Midshipman to compete in her first JFK 50 Mile

Brittany Churchey dedicates the miles to a person or idea as she runs

Brittany Churchey dedicates the miles to a person or idea as she runs

November 17, 2009|By BRIDGET DiCOSMO

Editor's note: This is the third story in a six-part series about some of the people who will compete in the JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon Saturday in Washington County.

o Couple plans to finish third JFK ultramarathon together

o Greencastle man hopes to complete fifth JFK 50 Mile

o Rhoderick takes challenges in stride during JFK 50

o For Kitchen, the JFK 50 is grueling and special


The fitness buff had never eaten one of the sandwiches in her life, but after running 26.2 miles, "it tasted wonderful," she said.

Churchey, a 21-year-old second-class midshipman (third-year student) at the U.S. Naval Academy, will attempt to complete her first ultramarathon, the JFK 50 Mile, this weekend.

The JFK 50 Mile is America's oldest ultramarathon. The event, which will be Saturday, takes participants from Boonsboro to Williamsport along paved roads, the Appalachian Trail and the C&O Canal towpath.

Churchey ran track and cross country at North Hagerstown High School, but she didn't take an interest in marathons until recently.

Motivated by her own fitness goals, Churchey said she felt drawn to competing because of the camaraderie that develops between runners.

"You make friends, because you get bored running 26 miles," Churchey said.

Fighting boredom while running is a mental game Churchey has learned to play. She said she often will come up with a person or idea to focus on for a certain length of time during the race.

"I'll dedicate that mile to someone," Churchey said.

During a recent long run, she found herself thinking about her grandmother's struggle with diabetes, she said.

"I thought, 'Well, hey, she went through a lot more pain than I did,' so I dedicated that mile to her," Churchey said.

Churchey runs about 30 miles a week, alternating between long runs and four- to five-mile runs, she said.

She said she likely will stick with her pre-race routine of dinner with her parents the night before Saturday's race. Churchey said she usually favors a big helping of pasta to "carbo-load."

She said her mother, Patricia Friend, always stays with her the night before a race for personal support. Getting a good night's sleep, however, is usually out of the question.

"Pre-race jitters," Churchey said. "I can never fall asleep earlier than midnight."

The Churchey file

Name: Brittany Churchey

Age: 21

Residence: Annapolis

Occupation: Student at U.S. Naval Academy

Number of JFK finishes: First attempt

JFK in one word: "Challenge"

Coming Thursday: Meet Matt McDonald, a 39-year-old elementary school teacher from Greencastle, Pa., who has finished as high as fourth in the JFK 50 Mile.

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