April 8-9 was the busiest weekend of the year so far for Massachusetts’ runners heading out of state to take on ultramarathons – and many of them delivered big performances. Of particular note, Joe McConaughy and Jake Dissinger headed cross-country to the high-profile Gorge Waterfalls 100K and turned in some of the strongest performances of the day. Closer to home, Brian Rusiecki headlined a massive pack of Bay State residents at the Runamuck 50K in Vermont where he notched his second victory in two weeks.
Those are just a few of the names included in the longest roundup so far in 2017.
One of the West Coast’s most high-profile and highly scenic early-season ultramarathons – the Gorge Waterfalls 100K – took place Saturday, April 8, in Cascade Locks, Ore., and three of the event’s top performers hailed from the East Coast, including two from Massachusetts.
The out-and-back race started and finished at the Benson State Recreation Area and wound its way up, down, and through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to the tune of 12,000 feet of vertical gain. Adding to the event’s intrigue was that Golden Tickets into the Western States 100 were up for grabs to the top two male and female finishers.
One Golden Ticket was expected to go to Jim Walmsley, the 27-year-old speedster from Flagstaff, Ariz., who has dominated ultrarunning during the past year. Sure enough, he hammered out a course-record performance and won by more than an hour, crossing the finish line in 8:20:28 to secure the first Golden Ticket. The battle for second was closer, and Boston, Mass., resident Joe McConaughy was one of the runners in the hunt for it. McConaughy, 25, was among the top 10 for most of the day, and he ultimately battled to a fifth-place overall finish in 9:43:39. Ben Koss, 36, of San Francisco, Calif., snagged the second-place Golden Ticket in 9:22:09, followed by 33-year-old Tyler Green of Portland, Ore., in 9:29:23, and 25-year-old Benjamin Stern of Arcata, Calif, in 9:35:17.
Only the top five finishers completed the course in less than 10 hours.
A second northeasterner, 27-year-old Jim McCue of Bordentown, N.J., finished seventh in 10:15:43.
Meanwhile, 35-year-old Jake Dissinger of Northampton, Mass., also threw down a strong performance and narrowly missed cracking the top 10. Dissinger hit the halfway point in just under five hours, and used a tough second half of the race to secure 12th place overall in 10:26:44, just six minutes out of 10th place.
On the women’s side, 27-year-old Kaytlyn Gergin of Issaquah, Wash., (16th overall, 10:55:24) and 28-year-old Paige Pattillo of Bothell, Wash., (17th overall, 11:14:42) earned Golden Tickets to Western States.
Of the 264 starters, 198 finished within the 17-hour time limit. Charles Hornbaker, 34, who recently moved to Colorado Springs, Colo, from Brighton, Mass., finished 52nd in 12:56:47.
Additionally, the Gorge Waterfalls 50K race took place Sunday, April 9, and Cambridge, Mass., resident Andrea Lai was the lone Bay State resident among the 237 runners who finished within 10 hours. Lai, 34, placed 159th overall in 8:08:05. Ryan Kaiser, 38, of Bend, Ore., was the overall winner in 4:05:30, and 35-year-old Cassie Scallon of Santa Barbara, Calif., was the top female finisher and sixth overall in 4:46:36.
Brian Rusiecki is two-for-two so far in his streak of three consecutive weekends of ultras in three different states. After winning the Naked Prussian 50-miler on April 1 in Pennsylvania, Rusiecki earned another victory at the Runamuck 50K on Saturday, April 8.
Rusiecki heads to his third state this weekend for the Traprock 50K in Connecticut.
Competing at Runamuck at the Suicide Six Ski Resort in Pomfret, Vt., runners were treated to a fast course consisting mostly of dirt roads. That was a recipe for Rusiecki to fly. The 38-year-old from South Deerfield, Mass., hammered out a course-record performance and won in 3:35:30. The second-place finisher, 39-year-old Dave Mailloux of Quebec, Canada, finished 13 minutes later in 3:48:36, and 51-year-old David Herr of Canaan, Vt., rounded out the top three in 3:54:00. They were the only runners to finish in less than four hours.
The Massachusetts presence was strong at Runamuck. Of the 93 total finishers, 29 hailed from the Bay State.
In addition to Rusiecki, seven other Massachusetts residents cracked the top 25 with some sizzling times, including a trio that were close together. Jason Gray, 37, of Northbridge was 11th overall in 4:19:20; Sean Murphy, 23, of Cambridge, was 12th in 4:21:05; and Benjamin Simanski, 33, of Greenfield finished 13th in 4:24:05. Additionally, Stephen Kerr, 25, of Amherst, was 15th in 4:28:15; 28-year-old Pete Cannon of Boston finished 21st in 4:37:13; Aaron Keene, 37, of Easthampton placed 23rd in 4:43:15; and Daniel Milton, 50, of Hudson was 25th in 4:45:04.
Boston resident Katka Smolarova, 27, was the fifth-place female finisher and placed 29th overall in 4:53:28. The women’s champion, 39-year-old Lindsay Simpson of Waterbury, Vt., placed ninth overall in 4:16:29.
Other Massachusetts finishers included the following: Pavol Cvik, 31, of Boston (4:53:29); Daniel Sambuchi, 49, of Northborough (4:58:12); Matthew Cormier, 35, of Marlborough (4:58:28); Andrew McLaughlin, 62, of Georgetown (5:08:34); Dave White, 42, of East Taunton (5:09:10); Steven Pelletier, 42, of Granby (5:12:48); Nate Combs, 56, of Andover (5:15:21); Michael Lepore, 41, of Marlborough (5:23:43); Elizabeth Masterjohn, 36, of Hudson (5:26:55); Dane LeBlanc, 59, of Littleton (5:27:16); Christopher Lay, 36, of Somerville (5:28:35); Paul Fillon, 51, of Marlboro (5:28:37); Jeremy Fuller, 35, of New Bedford (5:33:22); Allison Medeiros, 35, of New Bedford (5:33:22); Brennan McGuane, 56, of Sunderland (5:38:34); Judy Proteau, 42, of Marlborough (5:39:30); Mark Evans, 54, of Plymouth (5:50:13); Lorena Duquette, 40, of Shrewsbury (5:58:16); Lucinda Castellan, 57, of Cambridge (6:07:44); andMarilyn Oberhardt, 52, of Arlington (6:18:22).
Shepaug Trail Run
Originally slated for March 25, the XTERRA Northeast Trail Run Series’ Shepaug Run-Raiser was postponed due to weather-related conditions. The event was rescheduled for Saturday, April 8, in Bridgewater, Conn., and still offered the 50-mile and 50K races as promised, along with two shorter distances. The races had small fields after the rescheduling, and just five runners took part in the 50K, while three took on the 50-miler. Eric Despres, 41, of Athol, Mass., was the lone Bay State resident in the field at an ultramarathon distance. He finished third in the 50-miler in 11:39:30.
Squak Mountain 50K
Seventeen runners took on the 50K race at the Squak Mountain Trail Runs endurance festival on Saturday, April 8, at Squak Mountain State Park in Issaquah, Wash., including one runner who made a cross-country trip to the starting line.
Scott Berges of Gloucester, Mass., traveled to the race in a thick Pacific Northwest forest not far from Seattle, and the 26-year-old finished sixth overall in 6:56:16.
Christopher Barry, 26, of Seattle, Wash., was the overall winner in 6:01:32, and 47-year-old Dustin Gilbert, also of Seattle, finished 10 minutes later in second place.
Austin Rattler 66K
The Texas countryside lured Elizabeth Dawson for an ultramarathon, and the 26-year-old resident of Boston, Mass., was up to the challenge at the Austin Rattler 66K on Sunday, April 9, at Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville, Texas.
Dawson navigated two 20.7-mile loops of dirt roads and singletrack, handled the 2,000 or so feet of gain, and crossed the finish line in 10:22:14.
Sixty-five runners finished within the 11-hour time limit. Stephen Wassather, 26, of Redwood City, Calif., rolled to victory in 5:01:24, 12 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. Abby Mitchell, 26, of Boulder, Colo., was the first-place female and seventh overall in 5:51:27.
Bull Run Run 50
Michael Schmitt’s buildup to the Eastern States 100 began in earnest with the TARC To Hale and Back six-hour race on March 25. Schmitt’s next building block came Saturday, April 8, at the 25th annual Bull Run Run 50-miler in Clifton, Va.
Schmitt took on the race for the second straight year, and he was greeted with good weather conditions, although an alternate “high water course” was used due to recent inclement weather in the area.
Schmitt finished 147th overall in 10:59:45.
Bradley Revenis, 31, of Baltimore, Md., earned the victory by a 12-minute margin in 6:33:58. Of the 285 runners who finished within 13 hours, only the top four finished 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.