Siskiyou Out Back 50K
After training near sea level for most of the year, Harvard University Ph.D. candidate and Somerville, Mass., resident Luke Willert tested his distance-running abilities at altitude out West.
Willert, 25, competed in the Siskiyou Out Back 50K ultramarathon on Saturday, July 23, in Ashland, Ore., on a course that rests between 6,000 and 7,100 feet above sea level – quite the change from Somerville, which is 12 feet above sea level.
Altitude be darned, however. It didn’t prevent Willert from performing at a high level. Racing on a course that included a mixture of single-track trail and dirt and gravel roads, as well as a portion of the course being on the Pacific Crest Trail, Willert placed sixth overall out of 204 finishers.
Willert was three minutes out of the top five, and 10 minutes ahead of the seventh-place runner. Eric Ghelfi, 24, of Ashland, Ore., won the race in 3:41:51, the seventh-fastest time in the history of the course.
A 1.5-mile loop might not seem daunting at the outset, but try running it over and over and over again. Eventually the physical challenge from repeating the loop can become magnified by mental fatigue. That’s one of the unique obstacles presented by timed loop races such as the Montour 24.
A handful of Bay Staters took on the loop course challenge at the Montour 24 on Saturday, July 23, and Sunday, July 24, at the Hess Recreation Area in Danville, Pa. The event included a 24-hour run, 12-hour day and night race options, and a six-hour event.
Tom Bleakney represented the Bay State in the 24-hour event. The 46-year-old from Scituate, Mass., completed 33 loops and 49.5 miles, good for 54th out of 88 participants. Two runners – Serge Arbona, 51, of Parkville, Md., and Jasmine Chiaramonte, 40, of Meadowbrook, Pa. – ran more than 100 miles. Arbona finished with 111 miles and Chiaramonte finished with 100.5.
Meanwhile, 49-year-old Kathleen Kaplan of Sharon, Mass., finished fifth out of 38 runners in the 12-hour day time event. Kaplan completed 33 loops and 49.5 miles. Stephany Manny, 35, of Virginia Beach, Va., ran the most with 67.5 miles.
Another notable 12-hour performance was turned in by 75-year-old Vivian Bleakney of Hingham, Mass. She completed 20 loops and 30 miles, as did 48-year-old Jennifer Bleakney of Scituate, Mass.
No Massachusetts residents partook in the 12-hour night race.
Additionally, two more Bleakneys were among the 34 participants in the six-hour event, although they didn’t record ultramarathon distances. Thomas Bleakney, 13, of Scituate, ran 24 miles, and 76-year-old Hingham resident Tom Bleakney ran 15 miles.
*Editor’s Note: Results are found on a variety of sites, including ultrasignup.com, UltraRunning Magazine, and official race websites. We do the best we can to find as many results as possible to report on and recognize the local ultrarunning community.