Let's bring all the Presidents in the history of the United States back in their prime today, give them about a year to train, and make them run a 5K in November 2018. To let you consider all factors, we'll make it a Cross-Country 5K and we'll say it's the first week of November 2018 and the venue is Terre Haute. Weather at the start (9 AM) will be 55 degrees and cloudy, low wind.
I think a few Presidents are going to be out of contention from the start, regardless of training. William Howard Taft, Grover Cleveland, William McKinly, Zachary Taylor, Donald Trump and Chester Arthur do not seem to have the weight a fitness to really be competitive up top. Even with a year of training, I just don't think they have enough time to pull something together.
Some people that I think will contend for the title:
Richard Nixon: He was an avid sports fan, as well a great bowler. There isn't much in his history that indicates he has any great aerobic ability. However, we know he's got the mentality where he'll do anything to win.
Jimmy Carter: Big baseball fan and played softball for a long time. Also has the lightweight frame and build that indicates talent that could really preform if he puts the work in.
Teddy Roosevelt: I know he is a larger framed guy as well, but I see real potential here. I'm mostly looking at the intangibles: he's got toughness and competitiveness you just cannot coach. I won't say he's my favorite, but somebody I definitely would look out for if the race get's out slow.
Ronald Reagan: Reagan will likely be high on a lot of people's lists. He actually has a track background unlike most presidents, and swimming as well which surely helps. Age is definitely a factor here, but Reagan has proven he has what it takes to compete with men 20-30 years younger than him.
John F. Kennedy: The back injury is a concern here, but he has the youth as well as the Harvard swimming pedigree to make me think he will be competitive. Avid golfer. Certainly a fan favorite as well.
Dwight Eisenhower: Famous for his golfing as well, but he was also running-back and linebacker for West Point. Neither golf nor football usually translate to distance running, but considering the field, this shows potential.
Gerald Ford: Ford is largely considered the greatest athlete in presidential history. He played football for Michigan and is a two time national champion. After he left football, he took up swimming. A great athletic background a long with an aerobic base from swimming, definitely somebody to consider for the title.
George H.W. Bush: One of the most active presidents, he has a large baseball and tennis background. I also see a lot of potential in his build.
George W. Bush: Same notes as his father in regards to build, but he might have the best background as a runner. Everyone knows his avid baseball involvement, but not many know he was a pretty serious biker, and even ran a marathon. Hard not to like Jr. in this one.
Barack Obama: Most people are aware of his big basketball background. I see a lot of potential in him, and I also think his youth favors him.
In conclusion, my top 5:
George W. Bush
I think Bush Jr. is going to take it out hard and drop the field early. The chase back is going to whittle down to Obama, Ford and Reagan. Obama is going to have the kick over the older Ford and Reagan, although Ford will be very close. Roosevelt is going to run a gutsy race and be able to pull away from the field in the last kilometer.
Thoughts? Any athletic presidential history I overlooked?