Parasiliti: Limits of love, pain put to test by JFK 50
Bob Parasiliti (Joe Crocetta / April 15, 2012)
Max King can attest to that. He was in pain on Saturday and loving every minute of it.
“Wow! That hurt!” he exclaimed as he crossed the finish line of his first JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon, just in front of Williamsport’s Springfield Middle School.
His agony was ecstasy. What wasn’t there to love?
King won the race. It wasn’t just any race, run on just any course to achieve just any accomplishment.
He covered the 50.2-mile course in a record 5 hours, 34 minutes and 58 seconds to win the milestone 50th edition of “America’s Ultramarathon,” the largest, oldest and quite possibly most prestigious such event in the country.
King averaged 6:42 per mile on a rocky course with as many ups and downs as Lindsay Lohan’s career.
And in the completion of the daunting process, King shattered the race record by nearly six minutes. That mark of 5:40:45 was the latest unbeatable mark set by David Riddle just last year, which eclipsed the previously unbeatable mark of 5:46:22 set by Eric Clifton in 1994.
For anyone keeping track, that’s 11 minutes, 24 seconds shaved off the impossible in just two years.
As John Mellencamp says, that’s why it hurt so good.
But with one look around the finishing area, it was easy to see that King’s misery loves company.
The JFK started as a fitness run before evolving into one of distance running’s holy grails.
The notion was born as a health initiative for the military and U.S. citizens by two presidents — first Teddy Roosevelt some 100 years ago as an objective for military officers, before being retooled by John F. Kennedy to promote public fitness in 1963.
It’s now the ultimate test for specialized world-class athletes and Joe Joggers alike.
For some God-forsaken reason, they find pleasure touring the sites between Boonsboro and Williamsport — a 10-mile trip via car — on foot. They would rather climb and descend on the rough terrain known as the Appalachian Trail before running a marathon on the C&O Canal towpath.
Then, it’s topped off by traversing the hilly, paved roadways of Washington County before heading for home — or to school, in this case.
Wow! That hurts!
One by one, runners trickled across the finish line. In the old days, they would find a patch of ground and lay there until the senses they abandoned hours ago caught up with them.
Now, it’s different … much, much different.