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NIDCR Scientist Hoon Wins Marathon, 10-Miler

By Rich McManus

Dr. Mark Hoon, 36, a scientist in the Oral Infection and Immunity Branch, NIDCR, won the first Montgomery County Marathon in the Parks on Nov. 5 in a time of 2:34:47 — almost 5 minutes ahead of his nearest competitor. On Nov. 18, he won the Al Lewis 10-Miler in 57:42 — again by nearly 5 minutes — and on Nov. 25 he placed second in Gaithersburg's Turkey Burnoff 10-Miler in 55:55, continuing a years-long streak of top finishes in local races for the part-time runner.

Hoon, a Kensington resident who trains in Rock Creek Park and at Walt Whitman High School's track, says recent fatherhood has slowed down his racing career (see NIH Record features, Nov. 18, 1997 and Dec. 5, 1995). "I have a 2-year-old now, so I've cut down on races —it's better to lie in bed on Sunday mornings than go to races," he said.

The native of Derby, England, didn't post a personal best in the Montgomery County event — his 11th marathon. "Not by a long ways," he commented. He ran his best marathon in his home town at age 24, finishing in 2:24.

Dr. Mark Hoon

A member of the Montgomery County Road Runners Club who competes, without a sponsor, in many local club events, Hoon likes to do one marathon each fall. In fall 1998, he placed fourth in the Richmond Marathon; last year he finished third in that race, winning $250. It spared him the 100-mile drive to Richmond to compete this fall in the inaugural Montgomery Marathon, which he entered at the invitation of the race director, a running friend of Hoon's.

The county marathon, which netted him $400, traced a hilly route, with some steep downhill grades Hoon said were challenging. But strangers shouting out his name along the course encouraged him.

"It's nice to train for a marathon once a year," he said. "It gives you a goal to focus on for a few months."

To prepare for the Marathon in the Parks, Hoon competed in the Georgetown 10K earlier in the fall, finishing, he recalls, 15th. But that was only the first leg of a longer training run; he kept right on running up through Georgetown and all the way out to home in Kensington after the race.

He continues to bike to work on days when there isn't ice or torrential rain, and works out four evenings a week. Hoon says he will continue to race locally, but admits, "It's not so good for my ego to be beaten by too many youngsters."

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