Author Topic: The Kennedy 50 Mile Challenge  (Read 3167 times)

Offline Chemsoldier

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The Kennedy 50 Mile Challenge
« on: October 14, 2015, 08:31:44 AM »
Here is an interesting blog entry on the 1960s era 50 mile hike fad.  Kind of a modern predecessor to extreme endurance events.

https://50milehikers.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/the-50-mile-hike-phenomenon/

President Kennedy saw declining level of physical fitness in the US as a national security threat and wrote about it as a President elect in Sports Illustrated in an article called, "The Soft American"
http://armymedicine.mil/Documents/Panel%20C%20-%201960-Kennedy-Soft-American.pdf

His reaction to it was (among other things) this 50 mile hike challenge were people were challenged to hike 50 miles in a single outting.  I found it interesting how it became a fad. 

I have never hiked that far.  The futhest I have ever done in one go is a bit over 20 miles (with a pack and boots).  How about you all?
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Offline Jack Crabb

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Re: The Kennedy 50 Mile Challenge
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2015, 11:04:23 AM »
The JFK 50 is across the river in Maryland. We don't cross the river.

I ran the North Face 50 mile race on the Virginia side of the Potomac. I was 49 years old at the time and wanted to complete a race with more miles than I had years.

Started at 0500 in the morning and just kept going until 1750 that afternoon, so just under 13 hours to complete the 50 miles. No speed demon, but I got the T-shirt and medal nonetheless.

Prior to this race, I had run a bunch of 5k's, a 20k, and one marathon. The 50 miler was in June. In May, I ran the Pittsburgh marathon and two half-marathons in preparation. One can do this without being some ultra-athlete as long as one has the perseverance to put one foot in front of the other, and repeat to the finish.

Something to look at is the nature of the course. A lot of marathons are road races, so asphalt all the way. The North Face race is an off-road, trail course with rocks, roots, stream crossings, etc. I am not sure what the JFK is.

It helps to break it down into 4 half marathons. I was able to schedule when I would be at one of the aid points. The long distance racers were allowed to meet "crew." My wife met me with a ham sammich, diet Coke, and clean socks. We sat at a picnic table, had lunch, and off I went.

The next day was no worse than the day after a regular marathon.
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Offline osubuckeye4

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Re: The Kennedy 50 Mile Challenge
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2015, 12:11:46 PM »
I had never heard about this.

I generally get my 10,000 steps in every day... and run 20-25 miles per week (PPM and tempo style for the most part) on top of it, but I've never taken it upon myself to try a 50 mile hike without a break.


My next 3 weekends are completely booked and its getting pretty cold here, maybe this is one I can try next year.

Just to be clear... this isn't a sustained run for 50 miles in as fast a time as possible. It's a hike... which would be mixing running/walking/jogging as one sees fit. Right?
« Last Edit: October 14, 2015, 12:17:20 PM by osubuckeye4 »

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: The Kennedy 50 Mile Challenge
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2015, 02:21:00 PM »
I had never heard about this.

I generally get my 10,000 steps in every day... and run 20-25 miles per week (PPM and tempo style for the most part) on top of it, but I've never taken it upon myself to try a 50 mile hike without a break.


My next 3 weekends are completely booked and its getting pretty cold here, maybe this is one I can try next year.

Just to be clear... this isn't a sustained run for 50 miles in as fast a time as possible. It's a hike... which would be mixing running/walking/jogging as one sees fit. Right?
Correct.  50 miles running is part of the set of races called "ultramarathons."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultramarathon#Women

The challenge as I understand it is simply to move that far in a single activity.  There is no requirement to carry a load, or run or any other thing like that.
"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing, after they've tried everything else"
-Winston Churchill

"You think health care is expensive now? Wait until its free!"
-P.J. O'Rourke

"Is it dangerous to enter the Forum?"
-Seneca

Offline flippydidit

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Re: The Kennedy 50 Mile Challenge
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2015, 07:54:49 PM »
I was infantry for ten years, so....quite a few long "hikes". We would do many miles of ruck marching to condition ourselves for the "long ones". I did the Bataan Memorial March, but it was a shorter one. The tough one was Nijmegen. It was with our unit marching together for the 40 kilometer a day, 4 day march. 100 miles in four days tests your body.
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Re: The Kennedy 50 Mile Challenge
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2015, 08:36:52 PM »
It was actually the Kennedy Challenge that first got me thinking about a 50 miler for my 50th next year.  This summer I did the longest mileage day on my feet ever, 32.5 miles with 3600' of climbing which took just under 11 hours.  It was fully self supported, which meant filtering water at a stream crossing since I wasn't about to try to carry enough.  My partner slowed me down quite a bit or I suspect I would have finished a lot closer to 10 hours. 

In 1997 I ran the Portland Marathon and with the walk to and from my hotel, that was a 27.5 mile day (my marathon time was 4:34, so was no speed demon, even when I was 30).  My longest hike with a pack was 26.5 miles in 2013 on the Colorado Trail.

Right now I'm eyeing up a number of 50 milers, but the front runners right now are all races with cut offs of at least 16 hours, since I don't plan on running.  That doesn't mean I won't, but I don't want to feel pushed to run it.  It's enough of an accomplishment just to finish that kind of mileage.

Right now these are the races I'm most interested in right now:
http://www.mohonkpreserve.org/rock-the-ridge
http://runrabbitrunsteamboat.com/welcome/50-mile-race-instructions/
http://dp50.org/schedule/

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: The Kennedy 50 Mile Challenge
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2015, 08:53:51 PM »
That is really fascinating!


I used to walk 15-20 miles a day for work, but we're talking pavement, sidewalks and maybe some vacant lots.  Nothing like out in the wild.


I'm really looking at getting more into hiking and trail running, so this is great inspiration for me!