Clear Spring man set to compete in his 19th JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon

November 16, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

Editor's note: This 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.

CLEAR SPRING - Lloyd Storm started running as a way to keep an eye on his daughter.

While she took gymnastics classes at the old Hagerstown YMCA, he jogged on the track above the basketball court.

"I could watch her down below while I ran. It was something to do, and I enjoyed it," Storm said.

Almost 40 years later, Storm is part of a small group of runners who have finished more than 15 JFK 50 Mile ultramarathons. The 67-year-old has finished 18 of the races and will try for his 19th finish Saturday.

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


"I'm just going to go until I can't finish the thing," Storm said.

Storm said he ran his first JFK after being challenged by a friend. He didn't even own a pair of running shoes, and his training peaked with an 11-mile jog.

"I figured, 'If I can run 11 miles, I can run 50.' I had no idea what I was getting myself into," Storm said.

Storm made it 32 miles before exhausting himself. He began walking when he got to the C&O Canal towpath, which was empty as far as he could see in both directions.

"I couldn't see a soul," Storm said. "I thought, 'I could die out here.'"

Storm said "stupidity" has kept him coming back. His first urge to stop came after he ran his ninth JFK, but he said he couldn't not run No. 10.

After he finished 15, he thought again about quitting, but said knowing how few runners have finished more than 15 kept him going.

"Anybody can quit," Storm said. "I decided to keep going."

Storm's favorite memory from the race was the year he ran a personal best of 9 hours, 7 minutes and 14 seconds. Crossing the finish line was bittersweet, however, when he saw his friend and occasional rival Paul Betker on the other side. Betker also had run a personal best, coming in about half an hour before Storm.

"He beats me most of the time. One year I beat him, but he claimed he let me win," Storm said.

Another memorable moment came when he ran the race with JFK founder Buzz Sawyer, who had a problem with balance, according to Storm.

"You had to keep an eye on him, because he had a tendency to lean," Storm said.

As the pair jogged down the road, Storm said Sawyer leaned a little too much and was struck in the shoulder by the side mirror of a passing minivan. Storm said he got angry and slapped the back of the van, prompting shouts from the driver.

"I was mad. This race is hard enough without being hit by cars," Storm said.

Storm said the social contacts he has made through the race make it worth running every year. He has run other events, like the Pike's Peak and Marine Corps marathons, but he said there's something special about the JFK.

"I've got a great rivalry with my friend. I've met some wonderful people. It's something I look forward to every year," Storm said.

The Storm file

Name: Lloyd Storm

Age: 67

Residence: Clear Spring

Occupation: Retired

Number of JFK finishes: 18

The JFK in one word: "Tough"

Coming Saturday: - Meet Dave Bowers, Doug Bittinger and Dave Downin, who will compete as a team representing the Maryland State Police.

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