MassUltra Roundup: Orcas Island 100

Lisa Rising gets this week’s roundup all to herself. The Cambridge resident made her 100-mile debut on a beastly course at the Orcas Island 100 in Washington, and she conquered the climbing and the cold along the way to crossing the finish line.

Orcas Island 100

It wasn’t long ago – December 2015 – when Lisa Rising made her ultramarathon debut at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K in San Francisco. She followed that up with a breakthrough performance at her first local ultra by earning a victory at the 2016 TARC Summer Classic 40-miler, and setting a course record along the way.

Since then, Rising – a 27-year-old resident of Cambridge, Mass. – has been a mainstay on the ultrarunning scene, notching 50-mile finishes at Run Rabbit Run in Colorado, the Squamish 50 in British Columbia, and the Big Brad Ultras 50-miler in Maine. She closed out 2017 with a runner-up finish at the Fells Winter Ultra 40-miler at the Middlesex Fells Reservation in Stoneham, Mass.

After spending a little more than two years building a strong foundation as an ultrarunner, Rising was ready for a bigger challenge: the 100-mile distance. No 100-miler is easy – that’s a long way to go, no matter the distance – but Rising selected a particularly difficult 100-miler for her debut at that distance.

Lisa Rising
Cambridge resident Lisa Rising, pictured competing at the 2017 Fells Winter Ultra, made her 100-mile debut at the 2018 Orcas Island 100 in Washington. File photo/MassUltra.

The Orcas Island 100 in Olga, Wash., had its first running in 2016, but in three short years it has earned a reputation as one of the toughest 100-milers on the West Coast. The four-loop course consists almost entirely of singletrack trails, is usually very cold, and challenges runners with around 26,000 feet of vertical gain.

Rising was well prepared for Orcas Island following a big 2017 racing season. Her final long training day came two weeks prior to race day on the sand in Barnstable, Mass., when she ran the Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass 50K. Her legs were ready as she stepped to the starting line alongside 90 other runners on Friday, Feb. 9. Of them, 69 would ultimately cross the finish line by the time the 36-hour time limit expired. Rising was among them.

Unlike prior years, 2018 was dry at Orcas Island so Rising and her fellow runners mostly had to combat the cold and the climbing. Highs in the 40s and lows in the upper 20s made for manageable conditions while marching up and down the hills and taking in panoramic views.

Rising completed her first lap in 6:34:10 and hit the halfway point in 13:28:27. Lap three took Rising through the night, lasted nearly 9 1/2 hours, and allowed her to see the sunrise. She knocked out her final loop about an hour faster and crossed the finish line in 31:24:53. Her performance earned her 38th place overall and 10th place among the women.

Jordan Wirfs-Brock, 33, of Golden, Colo., posted the third-best performance on the women’s record board with her winning time of 24:41:37. She finished 15th overall. Orcas Island regular Van Pham, 46, of Maple Valley, Wash, was the ladies’ runner-up in 25:28:53, followed by 44-year-old Lee Conner of Cleveland, Ohio, in 26:24:39.

Men’s champion Gabe Joyes, 32, of Lander, Wyo., delivered the second-best time in course history with his victory in 19:39:24. He missed Michael LeBlanc’s course-record from 2016 by 20 minutes. Colin Miller, 39, of Lions Bay, B.C., finished second in 20:11:53, followed by 31-year-old Mark Marzen of Denver, Colo., in 20:38:31.

*Editor’s Note: Results are found on a variety of sites, including, 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.

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