More than 20 ultras took place around the United States last weekend, and Massachusetts was represented in at least three of them. The most notable was in nearby New York where Bay State residents were among the fastest at the USATF 50K National Championship at Caumsett State Historic Park.
Caumsett Park 50K
The USA Track & Field 50K National Championship returned to Caumsett State Historic Park on Sunday, March 5, in Lloyd Harbor, N.Y., tempting runners to push the pace on multiple loops of a fast, paved 5K loop through the scenic park.
The event offered two divisions for the ultra race – a championship competition and an open competition. The championship event included 62 runners counting one Bay State resident – 20-year-old Boston resident Robert Lafrance. Lafrance earned a spot in the top quarter of the field as he blazed to a 13th-place overall finish in 3:51:14. Tyler Jermann, 24, of Flagstaff, Ariz., earned the national title in a blistering 2:48:56 and knocked more than three minutes off the old course record of 2:52:17 which was set by Zachary Ornelas in 2015.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts made a strong showing in the open division as three of the top seven finishers hailed from the Bay State. John Kemp, 49, of Sheffield, Mass., was the winner of the open division – and 10th overall in the combined standings – with a speedy time of 3:37:49. It marked the second year in a row that Kemp competed at Caumsett Park, and he knocked a full 10 minutes off his time from 2016.
The top female finisher in the open division also hailed from Massachusetts. Katka Smolarova, a 27-year-old Boston resident, cruised through 10 laps of the course in 3:58:38, securing first-place female honors in the division and fourth overall. She placed 18th overall and was the third-fastest female in the combined standings. Another Boston resident, 31-year-old Palo Cvik, finished seventh overall in the open division and 29th in the combined standings with his time of 4:16:17. Additionally, 63-year-old Lee Dickey of Dracut, Mass., finished 42nd in the open division in 6:36:45 during his seventh appearance at the event.
Fifty-two runners competed in the open division.
Two Massachusetts residents finished one of the most cleverly named races in the northeast on Saturday, March 4, when they took on the Naked Bavarian 40-miler in Leesport, Pa.
James Diggins of Norwell, Mass., and Kelly Adams of Hingham, Mass., both tackled the two-loop course at Blue Marsh Lake which consisted of extensive smooth singletrack, some rolling hills and around 4,000 feet of vertical gain. Both Bay State residents finished in the top half of the field.
Diggins, 48, finished 29th overall in 7:35:08, and Adams, 40, placed 42nd in 7:59:19.
Rich Heffron, 33, of Ithaca, N.Y., was the fastest of the 84 runners to complete the race. He posted a winning time of 5:09:21 and was one of five runners to finish in less than six hours. The top female finisher, 36-year-old Maggie Guterl of Paoli, Pa., finished seventh overall in 6:09:39.
Colin and Kimberly Wickes changed their race-day plans for the Mississippi 50, but that didn’t keep the residents of Norton, Mass., from crossing the finish line Saturday, March 4, in Laurel, Miss.
Both were entered in the 50-mile race, but they opted to switch to the 50K distance that wound through the De Soto National Forest on a mixture of singletrack and doubletrack trails. The change of plans worked out as Kimberly Wickes, 32, finished in 8:09:04 and Colin Wickes, 33, completed the course in 8:58:34.
A total of 115 runners finished the 50K distance in less than 11 hours. Just 32 runners completed the 50-mile race.
Fresh off a top-10 finish at the Bandera 50K in January, 28-year-old Texan Christopher Payton was the overall winner of the 50K in a speedy 4:05:06. Christie Barber, 40, of Crystal Springs, Miss., finished fifth overall and was the women’s 50K champion in 5:14:56. It was her second time claiming top-female honors at the event. She won the race in 2014 and finished third in 2012 and 2013.
Jay McCurdy, 32, of Starkville, Miss., was the 50-mile champion in 7:22:21 and the lone sub-eight-hour finisher. Mandy Nolan, 41, of Louisiana was seventh overall and the top female finisher in 8:47:39.
*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.