Thanksgiving loomed just five days away, but Joshua Fiore wasn’t at the Trail Animals Running Club’s second annual TARCkey Trot 6-Hour Run on Saturday, Nov. 18, hoping to burn off a few extra calories before chowing down on a holiday feast.
Instead, Fiore came to the race at Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester, Mass., and Whipple Hill in neighboring Lexington with his sights set on a much grander goal four weeks later.
Fiore, 36, of North Andover, Mass., will travel to Iceland for the Spartan Ultra World Championship in mid-December, and he thought a tough day of running with his local trail community would be an ideal final tune-up for the big event.
“My motivating factor for doing the TARCkey Trot 6-Hour Race was two-sided,” Fiore noted. “One, I love any TARC race because of the amazing community of racers, and Josh (Katzman) creates these amazing yet really tough courses on local trails. Secondly, I’m going to Iceland for the Spartan Ultra World Championship, which is a five-mile (obstacle course race) course over 24 hours, so this was a perfect long-distance training run.”
Fiore has big goals for Iceland.
“My three goals are to win, and if not that then podium (top three), and above all else have fun!” he said.
He accomplished the latter two at TARCkey Trot.
Fiore was one of 79 runners to take part in the six-hour event, and he was one of 15 who completed enough 3.1-mile loops through the winding, rocky, hilly, leaf-covered trails of Whipple Hill to surpass the marathon distance.
Fiore admitted he was surprised by just how technical the trails were, but he loved the variability of the terrain. He also loved the competition provided by his fellow runners, including defending champion Patrick Caron, 20, of Needham, Mass., and Beau Langevin, 38, of Biddeford, Maine.
“My plan was to stick with Patrick or at least keep him in my sights,” Fiore said, “but man was I wrong! After he lost me on the first loop my plan was to be conservative and push it in the end. Beau, another phenomenal ultrarunner, really pushed me every time I saw him starting the next loop as I was just finishing it.”
Fiore’s pursuit of Langevin ultimately propelled him to a strong finish. Both completed 34.1 miles, with Langevin – who has victories at the Riverlands 100, TARC Summer Classic 50K, Trust Trail Fest Marathon and Big Brad Ultras 50-Miler to his credit this year – finishing a few minutes ahead of Fiore for second place. Fiore was third.
“We actually ended very close to each other in the end, which I was ecstatic about with his race resume,” Fiore said.
Fiore actually contemplated trying to squeeze in one final loop since there was still time on the clock. He did so in March in the snow at the To Hale and Back 6-Hour Run at Hale Reservation and crossed that finish line with moments to spare, but he opted not to this time.
“This race I almost went out for a final lap with 26 minutes to spare, but to me even with the better trail conditions this course seemed more technical than the To Hale and Back course,” he said.
Caron successfully defended his title and broke his own course record by completing 40.3 miles. Caron ran 37.2 miles in 2016.
Seven runners finished 10 loops within the time limit for 31 miles, a solid 50K. Women’s champion Bess Ritter was the fastest of that bunch. The 30-year-old from Quaker Hill, Conn., finished fourth overall and secured top honors among the ladies. Women’s runner-up Bridget Ferrin-Smith, 36, of Danville, Vt., also completed 31 miles. She was seventh overall.
Other 31-mile finishers were William Jackson, 36, of Salem, Mass.; Tom Dmukauskas, 42, of Somerville, Mass.; Christopher Knighton, 29, of Boston, Mass.; Benjamin Silberman, 24, of Lexington, Mass.; and Paul Young, 52, of North Andover, Mass.
The third-, fourth- and fifth-place women all completed 27.9 miles. They were Kara Spera, 35, of Lynn, Mass.; Kristen Smith, 32, of Salem, Mass.; and Justine Cohen, 45, of Lexington, Mass.
Additionally, both John Fegyveresi, 40, of Quechee, Vt., and Adam Scully-Power, 43, of Weston, Mass., surpassed the marathon distance with nine loops completed for 27.9 miles.
In addition to the six-hour ultramarathon, runners also had the option of racing just one loop of the course for a 5K. Woburn’s Jeff LeBlanc and Winchester’s Renee Barrile were the winners of that race on trails close to their homes. LeBlanc, 31, finished first overall in the field of 21 runners in 29:35, nearly a minute ahead of runner-up Nathaniel Whelton, 25, of Norwell, Mass. Barrile, 41, was the women’s champion by more than two minutes and fifth overall in 31:45.
TARC Trail Series Finale
The TARC Trail Series will close out the 2017 season on Saturday, Dec. 2, with the Fells Winter Ultra 40-mile and 32-mile races at the Middlesex Fells Reservation in Stoneham, Mass. The race is sold out.