MassUltra Roundup: Manitou’s Revenge, Bighorn, the Broken Arrow Skyrace, Drummer Hill, and Infinitus

Ben Nephew and Kehr Davis threw down strong performances en route to victories at Manitou’s Revenge in New York; Joseph D’Alessio, Christopher Agbay and Dane LeBlanc overcame freezing rain and massive quantities of mud to complete the Bighorn 100 in Wyoming; Michael Barrett conquered the grueling Broken Arrow Skyrace in California; and we tracked down older results from Drummer Hill in New Hampshire and Infinitus in Vermont in this week’s roundup.

Manitou’s Revenge

The fifth running of the Manitou’s Revenge Ultramarathon on Saturday, June 17, from Windham, N.Y., to Phoenicia, N.Y., featured a pair of standout performances by two of Massachusetts’ toughest ultrarunners.

Ben Nephew of Westborough and Kehr Davis of Great Barrington brought home victories as they traversed the 54.3-mile forested course through the Catskill Mountains faster than anyone else.

Nephew, 41, went toe-to-toe with 35-year-old Andrew Vermilyea of Castleton, Vt., from the start until the final miles before finally breaking away. Nephew, Vermilyea and 38-year-old Adam Russell of Rome, Pa., spent the first 21.5 miles running within a few strides of each other. As Russell faded, Nephew and Vermilyea stayed together and charged up and down numerous steep, technical climbs with neither able to seize control of the race. Finally, Nephew opened up a one-minute margin with six minutes to go before cruising through the finish line first overall in 10:57:49 – the second-fastest time in race history. Vermilyea joined Nephew at the finish line moments later, taking second in 10:59:45. Russell was a distant third in 12:02:16.

While the battle for the men’s victory was tight throughout, Davis dominated the women’s race from the start and earned her victory by a comfortable margin. Davis, 40, had a nine-minute lead on the second-place woman after 10.3 miles, and steadily expanded her lead as the day went on. The only question was whether she would maintain her position in the overall top 10. Davis ultimately won her second straight Manitou’s Revenge title in 13:30:07 and placed ninth overall. Debbie Livingston, 42, of Bolton, Conn., was a distant second in 14:41:32 and placed 22nd overall.

The only other finisher from Massachusetts was 23-year-old Concord resident Taylor Scott Berkley, and he parlayed a conservative start into a strong finish. Berkley hung far back in the field early on and was nearly an hour behind the leaders after 10.3 miles and in 49th place overall. During the next few miles he slowly worked his way into the upper 30s, and then into the mid-30s by mile 38.5. From there, Berkley really made up ground as some runners fell by the wayside and he passed others. He climbed into the upper 20s after 43.5 miles, and then moved into the top 25 with six miles to go before finishing 23rd overall in 14:54:37.

Of the 97 runners who started the race, 83 finished within the 24-hour time limit.

Bighorn

Frigid rain and sloppy mud turned the always-tough Bighorn 100 into a particularly brutal race June 16-17 in Dayton, Wyo.

Rugged singletrack in the mountains and climbs up to 10,000 feet are never easy, but the out-and-back course and its approximately 18,000 feet of vertical gain took the race that bills itself as “wild and scenic” to a whole ‘nother level of challenging in 2017. The 34-hour time limit was far from guaranteed. Many who finished had their legs caked in mud up to their knees.

To manage the difficult conditions, some runners found strength by sticking together. In fact, there was a four-way tie for the overall victory as Andrew Skurka and Eric Lipuma of Boulder, Colo., Alex Ho of San Francisco, Calif., and Brian Oestrike of New Paltz, N.Y., finished together in 21:30:09. Of the 175 runners who finished the race within the time limit, they were four of just 10 who completed the race in less than 24 hours. Amanda Taglioli of Lander, Wyo., was the first-place female and 12th overall finisher in 24:58:43.

Three Massachusetts residents beat the cutoff and completed the grueling course. Boston resident Joseph D’Alessio finished 61st overall in 29:30:16, Jefferson resident Christopher Agbay finished in 33:16:37, and Littleton resident Dane LeBlanc completed the race in 33:25:28.

Bill Howard of Winchester, Mass., and Padraig Mullins of Cambridge, Mass., both started the race but did not finish.

The 32-mile race had the largest finisher’s field of the weekend at Bighorn with 216 runners completing the distance within 12 hours. Nathan Morgan, 23, of Casper, Wyo., was the overall winner in 4:43:19, and he was one of just two runners to finish in less than five hours. Megan Pinsonneault of Pittsfield, Mass., finished 65th overall in 7:14:35. Caitlin Muldoon, 33, of Evergreen, Colo., was the fastest female finisher and placed ninth overall in 5:39:29.

A 52-mile distance also was offered, and 99 runners completed that distance. None were from Massachusetts.

The 32-mile race had the largest finisher’s field of the weekend at Bighorn with 216 runners completing the distance within 12 hours. Nathan Morgan, 23, of Casper, Wyo., was the overall winner in 4:43:19, and he was one of just two runners to finish in less than five hours. Megan Pinsonneault of Pittsfield, Mass., finished 65th overall in 7:14:35. Caitlin Muldoon, 33, of Evergreen, Colo., was the fastest female finisher and placed ninth overall in 5:39:29.

A 52-mile distance also was offered, and 99 runners completed that distance. None were from Massachusetts.

Broken Arrow Skyrace

Michael Barrett is no stranger to tough races and technical terrain. The 46-year-old resident of Arlington, Mass., lives in New England, after all, and he has been a regular presence at the starting lines of trail races in the region the past few years. He has raced out west, too – he finished the notoriously tough Run the Rut 50K in Montana in 2015 – so it should come as little surprise that Barrett was the lone Massachusetts resident to tackle the 52K distance at the Broken Arrow Skyrace on Saturday, June 17, in Olympic Valley, Calif.

More than 250 runners took on the 52K – a two-loop course where runners were always at least 6,200 feet above sea level and climbed above 8,800 feet twice during the course of 32.3 miles. Collectively, the two loops tested runners with more than 10,500 feet of vertical gain, much of it coming on steep, rocky climbs. Along the way, Barrett and his fellow runners enjoyed the view from Emigrant Pass – an iconic point on the Western States 100 course – near the Skyrace’s highest point.

Tayte Pollmann, 20, of Sandy, Utah, won the race in 5:03:17, just ahead of runner-up Tim Freriks, 26, of Flagstaff, Ariz., who finished in 5:07:43. Barrett finished the race in 11:43:42. In total, 230 runners completed the course in less than 13 hours.

The event also included 26K and Vertical Kilometer races.

Drummer Hill 50K

Four Massachusetts residents placed among the overall top five at the second annual Drummer Hill 50K on Saturday, June 10, at the Drummer Hill Conservation Area in Keene, N.H.

Forty runners took on a 10K loop consisting of jeep roads and technical singletrack trail, and they had 10 hours to finish between one and five loops of the course. They didn’t have to declare their distance in advance. Of the 40 runners who took part, 16 earned 50K finishes.

Local Keene resident Christopher Barry was the eighth-place male a year ago in a deep field of fast runners. This year, the 37-year-old knocked a half-hour off his time and earned the overall victory in 5:09:22.

While Barry didn’t touch Patrick Caron’s course-record of 4:26:38 from 2016, Emily Raymond took down the women’s course record on her way to a second-place overall finish. Raymond, 35, of Cambridge, Mass., has proven her foot speed on the pavement – she ran 3:03:54 at the Boston Marathon this year and has a personal best of 2:52 at the marathon distance – and she proved to be plenty fast on the trail at Drummer Hill. Redmond finished her five trips around the course in a speedy 5:31:59 – more than an hour ahead of the old course record and 65 minutes ahead of the second-place female finisher.

The second-place male and third overall finisher, 37-year-old Daniel Grip of Millers Falls, Mass., was a few minutes behind Raymond in 5:37:51.

Joseph Bulger, 46, of Winchendon, Mass., rounded out the men’s top three and finished fourth overall in 6:01:17. Tim Drake, 57, of Dalton, Mass., finished fifth overall in 6:44:38.

Other Massachusetts finishers were James Gawle of Webster and Sam Black of Winchendon. Gawle, 65, finished ninth overall and was the seventh-place male in 7:05:10. Black, 45, placed 10th overall and was the eighth-place male in 7:07:50.

Infinitus

The Endurance Society’s annual test of mental and physical endurance known as Infinitus took place May 24-June 2 at the Blueberry Hill Inn and Ski Center in Goshen, Vt.

DNFs are the norm at Infinitus, and 2017 was no exception with lots of knee-deep mud making the already daunting ultramarathon distances – 888K, 250-mile, 100-mile, and 88K – all the more difficult.

Eleven runners dared to take on the 888K race, and one finished – with a little more than 10 hours to spare. Lance Parker of Montpelier, Vt., was the lone finisher of the 888k race. The 23-year-old finished in 229 hours, 51 minutes – safely under the 240-hour time limit. A trio of Massachusetts residents – Erica Simister of Palmer, Will Bradley of Westminster, and John Spelko of Monson – were among the runners who took on the event’s marquee race but were unable to finish.

Six runners took on the 250-mile race, and two finished – including one from Massachusetts. Brookline resident Mark Leuner, 39, finished in 118 hours, 5 minutes – just under the 120-hour cutoff. William McKenna, 27, of Phillipsburg, N.J., also finished the 250-miler in 109 hours, 44 minutes.

The finisher rate in the 100-mile race was higher than the two longer distances, but not by a considerable amount. Fifty-nine runners attempted to complete 100 miles within the 48-hour time limit, and 40 percent of the field got it done. Greg Salvesen, 30, of Boulder, Colo., was the lone runner to finish sub-24. His time of 23:04 was more than five hours ahead of the next finisher. A Massachusetts resident was the runner-up. Danvers resident Ryan Fecteau, 24, finished the 100-miler in 28:16. Two more Massachusetts residents – Torben Arend of Westwood and Devin McNamara of Hopkinton – also beat the 48-hour time limit and finished. Arend, 46, finished in 38:53. McNamara, 37, finished in 45:19.

A trio of Massachusetts residents were among the 35 runners who finished the 88K within the 24-hour time limit. Jesse Stanley, 38, of Westfield finished in 19:47; Derek Brinkmann, 23, of Pembroke finished in 20:24; and Jen Searl, 37, of Peabody finished in 22:18.

*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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