188 Days: JFK 50 & Monday Recovery Run

On the early part during the administration of US President John F Kennedy in the early ’60s, he revived the challenge of past President Theodore Roosevelt for the US Marines Officers and US Armed Forces to run and hike a distance of 50 miles (80 kilometers) in 20 hours carrying with them their individual provisions (food and water). Soon, this was adopted as part of the Physical Fitness Program for all the Officers and Enlisted Men of the US Armed Forces and was conducted throughout the United States. There was a team competition of this “JFK 50-Mile Challenge” then where a team was composed of 10 officers or enlisted men and the five (5) lowest/fastest time were cumulated to represent the team’s finish time. The lowest/fastest cumulated time for a team won the much-coveted “Kennedy Cup”. This Hike-Run Challenge was open to the public but it maintained its reputation as a military event.

The JFK 50 Challenge in Washington County, Maryland started in the spring of 1963, however, after JFK was assassinated in November 1963, all the other 50-Mile Challenge races in other parts of the country were discontinued except for the hike-run conducted in Maryland. This year’s rendition of the JFK 50 will be the 46th Annual Race which will be held on November 22, 2008. This ultramarathon trail race is one of the prestigious ultra trail events in the US where almost 2,000 ultra runners participate. At this time, the race organizers had stopped accepting applicants to the said race for this year.

It was only when I was spending my vacation in California last July-August that I got to know about this ultra trail event for the US military and the public. Had I known about this when I was still in the AFP, I could had applied this to my officers and men in my Command. I wonder if the present crop of trainors and leaders in the AFP know about this and willing to apply and direct their officers and men to undergo such kind of challenge. By the way, I got some information that JFK and his brother Robert were able to have finished and passed the JFK 50-Mile Challenge within the cut-off time.

As I went to bed early last Sunday evening, I thought of running at ULTRA Oval Track on the morning of Monday as my recovery run from the trail run that I had last Sunday. I arrived at the ULTRA/DECS gate at 6:00AM and jogged all the way to the Oval Track. After a short stretching exercises, I did 4 laps along the outer lanes (1.75 kms) with a time of 8:41 minutes; average pace of 4:57 mins/km & average/maximum HR of 154/161 bpm. I had 2 laps as recovery run before starting another 4-lap run which I was timed at 8:25 mins; average pace of 4:48 mins/km & ave/max HR of 158/163 bpm. After another 2 laps of recovery run and “jumping” exercises, I did a 5-lap run (2.14 kms) with a time of 10:27 mins; average pace of 4:52 mins/km; and an ave/max HR of 155/161 bpm.

My run at the Oval Track terminated with another 2-lap recovery/cool-down run before I did my post-stretching exercises. I was able to run a total distance of 8.04 kilometers.

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