MassUltra Roundup: Badwater, Tahoe, Devil’s Backbone, On the Rocks, Bear Brook, and Beaverhead

From the blistering heat of Badwater, to the high altitude of Tahoe and Montana, to the trails of southern New Hampshire, Massachusetts ultrarunners took on races across the country during the past two weekends of varying terrain and climate. We highlight six of them in this week’s roundup.

Badwater 135

After training through a spring that was cooler than normal in New England, Brian Tjersland of Dartmouth, Mass., headed to California to take on the extreme heat of Death Valley July 10-12 from Badwater Basin to Whitney Portal Road.

Tjersland, 50, successfully completed the race – dubbed “The World’s Toughest Foot Race” – in 42:51:25. Runners had 48 hours to complete the 135-mile race, which concludes with a monster climb to 8,360 feet above sea level. Tjersland was one of 74 runners to complete the race.

Wataru Lino of Japan was the winner in 24:56:19, 48 minutes ahead of runner-up Marco Bonfiglio of Abbiategrasso, Italy.

Next up for Tjersland is the Eastern States 100 on Aug. 12 in Waterville, Pa.

Tahoe Rim Trail 100

Marilyn Oberhardt earned her second Tahoe Rim Trail 100-mile finisher’s belt buckle July 15-16 in Carson City, Nev. The resident of Arlington, Mass., was one of 209 runners to toe the starting line at this year’s race, and she was one of 150 to successfully complete the two-loop course through Spooner State Park within the 35-hour time limit.

Oberhardt, 52, battled the altitude – the entire course is at 8,000 feet above sea level or higher – and she conquered the nearly 20,000 feet of climbing, all while staying ahead of the course cut-offs. Ultimately, she crossed the finish line with less than 40 minutes to spare in 34:21:11.

Ryan Weibel, 44, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., was the overall winner and lone sub-20-hour finisher in 18:29:09. The first-place female finisher was 54-yar-old Roxanne Woodhouse of Weaverville, Calif, in 24:42:44.

Oberhardt previously ran the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in 2015 when she finished in 33:52:41.

Devil’s Backbone 50

Sarah Pandiscio’s 2017 ultramarathon schedule has gotten tougher by the race.

First, the 26-year-old resident of Boston, Mass., earned second-place female honors on the rolling hills of the Pineland Farms 50K in May. Then she was the fifth-place female on a highly technical course at The North Face Endurance Challenge – Massachusetts in June at Wachusett Mountain. On Saturday, July 15, Pandiscio took on another burly race – the Devil’s Backbone 50-miler in Bozeman, Mont. – and she was one of just 13 runners to complete the 13th annual event.

Devil’s Backbone is an out-and-back course that exists entirely at more than 9,000 feet above sea level. The course is entirely singletrack trail, it challenges runners with around 11,000 feet of total gain, and it’s highest point is a climb above 10,300 feet. Also, the course isn’t marked – runners follow Forest Service blazes and cairns – and it has one aid station at the turnaround, so runners must be self-sufficient for numerous hours.

Pandiscio finished seventh overall and was the third-place female in 13:01:00. The first female and third overall finisher was 43-year-old Missoula, Mont., resident Katie Gibson in 11:38:00. Second was 38-year-old Bozeman resident Bridget Uzzelle in 12:35:00. The overall winner was Missoula resident Jesse Doll, 36, in 10:46:00. Second place went to 36-year-old Bozeman resident Nick Truax in 11:30:00.

On the Rocks 50K

Katie Falkowski earned her first ultramarathon finish on Saturday, July 15, when she successfully completed the On the Rocks 50K at Rock Ridge County Park in York, Pa.

Falkowski, 31, of Hyannis, Mass., took on the three-loop course and its 4,200 feet of vertical gain in fine fashion, finishing 26th overall and securing eighth-place female honors in 7:00:57. Local York resident Rachel Spaulding, 22, was the top female finisher in 5:54:19, and 34-year-old Jeff Powers of Philadelphia, Pa., was the overall champion in 4:29:07. Forty-six runners completed the race.

Falkowski will return to Pennsylvania July 29 to race her first 50-miler at the Lost Turkey Trail Races.

Bear Brook Trail Marathon

The title may be a bit misleading: the Bear Brook Trail Marathon isn’t exactly a marathon. It’s an ultra, although the distance is always a bit of a mystery. Somewhere between 27 and 30 miles in length, the distance changes by year while always proving challenging.

The sixth annual Bear Brook Trail Marathon took place Saturday, July 8, at Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, N.H., and the top men’s and women’s finishers were Massachusetts ultrarunners. Patrick Caron and Lisa Rising brought home victories.

Caron, 20, of Needham, ran away from the field and won by a hefty margin in 4:16:02. Ryan Welts, 36, of Tamworth, N.H., was a distant second in 5:01:55, and 35-yar-old Adam Wilcox of Candia, N.H., was third in 5:07:28.

A trio of Massachusetts residents joined Caron in the top 10. Matthew O’Brien, 23, of North Reading was sixth in 5:39:20; Drew Quigley, 28, of Peabody was eighth in 5:42:09; and Grigory Kolesov, 41, of Brookline was 10th in 5:49:10.

While Caron won handily, Rising’s victory was much closer. The 26-year-old Cambridge resident crossed the finish line in 6:15:40, less than two minutes ahead of second-place female Susan Haversat, 51, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Additional Massachusetts finishers were: Scott Warren, 47, of North Reading (6:10:53); Nicolle Quinn, 42, of Beverly (6:48:27); Jackie Smith, 33, of Cambridge (6:54:59); Mark Evans, 54, of Plymouth (7:08:53); Katya Divari, 55, of Ashland (7:59:47); Scott Powers, 34, of Somerville (8:24:53); Sean Walker, 41, of Ashburnham (8:43:04); Steven Kooi, 44, of Lexington (8:48:29); and Bart McCarthy, 44, of Beverly (9:01:59).

Beaverhead Endurance Runs

The Beaverhead Endurance Runs test ultrarunners with rugged racing mostly along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. Runners can choose between a 100K or 55K distance, but either way they will take a few steps in Montana but do most of their racing in Idaho.

Elizabeth Masterjohn of Hudson, Mass., was the lone Bay State resident to complete either distance at the fourth annual event on Saturday, July 8, in Salmon, Idaho. Masterjohn, 36, was one of 165 runners to complete the 55K race. The race challenged runners with around 6,000 feet of vertical gain and nearly 9,000 feet of descending. Masterjohn finished 102nd overall in 10:58:38.

Kevin Mahoney, 35, of Couer D’Alene, Idaho, was the overall winner of the 55K in 5:52:47 and was one of two runners to finish in less than six hours. Jenny Pierce, 34, of Livingston, Mont., was the first-place female and 15thoverall finisher in 7:28:03.

Johannes Middleton, 30, of Bozeman, Mont., won the 100K race in 11:49:50. Meanwhile, 26-year-old Liz Canty – a former resident of Hudson, Mass., currently living in Huntsville, Ala. – finished third overall and set a women’s course record with her time of 13:17:21. Forty-five runners completed the 100K race with its 12,700 feet of gain and 15,100 feet of descent.

*Editor’s Note: Results are found on a variety of sites, including, 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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