“Kennedy Challenge” Ultramarathon in Western Maryland is “Last of its Kind”
Boonsboro, MD — In the spring of 1963, President John F. Kennedy put forth a challenge to get America moving again. Kennedy was committed to challenging members of the U.S. Military to keep up with a rigorous skillset put in place at the beginning of the 20th Century by then-President Theodore Roosevelt. More than a half-century later, residents of Washington County, Maryland continue their commitment to the former president’s vision, with the annual JFK 50 Mile Ultramarathon.
“The original challenge, to cover 50 miles on foot in one day, was issued by Teddy Roosevelt in the early 1900s. JFK greatly admired Roosevelt and, after a 50-year hiatus, (Kennedy) reissued the ‘Roosevelt/Kennedy Challenge’ during his administration,” explained Mike Spinnler, Race Director for the JFK 50 Mile. Spinnler is not only the Race Director for the JFK 50 Mile, he is also a past participant and two-time winner, “This event is conducted annually in Washington County, and it’s the last surviving ‘Kennedy Challenge’ event existing in the United States.”
Following Kennedy’s death, which happened just a few months after the inaugural nationwide Kennedy Challenge, many communities decided not to continue the JFK 50 Mile, or held a memorial run in its place, as Washington County did in 1964. For Spinnler, who competed from 1971 through 1990, and has served as race director since 1993, the credit for the race’s longevity and success is one shared by many, “We get amazing community support from local government, local businesses, hundreds of local residents who volunteer their time and energy, as well as the amazing assistance from Dan Spedden and his staff with the Hagerstown/ Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.”
Baltimore’s Largest Running Event Has Raised More than $14 Million for charity since 2001
BALTIMORE, MD — Tens of thousands of people are expected in downtown Baltimore on Saturday for the Baltimore Running Festival. The festival, entering its 19th year, has become part of the sports fabric of the city, woven into Baltimore’s most storied sports traditions. However, the first running of the Baltimore Marathon came at an uncertain time for both the city and the country, held just one month following the September 11th terrorist attacks.
“It was a challenging period of uncertainty for our city and country as people were unsure what to do,” said Dave Gell, Director of Communications for Corrigan Sports Enterprises. “That first edition eventually launched us down a road of tremendous local pride, and we’ve been able to build on that momentum every year.”
With up to 20,000 runners expected from across the United States, and 17 foreign countries, the event has grown into something much larger than a day of racing. “We host dozens of events throughout the year across the country, and the Baltimore Running Festival is our biggest event in terms of participants, scope and economic impact. This event has evolved into a city tradition unlike any other as we approach our 20th anniversary next year, and we’re thrilled to write the next chapter,” Gell added.
Dorchester residents, businesses open doors to thousands of visitorsnext week
CAMBRIDGE, MD — Known for its scenic byways and picturesque shorelines, Dorchester County is a haven for anyone who loves the outdoors. While the area is sought out by vacationers and weekend visitors because of its relaxed and laid back way of life, over the last decade, Dorchester County has made a name for itself as a premier destination for the highly competitive triathlon circuit, namely because of its partnership with IRONMAN.
Dorchester County Tourism, along with officials from the City of Cambridge, are gearing up for the kickoff of the IRONMAN Maryland triathlon, which takes place Saturday, September 28. The competition is much more than a one-day event, it is the highlight of five-days of festivities, which celebrates the union between one of the most recognized brands in all of sports and one of the largest counties, by land area, in the state of Maryland.
“IRONMAN has been an incredible partner over the years. The establishment of the IRONMAN Maryland race six-years-ago catapulted Dorchester County to the international stage for endurance racing,” said Amanda Fenstermaker, Director of Dorchester County Tourism. In that time, Fenstermaker says the county has seen a more than $25 million economic impact throughout the local community, the region, and the state.
“The overall impact is significant based on the number of athletes and spectators that will be in Cambridge,” said Keats McGonigal, Senior Regional Director of the Mid-Atlantic Upper South Region for IRONMAN. “We have about 2,500 athletes registered. Each one of these athletes brings about two to four people with them, so we estimate about 10,000 people coming to Cambridge for the weekend,” McGonigal added.
OBGC Capital Cup features top competition at premiere facilities, fundraising for Senior Dog Sanctuary in Anne Arundel County
COLUMBIA, MD — Labor Day weekend is generally thought of as the unofficial end of summer and the start of a new school year. In Maryland’s Central and Capital regions, the holiday weekend marks the return of one of the premier soccer events in the Mid-Atlantic. TheOBGC Capital Cup gets underway Saturday, with match play continuing through Monday, as some of the top club soccer teams from around the country will square-off at some of the top facilities in Howard and Montgomery counties.
“For many teams, the event is the start of their fall season and the first time they’ve played together, either since the spring or on a new team,” said Elle Marks, Business Development Manager for Elite Tournaments. Marks says the OBGC Capital Cup has become a perennial event for many organizations because of the quality of competition, tournament atmosphere and the facilities being used. Tournament play will take place at Lucido Fields at Covenant Park in Ellicott City, as well as various fields in the Olney area, including OBGC Community Park at Freeman Fields.
Meeting provides opportunity for new partnerships and ideas exchange
BALTIMORE, MD — In the first meeting of its kind, the Maryland Sports Commission hosted a delegation of representatives from Tongxiang, China on Friday. Several members of the Tongxiang government, along with heads of state television and radio stations, arrived in Baltimore as part of an international trade mission. The goal was for Tongxiang officials to discuss strategies aimed at developing the sport tourism industry and the potential for future partnerships between that region and the state of Maryland.
“We welcome any opportunity to connect with potential partners, whether it’s organizations from within the United States or internationally,” said Terry Hasseltine, Executive Director of the Maryland Sports Commission. “Whenever there is the opportunity to grow the sport tourism industry for the state of Maryland, we’re always interested in getting together to learn more and to share the successes we’ve experienced.”
Pan Minfang, Member of the Standing Committee and Head of the Publicity Department for the Tongxiang Municipal Committee, said that this was the first delegation from Tongxiang to visit Maryland as part of an officially sanctioned government meeting, although she previously came to the state back in 2003. Speaking through an interpreter, Minfang joked that Tongxiang is a “small town” by Chinese standards, boasting a population of more than 1.2 million people. Minfang said the delegation was in Baltimore with the hopes of developing international cooperation and partnerships and to learn about the success of the sport tourism industry in the United States.
Players from across the state to take part in the first-ever “Cricket Day” at Camden Yards
BALTIMORE, MD — Though it’s popularity on the international stage is much larger than in the United States, the game of cricket has found a home here in Maryland. Currently, there are more than 500 children playing organized organized cricket in Maryland – one of the largest percentages in the United States. That’s according to Jamie Harrison, Chairman of the Maryland Youth Cricket Association (MYCA).
“We are the nation’s leader in youth cricket participation, and it’s not even a contest,” said Harrison, who has been working to build the sport in the state since the late 2000s. When he began working to organize the MYCA in 2010, Harrison says there were no organized youth cricket leagues in Maryland. At that time, there were established men’s leagues in the D.C. -Metro area but no real efforts in place to grow the game through local communities.
Earlier this month, the MYCA announced a new partnership with the Baltimore Orioles, as the franchise is set to host its first-ever “Cricket Day” on Sunday, August 11th against the Houston Astros. “Cricket has a long and storied history in Maryland, and it’s great to see the Orioles getting behind its resurgence,” said Harrison. He believes that baseball fans can easily find cricket appealing, as many players have made the transition between the two sports, “The games share a common ancestry with many similar elements. It’s only natural that baseball fans would be cricket fans and vice-versa.”
Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game will be 14-year-old Lisa Ramjit of Bowie. The Prince George’s county resident shined this year for Team USA. Ramjit started by taking the first-ever International T20 wicket in USA Women’s cricket history on just her second ball, going on to become the top T20 International wicket-taker in USA Women’s Cricket history.
Ramjit started playing cricket at the age of seven for the 11U ball team of the Boys and Girls Club of Bowie. The areas of the state seeing the largest growth and popularity have been in the metropolitan areas, specifically Montgomery, Howard and parts of Prince George’s Counties, according to Harrison.
“Since 2010, I’ve personally placed free cricket sets in hundreds of schools in Maryland and taught the game to thousands of students,” said Harrison, who admits that it’s been more than an individual effort, “In 2011, I met Sham Chotoo from the Boys and Girls Club of Bowie. I brought him into MYCA and his activity in schools has even surpassed me.”
A Chance Encounter at an Unlikely Place
As a teacher at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Baltimore, Harrison went on a field trip with students to a Civil War site in Virginia in 2008. That is where he was first introduced to the game. Harrison recalls the class watching a cannon-firing demonstration when “a man in period clothing called out to our group, asking if we would like to play cricket.” Harrison said the sport was being demonstrated as “an artifact of America’s past” and that when his students returned to school the following week, they couldn’t stop talking about it.
“It was during this time that I saw how quickly American children would take to cricket if they were just given a chance. I began to think about the broader implications of this,” Harrison remembered. Over the next year, Harrison said that he and his students started learning the game together and that they quickly went from using plastic sets to playing tennis ball cricket. Before they knew it, Harrison said that he and his students were playing the game with the same equipment and rules as the international game.
Just as the club began to take off, the Archdiocese of Baltimore announced the closure of Cardinal Gibbons in 2010. “I couldn’t let the sport go. I decided to found the MYCA with the purpose of placing free cricket sets in Maryland schools and give instructions to PE teachers,” Harrison said.
It was around this time that Harrison started hearing from people around the country who shared a similar passion for the game that he did. He partnered with cricket enthusiasts from around the U.S. to help form the United States Youth Cricket Association (USYCA). The USYCA worked to raise money, donating more than 2,000 cricket sets and training to schools throughout the United States. Harrison left the USYCA in 2016 to place his sole focus on growing the sport in the state of Maryland.
The Old “Boundary” State
Since turning his attention to Maryland, Harrison says the MYCA has grown into the nation’s only statewide junior competition organization. He credits Chotoo for his work in Prince George’s County, which has the only elementary and middle school competition teams in the state. Maryland is also the only representative state team in the country, which competes in regional and national tournaments at the U12, U14 and U16 age groups.
In less than a decade, cricket is beginning to gain traction beyond the metro areas with clubs in Carroll County, the Lutherville-Timonium area of Baltimore County and in the Anne Arundel County communities of Linthicum and Ferndale, where Harrison coaches. Because of the growth in the state, Maryland’s Sports Commission awarded the MYCA with a grant for $2,500 in 2018.
“When most people think cricket, they don’t necessarily think about the United States, let alone Maryland. Our hope is that the perception changes,” said Terry Hasseltine, Executive Director of Maryland’s Sports Commission. “Through the partnership between the MYCA and Maryland Sports, our goal is to promote the state of Maryland as a destination for future championships and tournaments for the game of cricket, especially as its popularity grows in the U.S. More importantly though, we want to make sure that the children in this state have the ability to build upon their skills and give them the opportunity to pursue their passion.”
For the Orioles first “Cricket Day”, $5 of every “Cricket Ticket” sold will go to benefit youth cricket in Maryland. Children who attend the game in their cricket uniforms will also receive a special “6”/ “Home Run” sign to waive in the stands.
Harrison is hoping the partnership with the Orioles will further promote and enhance the popularity of the game. “I can easily imagine a child who’s never been exposed to cricket seeing children at the game, wearing these interesting uniforms, having fun with their “6” signs and the kids who don’t play cricket asking their parents, ‘What’s that about? It might spark some curiosity, maybe among the parents, too. I hope so, anyway.”
For more information about the Maryland Youth Cricket Association, visit:
The mission of Maryland’s Sports Commission is to enhance Maryland’s economy, image and quality of life through the attraction, promotion, retention and development of regional, national and international sporting events.