I did not finish the JFK 50 Mile.
Nearing the end of the Appalachian Trail at mile 14-ish, I rolled my ankle. Hard. In an instant, my race was over. Well, almost. After a couple dozen choice words, I limped down Weverton Cliffs and off the AT. Ankle sprains and I go way back. When it immediately swelled to baseball size I knew it was too stiff to even think about going on. I dropped out at the crew access point at Weverton (15 miles.) Click here for ankle photo.
Everything up to this point went as planned. The weekend began with a carpool with three other Cleveland peeps, all first-timers, including Elizabeth
and Doc Louis. After a 5-hour drive from Cleveland and a short reconaissance of the course, we checked in. We met with a whole slew of Coolrunners
and other NE Ohioans for pre-race dinner. Check soon for photos on the picture blog: Click here.
Race day weather was an ideal 37F at the start. I started the race with the same folks as last year from the Vertical Runner
team, including TJ, Dave, and Bob. I've run numerous ultras with these guys this year and we all normally finish within the same range. We looked to improve upon last year's 6th place team placing and our goal was 3 runners around 7:45-ish, or between 23 and 24 hours (cumulative time, best 3 of 5 runners.)
So instead of testing my mettle on this day, I became spectator. Luckily for me, we had local crew at Weverton and I got immediate attention, a blanket, and a ride. (Thanks, Michelle.) I feel fortunate to have had an ice pack on the ankle for 5 of the first 6 hours after the sprain. The swelling slowed. After a trip back to the finish in Williamsport for warm clothes, we headed down to Antietam to cheer the others along near mile 30. Then back to the finish line just in time to watch the 2nd place runner finish in 6 hours 12 minutes. After grabbing some chow and another ice pack, I sat outside to watch the finish line from the 7:00 mark and all the way to 9:23 when Elizabeth
came thundering in. Its hard not to imagine on where I might have placed.
Looking back, it wasn't too difficult a choice to drop out. For one short moment, I thought I could have possibly walked it in for a 12 hour finish. The day was not to be and it cannot change. Yet I appreciated being there to watch the other finishers arrive, particularly those runners I do not normally see during the course of a run or race. I watched my team come in and improve our team time 24:02. This year another record was set at the JFK 50 Mile with over 1,000 finishers. Good thing they did not need my finish in order to set the record for largest finishing field ever at an U.S. ultramarathon.
I'll soak it in for a few days before I fully reflect. I certainly have the disappointment of not ever knowing what I was capable of on this day. Yet the trip was still a hoot. I don't know what I enjoy more: To give my own highest and best in a race, or to witness and maybe assist another runner acheive their ultrarunning goals. I'll imagine, in the future, I'll keep on searching for the answer.
~~Preliminary results click here.
Carpool buds: Elizabeth (9:23), Barb (9:50), Louis (9:20)
Team Vertical Runner (24:02) - Bob (7:45), Dave (8:03), Terry (8:14), Suzanne (10:05)
Coolrunning buds: Merideth (10:50), Cari (9:22), Jesse (8:12), Pete (9:33, including an amazing 4:20 at Philly on Sunday.)