2011 JFK 50 Mile Women’s Preview

A preview of the women’s field at the 2011 JFK 50 Mile.

By on November 17, 2011 | Comments

The women’s JFK 50 mile field may not be as deep as the men’s field we previewed yesterday, but there are a couple standout runners and the chance for a few women to make names for themselves.

With the season she’s having, I’ve got to pick Meghan Arbogast as the solid favorite at this year’s JFK. Like in 2009, she’s yet to win a single ultra of note, but she runs only the most competitive ultras and nearly always performs well. So far this year she’s been third at the Bandera 100k, third at the Way Too Cool 50k, second at the Miwok 100k, and seventh at the Western States 100. Then there’s the crowning run of Arbogast’s solid season, her fifth place run at the 100k World Championships. Her 7:51:10 was a 50+ women’s world 100k record. Michael Wardian’s 100k Championship time was 52 minutes slower than his fastest JFK, so Arbogast certainly has a shot at going under seven hours. As it is, she has the sixth fastest women’s JFK with a 6:56:05 in 2009, when she finished second to Devon Crosby-Helms.

Local runner Ragan Petrie is likely to be Arbogast’s biggest challenge. Petrie’s been logging solid ultra finishes for nearly a decade, but made a big impression when she won the inaugural UROC 100k in 10:11. In May, she finished sixth at Miwok in 10:24. In comparison, Arbogast ran 9:45 at Miwok. Petrie has run JFK previously, finishing seventh in 2007 in 7:55. Her 50 mile PR is 7:47 run at Sunmart in 2002 7:33 run at The North Face Endurance Challenge – DC this year [Thanks, Tom].

There’s an almost shocking lack of returnees from last year’s women’s top 10. The top returned is 23-year-old Jacqueline Palmer, who was fourth at last year’s race in 7:29. Palmer’s logged six ultras in exactly two years of ultrarunning with her debut being JFK ’09. The only other returnee from last year’s top 10 is Keila Merino, who was ninth in 8:07.

Neither last year’s champion, Amy Sproston, nor the previous year’s champ and course record holder, Devon Crosby-Helms, will be running. In fact, the most recent women’s JFK winner scheduled to be on the start in Boonsboro, Maryland this weekend is Bethany Patterson (née Hunter), who won in 2003 in 7:20. Prior to winning JFK, she was also third in 2001 (7:22) and second in 2002 (7:35). Patterson was a staple of the Mid-Atlantic ultra scene from 2001-07, where she’d podium more often than not. In recent years, she stepped back a bit from the competitive ultra scene to start a family. After not racing at all between April 2009 and February 2011, Patterson finished third at the Holiday Lake 50k in February before winning the Dahlgren Heritage Rail Trail 50k in August in 4:24. While she’s not raced 50 miles or longer in more than three years, she’s got twenty such finishs to her name and knows how to get the job done.

Cassie Scallon is one of the field’s dark horses. More or less unknown, she’s run eight ultras in the past year and a half and has consistently placed near the front of the women’s field, including four wins, two of which are overall victories. [Previous sentence corrected thanks for Mr. Meissner.] Of note are Scallon’s 7:45 at last year’s Glacial Trail 50 mile and 4:15 50k last month, also at Glacial Trail. She’s never run JFK, but her beau and iRunFar Coach Sean Meissner has run JFK (6:34 in ’07) and has surely provided her with adequate insight.

Call for Comments

  • Who do you think will win the women’s race and how fast will she run?
  • There’ve got to be a few more dark horses in field. Any fast speedy women we should know about?
Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.