Massachusetts ultrarunners headed west last weekend and were among the fastest at the Ruck A Chuck 50K and the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50-miler. Additionally, a recent Bay State resident delivered a strong showing at the Mesquite Canyon 50 in Arizona.
Ruck A Chuck 50K
A lucky draw in the lottery may be required for runners to take part in the Western States Endurance Run, but other ultramarathon opportunities exist for runners to race on Western States’ hallowed trails.
Massachusetts runners have seized those opportunities recently, and they’ve delivered strong performances. For example, Somerville, Mass., resident Eric Ahern raced to a top-10 finish at The Canyons 100K in 2016, on a course that journeyed through Western States’ notorious canyons. Additionally, Newburyport, Mass., resident Maddy McCarthy was the second-place female finisher at the Rio Del Lago 100-miler in November, during which time she enjoyed a few miles on the Western States trail including a crossing of the famous No Hands Bridge.
Add Scot DeDeo to the list of Bay State residents to make the most of their time on the Western States trails. DeDeo, a 36-year-old resident of Belmont, Mass., traveled cross-country to take part in the second annual Ruck A Chuck 50K on Saturday, March 18, in Foresthill, Calif.
The out-and-back course offered runners a taste of the Western States Endurance Run course, specifically near the famous Rucky Chucky water crossing at mile 78 of Western States. It also challenged runners with around 7,000 feet of gain.
DeDeo was up for the challenge.
Of the 120 runners who finished the race, including all but one in less than nine hours, only the top four completed the course in less than five hours. DeDeo was part of that select group.
Mark Austin of Boise, Idaho, delivered the most dominant performance on trails he knows well. Austin, 33, finished 13th overall at the Western States 100 in 2016, finishing in 17:35:27. He hammered the Ruck A Chuck 50K course in 4:06:14 en route to the victory. Lance Doherty, 40, of San Leandro, Calif., was a distant second in 4:19:38, and 40-year-old David Sanderson of Folsom, Calif., finished third in 4:39:14.
DeDeo was the final sub-five-hour finisher. He crossed the finish line fourth in 4:55:08, a solid six minutes ahead of the fifth-place finisher.
Ruck A Chuck was DeDeo’s first big performance of the year as he builds up to the Hennepin Hundred in October.
Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50-Mile
The 100-mile race is the centerpiece of the Antelope Island Buffalo Run. Its 50-mile offering was the more competitive event in 2017, however, and a Massachusetts resident was right in the thick of it on Friday, March 17, in Syracuse, Utah.
Jeremy Scanlan, 34, of Worcester, Mass., found himself among the frontrunners from the early going, and his status in the top 10 was never in doubt.
Sondre Amdahl, 44, of Trysil, Norway, earned the victory in 6:46:55 and was the lone sub-seven-hour finisher. Brian Dugovich, 35, of Corvalis, Ore., was a distant second in 7:01:05. The real battle was for third where Scanlan dueled with Steven Jeffs of Kaysville, Utah, and Justin Larson of Lehi, Utah. The trio were within minutes with each other down the stretch, and the 41-year-old Jeffs held off Scanlan for third in 7:48:17. Scanlan was a little more than a minute back in fourth in 7:49:34. Moments later, the 39-year-old Larson finished fifth in 7:50:53.
A total of 83 runners finished the 50-miler.
No Massachusetts residents took part in the 100-mile race.
Rob Bond cranked out some blistering times at races out east during the past two years, and the Brighton, Mass., resident kicked off his 2017 ultra schedule by heading to one of the oldest races in the west.
Bond toed the starting line with more than 400 other runners at the 25th annual Chuckanut 50K on Saturday, March 18, in Bellingham, Wash., and took on a lollipop loop course that climbed Chuckanut Mountain.
Bond didn’t match his sub-four-hour 50K performances from the 2015 TARC Fall Classic or the 2016 Catamount Ultra, but that was understandable given that the terrain was different and challenged the runners with more than 5,000 feet of vertical gain. Bond still was plenty fast and the 27-year-old was among the top 20 percent of the field as he finished 85th overall in 5:11:20.
Two other Massachusetts residents also took on Chuckanut. Brian McClelland, 33, of Plainville, Mass., finished in 6:31:23. Seng-Lai Tan, 45, of Sudbury, Mass., finished in 8:07:14.
A pair of elite runners did battle at the front of the field as Max King of Bend, Ore., and Hayden Hawks of St. George, Utah, dueled en route to delivering the two fastest times in race history. The 37-year-old King managed a slight edge and secured the victory in a record time of 3:33:11, just 31 seconds ahead of the 26-year-old Hawks.
In what was a remarkably fast year, the top eight runners all finished in less than four hours.
Mesquite Canyon 50
Charles Hornbaker spent the past few years running the trails of Massachusetts to prepare for mountain races across the country while attending Harvard Business School and living in Brighton, Mass.
A newly minted resident of Colorado, Hornbaker is still pursuing big mountains and technical trails. On Saturday, March 18, that meant a trip to Waddell, Ariz., to take on the Mesquite Canyon 50-miler.
The ruggedness of the New England trails prepared Hornbaker to handle the rocky climbs and steep downhills, the sections that required scrambling and the 6,600 feet of vertical gain. Even the 92-degree temperature wasn’t enough to stop him. Hornbaker put together a solid day throughout and raced to a second-place overall finish in 8:57:57 – good for the 10th-fastest time in the eight-year history of the race. He was nearly an hour ahead of the third-place finisher and trailed only 30-year-old David James of Eldorado, Ontario, Canada, who won in 8:32:35.
Thirteen runners finished the 50-mile race, and another 47 finished the 50K.
*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.