The Massachusetts impact was strong at the Holiday Lake 50K++ as Jake Dissinger and Amy Rusiecki delivered strong early-season performances in Virginia. Gregoria Arambula earned a finish at the Rocky 50K in Texas, and Brittany Ames – fresh off the Across the Years 72-Hour event – headed back west for the Golden Gate 50K in California. Additionally, a week earlier Dima Feinhaus completed the Sean O’Brien 100K more than an hour faster than in 2016 while Russ Dresher and Karen Ringheiser completed the 50K in the California event.
Holiday Lake 50K++
Even with its bonus distance – the course measures closer to 32 1/2 miles – the Holiday Lake 50K++ is known for being home to fast times given the two-loop course in Appomattox, Va., has just 2,400 feet of vertical gain. The two Massachusetts runners who took part in the event on Saturday, Feb. 11, threw down some of the fastest times in the field.
Jake Dissinger and Amy Rusiecki were among the top performers as both narrowly missed finishing on the podium. Dissinger, 35, of Northampton, Mass., cruised to a sixth-place overall finish in 4:03:25, less than a minute out of cracking the top five and two minutes out of fourth. A sub-four-hour finish was required to break into the top three. Nick Reed, 25, of Lynchburg, Va., was the overall winner in 3:48:28.
Meanwhile, Rusiecki was among the fastest runners in the pack, too. The 37-year-old from South Deerfield, Mass., was the fourth-place female finisher and 27th overall in 4:35:03. Rusiecki finished less than four minutes behind the third-place female, 23-year-old Ashley Hayes of Blacksburg, Va., and less than six minutes behind second-place female Hannah Bright, 21, of Landenberg, Pa. Laura Sullivan, 20, of Blacksburg, Va., was the top female and 17th overall in a women’s course-record time of 4:18:41.
A total of 222 runners finished the race within the eight-hour time limit.
Dima Feinhaus has spent the better part of the last decade compiling race schedules that include some of the toughest races in New England and the greater northeast, as well as across the United States and around the world. From Japan to the European Alps, from Argentina to Virginia, from the Rocky Mountains to Ashburnham, Mass., Feinhaus has found plenty of tough courses to tackle.
California is on his list for the second year in a row as he made a return trip to the Sean O’Brien 100K on Saturday, Feb. 4, at Malibu Creek State Park in Calabasas, Calif. The course winds through the Santa Monica Mountains and includes around 14,000 feet of gain – no small obstacle for an early-season ultra. Feinhaus was up to the challenge, though as the 53-year-old from Waban, Mass., finished 74th out of 136 finishers in 13:09:06, well within the 16-hour time limit. He knocked more than an hour off of his time from 2016.
Christopher Wehan, 35, of Arcata, Calif., was the overall champion in 8:24:35. The top three runners finished in less than nine hours, and only 13 runners completed the course in less than 10 hours.
The event also included 50K and 50-mile races.
A pair of Massachusetts residents – Russ Dresher and Karen Ringheiser – took part in the challenging 50K race that included more than 6,500 feet of gain.
Dresher’s race schedule in recent years has featured numerous tough courses, including two finishes at the Massanutten 100 in Virginia, a finish at the Run Rabbit Run 100 in Colorado, and the grueling Hyner 50K in Pennsylvania. The Sean O’Brien 50K was his first tough test of 2017, and the 34-year-old from Hudson, Mass., cracked the top 20 by placing 20th overall in 6:11:59.
Meanwhile, Ringheiser made her second straight appearance in the Sean O’Brien 50K. The race served as early preparation for the Vermont 100 for her in 2016. This year, it’s helping her lay the foundation for the Western States 100. Ringheiser, 53, of Newton, Mass., finished 122nd overall in 8:53:53.
Michael Eastburn, 27, of Northridge, Calif, was the overall winner in 4:40:29 and one of just two runners to finish in less than five hours. Emily Kalenius, 37, of Corvalis, Ore., finished fourth overall and was the top female in 5:11:54. A total of 185 runners finished the 50K.
Matthew Zupan, 20, of Malibu, Calif., was the winner of the 50-mile race on a course that included 11,000 feet of vertical gain. Zupan’s winnign time was 7:47:10. Of the 88 finishers in the 50-miler, none were from Massachusetts.
For years, the Rocky Raccoon 50 was lost in the shadow of the iconic Rocky Raccoon 100 given that both events shared the same weekend and same multi-loop course. Now its own standalone event, the Rocky 50 gets the spotlight all to itself.
A week after the running of the Rocky Raccoon 100, the Rocky 50 took place Saturday, Feb. 11, in Huntsville, Texas, and the Bay State was represented in both the 50-mile and 50K events.
Gregoria Arambula represented Massachusetts in the 50K race, and the 33-year-old Brighton resident completed the course in 8:05:51. She placed 134th overall out of 205 starters and 191 finishers. Matt Smith, 38, of San Antonio, Texas, earned the overall victory in 3:56:24. He was the lone sub-4-hour finisher. Maria Sylte, 26, of Houston, Texas, was fifth overall and the women’s champion in 4:28:02.
Massachusetts was also represented in the 50-mile race where 28-year-old Somerville resident Reed Laverack took on the three-loop course. He completed two loops in 8:50:39 before dropping from the race. Anthony Jacobs, 27, of Austin, Texas, won the 50-miler in 6:45:23.
In the 50-mile race, 28-year-old Somerville, Mass., resident Reed Laverack completed two of the course’s three loops before dropping from the race.
Of the 197 runners who started the 50-miler, 158 finished.
Golden Gate 50K
Brittany Ames ushered in 2017 by heading out west to cover more than 100 miles during the Across the Years 72-hour event in Arizona. The 24-year-old from West Bridgewater, Mass., headed back west for another ultra on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Golden Gate 50K in Rodeo Beach, Calif.
Competing on a course that was an even mix of singletrack trail and dirt roads and included more than 6,500 feet of vertical gain, Ames completed the course in 8:50:21.
A total of 45 runners finished the race, led by 28-year-old Rokas Zickevicius of Mountain View, Calif., whose winning time of 5:07:02 was nearly three minutes ahead of runner-up Anthony Munch, 39, of Concord, Calif.
*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.