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Saturday, November 4, 2000 -- Boonsboro, MD
JFK 50 Miler
Story and photos by Marty Lamp

[Details] [Coverage]
[O/A 1-350] [O/A 351-703]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7]

JFK 50 Miler
Just 2 miles to go
When you set out on a mental and physical journey like a 50 mile run, little things like the weather play a very important factor in the overall enjoyment of your quest, or lack thereof. The folks participating in, and putting on, the 38th JFK 50 Miler couldn't have possibly expected or wanted any nicer weather conditions than they were treated to on November 4th.

Temperatures were in the upper 40's to start, then climbed to a refreshing 65 degrees, while sunshine blanketed the historic landscapes between Boonsboro and Williamsport, Maryland the entire day. Just another nice day, you may say, but chugging along in your 45th mile, the last thing you want to deal with is Mother Nature in a bad mood.

JFK 50 Miler
If you can smile, you're doing fine
Starting at Boonsboro High School, the pack of well over 700 runners headed straight for the Appalachian Trail for 13 miles of rugged, steep running. Some may argue that starting the first 1/3 of the race out with trails may seem cruel, but the smart runners knew this was the time to take it easy, to get loose.

The course stayed along the Appalachian Trail, passing through South Mountain State Park, until the the small town of Weverton was gained, where it was time for 26 mentally tough miles along the C & O Canal. The gradient is basically flat, but the monotony could break you.

If the running wasn't enough to keep a person busy, there was plenty of historical landmarks moving slowly by, like Harper's Ferry, Fort Duncan, and the James Rumsey Monument.

After strolling by Dam #4, the course finally turned off the canal at Cedar Grove, leaving roughly 8 miles to the finish along back roads before joining up with Route 63 and heading towards the finish at Springfield Middle School in Williamsport.

The first person to reach the finish line this day was Mitch Craib(5:59:28), who managed to hold onto a torrid pace of 7:11 per mile. Craib is no rookie in this race. The Boone, North Carolina native placed 17th overall in 1996, finishing with a time of 6:47:13, then in 1999, he crossed the finish line in third place overall, with a time of 6:09:13. This year, the 39 year old Craib would be the one to beat, taking almost ten minutes off of his best previous time.

JFK 50 Miler
An apple never tasted so good
Charles Mattheus(6:15:29), of Conifer, Colorado, kept a steady pace of 7:31 per mile to finish second overall, while Seattle, Washington's Ian Torrance(6:17:56) grabbed third place despite finishing over 8 minutes slower than his time from last year. Torence has finished in the top 4 overall in three of the last four years.

The fastest women on the course was Laura Nelson(6:59:14), of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Running in her first JFK 50 Miler, the 35 year-old Nelson kept a 8:23 per mile pace to finish 15th overall, and 17 minutes ahead of her closest female competitor Anne Riddle(7:16:02), from Ashville, North Carolina. Riddle finished an equally impressive 22nd overall, and third place female finisher Sue Johnston(7:22:14) finished 26th overall.

A total of 703 determined souls finished this classic Ultra Marathon, with the last finishers pounding the pavement until nearly 9pm. To all the runners who raced not to win, but to finish, we salute you. Thanks go out to the Cumberland Athletic Club for putting on this fine event, and for being so prompt with the results.