America’s oldest ultra-marathon is back this weekend in Maryland

The 56th Annual JFK 50 Mile is back on Saturday, November 17th in Washington County, but the meaning behind this is so much more than a race.

Originally created in the spring of 1963, the JFK 50 Mile event in Washington County, MD was just one of many races held nationwide due to President John F. Kennedy’s push to bring the county back to physical fitness. To this day, it is America’s oldest ultra-marathon.

After Kennedy’s assassination, many areas across the nation never held their events again, and the JFK 50 Mile in Washington County is the only original 50 Mile Challenge to be held annually. This event was held as a military race, although it is open to the public. Teams can have a max of 10 runners, ultimately making this a relay challenge if teams so choose.

Mike Spinnler, Race Director for the JFK 50 Mile since 1993 and former JFK 50 Mile winner in 1982 & 1983, stated, “To have the country’s last surviving Kennedy Challenge 50 Mile event in Washington County is something of which the entire race management team takes great pride.  Every year since 1963, the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club has organized and staged this amazing event that honors the late President John F. Kennedy –and his vision of a fitter and more vibrant America.”
Audrey Vargason, Director of Sales for Visit Hagerstown & Washington County CVB, stated, “Participating in an Ultra isn’t just a physical challenge that the terrain presents but it is mental challenge too. We are honored that individuals from across the country travel to Washington County, Maryland to champion the JFK50 course which encompasses the National Road, Appalachian Trail and C&O National Historic Park.”
Vargason also stated, “Annually, we look forward to the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club promotion of the JFK50 Ultra. Mike Spinnler, Race Director, and his team do an impeccable job at coordinating and promoting this event. They also have a great partnership with Racine Multisports, who handles all the timing for this event. It’s a great thing to see our promoters working together!”
The event attracts 1,200 athletes annually to Hagerstown-Washington County. Some are here to participate for first time, others return annually for the challenge. This year, JFK 50 Mile has been featuring athletes who are returning for this weekend’s big race on their Facebook page.
To learn more about the JFK 50 Mile, please visit their website for more information.

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