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Faith fuels Hagerstown man through JFK 50 Mile

Gil Crumrine has finished the ultramarathon 10 times

November 14, 2011|By DAVE MCMILLION |
  • Gil Crumrine of Hagerstown is a member of the JFK 500-mile club.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — As a runner, Gil Crumrine draws much of his motivation from his faith in God.

The Hagerstown man has made several mission trips to Africa, and recalls that his fastest times in the JFK 50 Mile came after his first trip to the country in 2005.

Not only was Crumrine impressed by the number of talented distance runners in countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, but he came to appreciate the people’s simple way of life.

Crumrine, 58, said he felt like he was honoring the great runners of Africa when he finished the 2005 JFK 50 Mile in 10:48. It took him a minute longer to finish in 2006.

Crumrine, a 10-time finisher of the race, started running while in high school in his native Washington state and was a member of his school’s championship cross country team. He stopped running for about 25 years, but remained active in sports such as basketball and volleyball.

He said he returned to running because it’s a sport he can enjoy by himself, although there is a camaraderie in running with others.

Although a member of the JFK 500-mile club, Crumrine was a bit apprehensive about being interviewed for this story because he did not complete the ultramarathon last year. But after some thought, he agreed.

“This will give me that much more incentive to finish this year,” Crumrine said.

He was forced to drop out of the race last year when he was about 15 minutes behind a required cut-off time at 35 miles. He also battled nausea, he said.

Participants have to know just the right amount of food and fluids to consume to get the right energy level, Crumrine said. Too much of either and the race can become an unpleasant experience, he said.

Crumrine has been fine-tuning his food and fluid intake in other races this year, including the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio, in September and the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., at the end of October.

“We’ll see what happens this year,” said Crumrine, who credits his wife, Mary, for her support during his many JFK 50 Miles.

The plaques and medals that mark Crumrine’s successful completions of the event line the wall of his home accounting office off Jefferson Boulevard. A digital picture frame near his desk flashes photographs of smiling children he met during mission trips to Africa.

On the wall above his desk hangs a photograph of Crumrine shaking hands with former President Gerald Ford. The picture was taken while Crumrine worked for the White House Communications Agency. Crumrine and other members of the agency handled communications for the president, vice president and others with Secret Service protection, he said.

Crumrine said among the other federal officials with Secret Service protection for whom he handled communications was former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

The Crumrine file

Name: Gil Crumrine
Age: 58
Residence: Hagerstown
Occupation: Accountant
Number of JFK finishes: 10
The JFK in one word: “Challenging”

Editor’s note: This is the first story in a five-part series about some of the people who will compete in the JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon Saturday in Washington County. The event takes participants from Boonsboro to Williamsport along paved roads, the Appalachian Trail and the C&O Canal towpath.


Watch live video from the finish line Saturday from 12:30 to 5 p.m. at

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