WESTON, Mass. – Uncertainty abounded during the early hours of the TARC Spring Classic.
Indecisive weather fluctuated Saturday morning between a light drizzle, cool and calm, and a steady rain before giving way to sunshine and heat. Meanwhile, the action on the course proved to be equally unpredictable when a race that seemingly was decided early took a dramatic turn with 10 kilometers to go.
Luke Willert, 25, of Somerville, Mass., took control of the race from the opening strides. He darted to the front of the pack and established himself as the front-runner early in the first 10K loop of the five-loop course. Eric Ahern, Marek Telus and Brandon Baker were in hot pursuit, but Willert remained in control through the second and third loops, navigating the course’s minimum technicality of small rocks, short hills, and occasional patches of tree roots, and pulled further ahead with each trip around the winding course.
Willert opened up about a 15-minute lead by the time he completed his fourth loop, a margin that appeared comfortable but not insurmountable. No late chase was necessary to track him down, though. Willert dropped from the race with one loop remaining in order to preserve his legs for an upcoming marathon.
The race was now on between Ahern, Telus and Baker. Ahern – who earned a hard-fought victory at the 2013 Spring Classic 50K by just 2 1/2 minutes – closed the 2016 race strong and won with a nearly five-minute cushion in 4:10:37.
Ahern, 38, of Somerville, Mass., is the first two-time overall winner in the six-year history of the Spring Classic.
Telus, 40, of Hopkinton, N.H., finished second in 4:15:22; and Baker, 29, of Lebanon, N.H., placed third in 4:19:53. Also in the hunt were fourth-place runner Peter Lawry, 36, of Charlestown, N.H., who finished in 4:24:18, and fifth-place finisher Zak Wieluns, 36, of Portland, Maine, who crossed the finish line in 4:28:01.
Meanwhile, the women’s Spring Classic champion earned her victory on home turf. Weston resident Jayne Hetherington, 35, placed 13th overall and was the first female to finish, completing five loops of the course in 4:56:24. Hetherington held off Leah Lawry, 32, of Charlestown, N.H., who finished a distant second in 5:08:32. Niveen Ismail, 34, of Florence, Mass., was the third female finisher in 5:23:25.
The Spring Classic provided an ideal opportunity for both seasoned and first-time ultrarunners to take on the 50K distance, and there were plenty of both. A total of 98 runners completed the race. In addition to the ultra distance, the Spring Classic also included 10k, half-marathon, and marathon distances. Collectively, more than 300 runners completed one of the distances offered.
Course Records Stand
Although fast times were turned in on Saturday, neither the men’s nor women’s course record fell. Scott Traer’s time of 3:24:51 still stands as the men’s record, as does Megan Hovis’ time of 4:16:35 for the women. Both marks were set at the 2012 Spring Classic.
Environmentally Friendly Event
Recycling has long been a standard practice at Trail Animals events, and the club continues to take steps to decrease its environmental footprint. TARC races have gone cup-free, meaning runners must either carry their own reusable cup for drinks such as ginger ale or Coke at aid stations, or use their water bottles.
TARC took its environmental friendliness a step further during the Spring Classic when co-Race Director Michael McDuffie brought compost buckets to better dispose of orange and banana peels as well as other similar aid station waste.
According to TARC’s Josh Katzman, only two bags of trash were generated during the event while 3 1/2 bags of materials were recycled and four compost buckets were filled.
TARC Trail Series Continues
April was a busy month for TARC’s ultra events with the “Don’t Run Boston” 50K on April 17 and the Spring Classic on April 23. Up next for the TARC Trail Series is Wapack and Back. That event, which features 43-mile and 50-mile ultramarathon races and a 21.5-mile race, takes place May 7 in Ashburnham, Mass. All three distances are sold out.