Navigating a single lane wooded trail, rocks everywhere, people going down, and fighting against a 19-hundred foot elevation gain in the first four miles, he would not be deterred.
Digging deep into his reserve of perseverance, Maj. William Friedline not only found the strength to continue the race but also motivated his peers to complete the 57th Annual JFK 50-Mile Run, November 23, in Boonsboro, Md.
The JFK 50 miler 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 a good state of physical fitness.
The inspiration behind the event came from then-President Kennedy challenging his military officers to meet the requirements that Teddy Roosevelt had set for his own military officers at the dawn of the 20th Century. That Roosevelt requirement was for all military officers to be able to cover 50 miles on foot in 20 hours to maintain their commissions.
Friedline, from Mars, Pennsylvania enlisted into the Army on September 30th, 1996 serving eleven years, before attending Officer Candidate School and achieving the rank of second lieutenant.
He is the 10th Mountain Division Artillery human resources officer and helps manage Division Fires, DIVARTY, and his also team has oversight of the intelligence officer and the operations officer, as well as field artillery battalions with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams in the division.
"I already had a good base because of my training, but when I saw what it took to prepare, I drastically increased my regiment for the 50 miles. I actually ran about 900 miles in four months just to train for this," said Friedline.
He has been running long distances since 2013. Friedline's primary distance is the half marathon. He ran a half marathon in 2013, half in 2014, a full marathon in 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky, a full marathon in 2016, and he ran the Munich marathon in 2017.
"I run one full marathon a year, that way I can run a half marathon at any time," said Friedline.
His training consisted of three to four miles at 5:15 in the morning every day before PT. He ran seven days a week, six to eight miles a day.
"My training schedule had me running six days a week with an off day of Monday. There is no off day on Monday in the Army, so I'm running seven days a week, and I was in the gym lifting weights five out of those seven. I was generally running seven to eight miles a day," said Friedline.
Maj. Friedline's rigorous schedule rarely allows for adequate rest, not to mention the toll it has taken on his family.
"It was tough on my family because of the training. Saturday and Sunday I run long-distances, 20 miles each day. I'll be gone three to four hours just running. My work week consisted of getting up at 4 a.m. to run, leaving work at 7 p.m., and I'm in bed by 9 p.m. So the family runs with me," said Friedline.
On November 23, 2019, Maj. Friedline started the JFK 50 miler as one of 962 participants and finished as the 414th competitor to cross the finish line.
"I've been in the Army since 1996 and hated running, but once I learned the science behind it I grew to love it," he said. "It's a positive challenge and it's about increasing the challenge. Will I run a 100k? Probably. Not looking to in the next couple of years, but that's the next challenge, that's the next step."