Creston native completes 50-mile ultra-marathon

David JonesSpecial to the Post

December 26, 2012

Sidney Allen, a Creston native who has a love for running, recently completed the John F. Kennedy 50-mile ultra-marathon in Western Maryland.

This was Allen’s 30th time completing the race. Allen, a retired civilian officer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, has resided in Creston for over 15 years after growing up in the community and graduating from Riverview High School in 1956. He has been married to Glenda (Graybeal) Allen for 52 years.

The JFK 50 Mile was first held in the spring of 1963. It was one of numerous such 50-mile events held around the country as part of President John F. Kennedy’s push to bring the country back to physical fitness.

The run begins on Main Street in Boonsboro, Md., and travels up U.S. 40 Alternate until runners reach the Appalachian Trail for about 15 miles. The course follows about 26 miles on the C&O Canal towpath before finishing the last 8.5 miles on paved roads heading to Springfield Middle School in Williamsport, Md. Runners must complete the course within 14 hours to qualify as a finisher.

The JFK 50 has been a family tradition, with Allen completing the race with daughter Elaine Allen Jones (1992 and 1993), daughter Mary Joyce Allen Bland (1986), and son Michael Allen (1976, 1977, and 1980). His grandson, Daniel Jones, also completed the race at age 13 in 2010.

According to Allen, 73, “I was 33 when I first tried. When I first got home, my legs wouldn’t move. I used my hands to move my legs.”

In that first start in 1972, there were no aid stations. Runners were responsible to provide their own support during the race for food, drink, and other needs. Sidney’s wife, Glenda, has accompanied him for the majority of the 50-milers as his support team even after race sponsors began supplying aid stations along the trail.

It wasn’t until Allen’s third start that he was able to finish the event for the first time.

“You simply learn from experience,” Allen said. “Always drink as much as you can and eat something every opportunity you get. If you get thirsty or you get hungry, you can never recover.”

When asked about his strategy for completing the ultra-marathon, Allen suggested, “I never run uphill. I don’t run very much at a time. I run a little and walk a little.” Thirty completions of the JFK 50 Mile are evidence of Allen’s perseverance.

Allen’s best finish is in 10 hours, 46 minutes and 45 seconds. He posted that time in 1982.