A mix of exhilarating highs and painful challenges

2012 JFK 50

November 18, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION |
  • Kathleen Luzier on the Appalachian Trail near Reno Monument Road in Boonsboro during the 2012 JFK 50 Mile Run Saturday. Luzier was able to shave off about 47 minutes from her time last year with her time Saturday of 8:10:27
Herald-Mail file photo

Dave Fox was basking Sunday in the success of being able to complete his 20th JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon on Saturday, putting him in the ranks of the event’s 1,000-mile club.

And although Fox said before the race that this would probably be his last annual running of the event, he was rethinking his plans Sunday, saying there are many things he would miss about not being in it every year.

First-time JFK runner Mary Ellis, 63, of Keedysville, slipped on some wet leaves on a rock on the Appalachian trail and hurt her left knee when she fell.

Ellis said she later suffered spasms in her back — which she thinks was caused by her “listing to one side” because of her knee injury — and dropped out of the race at mile 47.

Ellis ran with her daughter-in-law, Vicki Ellis, for the first 18 miles. Then Ellis told her daughter-in-law to go ahead.


Vicki Ellis completed the race in 12 hours, 16 minutes and 31 seconds.

And so goes the JFK 50 with its mix of exhilarating highs and painful challenges as 1,000 runners tried to complete the 50-mile race over paved roads, rolling hills and steep terrain on the Appalachian Trail.

The Herald-Mail profiled six runners before the race, five of whom were reached Sunday to talk about their experience.

Fox, culinary services director at Twin Oaks — Williamsport Retirement Village, said before Saturday’s race that this would probably be his last annual running of the event because he does not have as much time to train due to other personal responsibilities.

But Fox said Sunday he is not sure whether he will stop running in the event because he would miss the experiences from the race if he stopped. For example, he said he was impressed by another runner he met Saturday who overcame four heart surgeries to compete.

“It might be (my last one), but I might run 20 more,” said Fox, who described the incredible feeling of entering the event’s 1,000 mile club after years of anticipation.

“It’s like the feeling you get when you first finish the JFK,” said Fox, 43, of Hagerstown, who finished Saturday’s race in 12:45:51.

Vicki Ellis, who finished the JFK 50 once before, and Mary Ellis had talked about running together in the race. Mary Ellis said her husband died suddenly in 2010 and the experience prompted her to contemplate a bucket list, which included the ultramarathon.

Vicki Ellis, 42, of Mercersburg, Pa., said she and her mother-in-law started the race at the 5 a.m. slot.

Reflecting on her fall Sunday, Mary Ellis said she thought about the times she had “trained, trained and trained” on the Appalachian Trail.

Mary Ellis said when she fell, she thought “Oh my golly.”

Mary Ellis said she was offered a van ride after her injury but decided to keep running as long as she could.

“She was running into a lot of problems,” Vicki Ellis said.

Mary Ellis was able to make it to mile 46 by a required cutoff time of 6 p.m., but could not meet the challenge of finishing the rest of the race by 7 p.m., Vicki Ellis said.

Jerry Mason, 56, of Greencastle, Pa., said before the race he has been able to trim more than 30 minutes off his time each year he ran in the race.

On Saturday, Mason ran the course in 8:59:04, a bit slower compared to his 8:46 time last year.

“But I was quite happy with it,” Mason said.

As in the past, Mason wore a kilt in honor of his homeland.

“I think I was the only one running in a kilt, although I’m not sure,” said Mason, who was born in Scotland and lived in the United Kingdom.

Mason said he figured a lot of people read about him wearing a kilt in the race in the newspaper story that was published last week because people he didn’t know were yelling “go, Jerry.”

Mason talked about the joys of running in the event, which including an area after the Weverton Cliffs which was “mobbed” by spectators cheering on runners.

Kathleen Luzier, 44, of Boonsboro, was able to shave off about 47 minutes from her time last year with her time Saturday of 8:10:27. On Sunday, the stay-at-home mother spent the day in Brunswick, Md., watching her daughter play in some basketball scrimmages.

When Luzier returned home, she was getting ready to go for a quick run to help loosen her legs.

“It never ends,” Luzier said.

The other profiled runner, Jesse Garrant of Martinsburg, W.Va., could not be reached for comment.

Garrant, a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard, National Maritime Center, completed the race in 8:49:20, according to the JFK 50 Mile website.

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