JFK 50 Mile

Coordinates: 39°30′44.5″N 77°39′14″W / 39.512361°N 77.65389°W / 39.512361; -77.65389
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The JFK 50 Mile or the JFK 50 Mile Memorial is an ultramarathon that takes place annually in Washington County, Maryland, United States. The first race was held on 30 March 1963, one of numerous 50-mile (80 km) races that year. After the Kennedy assassination, many of these events were never held again.[1] It is the oldest continuously held ultramarathon in the US.[2][3]

The current course records are held by Hayden Hawks (5:18:40) for men and Sarah Biehl (6:05:42) for women.[4]

The race starts in the town of Boonsboro, Maryland; the official starting line is marked by two commemorative bronze plaques, one on each side of Boonsboro's main street.[5] It then heads east out of town toward the South Mountain Inn. The first 2.3 miles are on a hardball road, which leads to the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail piece is approximately 13 miles. The trail then continues on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal for 26.3 miles, following the canal to Dam #4 on the Potomac River. The final leg of the Race follows 8.4 miles of hardball roads to Williamsport, Maryland.[6] As of 2023, the race has a 13 hour time limit, runners that do not finish in 13 hours are required to withdraw from the race.[7]

The Race is held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.[8]

The current race director is Mike Spinnler.[9]


The JFK 50 was founded in 1963 by William Joseph “Buzz” Sawyer Jr. (1928-2019). It was initially a private club event of the boys of the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club based in Hagerstown, Maryland. With all the 50-mile hikes taking place across the country in 1963, Sawyer decided to organize his own hike for the Club. The 50-miler took place on March 30, 1963, and was called the “CVAC 50 Mile Hike.” The original route started at Boonsboro Junior High School and ended at St. James School in Hagerstown. Ten boys and Sawyer started. Only three boys finished, all age 16, together with Sawyer in 13:10.[10]


  1. ^ Mike Spinnler, "History of the JFK 50 Miler", jfk50mile.org, accessed 14 November 2013.
  2. ^ Triolo, Nicholas (2023-11-15). "America's Oldest Continuously-Held Ultramarathon Is Only Looking Forward". Outside Online. Retrieved 2023-11-19.
  3. ^ Stern, Jeffrey (November 11, 2023). "WHAT'S UP IN ULTRA THIS WEEKEND — NOVEMBER 18". Ultra Running Magazine. Retrieved November 19, 2023.
  4. ^ "All Time JFK 50 Mile Records", jfk50mile.org; Justin Mock, "This Week In Running: November 21, 2016", iRunFar.com.,"Top 50 Women's Performances","jfk50mile.org"
  5. ^ "JFK 50 Mile commemorated in bronze in Boonsboro". AP News. 2023-03-31. Retrieved 2023-11-15.
  6. ^ "Course Info for JFK 50 Mile" Archived 2013-11-27 at the Wayback Machine, jfk50mile.org, accessed 14 November 2013.
  7. ^ Mason, Andy (2015-08-03). "Details". JFK 50 Mile. Retrieved 2023-11-19.
  8. ^ "Historical Results" Archived 2013-11-27 at the Wayback Machine, jfk50mile.org, accessed 14 November 2013.
  9. ^ "History". 7 February 2016.
  10. ^ Crockett, Davy (21 October 2021). "JFK 50 – America's Oldest Ultramarathon". Ultrarunning History. Retrieved 15 February 2022.

External links[edit]

39°30′44.5″N 77°39′14″W / 39.512361°N 77.65389°W / 39.512361; -77.65389