From the desert heat of Arizona, to the finally arriving New England fall in Rhode Island, to the plains of Kansas and the lakefront in Chicago, ultrarunners from Massachusetts took on diverse climates and courses beyond the Bay State on Oct. 29-30. This week’s roundup takes you to the Javelina Jundred, the Rhode Island 6-Hour Ultra, the Kansas Rails-to-Trails Fall Classic, and the Chicago Lakefront 50-miler.
Cooler fall temperatures are settling in on New England residents, but a few ultrarunners from Massachusetts sought out a bit more heat with a trip to the Arizona desert when they took part in the 15th annual Javelina Jundred on Oct. 28-29 in Fountain Hills, Ariz.
The temperature soared to near 90 degrees as runners took on the first few loops of the five-loop course consisting mostly of sand, rocks, and granite. The race has featured plenty of fast times in recent years, and that included a course-record performance this year by 30-year-old Patrick Regan of Savannah, Ga., who smashed the course record in 13:01:14 in his 100-mile debut. Previous course record-holder Zach Bitter, 31, of Sacramento, Calif., finished second in 13:52:53. First-place female honors went to 30-year-old Larisa Dannis of Manchester, N.H., who placed sixth overall in a speedy 16:32:17.
Three Massachusetts residents were among the 348 finishers within the 30-hour time limit. Matt Elam led the way as the 26-year-old from Allston placed 118th overall in 24:17:15. Javelina was Elam’s second 100-mile finish – he completed the Vermont 100 in 2016 – and it served as a bit of redemption after a leg injury forced him to drop from The Bear 100 in September.
Joining Elam at the Javelina finish line were 48-year-old David Diriwachter of Vineyard Haven who completed his first 100-miler in 25:22:06, and 53-year-old Adena Schutzberg of Somerville who earned redemption for a 2016 DNF at Javelina by completing this year’s race in 29:03:17.
Three more Massachusetts residents were among the 161 runners who completed three loops of the course for a 100K finish. Stacia Broderick led the way for the Bay State contingent as the 39-year-old from Vineyard Haven finished 10th overall and sixth among a stout ladies’ field in 11:15:07. Additionally, 48-year-old Todd Cleland of Oak Bluffs and 41-year-old Anthony Holand of Vineyard Haven finished together in 16:09:08.
Only two runners completed the 100K in less than 10 hours. Makai Clemons, 21, of Flagstaff, Ariz., was the overall winner in 8:32:41, and the top female – 42-year-old Caroline Boller of Solvang, Calif. – placed second overall in 9:34:32.
Rhode Island 6-Hour Ultra
Retirement was planned for the Rhode Island 6-Hour Ultra after its 2016 event, but popular demand convinced the race director to bring the Ocean State’s oldest ultramarathon back for another year.
The revived race reinvented itself for its ninth annual running on Saturday, Oct. 28, in Chepachet, R.I. After eight years of taking place on an asphalt loop at Warwick City Park, the race moved to Pulaski Memorial State Park and transitioned to an approximately 2.6-mile dirt and grass loop free from rocks and roots. The friendly terrain made the event accommodating for first-time trail-runners, as well as for veterans aiming for personal speed and distance records.
Scott Defusco had close competition from Scott Deslongchamps and Seth Acton throughout the day, but Defusco was the lone runner to complete a 15th loop of the course. Defusco, 41, of Beverly, Mass., covered approximately 39 miles in 5:49:33 and earned the overall victory.
Deslongchamps, 47, of North Grosvenordale, Conn., and Acton, 39, of Charlestown, R.I., both completed 14 loops (36.4 miles) to round out the men’s podium. Deslongchamps did so in 5:39:02; Acton finished in 5:40:21.
Wendy Billings-Litke, 42, of Pawtucket, R.I., was the top women’s finisher with 12 loops and 31.2 miles completed in 5:53:11, good for 10th overall.
Of the 43 runners who took part, 18 went beyond the marathon distance by completing at least 11 loops (28.6 miles). That included Thomas O’Shea, 42, of Wilmington, Mass., who was sixth overall with 13 loops in 5:53:32; and Lawrence Walker, 50, of Whitinsville, Mass., who finished seventh overall with 12 loops in 5:36:43. Additionally, 56-year-old Jim Lambert of Webster, Mass., and 57-year-old Bob Warren of Attleboro, Mass., both finished 11 loops within the time limit.
Kansas Rails-to-Trails Fall Ultra Extravaganza
Benjamin Simanski has steadily marched toward 100 miles in 2017, and the 34-year-old from Greenfield, Mass., hit that major milestone in the heartland.
He completed 31 miles in less than 4 1/2 hours at the Runamuck 50K in April, and then completed 73 1/2 miles in 24 hours at the Anchor Down Ultra in August. Simanski completed triple-digit miles at the Kansas Rails-to-Trails Fall Ultra Extravaganza on Oct. 28-29 in Ottawa, Kan.
Racing on an out-and-back course with minimal elevation change and plenty of crushed gravel, Simanski earned an 11th-place overall finish in 23:14:38.
Of the 18 runners completed 100 miles within the 30-hour time limit, 14 did so in less than 24 hours.
A close battle unfolded at the front of the field with three runners dueling for the win down the stretch. Travis McCathie, 36, of Richfield, Minn., ultimately prevailed with the overall victory in 17:21:41, five minutes ahead of runner-up David Theriot, 43, of Sand Springs, Okla. The women’s champion, 37-year-old Whitney Richman of North Chesterfield, Va., was a close third overall in 17:34:30.
The Fall Ultra Extravaganza also offered 50-mile and 50K distances.
Chicago Lakefront Fall 50-Mile
Fall in Chicago can be both scenic and chilly, especially along the lakefront. That didn’t stop Tara Jennings from traveling to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Lakefront Fall 50-Mile race on Saturday, Oct. 28.
Jennings, 36, of Cambridge, Mass., covered four out-and-backs on pavement along the Lakefront running patch and finished in 10:35:05. She was one of 48 runners to complete the race within the 11-hour time limit.
The overall victory went to 27-year-old Geoff Burns of Ann Arbor, Mich., in 5:14:55. The first-place female, 36-year-old Tera Moody of Chicago, was the overall runner-up in 6:20:22.
*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.