WILLIAMSPORT — Michael Wardian had to drop out of last year’s John F. Kennedy 50 Mile because of an injury, but he made a comeback this year and won it.
Wardian, a 33-year-old Ship’s Broker from Arlington, Va., crossed the finish line at Springfield Middle School in 5 hours, 50 minutes, 25 seconds, more than 20 minutes ahead of runner-up Zach Miller, of Ann Arbor, Mich., to win the 45th annual hike, the oldest and largest ultramarathon in America.
Wardian was listed as the seventh-seeded runner in the race. It was his 13th marathon of the year. Saturday’s win gives him four career marathon wins.
“The Appalachian Trail part of the course was the toughest,” Wardian said. He also said he lost some time on the trail because of the terrain but when he reached the C&O Canal Towpath, he was able to make up some of that time. The towpath portion of the hike is the longest, covering 26 miles and the flatest part of the course.
Matt Levine, of Crystal Lake, Ill., finished third in the hike. Mark Lundblad, of Swannanoa, N.C., got fourth and Eric Grossman (Emory, Va.) was fifth. Lundblad’s wife, Ann, won the women’s division of the hike (6:42.81).
There were 1,471 runners who started this year’s hike, compared to 1,138 last year.
Wardian’s winning time is the third-fastest time in hike history. The fastest time was run in 1994 by Eric Clifton (5:46.22).