Massachusetts residents Colton Gale and William Rainey Johnson blazed to strong finishes at in Utah at the Moab Red Hot 55K, and Somerville speedster Tim Harder delivered a second-place finish at the Everglades Ultra to leadoff this week’s roundup.
Moab Red Hot 55K
The Moab Red Hot 55K has earned a reputation for being one of the most competitive early-season ultras, and the 2017 edition didn’t disappoint as the 11th running of the event featured a new course-record performance.
Around 200 runners toed the starting line on Saturday, Feb. 18, just northwest of Moab, Utah. Surrounded by views of the La Sal Mountains and Arches National Park in the distance, they took on a course consisting of a mixture of rocks, sand and plenty of iconic slickrock. The race belonged to Hayden Hawks from the start.
Recently removed from a runner-up finish at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships in December after a fierce battle with eventual champion Zach Miller, 25-year-old Hawks of St. George, Utah, took control and made sure the outcome was never in doubt.
Hawks crossed the finish line in a blistering 3:39:22, nearly five minutes faster than Rob Krar’s course-record of 3:44:06 from 2013. A pair of Utah residents, 27-year-old Noah Brautigam and 24-year-old Travis Morrison, did battle for second place with Brautigam claiming the runner-up spot in 4:06:02 and Morrison finishing third nearly two minutes later.
Massachusetts residents were shut out of the top three, but not by much. Colton Gale found himself in the mix near the front of the field.
Gale has rattled off a slew of strong performances since his 14th-place debut performance at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K Championships in late 2012. Following up on a top-10 finish at the Waldo 100K and runner-up finish at the Vermont 50 to close out 2016, the 26-year-old from Beverly, Mass., raced to a fifth-place finish at Moab in 4:23:31. He narrowly missed out on fourth place as 31-year-old Giff Walters of Grand Junction, Colo., edged him out by less than a minute.
Another notable performance was turned in by William Rainey Johnson of Chestnut Hill, Mass. Johnson, 29, hammered out a finishing time of 4:50:11 to place 14th overall out of 198 finishers.
Typically, Tim Harder can be found putting down fast times at short distances while racing for the Somerville Road Runners – he threw down a 2:48:50 at the 2016 Boston Marathon and clocked a course-record 4:44 mile at the Race to the Row Fast Mile competition.
On Saturday, Feb. 17, however, the 31-year-old resident of Somerville, Mass., upped the distance to 50 kilometers at the Everglades Ultra at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park in Copeland, Fla. Not surprisingly, Harder’s performance was fast.
Racing on a mixture of logging roads, singletrack, and gravel roads, Harder held down second place from start to finish and was one of just two runners to finish in less than four hours. His time of 3:55:13 trailed only David Kilgore of Palm Bay, Fla. The 25-year-old Kilgore led from wire to wire and cruised to victory in a course-record time of 3:34:09.
Harder finished 28 minutes ahead of the third-place finisher and was second out of 66 finishers.
Febapple Frozen Fifty
The February edition of the New Jersey Trail Series took place Saturday, Feb. 18, in Maplewood, N.J., with the seventh running of the Febapple Frozen Fifty, a distance-running festival that included 50-mile and 50K races, as well as some non-ultra distances.
Sixteen runners completed the 50-mile race, led by 31-year-old Chris Johnston of Summit, N.J., who won in 7:45:45. Johnson edged 30-year-old Scott Gregor of New Britain, Conn., by two minutes. Dewey DeLisle, 31, of Worcester, Mass., was the lone Bay State resident to take part in the 50-miler, and he finished the five-loop course in 10:59:29, good for 10th-place overall.
Meanwhile, 54-year-old Daniel Rupert of Wilbraham, Mass., was one of 41 runners who took on the three-loop 50K course. He finished in 7:28:01. Ryan Jones, 37, of Morrisville, Pa., was the 50K champion in 4:14:45.
Black Canyon 60K
Heavy rains and flood risks forced the Black Canyon Ultras to use an alternate course for the 100K and 60K races Saturday, Feb. 18, in Mayer, Ariz. That didn’t keep Brian Deneau from reaching the finish line, however.
Deneau, 46, of Bedford, Mass., was the lone Bay State resident to take part in either race. He toed the starting line of the 60K race – which became an out-and-back event that started and finished on the Mayer High School track – and handled the mixture of singletrack trails, jeep roads, and 2,600 feet of vertical gain (nearly all of it during the second half of the race). Deneau finished 59th overall out of 111 finishers in 8:55:26.
Cody Reed, 25, of Flagstaff, Ariz., was the overall winner in 4:41:30. Reed was the lone sub-5-hour finisher. Only 14 runners completed the course in less than seven hours.
*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.