WILLIAMSPORT —With 5 miles left, Greg Zaruba was down but not out Saturday at the 50th annual JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon.
“I wasn’t taking enough electrolytes and I started cramping horribly,” said Zaruba, 46, of Smithsburg. “With 5 miles to go, I fell on someone’s front lawn and was screaming and didn’t know if I would even finish.
“But,” he added, “I got up and finished.”
Zaruba was the top Washington County finisher, placing 46th overall in the field of roughly 1,000 runners in 7 hours, 21 minutes, 42 seconds.
While the 50.2-mile trek from Boonsboro to Williamsport is never easy, the pain and agony usually are quickly replaced by pride and joy at the finish.
“It was the 50th one, and I just wanted to come out and finish it and enjoy the weather and have a good time,” said Zaruba, who seemed to have accomplished that mission with his seventh JFK finish.
His personal-best time on the course is 6:42:19 from his eighth-place finish in 1998.
“I would have been elated with a sub-7:00 today, but it’s cool. I’m happy,” he said. “I’m just glad it’s over.”
Zaruba likely will be back.
“I’m almost to 10 finishes,” he said of joining the JFK’s exclusive 500-mile club. “I’m thinking maybe I should hang in there and try to get that.”
Luzier leads county women
Kathleen Luzier, 44, of Boonsboro, was the top county female Saturday in 8:10:27.
While she was the first overall county finisher last year in her first JFK, she was more than 47 minutes faster this year.
“I just can’t believe I knocked that much time off. I didn’t walk as much and just felt good,” she said. “With about 4 miles to go, I started to get some negative thoughts, and then I thought, ‘You know, you only live once, you need to get these thoughts out of there.’”
Luzier, who ran three marathons this year to prepare, finished 113th overall and 19th among women.
“It’s tough,” she said of the 50-mile distance. “It’s a different world out there, compared to a marathon.”
Dymond shaves more time
Laurie Dymond, 46, of Chambersburg, Pa., completed the JFK for the sixth straight year Saturday, and she continued her streak of getting faster each time.
She finished 98th overall and 16th among women in 8:01:25.
“I’m getting older, I’ll be 47 next week, but every year I’ve gotten faster, oddly enough,” Dymond said.
While her time was a personal best, she said she was very disappointed to fall just 86 seconds short of her ultimate goal — sub-8:00.
“It’s OK, I’ll take it,” she said. “You have to take what the day gives you.”
Carolyn Showalter, 58, of Maugansville, completed Saturday’s race in 11:44:56 for her 26th JFK finish and first since 2003, as she increased her record for most JFK finishes by a woman.
Showalter also shares the record for most women’s victories at six. She won five straight years from 1985 to 1989 and then again in 1994. She broke 8 hours in five of her six victories.
Paul Betker, 67, of Hagerstown, completed the JFK for the 31st straight year Saturday in 12:42:11 — about a minute faster than he did it last year.