The next profile in JFK 50 Mile series could be familiar

November 07, 2009|By JOEL HUFFER

In 13 days, about 1,000 people will stand in the square of Boonsboro preparing to attempt what many would consider impossible -- covering 50 miles on foot in a single day.

Accomplishing such a feat is so rare, in fact, that fewer than one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans will do so.

So says Mike Spinnler, race director and two-time winner of the JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon, which this year will be Nov. 21.

The 47th running of America's oldest ultramarathon will take participants from Boonsboro to Williamsport along more than 12 miles of paved roads, about 11 miles of the Appalachian Trail and more than 26 miles along the C&O Canal towpath.


The fastest of the finishers will complete the event in about six hours. And the last to cross the line likely will come within a minute or two of the 14-hour time limit.

So just who are these people?

They are doctors and lawyers, farmers and teachers, ministers and police officers.

They are teenagers and senior citizens, Gen Xers and baby boomers.

They are from Washington state, Washington, D.C., and Washington County.

In 2005, we began a weeklong series leading up to the ultramarathon in which participants from the Tri-State area are profiled.

That year, we shared the stories of:

o A mother and daughter from Charles Town, W.Va.

o A Hagerstown man who was the last finisher in 2004

o A man from Leitersburg and a man from State Line, Pa., who between them had finished the event 37 times

o A Smithsburg High School freshman who was attempting her first ultramarathon as a family tradition

o A South Hagerstown graduate and the under-19 women's record holder, who returned from Colorado to run her 12th straight JFK 50 Mile

In the three years since then, we have profiled:

o A husband and wife from Martinsburg, W.Va.

o A Frederick, Md., man and owner of a chiropractic business in Waynesboro, Pa., who lost more than 100 pounds through his running regimen

o A Warfordsburg, Pa., man with five top-10 finishes who was entered in his 20th JFK 50 Mile

o A team of three men from Washington County representing the Maryland State Police

o A Boonsboro High School graduate crossing the globe from China, where he and his wife were teaching oral English

o A Hagerstown Church of the Brethren pastor who was using his run to collect pledges for the Good Samaritan Fund

So who will our series feature this year? Perhaps your doctor, teacher or minister.

Pick up The Herald-Mail beginning Nov. 16 to find out.

Joel Huffer is managing editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7796 or by e-mail at

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