2009 JFK 50 Miler – Race Report

Here’s the race report for my 2009 JFK 50-miler experience. Includes a written report & photos.

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JFK 50 Written Report

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This was my first official 50-miler. I attempted an unofficial 50-miler at The North Face Endurance Challenge in 2008 during Tropical Storm Hanna, but quit at 40 miles.

I ran much faster than I had planned. About a year ago, I ran 50 miles in the 12 Hours of Momentum race in Goochland, VA in 11:45. I finished JFK in 9:38, shaving over 2 hours off my previous 50-mile time.

Shout outs: My parents, for driving down from Jersey to be my support crew. They had no idea what they were getting into. My buddy Ryan, who ran JFK last year, helped me with the course, and we ran the first 2 miles together. Then he took off because he’s much faster than I am.

The JFK 50-miler Course

The first 4-5 miles of the JFK course were all on road. We were climbing the mountain to get to the trail head. I walked a good portion of this section to save energy for later in the race.

Then we ran along the Appalachian Trail from ~miles 5-9. Mile 9 was the first big aid station. Some random spectator was giving out free hugs. I gladly accepted.

The Appalachian Trail continued until ~mile 16. This is where the trail (and some of the fun) ended. I love trails, and from this point on, I would see no more.

At mile 16 we got on the C&O Canal Towpath — aka, the longest, straightest, most boring crushed gravel road on the East Coast.

There was a stray dog that ran at least 10 miles with us. No one knew who he belonged to, until finally a runner offered to put him on a leash and take him to the next aid station, where his owner was supposedly waiting for him. This dog would have won the race if no one had stopped him.

At mile 25 I met a guy named Sean. He’s in the Marine Corps. We ran, talked & walked the next 6-7 miles together. It was great timing. We both needed someone to talk to at this point in the race.

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My favorite part about the JFK 50-miler

Mile 34. Aid Station. The North Pole. It was classic. High schoolers dressed up as Elves. Candy canes & gumdrops for fuel. And of course, Santa. I didn’t sit on his lap, but I did get a picture with him.

Nearing the end

Mile 46. I saw my parents for the last time before the finish. I had an outside shot at breaking 9:30, and I think I pushed a little too hard, too soon. I ended up walking a good portion of the last 2-3 miles… and it hurt.

But I found it in me to sprint — as I typically do — the last hundred yards or so.

After The Race

I drove to Baltimore later that night, met up with a friend for a Thanksgiving feast, and went rock climbing Sunday morning. On Monday, my forearms were more sore than my legs were.

JFK 50-miler Photos

My Results

9:38:51 – a PR
313/1013 – overall
43/93 – M20-29

JFK 50-miler Video Report

4 thoughts on “2009 JFK 50 Miler – Race Report”

  1. Hi

    I am running the JFK 50 in a few weeks. Did you wear trail shoes? Did you find the need to change shoes after the trial portion?

  2. Hi Jackie,

    I wore trail shoes (Brooks Cascadia) for the entire race, and was comfortable the entire time.

    I would say miles 5-16 on the AT are generally moderate trails, but there are a handful of more difficult/technical sections with quite a few sharp rocks. I would recommend trail shoes for 5-16, but I do know of some people (mostly elites) that run the entire thing in road shoes.

    At mile 16, it’s really personal preference. I’m very comfortable in trail shoes, so I chose to keep them on. But if you prefer road shoes, and want to take the extra time to switch, then you should switch. Especially if you run faster in road shoes and/or are going for a PR. From miles 16-50, you certainly don’t need trail shoes.

    It’s a great race with lots of spectator support. I think you’ll have a great time 🙂

    You can email me directly if you have any other questions/concerns (dave@davewarfel.com).

  3. Dave – What was your impression of how hard it is to have spectators see you and provide you some things like change of shoes, clothes, etc? I ran the trail part last weekend and saw the spot where you officially come off the trail and start at the C&O canal. I would really like to get into my non-trail shoes at that point.

    I guess in short I’m asking where there may be a few good spots for my support group to see me without them getting stuck in bad traffic, etc.

    Any insight you have is much appreciated.


    Adam Reeder

  4. Adam – My parents crewed for me, and I saw them at every aid station that allowed for crew support. Some were more crowded than others, though.

    I’m seeing my parents tonight, and I will ask them about traffic/congestion. I didn’t pay enough attention to give you a great answer, but my mom should have some good insight when I see her tonight.

    I’ll email you by Monday.

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