Mark and Bruce, like all Special Olympics Maryland athletes in this weekend's event, have completed the two county events required to qualify. On Wednesday, the last practice before Saturday's competition, John bounds up and down the home straightaway, barking out encouragement and advice to three of the four athletes on the 4x400-meter relay (one was absent) who practice baton passes.
"Try shuffling your feet," John suggested. "Then you drive your elbow forward to power into the stride."
Mark and Bruce run in a pair, and though their running styles differ slightly — Mark churns his entire body more while Bruce's strides appear longer — little separates the two. The twins say they've always been neck-and-neck, in races and in life. When Mark joined Special Olympics, Bruce did too. When Bruce got a job at Howard County General Hospital, Mark did, too.