HOW DID I GET HERE?
HISTORY AND TREASURED LORE OF THE JFK 50
PRE-RACE AT THE JFK 50
After flying into a rainy Washington DC via Dulles airport I made a quick stop at Theodore Roosevelt Island. It was raining light and steady giving me an opportunity to test a rain jacket on a 3 mile walk around the island. I enjoyed the calm before the JFK 50 storm and had a good idea which rain jacket to call upon if needed during the race. I drove into Maryland and checked in at the Ramada in Hagerstown where the JFK 50 Legends Dinner was being held and conveniently made my way across the parking lot to another hotel hosting the expo. I met an enthusiastic volunteer named Rick at a small table near the entrance answering all questions regarding the race. I came to find out he had a wealth of knowledge to share as a he was a ten time finisher of the JFK 50 and graciously offered support and encouragement regarding strategy, logistics and course information. Rick told me to walk down the hall to purchase a ticket for the Legends Dinner which led me to meet the welcoming race director and former JFK champion Mike Spinnler, who recognized my name from my blog and perhaps other posts on Facebook and he heartily welcomed me into the JFK 50 family.
I also noticed that ALTRA shoes had a large display set up and after looking at some of the new models I was introduced to Regional Sales Manager Zach Barker. I compared technical notes with Zach after explaining my love of ALTRA shoes dating back to the 2.0 Lone Peak model and the evolution of the company and shoes over the past few years. I told Zach I was going with the amply cushioned OLYMPUS 3.5 for the JFK 50 but I believe the very runnable LONE PEAK 4.5 could have been a good choice as well or the slightly more cushioned and responsive TIMP 1.5 which may have better served the more technical Appalachian trail section of the race. After leaving the expo and preparing my gear for the race ahead I walked downstairs where I met a man named Enrique who was in his late 50's I believe and was doing the JFK 50 as his first Ultramarathon. Enrique was very concerned with the trail section the first 16 miles as he was mainly coming to the race from a road marathoning background. His experience was not uncommon and I came to learn that many participants in the JFK 50 were not veteran ultrarunners and in fact many were locals who were taking on the JFK 50 challenge as a rite of passage. At the Legends Dinner the race director gave recognition to those who made the race possible with their hard work and volunteerism and also recognized the new members of the 500, 750 and 1000 mile clubs who were JFK 50 race veterans with 10-20 finishes and I learned 2 men had 40 plus finishes in the 57 year history of the event. Mike also gave a stiring tribute to the memory of JFK as well as race founder Buzz Sawyer who had sadly passed earlier this year. I have attended 50 plus marathon and ultra events since 2012 and was really amazed and impressed by the sense of history and amazing community spirit that surrounded the JFK 50. Make no mistake, this is an inspiring and historic race that means alot of different things to its finishers. I got to sleep fairly early around 9pm to be awoken by a preset midnite alarm from a previous guest but I woke up a few hours later ready to run!