April 1-2 was a busy weekend for ultramarathons nationwide, and plenty of Massachusetts runners stepped to the starting line at out-of-state events. Five races made this week’s roundup, and others may be rolled into next week’s roundup as results and details are still coming in.
This week, Natick’s Matthew Knights made his 100-mile debut with a speedy performance at Umstead and 100-mile veteran Adena Schutzberg of Somerville also snagged a buckle; South Deerfield’s Brian Rusiecki returned to the top of the podium with a victory at the Naked Prussian; Quincy’s Greg Soutiea threw down more than 120 miles at the Run4Water; and Bay State residents also secured hard-earned finishes at the Georgia Death Race and the New Jersey Ultra Festival.
Matthew Knights has clocked plenty of fast times on road marathon courses, but the 38-year-old resident of Natick, Mass., upped his game with a strong showing at the 23rd annual Umstead 100-miler on April 1-2 at William B. Umstead Park in Raleigh, N.C.
Competing at one of the oldest 100-mile races along the east coast, Knights made good time on Umstead’s 12.5-mile loop course that consists of smooth dirt and gravel. He had to circle the course eight times, and he was one of the fastest competitors to do so.
Knights finished 16th overall in 19:27:06.
Olivier LeBlong, 44, of Arlington, Va., was the overall winner in 14:05:50 and was one of just two runners to finish in less than 16 hours. The first-place female, 40-year-old Amy Albu of Arlington, Va., finished seventh overall in 18:28:14.
Knights was one of two Massachusetts residents who took part in Umstead. Additionally, 53-year-old Adena Schutzberg of Somerville, Mass., also toed the starting line. A veteran 100-mile runner whose finish-line credits include the Vermont 100, the Prairie Spirit Trail 100 and the New Jersey Ultra Trail Festival 100-miler, Schutzberg finished Umstead in 28:02:50.
Another Umstead competitor with local connections was fourth-place overall finisher David Huss of Seattle, Wash. Huss, 33, lived in Winchester, Mass., until early 2016 when he moved cross-country. Huss’s finishing time of 16:44:33 was 20 minutes behind the third-place finisher and more than a half-hour ahead of the fifth-place runner.
Huss has a history of strong performances at Umstead. He finished 12th overall at Umstead in 2014 and eighth overall in 2015.
The race had 290 entrants, and 143 runners finished 100 miles within the 30-hour time limit including 62 in less than 24 hours.
Naked Prussian 50M
Two weeks after missing out on his first ultramarathon victory of 2017 with a runner-up finish at the Terrapin Mountain 50K in Virginia, Brian Rusiecki returned to the starting line for the inaugural running of the Naked Prussian 50-miler on Saturday, April 1, at Blue Marsh Lake in Leesport, Pa.
The no-frills race gave Rusiecki all he needed: fast singletrack, rolling hills and hours of running through the woods. The 38-year-old resident of South Deerfield, Mass., hammered through both loops of the course in dominant fashion and was the first overall out of 43 total finishers while crossing the line in 7:13:21. The second-place runner finished more than two hours behind him.
Rusiecki will be back in action on Saturday, April 15, at the Traprock 50K in Connecticut.
Georgia Death Race
Similar to another in-state race named the Cruel Jewel, the Georgia Death Race earns its name from the relentless amount of punishment the course throws at runners with a constant supply of steep ups and downs. The fifth installation of the Georgia Death Race took place April 1-2, and it doled out punishment on two ultrarunners from the Bay State.
Nate Brown of Groton, Mass., and Chris Bustard of Cambridge, Mass., took on the approximately 70-mile point-to-point course from Vogel State Park to Amicalola Falls State Park and endured approximately 40,000 feet of elevation change including around 16,000 feet of climbing.
Both runners suffered and ultimately succeeded. Brown, 41, finished in 20:30:04. Bustard, 28, crossed the finish line about two hours later in 22:33:41.
Avery Collins, a 24-year-old from Steamboat Springs, Colo., secured a hard-earned victory in 11:58:19. Collins – the 2016 winner of the Ouray 100-miler in Colorado, the 2015 Colorado 200-miler champion and the fourth-place finisher at Hawaii’s HURT 100 – was the lone runner to finish in less than 12 hours and one of just two to complete the course in less than 13 hours. Runner-up Kyle Boykin, 21, of Atlanta, Ga., finished in 12:11:59.
The top female finisher, 36-year-old Aliza Lapierre of Willaston, Vt., placed ninth overall in 14:00:24.
The race had a 24-hour time limit. Of the race’s 181 official finishers, only 31 crossed the finish line in less than 17 hours. There were three unofficial finishers and 93 DNFs.
New Jersey Ultra Festival
The longest distances proved to be mostly elusive at the eighth annual New Jersey Ultra Festival on April 1-2 at Princeton Blairstown Center in Hardwick, N.J.
No runners reached the 100-mile marker this year, and just three completed 100K. The success rate increased as the distance grew a bit shorter, however. Five runners completed 50 miles, including 16-year-old Celia Jessiman of Newton, Mass., who covered the distance in 14:45:52 and was third overall.
Additionally, 25 runners completed a 50K. Among them were 39-year-old Jenny Hoffman of Cambridge, Mass., who finished fourth overall in 6:47:56; 59-year-old John Brown of Northbridge, Mass., who was seventh overall in 7:47:00; and 41-year-old Thomas Schulmeyer of Attleboro, Mass., who completed his ultra in 9:51:47.
Greg Soutiea is no stranger to logging major mileage on loop courses. The 32-year-old resident of Quincy, Mass., has plenty of credits to his name, including 143.39 miles in 24 hours at the 2016 Desert Solstice in Arizona, 130 miles in 24 hours at the 2016 Run Around the World 24-Hour Endurance Run in Tennessee, and 59.703 miles at the 2016 Sweltering Summer 8-Hour Ultra in Pittsfield, Mass.
Soutiea added another strong showing at a timed event on a short loop course on April 1-2 in Lebanon, Tenn., when he took part in the Run4Water 24-Hour Ultra. The event’s namesake, Run4Water, is a nonprofit organization that uses long-distance running events to raise awareness for the global water crisis. The event also was a qualifier for a spot on the United States’ 24-Hour Team that will compete at the world championships.
Soutiea was one of 35 runners who toed the starting line on the USATF-certified 0.50849-mile course. All participants ran farther than a marathon within the 24-hour time limit. Total mileage ranged from 28.476 miles at the low end to more than 150 miles apiece from the top three competitors.
The overall winner, 42-year-old Jon Olsen of Modesto, Calif., logged 154.584 miles, edging out runner-up Steve Slaby, 36, of Seabeck, Wash., by one loop of the course. The third-place finisher, 51-year-old Bob Hearn of Portola Valley, Calif., logged 152.1555 miles. Soutiea logged the ninth-most miles overall and was the sixth-place male finisher with 121.023 miles within the 24-hour time limit.
*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.