A former Massachusetts resident returned to New England and dueled one of the Bay State’s most dominant ultrarunners of the past decade at the Vermont 50 while Cambridge’s Sarah Burke secured a victory in the 50K. Additionally, Trail Animals Running Club legend Chris Haley nabbed a 100-mile belt buckle in Arizona, and a pair of local runners took on the Wasatch Mountains in Utah.
Runners lucked out at the Vermont 50 in 2015 and 2016 as the race took place in traditional fall conditions with comfortable breezes, starting temperatures in the 30s and highs in the 60s. The 2017 event – which took place Sunday, Sept. 24 – was another story.
Runners in the 50-mile and 50K races toed the starting line at Ascutney Mountain Resort in Brownsville, Vt., with temperatures closing in on 60. As the races progressed, the heat soared into the upper 80s, scorching the runners while also slamming them with humidity. All in all, it made for the race’s most challenging conditions in a few years.
Runners persevered, however, with 146 conquering the 50-mile course and its 8,000 feet of vertical gain. The race was close early with a handful of runners sticking together at the front through the early miles. Eventually it became a three-person race for the win with Colton Gale, Brian Rusiecki and Kanoa King gaining separation on the field. King, 28, of Portsmouth, N.H., faded a bit during the final 20 miles while Gale and Rusiecki charged onward with Gale, 26, of Bend, Ore., clinging to a narrow lead on Rusiecki, 38, of South Deerfield, Mass. Ultimately, Gale – a former resident of Beverly, Mass. – pulled away for the victory in 7:10:28. Rusiecki secured second place in 7:10:18, and King finished third in 7:26:35.
Notably, Gale’s winning time was 18 minutes slower than in 2016 when he finished second, a testament to the race conditions. Rusiecki won the 2016 race in 6:35:36.
First-place honors in the women’s field went to 30-year-old Larisa Dannis of Manchester, N.H., whose time of 7:55:56 was good for seventh overall. The top eight overall finishers completed the race in less than eight hours, and only the top 20 finished in less than nine hours.
Eight other Massachusetts residents finished in the top third of the field, including 22-year-old Teddy Lyman of Beverly who finished 11th overall and was the 10th-place male in 8:16:28, and 30-year-old Boston resident Lizzy Dickey who was the 10th-place female and 42nd overall in 9:47:39. Others in the top third of the field were 50-year-old Paul Hyry-Dermith of Holyoke (23rd, 9:06:58); 48-year-old Carsten Braun of Greenfield (29th, 9:13:19); 48-year-old Mark Snowise of Pittsfield (37th, 9:39:34); 41-year-old Dean Barbera of Westford (40th, 9:44:00); 27-year-old Bradford Berry of Roslindale (41st, 9:44:24); and 50-year-old Sheila Boyle of Concord (45th, 9:53:27).
Full results of the 50-mile race can be found here.
Additionally, 176 runners finished the 50K race, which overlapped with parts of the 50-mile course and had around 5,500 feet of climbing. Few runners had a better day at that distance than 22-year-old Sarah Burke of Cambridge, Mass. She led the women’s field almost wire to wire, and also held her ground among the top men in the field throughout the race. Ultimately, Burke finished seventh overall and was the women’s champion in 5:04:41. She was the top Massachusetts finisher, too.
Keith Lundquist, 31, of Hopkinton, N.H., used a strong second half of the race to pull away from the field and earn the overall win in 4:11:27. Brian Oestrike, 38, of New Paltz, N.Y., was a distant second in 4:28:06, followed by 41-year-old Rick Evans of Bradford, Vt., in 4:30:46.
While Burke led the women’s field for most of the race, her cushion was never safe. Emily Harper, 27, of Lebanon, N.H., was within a couple minutes of Burke throughout before ultimately finishing second among the ladies and eighth overall in 5:09:57. Kendra Kenney, 29, of Burlington, Vt., rounded out the women’s podium in 5:16:56 and placed 11th overall.
Other notable finishers among the Massachusetts contingent were 46-year-old Shannon Delvecchio of Duxbury who was the seventh-place female in 5:43:08; 41-year-old Grigory Lolesov of Brookline who was the 12th overall finisher and ninth-place male in 5:21:27; and 32-year-old Doug Lipinski of Burlington who rounded out the men’s top 10 in 5:25:29.
Alexander Nichols, 32, of Lincoln, Mass., finished 14th overall in 5:28:09; Jason Sarouhan, 40, of Northampton, Mass., was 17th in 5:29:17; 24-year-old Nathan Landis of Beverly, Mass., was 20th in 5:36:24; 39-year-old Timothy Lilenthal of Holyoke, Mass., was 21st in 5:37:16; and 27-year-old Kenneth Hacker of Jamaica Plain, Mass., was 23rd in 5:42:20.
Full results of the 50K race can be found here.
Add another 100-mile finish to Chris Haley’s ultrarunning resume.
The 61-year-old from Medfield, Mass., took part in the fifth annual Stagecoach 100 on Sept. 23-24 in Arizona. The race, which begins in Flagstaff and travels along a former stagecoach path – now the Arizona Trail – to the Grand Canyon, takes place on a mix of singletrack and doubletrack trails as well as jeep roads. It also challenges runners with altitude throughout, taking place entirely above 6,000 feet and climbing as high as 9,000 feet above sea level.
Haley was consistent against the field throughout the race. He was in 17th place after about 50 kilometers, and he dipped one spot to 18th where he stayed for most of the latter half of the race. Haley finished 18thoverall in 25:35:00.
Ron Hammett, 47, of Las Vegas, Nev., won the race comfortably in a time of 18:08:17. Runner-up Miguel Perez, 35, of Fort Bliss, Texas, followed in 19:44:27. The top 14 runners finished in less than 24 hours.
Thirty-three runners finished the race within the 31-hour time limit.
North Face Endurance Challenge – Utah
The North Face Endurance Challenge rolled into Utah on Saturday, Sept. 23, for its fourth of five stops throughout the United States on its 2017 tour, and the 50-mile and 50K races at Park City Mountain Resort were the first of the series to test runners with altitude.
Unlike the series’ second stop – June 10 in Massachusetts – the Utah races offered longer time limits for the ultramarathons (15 hours rather than 14 in the 50-miler; and 11 hours rather than 10 for the 50K), although the Bay State races at Wachusett Mountain challenged runners with more elevation gain.
The weekend’s main event, the 50-mile race, had 90 finishers within the 15-hour time limit. Blake Zufall, 22, of Redding, Calif., was the winner at that distance in 8:29:17. No Massachusetts runners were in the field.
A pair of Massachusetts men were a part of the field for the 50K race. Plymouth’s Matt Tavares, 40, and Cambridge’s Peter Thorne, 55, both traveled West to race in the Wasatch Mountains on a course that included more than 5,100 feet of gain – all of it above 7,000 feet.
Tavares finished 84th overall in 7:19:17. Thorne – a 10-time finisher of the Endurance Challenge’s Bear Mountain 50K in New York – completed the race in 9:59:24. One hundred and fifty-four runners completed the race within 11 hours, led by 24-year-old Andrew Knapik of Salt Lake City, Utah, in 4:37:39.
*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.