It has been 37 years since Bill Fornoff first hit the road in his running shoes. Now, he is retiring from the sport, reluctantly. There is no mandatory retirement age for runners of course, but at 70, he will be giving it up, somewhat ceremoniously on Thanksgiving Day.
Runners don't retire, they just fade away. For this long-time Jarrettsville resident, the fading away has reached a point of diminishing resilience. In December, he will undergo total joint replacement of his right knee.
"I understand that's the end of running," he said. "But it's time to do it. I can't even walk up steps. It's sad."
Fornoff's knees have served him well through 88,000 miles of running. Both knees would still be road-worthy if not for a biking accident in May that fractured two bones in his ankle and knocked the right knee out of alignment.
He is a veteran of 76 marathons and 56 ultra-marathons, the longest and most perilous of which was the 1994 Western States 100 Miler. It was so arduous, he almost died on the flight home. His leg muscles suffered so much micro-trauma in the 29-hour trek that his kidneys couldn't process all the waste from the trauma. He suffered kidney failure and spent 17 days in the hospital.
Running is a naturally injurious exercise, and his body has begged him to cease and desist many times. He has had four surgeries on his knees, five on his feet, and one on his back. He once broke his elbow during a 50-mile race. He suffered the pain of heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. "His doctors know him well," said his son, Jim.
He has shrugged off these and other ailments and kept running, although at this point his running might best described as shuffling.
He is a runner of exceptional resolve, but his last trip through a finish chute is near. He has chosen Thursday's Bulle Rock Turkey Trot in Havre de Grace to be his final race. It is a 5K, short by his standards. He will step to the starting line in a knee brace, and he will be flanked by four grandkids of ages 10 to 12, which means that his race pace will be nice and easy.
To be sure, Bill Fornoff is not giving up exercise. His plans are to continue biking 100 miles per week, walking five miles per day, lifting weights every other day, and playing a round of golf a week.
"I've got to stay active," he said.
Mission Haiti 5K
Marge Rosasco won the women's race, and Kirk Ingold, the men's in the Trinity Lutheran Mission Haiti 5K in Joppatowne's Mariner Park Nov. 16.
Rosasco, 65, of Joppa, ran 24:12 to lead Rhonda Utz, of Forest Hill, by 39 seconds. Wendy Balko, of Cockeysville, took third in 25:22, and Dana Weller of Bel Air, fourth in 25:55.
Ingold, 47, of Bel Air, ran 19:55 and won by 58 seconds. Zachary Weller, of Bel Air, 20:53; Ryan Weller, 20:57; and Jason Lewis, of Conowingo, 21:01, took the next three places.
In other races
About three-dozen Harford runners competed in the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday. Fastest among them were John Lewin III of Churchville, 3:28:40; Christopher Korpela, Bel Air, 3:34:11; Paul Perkovich, Joppa, 3:45:11; Erin Howard, Baldwin, 3:49:17; Dale Woodring, Bel Air, 4:07:42; and Chi-Chin Wu of Bel Air, 4:07:57.
Brittany Paulshock, of Forest Hill, ran 1:38:18 in the half-marathon of the Anthem Richmond Marathon Nov. 16, placing 38th in the 25-29 age group. Scott Smith, of Abingdon, ran 3:58:20 in the marathon.
James Dallhoff, of Fallston, was among the finishers of the Las Vegas Marathon Sunday. He ran 4:18:15.
Kirk Ingold (20:05) and Julia Stupi (23:24) led the Family and Children Services 5K in Forest Hill on Nov. 3.
Juantonio Rivera and Lydia Johnson led the RASAC Susquehanna 10K on Nov. 10 in Susquehanna State Park. Rivera ran 38:38 to finish 1:47 ahead of Rob Tisch. Johnson won the women's race in 50:08, with Cathy Bartholomew second in 51:54.
Nov. 23 – St. Margaret Parish Full Belly 5K, Liriodenron Parking Lot, Bel Air, 8 a.m., eliteracemanagement.com
Nov. 28 – Bulle Rock Turkey Trot, 1200 Bulle Rock Parkway, Havre de Grace, 9 a.m., eliteracemanagement.com
Nov. 28 – Y of Central Maryland Turkey Trot Bel Air, Ma & Pa Trail, 8:30 a.m., charmcityrun.com.
Nov. 28 - Y of Central Maryland Turkey Trot Towson, 600 W. Chesapeake Ave, 8:30 a.m., charmcityrun.com.