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Hammer down

Guess it's time for a bit more bear with me.

The photo at right is yours truly making pretty fine time at the 2004 JFK 50 mile in Boonesboro, Maryland. As you might note, I'm a bit "thick" and was racing in my pre-Florida body. But nonetheless, it was a good day. I hit my personal record for 50 miles, an 8:53.

JFK starts with a two mile uphill on a country road off the start, then takes a hard right onto the Appalachian Trail. It's a leaf-covered and rocky single-track and with 1300 runners the trail can bottleneck.

I always loved that section; it's all silence until someone trips and falls and you hear a bloody scream coming off the trail.


After 15 miles, the trail goes into heavy switchback mode as one traverses a steep descent. I was moving well at the time this photo was taken and actually stormed past a gaggle of young marines.

There was never a prouder moment for master competitor. I yelled "runner on your left!" and went around. Wow.

So, I came off the trail portion at 8 hour pace, made the railroad track crossing (if the train comes you wait 11 minutes) and jogged onto the towpath along the Potomac River.

My pace dropped as I became tired, but the finish was strong.

I'll never be a fast runner. Eric Clifton, who holds the course record at JFK with a 5:45, came back a few years later and ran about tenth, with a 6:10. Eric told me his heart just wasn't in the race.

Hey, if he ever wants to give that 6:10 to someone else, I'll take it.

But being part of this spectacle is a wonderful place to be in life. JFK remains the largest 50-mile in the country. Totally cool.

Journey on, fellow runners.


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