saturday's race, Downin said he questioned why - at 60 - he was still running the race.

"I guess I'm getting to the point (at 60), where it was hard at first, then easier, and now I think (the ultramarathons) are starting to get hard again," he said. "I was cussing myself yesterday, saying, 'What are you still doing this for?' The running is killing me."

Regardless of his feelings during the endurance event, Downin said he will be back next year.

"I'll be out for a few miles (Monday) ... getting ready for next year," he said.

Tom Louderback, 18, of Hagerstown, said he improved his time in his second JFK 50.

He finished in about 10 hours and 14 minutes.

"I could tell I was doing better just by the math," he said. "But I also felt better. I trained harder this year, and it paid off."

Louderback said starting at 7 a.m. instead of 5 a.m. this year also added to his success.

"I ran the Appalachian Trail in the sunlight," he said. "Which really helped. I could see the trail."

On Sunday morning, Louderback said he had some trouble waking up, but he was moving around fairly well, even making it up and down stairs without many problems.

It will be about a week before he is running normally again, he said. Louderback planned to run or jog about one mile today and slowly ease back into his routine.

"Last year, I was more taken over that I finished," he said. "This time, I know I can do this for a long time. It will be a yearly thing for me. At least that's what I hope to do."

Adam Bridendolph, 21, of Williamsport, and his brother, Nathan Bridendolph, 29, of Hagerstown, finished the race together, along with a friend, in about 12 hours and 20 minutes.

It was their first time competing in the JFK 50.

"I'm pleased to have finished," Adam said. "I'm very sore. I'm not sure how many more of them I'm going to do."

He said he struggled from mile 25 to mile 30, but by the time he reached mile 38, he was fine.

Adam said running with two others helped him through the tough parts.

"They actually helped push me along when I felt like I couldn't go any faster," he said. "I wanted to slow down, but they wouldn't let me."

His brother said he was having a hard time getting up and down stairs Sunday.

"I haven't decided about next year," Nathan Bridendolph said. "There's a chance. I'm still going to take a few days to recover and then go from there."

Martha Carpenter, 48, of Keedysville, finished her fourth JFK 50, in 12 hours and 52 minutes.

"That's slower than last year," she said. "That's probably why I feel better today. I finished and feel good today, so it was a success."

Carpenter said her legs were sore, but other than that she was feeling fine. She anticipated that she would return for her fifth race next year.

John Rice, 41, and Tracy Rice, 36 of Martinsburg, W.Va., competed in their first JFK 50 in 2004 and returned this year after taking off last year.

Tracy Rice said Sunday that she and her husband were feeling better than they did after last year's race.

"I guess we had done it once before, so we were prepared for what it was," she said. "The first time we just had no idea. I think we're in much better shape."

The couple finished together, in about 9 hours and 29 minutes.

She said both were happy with their times but had not started thinking about next year's race. John Rice is competing in a triathlon next year.

"We'll probably be running in a few days, nothing major," Rice said. "You're always training for the next one."

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