East Coast 100-milers don’t come much tougher than Grindstone, and the 2016 edition was no different. The singletrack journey through the Blue Ridge Mountains on Oct. 7-9 in Swoope, Va., was a rain-soaked adventure.
Runners had 38 hours to complete the 101.85-mile course and endure its 23,200 feet of climbing. A total of 179 runners finished, including 21 in less than 24 hours. Adam Watkins of Washington, D.C., got it done the fastest as the 36-year-old finished in 19:39:07.
Four Bay State residents also conquered the difficult course, and Greg Watson led the way. The 45-year-old resident of Boston, Mass., finished 46th overall in 27:16:44 and successfully added Grindstone to a list of 100-mile finishes that also includes Western States and Vermont.
Brighton, Mass., resident Charles Hornbaker capped a monster year of racing with his finish at Grindstone. The 34-year-old – whose 2016 credits include the TARC To Hale and Back 6-Hour, the Goat Hill 50K, the Triple Speedgoat, the Leadville 100, and the Free to Run 50-Miler – placed 62nd overall at Grindstone in 28:38:37.
Michael Agbay of West Boylston, Mass., notched his second finish at Grindstone. He last completed the race in 2012 with a time of 33:11:34. This year he completed the race in 34:08:19.
A little while later, 39-year-old Christopher Agbay of Jefferson, Mass., finished in 34:39:57. Grindstone is his fourth 100-mile finisher’s belt buckle of the year, joining Massanutten, Hardrock and Eastern States in the collection. It also marked the fifth straight year he has finished Grindstone.
Joe English Twilight Challenge
As dusk settled in on Saturday, Oct. 15, runners took off on their first of many loops of the course at the third annual Joe English Twilight Challenge in Amherst, N.H.
A total of 27 runners took part in the six-hour event and set out to make as many trips as possible around the 2.62-mile loop course before the time limit expired. Of those who started, nine ran beyond a marathon including two from Massachusetts.
The top three finished a matter of steps apart. Abe Meyerhofer, 23, of Wasilla, Alaska, covered the most ground – but just barely. He recorded 32.77 miles, good for first place overall. Hillary Johnson, 30, of Albany, N.Y., was credited with 32.76 miles as she claimed top female honors and second overall. Keith Miller, 48, of Concord, Mass., was third overall with 32.75 miles logged.
Jim DeMeritt, 49, of Acton, Mass., was the fourth-place male and eighth overall finisher with 28.82 miles in six hours.
Big Brad Ultras
The fifth running of the Big Brad Ultras featured plenty of climbing and plenty of singletrack for the 50-mile and 50K races on Sunday, Oct. 16, at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, Maine.
The 50-mile race had a 12 1/2-hour time limit and included three 15.5-mile loops of the main course, as well as an additional 3.5-mile mini loop. Overall, the course had 7,500 feet of vertical gain. A total of 25 runners finished the race, including two from Massachusetts. Kylen Solvik, 22, of Woods Hole, Mass., placed 11th overall in 10:30:50, and 48-year-old Mark Belanger of West Newbury, Mass., finished 19th in 11:33:01. Beau Langevin, 37, of Biddeford, Maine, was the overall champion in 8:28:00.
In the 50K race, which involved two 15.5-mile loops of the mostly singletrack course and approximately 4,500 feet of vertical gain, a total of 61 runners finished within the nine-hour time limit. That included 11 runners from Massachusetts.
The top eight runners finished in less than four hours, and the top four all surpassed the previous course record. The fastest of all was 25-year-old Jeffrey Colt of Hanover, N.H., who set a new course standard with his winning time of 4:23:20.
Taylor Scott Berkley was the top Bay State performer. The 22-year-old from Concord, Mass., finished 15th overall in 5:42:19. Sam Farnsworth, 56, of Stow, Mass., was 20th in 5:58:20; and Jeremy Bombard, 42, of Framingham, Mass., finished 30th in 6:28:37.
Additional finishers included Gary Jewett of Beverly, Mass.; Josh Reitz of Millis, Mass.; Kelly Stecker of Boston, Mass.; David Todd of Bedford, Mass.; Nick Lunger of North Andover, Mass.; Mariya Michniewicz of Harwich, Mass.; Bart McCarthy of Beverly, Mass.; and Mike Kelley of Mendon, Mass.
Can Lake 50 Ultra
Massachusetts ultrarunners were among the fastest in the field at the Can Lake 50, a fast, road ultra on Saturday Oct. 8, in Canandaigua, N.Y.
A total of 62 runners completed the 50-mile race, and all three from Massachusetts landed in the top 16.
Tanner Fogarty, 32, of Boston, Mass., was the fourth-place male finisher and seventh overall in a speedy 7:53:27. Joe Fubel, 45, of Winchester, Mass., was 15th overall in 8:28:56; and 50-year-old Paul Guzzi of Millis, Mass., was 16th in 8:59:31.
The overall champion and women’s champion was Neela D’Souza. The 38-year-old from Pickering, Ontario, Canada, blazed to victory in 7:02:46. The men’s champion and third overall finisher was Brad Poppe, 28, of Pittsburgh, Pa., who completed the course in 7:24:30.
The event also included a 50K race, although there were no Massachusetts entrants.
St. Pat’s 24-Hour Race
A total of 41 runners toed the starting line for the seventh-annual St. Pat’s 24-Hour Race on Saturday, Oct. 15, at St. Patrick’s County Park in South Bend, Ind., and all completed at least a 50K. That included Vanessa Bowman. The 46-year-old resident of Lynnfield, Mass., completed 43.4 miles, good for 34th overall. Mark Linn, 52, of Goshen, Ind., logged the most miles of anyone as he completed 111.6 miles and was one of four runners to surpass the century mark.
The event also included 12-hour and 6-hour races, but no Massachusetts residents took part in those.
*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.