In what was a light weekend for ultras throughout the United States, a large crop of runners headed to Maine May 27-28 for the annual trail running festival at Pineland Farms. Massachusetts runners brought home victories there. In addition, we catch up with two races from the prior weekend – Manchester 2 Monadnock and the Keys Ultras – in this week’s roundup.
L.L. Bean Trail Running Festival at Pineland Farms
Editor’s Note: It has been mentioned that there are some errors in the Pineland Farms 50K results on the event’s website. As of June 14, those results have not been updated. This story will be revised as necessary pending revisions to the results.
In what may be New England’s largest cross country event, more than 1,800 runners flocked to the 12thannual L.L. Bean (formerly Salomon) Trail Running Festival took place at Pineland Farms on May 27-28 in New Gloucester, Maine.
Of those 1,800-plus, more than 350 took place in the 50-mile and 50K ultramarathon distances, while the others opted for a variety of shorter distance offerings. The wide, mostly non-technical dirt and grassy trails provided a perfect setting for first-time efforts at ultra distances and fast times for seasoned veterans.
The 50-mile race featured runaway performances by the speediest men, as well as a close battle among the top women who were separated by seconds – and Massachusetts residents earned the top two spots in both categories.
A few weeks out from a trip to Austria to take part in the Salomon Running Academy, 20-year-old Patrick Caron of Needham, Mass., returned to Pineland Farms to attempt to defend his 50-mile title. Caron spent the day on cruise control, first circling the 3.5-mile mini loop and then covering the 25K mini loop three times while gradually building his lead. Caron didn’t match his time of 6:14:31 from 2016, however this year’s time of 6:27:40 was still plenty good to secure a second straight victory.
The runner-up was also a Massachusetts resident. South Deerfield’s Brian Rusiecki, 38, was a last-minute registrant for Pineland Farms as he sought out a 50-mile training day to give his legs some work before taking on the Western States 100 in June. Rusiecki’s legs responded with a good showing as he earned a second-place overall finish in 6:36:00. The third-place finisher – 2016 Pineland Farms runner-up Sebastien Roulier, 43, of Sherbrooke, Quebec – also used the race as a Western States tune-up and finished in 6:58:51.
While the Bay State was well represented on the podium on the men’s side, the women seized an even larger portion of the top of the field. Four of the first five ladies were from Massachusetts, including the top two who were neck and neck at the end. Kristin Scott, 33, of Boston, held off Jenny Hoffman, 39, of Cambridge, by a narrow 12-second margin. Scott finished 12th overall and was the top female in 7:57:46. Hoffman’s streak of victories was snapped at four consecutive races (Lumberjack 100, Jack Bristol 50-miler, Wapack and Back 50-miler, Manchester 2 Monadnock 55-miler), but her runner-up showing was plenty impressive as she finished in 7:57:58.
The third-place female, 32-year-old Saeger Fischer of Portsmouth, N.H., was less than a minute off the win as she finished in 7:58:41. The fourth- and fifth-place women also hailed from Massachusetts as Salem’s Deirdre Lowe, 37, finished in 8:19:30 and Danvers’ Lori Wetzel, 44, finished in 8:28:36. Lowe also was 25th overall and Wetzel was 28th overall.
Among the notable performances by other Massachusetts competitors were top-25 overall finishes from Peter Cannon, 28, of Boston (18th; 8:11:29); Greg Esbitt, 43, of Salem (19th; 8:12:17); Daniel Larson, 41, of Cambridge (20th; 8:12:55); Jordan Vance, 35, of Watertown (21st; 8:13:28); Andrew Novis, 53, of Medford (22nd; 8:13:49); and Tim Finocchio, 39, of Holbrook (23rd; 8:15:05).
The 50-mile race had a 13-hour limit, and 138 runners completed the course within that timeframe.
While the 50-mile race featured strong performances by numerous Massachusetts women, the 50K race was dominated by a pair of ladies from Rhode Island. Amie Rossi, 39, of Riverside, R.I., and Mallory Billings-Litke, 33, of Pawtucket, R.I., raced to the top two overall spots as Rossi claimed the victory in 3:25:10 and Billings-Litke was the runner-up in 3:35:36. Julia Huffman, 32, of Manchester, N.H., was a distant third in the women’s standings and 12th overall in 4:22:16.
Meanwhile, the men’s champion in the 50K hailed from Massachusetts. Leverett resident Ethan Nedeau, 44, was the third-place overall finisher and dominated the men’s competition as he earned the victory in 3:38:24. The second-place male – and fourth overall finisher – Richard Messinez, 28, of Nassau, N.Y., finished in 3:52:16, followed by 39-year-old Michael Arsenault of Middleton, N.Y., in 3:57:08.
Six runners finished in less than four hours. Eric Ahern, 40, of Somerville, Mass., was the fifth-place male finisher and seventh overall in 4:05:13.
In addition to Nedeau and Ahern, five other Massachusetts residents earned spots in the top 25 overall. That included fourth- and fifth-place female finishers Sarah Pandiscio, 26, of Charlestown (16th overall; 4:32:33) and Mae Polson, 33, of Somerville (25th overall; 4:53:43). Joining them in the top 25 were Nelson Knudsen, 27, of Cambridge (11th overall; 4:21:35); Mark Blakeley, 53, of Norton (19th overall; 4:36:22); and Art Beauregard, 39, of Natick (24th overall; 4:52:10).
The top 32 finishers completed the course in less than five hours. A total of 216 runners finished the 50K within the 11-hour time limit.
Manchester 2 Monadnock 55-Miler
Fresh off of her strong debut performance at the Wapack and Back 50-miler a week earlier where she earned top female honors, Jenny Hoffman was back on the trails with another impressive showing in a debut performance. This time, it was her first time running the Manchester 2 Monadnock 55-miler from Manchester, N.H., to Monadnock State Park on Sunday, May 21.
Taking on a course that was a mixture of dirt roads, paved roads, and singletrack trail and challenged runners with around 6,000 feet of vertical gain, Hoffman delivered a dominant performance. She raced to second place overall, finishing in 9:55:27, and trailed only overall winner Ryan Welts, 36, of Tamworth, N.H., who won in 9:23:43. Hoffman’s performance set a women’s course record and was the seventh-fastest time on the course by any runner, male or female, in the three years that the event has taken place.
One other Massachusetts resident joined Hoffman in the overall top 10. That was 41-year-old William McElroy, Jr., of Medford who was the third-place male finisher and tied for fourth overall in 10:42:30.
Twenty-three runners started the race, and 21 finished within 17 hours. That included Marc Eaton, 48, of Stoneham, Mass., who placed 11th in 14:22:41; Mark Evans, 54, of Plymouth, Mass., and Kelly Facteau, 46, of Siasconset, Mass., who tied for 12th overall in 14:29:39 (Facteau also earned third-place female honors); Jill Downer, 37, of Somerville, Mass., who finished in 15:57:22; Eric Conti, 46, of Spencer, Mass., who finished in 16:21:41; and Pranee Terry, 40, of Orange, Mass., who finished in 16:35:38.
Reaan Steenkamp is known on Cape Cod for his work as a running coach with the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Running Club, but the resident of Vineyard Haven, Mass., does more than just coach runners – he practices what he preaches.
Steenkamp, 50, has run numerous endurance races ranging from 5Ks to ultramarathon distances. On May 20-21 in Key Largo, Fla., Steenkamp took his mileage to triple-digit territory as he completed the Keys 100-miler.
Steenkamp previously completed the event’s 50-mile race offering in 2014 and 2015, and this year he took on the longest offering. The race began in Key Largo and followed a point-to-point course to the finish line in Key West on Higgs Beach.
Of the 122 runners to finish within the 32-hour time limit, three finished in less than 17 hours. That included race champion Marc Burget of Jacksonville, Fla. The 43-year-old cruised to the win in 15:34:22 – a solid 57 minutes ahead of the runner-up.
Steenkamp finished in 30:03:22 and collected his first 100-miler finisher’s belt buckle.
While Steenkamp was the only Massachusetts resident to take on the 100-miler, another Bay State resident – Sturbridge’s Ronald Scharf – took part in the 50-mile race. Scharf, 50, finished in 18:15:49. The race was won by a Florida local, Sarasota’s Katalin Nagy, 38, in 7:04:34 – a full 44 minutes ahead of overall runner-up and first-place male Timothy Deer, 52, of Charleston, W.Va.
Eighty-six runners completed the 50-mile race.
*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.