Kelsey Allen of Wendell and Amy Rusiecki of South Deerfield represented Massachusetts with strong races at the tough Hellgate 100K in Virginia on Saturday in the most high-profile of the weekend’s out-of-state ultramarathons. Additionally, Bolton’s Sandra Richards turned in a fast 50K in Florida, and Nick Velonis of Danvers ran a 50K in California. Their races are featured in one of the final roundups of 2017.
One minute after midnight on Saturday, Dec. 9, 140 runners took off from the starting line of the Hellgate 100K in Fincastle, Va., and began their journey through the Blue Ridge Mountains.
All but two spent at least a half-day on the trail, climbing more than 12,000 feet along the way, and 116 finished within the 18-hour time limit. That included two Massachusetts women who were among the fastest ladies in the field and earned finishes among the top 30 overall runners.
In a fast women’s field, Wendell’s Kelsey Allen and South Deerfield’s Amy Rusiecki both had strong days on the trail – and in the snow for the latter half of the race – and were among the top eight women who all finished in less than 14 hours.
Hannah Bright, 22, of Portland, Ore., followed up her runner-up performance from 2016 by battling to the win in 13:19:57, five minutes ahead of runner-up Kathleen Cusick, 42, of Indian Harbor Beach, Fla. Cusick won the Vermont 100 earlier this year. Alondra Moody rounded out the women’s podium a few minutes later when the 42-year-old from Andersonville, Tenn., finished in 13:29:42. Bright and Cusick were the 15th and 16th overall finishers, while Bright was 19th.
Allen and Rusiecki spent their day among the top quarter of the field, and they ran close with many of the fastest women for the duration of the race. In fact, just six minutes separated the fifth through eighth ladies with Allen, 34, placing fifth in 13:51:55 (23rd overall), and Rusiecki, 38, crossing the finish line side by side with Meghan Hicks, 39, of Moab, Utah, in a tie for seventh in 13:58:27. Both tied for 29th overall.
The overall victory went to Matt Thompson in 11:22:09. Thompson was the 2016 runner-up behind Brian Rusiecki.
Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic
The Tallahassee Ultra Distance Festival has long been known as the site for fast times. The event, which began in 1980 at Wakulla Springs State Park in Wakulla Springs, Fla., was the site of four USATF 50K American records.
No new records were established at the 37th annual event on Saturday, Dec. 9, but there were still plenty of fast time on the flat, fast 10K paved loop course.
Of the 45 runners who completed five loops of the course for a 50K, the top two broke four hours, led by 60-year-old Thomas Dever of Terre Haute, Ind., who won in 3:38:23. His closest competitor, 48-year-old Tallahassee resident Jack McDermott, finished 20 minutes later. The top eight runners broke five hours, including first-place female Kat Sack, 26, of Tallahassee who placed fifth overall in 4:15:24.
Most of the runners hailed from Florida, but two traveled from New England. Women’s runner-up Johanna Rogers, 53, of Islesboro, Maine, placed seventh overall in 4:29:29. The ninth-place female finisher was 54-year-old Sandra Richards of Bolton, Mass., who finished 22nd overall in 6:02:38.
In addition to the 50K race, 12 runners completed the 50-mile race in less than 11 hours led by Peter Strickland, 39, of Rome, Ga., in 7:28:37.
Spooner’s Cove 50K
Nick Velonis traveled farther than any other runner in the field to compete in his first ultramarathon, the Spooner’s Cove 50K, on Sunday, Dec. 10, in Los Osos, Calif. Velonis, 26, of Danvers, Mass., was one of 11 runners to complete the 50K within the nine-hour time limit, and he was one of just two competitors from outside the Golden State.
The 50K was the longest race in the distance festival offering, which also included 8K, 13K, 25K, and 37K offerings. The 50K was two loops of the 25K course.
A three-man race unfolded in the battle for the victory as the remainder of the field fell far behind. The youngest runner in the field, 19-year-old Mitchell McLaughlin of Chico, Calif., brought home the victory in 5:26:18, holding off 49-year-old Eric Moe of Orcutt, Calif., by four minutes. Velonis rounded out the podium with a time of 5:38:10, more than an hour ahead of the fourth-place finisher.
*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.