MassUltra Roundup: Big Cedar, Pinhoti, and Mountain Masochist

From a championship at the Big Cedar 100, to a strong showing at the Pinhoti 100, and a runner-up at the Mountain Masochist 50-miler, the Bay State represented strong at out-of-state races last weekend.

Big Cedar 100

Eric Despres was the lone representative of Massachusetts to toe the starting line of the Big Cedar 100 on Nov. 4-5 at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas, but the resident of Athol made his presence felt.

Despres, 41, was the fastest runner in the 100-mile field when he took on the six-loop course that consisted of a mix of singletrack and doubletrack trails. Despres cruised to victory in 25:04:41, well over an hour ahead of overall runner-up Rebecca Gartrell, 44, of San Antonio, Texas.

Despres’ winning time was the third-fastest in the three-year history of the event.

Of the 33 runners who started the race, only 13 finished.

The event also included 50-mile and 50K races, but no Massachusetts residents took part in those distances.

Pinhoti 100

Joseph D’Alessio’s year of tough running now includes a redemption race.

A year ago, the 40-year-old resident of Boston, Mass., traveled to Heflin, Ala., to take on the Pinhoti 100-mile race. On Nov. 5-6, he returned to Heflin for another crack at the point-to-point course that winds its way across the Talladega National Forest, through a seemingly endless stretch of singletrack trail, and ultimately to the football stadium at Sylacauga High School. This time, D’Alessio would not be denied.

D’Alessio placed 17th overall out of 146 finishers. He was one of 31 to finish in less than 24 hours, crossing the finish line in 22:27:13.

David Riddle, 35, of Cincinnati, Ohio, blazed to victory in a course-record time of 16:24:15, more than 18 minutes ahead of Karl Meltzer’s old course record and more than 2 1/2 hours ahead of the second-place finisher.

Pinhoti is the latest in a string of major performances for D’Alessio this year. His finish-line credits in 2016 include the 70.5-mile Laurel Highlands Ultra in Pennsylvania, the Bear 100 in Utah, and the Fat Dog 120 in British Columbia.

Mountain Masochist 50M

Brian Rusiecki made his sixth straight trip to Lynchburg, Va., for the Mountain Masochist 50-miler on Saturday, Nov. 5, and he found himself in familiar territory battling for the title.

Rusiecki, 38, of South Deerfield, Mass., was in pursuit of 21-year-old Clark Messman throughout the day, but he was unable to track down the standout from Walnut Creek, Calif.

Messman closed out his Mountain Masochist debut by just barely holding off Rusiecki for the victory. Messman’s winning time was 7:08:05. Rusiecki finished just 54 seconds later in 7:08:59, nearly 20 minutes ahead of third-place Matt Thompson, 36, of Crozet, Va.

For Rusiecki, the performance marked the third time he has finished second at Mountain Masochist, matching his debut performance in 2011 and his finish in 2014. He was the race champion in 2012 and 2013, and also finished third in 2015.

Aliza Lapierre, 36, of Williston, Vt., was the women’s champion and 12th finisher overall in 8:19:37.

Donna Utakis, 48, of Amherst, Mass., finished 90th overall in 10:33:25. It was Utakis’ 10th time finishing the Mountain Masochist including the eighth time in the last nine years.

Additionally, 42-year-old Brenda Phillips of Arlington, Mass., finished in 12:03:00. It was her latest major ultra this year, joining the Vermont 50-miler and Laurel Highlands 70.5 on her list of successful finishes.

A total of 210 runners finished the race.

*Editor’s Note: Results are found on a variety of sites, including, 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.

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