A large portion of New England ultrarunners have had their sights set on this weekend’s Ghost Train Ultras; more than 300 will take on the multiple out-and-back course in Brookline, N.H. Not everyone has been focused on Ghost Train, however. Runners have traveled beyond Massachusetts to tackle a variety of ultras across the United States. This includes races in Maine, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Utah and Canada in recent weekends. No performance was longer than the 238-mile journey that Norton’s Christopher Cappellini delivered at the inaugural Moab 240, and his effort leads off this week’s roundup.
One of Massachusetts’ fastest performers at triple-digit distances delivered on the national level, too, as Christopher Cappellini secured a spot on the men’s podium at the inaugural Moab 240 – a 238-mile footrace through the Abajo Mountains and La Sal Mountains – that followed a giant loop starting and finishing in Moab, Utah.
The race began Oct. 13, and runners had 112 hours to complete the distance while also tackling nearly 30,000 feet of vertical gain.
Cappellini, 51, of Norton, Mass., was one of 127 runners who started the race and among the fastest of the 98 who finished within the allotted time. He finished fourth overall and was the third-place male finisher in 68 hours, 43 minutes, 42 seconds. Only six runners completed the course in less than 70 hours.
The most head-turning performance was delivered by overall champion Courtney Dauwalter. The 32-year-old from Golden, Colo., demolished the field by a nearly 10-hour margin with her winning time of 57:55:13. The performance was just the latest in a year of spectacular efforts for Dauwalter. Among her strong finishes previously in 2017 were a 155.39-mile performance in finishing first overall at the Riverbank One Day 24-hour event in February in California, and a sixth-place overall finish (first female) at the Run Rabbit Run 100 in September in Colorado.
The first-place male finisher and second overall runner Sean Nakamura, 38, of San Diego, Calif., finished in 67:50:10 – almost 10 hours after Dauwalter. Michael McKnight, 27, of Smithfield, Utah, was the third finisher and second male in 68:26:38, followed 17 minutes later by Cappellini.
The 238-mile race was the longest yet for Cappellini. He has finished numerous 100-milers – including a first-place finish at the 2014 TARC 100, and finishes at the Grand Canyon, Leadville, Oil Creek, Vermont, and Grindstone 100-milers – and he logged a winning tally of 121.409 miles at the 2014 24-Hour Around the Lake Ultra. More recently, he notched 129.85 miles in 2016 and 115.15 miles in 2017 during victories in the 24-Hour Anchor Down Ultra race in Rhode Island, and he placed second overall in the Bigfoot 120-miler in 2016.
Cappellini was the lone Massachusetts runner to take on the Moab 240.
Big Brad Ultras
A trio of speedy ladies put on a show at the sixth annual Big Brad Ultras on Sunday, Oct. 15, at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, Maine. The top three women in the 50-mile race all broke the course record by a considerable margin – including Massachusetts resident Lisa Rising.
Rising, 26, of Cambridge, spent her day trying to track down Jennifer Vandongen, 40, of Bar Harbor, Maine, and 42-year-old Gnarls Barclay of Falmouth, Maine, as the trio of ladies all raced at record pace on the three-loop, technical singletrack course. Vandongen – who won the 50K race in 2016 – pulled away and smashed the course record by more than an hour, winning in 8:20:49. Barclay finished 20 minutes later in 8:40:27, followed by Rising in 9:03:11.
The previous course record of 9:28:34, set by Laura Perry in 2016, slipped to the fourth-best time on the race’s record board.
The third-place finish (sixth overall) marked the best ultramarathon performance for Rising this year. She was the sixth-place female at the Pisgah Mountain 50K in September, and was the 12th-place female finisher in the 50-mile race at the highly competitive Squamish 50 in British Columbia in August.
The lone Bay State male 50-mile finisher was Stow resident Sam Farnsworth. The 57-year-old finished 10thoverall and was the seventh-place male in 10:50:57. Eighteen runners completed the 50-mile race. Beau Langevin, 38, of Biddeford, Maine, was the first-place male and top overall finisher in 8:01:54. The runner-up spot went to 27-year-old Jason Smith of Bath, Maine, in 8:04:17.
A pair of Maine residents – on the men’s side, 39-year-old Shiloh Schulte of Kennebunk, and on the women’s side, 32-year-old Jasmine Daigle of Peru – swept the 50K wins. Schulte’s overall victory came in 4:30:52, while Daigle led the ladies in 5:47:15.
Fifty runners completed the 50K within nine hours, including four Massachusetts residents. Steve Fleck, 33, of Mendon, led the Bay State contingent with his 12th-place finish in 5:24:09. Woburn’s Jeff LeBlanc, 32, placed 30th overall in 6:39:11. Additionally, Andover’s Michael Grobicki, 28, finished in 7:13:08, and Beverly’s Bart McCarthy, 45, finished in 8:38:05.
Two United States residents were among 43 runners to successfully complete the Bromont 160-kilometer (100-mile) race Oct. 7-8 in Bromont, Quebec. Both hailed from New England, including one from Massachusetts.
Chris Bustard, 29, of Cambridge, finished 35th overall in 31:50:57. Bromont marked the fourth 100-mile finish for Bustard, who logged his first triple-digit finish in 2014 at Run Woodstock, then finished Rocky Raccoon in 2015 and The Bear 100 in 2016.
The other US resident, Prem Famille of Richmont, Vt., placed 27th in 30:45:32.
Runners had 34 hours to complete the course, which consisted of two loops and a combined total of more than 21,000 feet of gain on mostly singletrack trails and dirt roads.
A Bromont local, Alister Gardner, earned the overall victory in 21:43:39. The only other runner to finish in less than 24 hours was Pierre-Michel Arcand of Verdun in 23:37:59.
No Business 100
Haroldas Subertas didn’t pick an easy race to make his 100-mile debut. The 26-year-old resident of Amesbury, Mass., competed at the inaugural running of the No Business 100 on Oct. 14-15. The race, which started and finished in the abandoned mining town of Blue Heron, Ky., took place on a large loop course that tested runners with plenty of technical singletrack and around 11,000 feet of climbing while navigating through the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Runners traveled through two states during the course of the loop as the trail took runners into Tennessee for part of the 100.8-mile race.
Subertas made a strong showing in his debut at the 100-mile distance. He was the fifth-place male finisher and seventh overall in 24:19:14. The top six finishers completed the race in less than 24 hours.
The overall victory and women’s title went to 40-year-old Alondra Moody of Andersonville, Tenn., who cruised to the win in 20:30:26. The second-place finisher and men’s champion, 30-year-old Kyle Jacobson of Nashville, Tenn., finished 80 minutes later in 21:50:34. Thirty-four runners completed the race within the 32-hour time limit.
Oil Creek Ultras
More than 300 ultrarunners packed the starting line of the ninth annual Oil Creek Ultras on Saturday, Oct. 14, at Oil Creek State Park in Titusville, Pa., to take on the multi-loop course for 50K, 100K or even 100-mile distances. Among the crowd at the starting line was Dawn McCollough of Natick, Mass.
McCollough, 46, was taking part in the 50K race – her second ultra of the year (she ran the Big Bend Ultra 50K in Texas in January) – and her second trip to Oil Creek. Previously, McCollough finished the 100K distance in 2015.
McCollough conquered the 50K course and its approximately 5,500 feet of vertical gain in 9:13:51, making her one of 163 runners to complete the course within the 17-hour time limit. Brian Frank, 44, of Clarion, Pa., was the overall winner in 4:41:51. Melissa Goodman, 39, of Franklin, Pa., was the first-place woman and ninth overall finisher in 5:29:04.
No Massachusetts runners finished the 100-mile or 100K races.
Farm to Farm Ultras
Scott Defusco has had a series of dynamite performances at ultramarathon distances in 2017 without quite reaching the top of the podium. He was the runner-up at the Vegan Power 50K in June, finished third overall at the Jug End Loop Ultra in July, and then knocked out 100.45 miles while finishing fourth at the Anchor Down Ultra 24-hour run in August.
Defusco finally notched his victory at the Farm to Farm Ultra 50K on Sunday, Oct. 8, in Freeport, Maine. The 40-year-old resident of Beverly, Mass., cruised through two out-and-backs from Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport to Crystal Spring Community Farm in nearby Brunswick faster than any other runner as he blazed to victory in 4:08:56. Defusco’s nearest competitor, 38-year-old Bradley Merrill of Augusta, Maine, was a distant second in 5:06:09. The women’s champion, 35-year-old Tanya Holbrook of Portland, Maine, finished fourth overall in 5:42:43.
Two other Massachusetts residents – 27-year-old Nicole Rittershaus and 26-year-old Alexander Rittershaus, both of Lynn – also completed the 50K. Nicole finished in 7:55:38, and Alexander crossed the finish line three seconds later.
Farm to Farm also offered a 50-mile race that consisted of three out-and-backs. Five runners finished that distance, led by 52-year-old Susan Kent of Tiverton, R.I., in 8:19:27. No Massachusetts residents raced the 50-miler.
*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.