Journey to the JFK50 began earlier this Spring.
I have never really wanted to be classified as an ultra runner due to the time commit needed to be successful. However, I took the plunge and registered after my friend said he would join me. The registration price was nothing compared to going in the record book of our Nation’s oldest ultras. Upon hitting enter and receiving my confirmation is when I had that dazed feeling. What was I thinking…going to school, working, and now trying to knock a run every day of the week. While running a marathon does not come easy – now I am going to run two marathons back-to-back.
As the days of Spring turned into Summer, and the cooler weather turned to sweltering Virginia heat/humidity the miles were slowly increasing. Trying to find time to run seemed only possible if accomplished in the early hours of the day.
Throughout my training, my path crossed several others who too were going to run the JFK50. This led to long conversations about certain parts of the race and to what we should expect along the course. The AT being the most dreaded part followed by the boring C&O tow path then the rolling hills towards the finish line.
Nonetheless, the dreaded Summer transitioned nicely into the our beautiful Fall. The Marine Corp Marathon was going to be a test of how well my training was going. When I crossed the finish line at 3:48 I knew I was going to be able to knock out an additional 25 miles.
A few days after the MCM, I was injured to the point that my inaugural JFK50 was going slip past me. At this point, I was mentally committed to traveling with my friends, so I decided to be their crew support (later labeled crew princess).
I must say, this was very tough to be a runner and sitting on the sidelines – always thinking…put me in coach. At packet pickup, I saw runners of all ages (teenagers to 71+) walking around with their coveted bibs and orange shirts. I too joined the growing crowd and collected my bib/shirt. The hardest part – instead of lacing my running shoes with the timing chip I dropped in the bucket as I exited.
Race day started at 0400! Time to eat breakfast, lace up, and pack the car. Our hotel, Holiday Inn, was about 25 minutes from the Boonboro’s High School. Here we waited around for the mandatory brief and talked with others who were running – everyone was making last minute adjustments to their gear. About 20 minutes until 0700, every walked out of the school across the frozen grass (26*) Main Street Boonboro…about a 15 minute walk.
This is where my crewing duties began – collecting jackets and taking photos. As the gun rang out across the frozen sky of Boonsboro the runners were off. The course had four major points where support crews, friends,and family could gather and cheer the runners on. With my support vehicle ready to go, I set off on the first stop – bottom of the AT. Here runners were coming off of a 1600′ elevation drop with tight switchbacks. Only a few stopped to exchange clothing and nutritional items. I was absolutely elated to clap and cheer ever single runner that passed by me. Every runner that passed by me was grateful for the encouragement. As my friends passed by and made necessary changes to their wardrobe/accessories, I was ready to meet them at the next stop along their route. At the next three stops, more of the same occurred – clean sock, road shoes, and dry clothing.
Standing on the sidelines for the first time was a humbling experience.
Items support personnel should pack:
- – Chair (for waiting and for runner to change shoes if necessary)
- – Cooler for lunch, snack, and drinks
- – Warm clothing
- – Cheering signs, clappers, and noise makers
Note to anyone who’s going to support a friend or runner – follow the directions provided by the race directors. At two of the middle stops cell service maybe diminished a bit.
Please read the runner perspective from my friend Brian’s blog:http://briansrunningadventures.com/jfk-50-first-impressions-ultra-marathon-running-the-grandfather-or-ultra-running/