MassUltra Roundup: Cruel Jewel, Quest for the Crest, Kettletown, and 3 Days at the Fair

When the Cruel Jewel doled out its punishment on Tom Flummerfelt in 2016, the Winchester, Mass., resident apparently didn’t get enough of it. He followed up his sixth-place finish from a year ago by finishing fourth at the grueling Georgia race last weekend. Flummerfelt wasn’t the lone Massachusetts resident to finish the Cruel Jewel and secure a Hardrock Hundred qualifier, however. Melrose resident Ryan Knapp did, too. The duo’s monster performances in Georgia headline this week’s roundup, which also includes results from the Quest for the Crest 50K in North Carolina, the 50K at Connecticut’s Kettletown State Park, and some strong showings at 3 Days at the Fair in New Jersey.

Cruel Jewel 100

The name isn’t meant to be cute; the Cruel Jewel 100-miler in Blairsville, Ga., is upfront that its course is going to hurt. For one thing, runners encounter 33,000 feet of vertical gain and another 33,000 feet of loss en route to the finish line. Then there’s the fact that the 100-mile part isn’t accurate: the race is 105.9 miles.

The combination of rugged, mountainous terrain and distance make the race a Hardrock Hundred qualifier.

The fifth running of the Cruel Jewel took place May 19-21 at Vogel State Park, and 120 runners toed the starting line. More than a third didn’t last until the end. The singletrack trails, mountain roads, steep climbs and quad-punishing descents took their toll as runners wound their way through the Chattahoochee National Forest in northern Georgia.

Seventy-seven runners survived the out-and-back journey within the 48-hour time limit, including two Massachusetts residents who were among the top 30.

Tom Flummerfelt of Winchester, Mass., was one of the runners who had taken on the course previously and returned for more. The 43-year-old finished sixth overall at the 2016 race, and he came back in 2017 and battled to fourth place overall in 28:28:30. Only the top five finishers completed the course in less than 30 hours. Johnny Clemons, 40, of Cleveland, Tenn., led the way in 26:30:03, while runner-up Scott Gregor, 30, of New Britain, Conn., was 26 minutes behind.

The other local finisher was 33-year-old Ryan Knapp of Melrose, Mass. An ultrarunning coach who conquered his first 100-miler in 2016, Knapp has his heart set on racing the Hardrock Hundred in Colorado. Knapp’s qualifier a year ago was the Run Rabbit Run 100 in Steamboat Springs, Colo., which Knapp finished in 34:17:01. His name wasn’t drawn in the Hardrock lottery, however, so he identified the Cruel Jewel as his 2017 qualifier. The course featured more miles and more climbing than Run Rabbit Run, but Knapp was up for the challenge as he finished 28th overall in 38:52:48. Only the top 30 finishers completed the course in less than 40 hours.

Quest for the Crest 50K

Quest for the Crest is no ordinary 50K trail ultra. That much is clear by the fact that the race requires runners to have completed a race of at least that distance within the prior year to be allowed at the starting line.

Digging deeper into the details, it’s clear why the race director requires entrants to have proven their ability to go the distance. The course is highly technical, and it also wallops runners with more than 11,000 feet of vertical gain – as well as nearly 12,000 feet of elevation loss – during the course of the race.

Suffice to say, this is no beginner’s 50K.

The third running of the event took place Saturday, May 20, in Burnsville, N.C., and one Massachusetts resident was among the 116 starters who finished within a little more than 13 hours. Sixty runners dropped from the race somewhere along the way.

The victory went to 25-year-old Avery Collins of Steamboat Springs, Colo. Collins was the lone runner to break seven hours, finishing in 6:45:50.

Bradford Berry, 26, of Boston, Mass., was the lone local finisher. He needed a little more than half a day to finish, completing the course in 12:02:02 and in 85th place overall.

Kettletown State Park Challenge

The Trail2Trail Series seeks to showcase some of Connecticut’s state parks by tempting trail- and ultrarunners with offroad endurance opportunities, and the 2017 version of the series kicked off with the fourth annual Kettletown State Park Challenge 50K on Saturday, May 20, in Southbury, Conn.

The event also included 30K, 20K, 10K and 5K distance offerings.

The race took place on a 10K loop that consisted of technical singletrack trails with numerous steep climbs sprinkled in to enhance the challenge. With more than 6,000 feet of gain during the course of five loops, runners received a stout challenge.

Seven runners braved the 50K distance, including 54-year-old Christopher Russell of Littleton, Mass., who finished fifth in 7:00:46. Matt Perkins, 38, of Washington, D.C., was the winner in 5:03:39. He won with a six-minute cushion on runner-up Judd Lorson, 33, of New Haven, Conn.

The Trail2Trail Series continues in June at Huntington State Park. No ultramarathon distances are offered at that event.

3 Days at the Fair

A pair of Massachusetts ultrarunners earned victories during the annual 3 Days at the Fair running festival May 15-21 at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta, N.J.

The event is part of the New Jersey Trail Series, and it takes place on a flat, certified one-mile loop that consists mostly of pavement with a little bit of crushed gravel thrown in. A handful of the event’s 300 runners – 41 to be exact – actually spent six days at the fairgrounds as part of the 144-hour event. None were Massachusetts residents.

Bay State residents took part in some of the shorter events – the 72-hour, 48-hour, and 12-hour races.

One of the local runners to earn a victory was 41-year-old Scott Defusco of Beverly, Mass. He was one of 19 runners to compete in the 12-hour event, and Defusco cruised through 71 miles during the half-day race, easily outdistancing the field. His closest competitor completed 15 fewer miles during the 12-hour window.

Meanwhile, 45 runners took part in the 48-hour event including Sheffield, Mass., resident Allison Lassoe. Lassoe, 54, finished sixth overall in her timed category, and she was the women’s champion as she hammered the loop for 122 miles – six more than second-place female Stephanie Ruzicka, 51, of Florham Park, N.J. Tonya Tessier, 41, of Milford, Mass., logged 83 miles during her 48-hour run.

Philip McCarthy, 48, of New York, NY, was the overall winner in the 48-hour race as he logged 166 miles, 20 more than runner-up Gerald Tabios, 47, of Elmhurst, NY.

Meanwhile, four Bay State residents were among the 42 runners who took part in the 72-hour event. Carl Gustafson, 56, of Hatchville, Mass., was one of four runners to complete 101 miles during his three-day run. Three runners ran farther than Gustafson, led by Catherine Cohen, 48, of Cockeysville, MD, with 150 miles.

Additionally, Clifford Lange, 59, of Mattapoisett, Mass., completed 79 miles; Bennjamin Griffin, 30, of Pittsfield, Mass., ran 78 miles; and Benjamin Zobel, 39, of Amherst, Mass., completed 62 miles.

*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.

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