Handicapping the JFK fieldNovember 14, 2007
The JFK 50 Mile is my kind of course — mostly on smooth paths and roads. I’ll be disappointed if I don’t go sub-6:00 on Saturday, and if I can indeed run 5:50-something, I should contend for the overall win. Nevertheless, this year’s field is an outstanding one. Entrants such as the following may give me all I can handle, and perhaps more:
Pete Breckinridge (bib #1). Shocked everyone last year with a surprise victory (6:04:40) — apparently in his first ultramarathon ever and first serious race since the mid-’90s. Could be tough to beat now that he has another year of training and a few more races under his belt.
Dave Mackey (bib #834). Won the 2003 JFK in 5:55:30, the #4 time in the race’s 44-year history. Completed a Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim traverse in a new record of 6:59:56 this past Sunday, according to the Ultralist, so may not be at his absolute best on Saturday.
Michael Wardian (bib #7). Known to some as the former owner of the treadmill marathon world record (2:23) and current owner of the baby jogger marathon world record (2:42). May have the best raw leg speed of anyone in the field; should do well if he has recovered from the Olympic Trials marathon two weekends ago, his 12th marathon of the year.
Mark Lundblad (bib #62). Placed 4th (6:20) in 2004 and 5th (6:24) in 2005. A breakthrough performance at last month’s Tussey Mountainback 50-Miler, which he won against top-notch competition, suggests that he’s ready to have his best JFK race yet.
Eric Grossman (bib #81). A professor of education at Emory & Henry College in Virginia, Grossman has also taught his fellow trail runners a thing or two, with wins in such major races as the 2006 Mountain Masochist 50-Miler.
Zachariach Miller (bib #92). Four years ago, Miller tied for 2nd with Grossman, each clocking 6:10. Two weekends ago, he eked out a 2-minute victory over Grossman at the Mountain Masochist 50. Both men will be factors here if they’ve recovered from that last duel.
Mike Morton (bib #837). Placed 5th in 6:08 way back in 1994, the year Eric Clifton set the JFK course record of 5:46:22. Subsequently set outstanding course records at the Vermont 100 in 1995 and the Western States 100 in 1997. I have no idea what he’s been doing since then, but if there’s anyone with the talent to launch a Breckinridge-like comeback, it’s this guy.
I don’t know as much about the women’s field, but Mark Lundblad’s wife Anne (bib #5) is the women’s course record holder (6:29:42) and has to be considered the favorite.
Krissy Moehl (bib #69) has 18-minute 5K speed, which could allow her to keep up with Lundblad, but she may may tired from the recent Masochist race. 2005 Western States titlist Annette Bednosky (bib #22) is yet another runner who will place highly if she’s recovered from Mountain Masochist, where she was 2nd behind Nikki Kimball. Hillary Biscay (bib #2) has the coolest website of anyone in the field, and it documents her considerable success in Ironman triathlons. Dr. Carol O’Hear (bib #19) could do well if her residency is allowing her some time to train.
Other past champions slated to return this year are Ed Ayres (1977; bib #77),
David Horton (1985; bib #85), 4-time winner Eric Clifton (1991, 1994, 1995, 1997; bib #839), and Sue Johnston (1999; bib #4).
Ian Torrence (bib #832) has never snared an individual victory at JFK, coming closest with runner-up finishes in 2004 and 2005. However, he’s been a scoring member of the winning team — the team whose top three finishers have the lowest combined time — for at least the last nine years in a row! It’s as safe a bet as any that his squad this year — The Langoliers, consisting of himself, Mackey, Scott Wolfe (bib #833), and Mark Godale (bib #835) — will keep the streak alive.
Update for November 15: Krissy Moehl and David Horton have scratched, according to race director Mike Spinnler.