After a quiet start to 2018, the Massachusetts ultrarunning season kicked into high gear Feb. 17-18 as local runners traveled to eight ultras across the country. In doing so, they took on diverse, scenic terrain, and many turned in impressive performances. From fast times in Arizona, New Jersey and Virginia, to the scenic slickrock of Moab and jungle of the Everglades, runners scattered to six states for eight distinctly different races. In doing so, this week’s roundup is a novel. Grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable – there’s a lot to read this week.
Black Canyon Ultras
The second batch of Golden Ticket entries into the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run were up for grabs at the fifth annual Black Canyon Ultras’ 100K race on Saturday, Feb. 17, in Mayer, Ariz., and as a result a pack that was both massive and speedy turned up at the starting line. That included a handful of runners from Massachusetts, one of which was among the fastest in the field.
The point-to-point course through the Sonoran Desert took runners over singletrack dirt, jeep roads, and an abandoned stagecoach path as they ran along the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail. It challenged them with 7,000 feet of climbing – most of it late on the back-loaded course – and 8,900 feet of pounding downhill.
Greg Soutiea of Quincy, Mass., ran near the front of the pack throughout the race. More than 400 runners toed the starting line, and the 33-year-old Soutiea was one of 12 to complete the course in less than 10 hours. Soutiea earned a 10th-place overall finish and was the eighth-place male in 9:33:40.
The top two men and women were rewarded for their efforts with Golden Ticket entries into June’s Western States 100. Arizona resident Tim Freiks, 27, of Flagstaff, earned the top spot among the men and the overall victory in 8:12:06. The second men’s Golden Ticket went to Juan Moran, 35, as the resident of Beloit, Wisc., placed third overall in 8:53:35 – 40 minutes ahead of Soutiea for the final Western States berth. The top two women smashed the old course record on their way to securing the Golden Tickets. Alissa MacDonald, 37, of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada, outkicked the men’s runner-up to the finish line and secured the win and second overall in 8:53:33. Courtney Dauwalter, 33, of Golden, Colo., was sixth overall and the women’s runner-up in 9:18:33.
Three more Massachusetts runners joined Soutiea in the top 100 overall finishers. Billy Hafferty, 30, of Boston followed up his win three weeks earlier at the Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass 50K by placing 50th in the fast field in 11:48:38. Hafferty lived in Arizona for a few months in 2016, and Black Canyon was his first race in the Grand Canyon State since his 11th-place finish at the Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach 55K in 2016.
Another local runner, 39-year-old Brendan Chambers of Taunton, made his 100K debut with an 85th-place overall finish in 12:45:22. His previous longest distance came in November when he finished the Stone Cat 50-miler in 9:13:23.
The lone Massachusetts woman to compete was 34-year-old Boston resident Kristin Scott. The runner-up at the Burning River 100-miler and winner of the Pineland Farms 50-miler in 2017, Scott raced well against a national field and finished 21st among the women and 92nd overall in 12:57:12.
Other Massachusetts runners who finished the 100K were 57-year-old Sam Farnsworth of Stow in 15:13:46; 33-yar-old Colin Wickes of Norton in 19:22:55, and 33-year-old Matthew Swoveland of Boston in 19:36:49. Of the 436 runners who started the race, 353 finished within the 20-hour time limit.
A 60K race was also offered, and 135 runners finished within the 12-hour time limit. That included 53-year-old Peter MacEwen of Beverly, Farms, Mass. MacEwen is a regular at the Vermont 50 – he has finished the 50K six years in a row, and also completed the 50K at Bear Mountain New York in 2017 – and Black Canyon marked his first ultra outside of the Northeast. He held his own just fine, placing 14th overall and taking 11th among the men in 6:22:33. Another New Englander, 37-year-old Ryan Welts of Tamworth, N.H., finished 33 seconds before MacEwen. The overall victory went to 27-year-old Daniel Nix of Sierra Vista, Ariz., in 5:03:40.
Carl Bender’s 50-mile debut came in dominating fashion at the Feebapple 50 on Saturday, Feb. 17, in Maplewood, N.J. The 25-year-old resident of Medford, Mass., tackled the five-loop course on singletrack trails, dirt roads, and a little bit of pavement, and he led the race wire-to-wire.
Bender posted a winning time of 9:04:39. His closest competition came from women’s champion Olivia O’Neill. The 26-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y., was a close second in 9:12:13. The second-place male, 36-year-old Jesse Wolfgang of Boonton, N.J., placed third overall in 9:37:23. The top four runners completed the distance in less than 10 hours.
While Bender blazed to a victory, he wasn’t the only runner from the Bay State to turn in a stellar day. He was joined in the top 10 by 19-year-old Ryan Weil of Yarmouth Port, Mass. Weil finished eighth overall and was the seventh-place male in 11:01:02. The race was Weil’s second ultramarathon and first 50-miler. He made his ultra debut in May 2017 at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K at Bear Mountain, N.Y.
Sixteen runners officially finished the 50-mile race within the 12-hour time limit.
In addition to the 50-mile race, 42 runners completed the 50K distance within 9 1/2 hours. That included 26-year-old Emily Macaluso of Roslindale, Mass., who finished in 6:44:36. Dmitriy Grigoryev, 40, of Fort Lee, N.J., was the overall winner of the 50K, and 41-year-old Jasmine Chiaramonte of Jenkinstown, Pa., was the women’s champion and second overall finisher in 4:36:24.
Holiday Lake 50K++
For the second straight year, Amy Rusiecki opened her ultra racing season in Virginia at the Holiday Lake 50K++ in Appomattox. The two plus signs represent the bonus distance that typically comes with race director and ultrarunning legend David Horton’s events. What’s different about Horton’s Holiday Lake race, however, is its limited amount of elevation change.
“This isn’t a typical Horton race with crazy amounts of climbing,” Rusiecki said, noting Virginia’s Beast Series races get progressively tougher as the year goes along. Holiday Lake and its two-loop course and around 2,000 feet of climbing makes it beginner-friendly as well as a nice early-season warmup for seasoned veterans.
Rusiecki, 38, of South Deerfield, Mass., turned in a solid first effort of the year at the 21st annual race on Saturday, Feb. 17. She cruised through her two trips around the course in 4:49:46 and was the first-place woman.
“It went well,” Rusiecki said. “It was fun to run on non-frozen ground for a change. It was a good day, and Horton just puts on a good event.”
Rusiecki’s closest competitor, 24-year-old Kristen Anderson, was the runner-up in 4:58:31. Shannon Howell, 39, of Simpsonville, S.C., rounded out the ladies’ podium in 5:00:58.
The men’s victory went to 38-year-old Mike Fox of Shipman, Va., in 3:57:45. He was the only runner among 166 finishers to complete the race in less than four hours. Runners had eight hours to finish.
Moab’s Red Hot 55K
A pair of Boston residents found one of the most scenic locations in the United States to run their first ultramarathons when they raced through a mixture of desert and mountain environments of Moab, Utah, on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Moab’s Red Hot 55K. As they raced on red dirt and classic red slickrock, views of Arches National Park loomed in the distance. Meanwhile, a speedy race unfolded around them.
When all was said and done, Boston residents Matt Evans and Melissa Grip both completed their inaugural ultras. Evans, 31, placed 44th overall in 5:39:17. Grip, 23, completed the race in 7:54:57.
The men’s victory went to Anthony Costales, 29, of Salt Lake City, Utah, in 3:37:06, followed by 24-year-old Benjamin Stout of Bellevue, Idaho, in 3:54:03. Former Boston resident Kyle Pietari, 31, rounded out the top three as the Edgewater, Colo., resident finished in 4:08:54. Cat Bradley, 26, of Boulder, Colo., finished first in the women’s field in 4:54:40. The reigning Western States Endurance Run champion, Bradley easily outdistanced the rest of the field, starting with runner-up Emily Hawgood, 23, of Beatrice, Zimbabwe, who finished in 5:15:52.
211 runners finished within 10 1/2 hours.
Beast of Burden – Winter
Blizzard conditions were avoided at this year’s winter edition of the Beast of Burden Ultramarathon, but the absence of extreme conditions at the race Feb. 18-19 in Lockport, N.Y., didn’t mean it was easy by any means. After all, 100 miles is still 100 miles. Additionally, the course’s absence of hills – it consists of four out-and-backs on the flat Erie Canal Towpath – it makes up for by pounding the same muscles and joints in the same way over and over. The result is fatigued muscles and plenty of pain.
Ultimately, 21 runners were up to the challenge within the 30-hour time limit, and the top eight runners finished in less than 24 hours. Adam Eckberg covered the distance faster than anyone as the 31-year-old from Jamestown, N.Y., finished in 16:40:33. His closest competitor, 23-year-old Lance Parker of Montpelier, Vt., was a distant second in 18:28:59.
The lone Massachusetts resident to finish the race – Michael Condella – has become something of a regular at the event. The 30-year-old from Revere, Mass., placed sixth overall in 21:54:59, two minutes ahead of Jesse Howes, 37, of Suffield, Conn. For Condella, it was his third time finishing the winter Beast of Burden. He also finished the summer version in 2015. Condella’s history with the winter race dates back to 2014 when he made his first attempt at running 100 miles but failed to finish. He returned in 2015 and crossed the finish line in 28:11:46. He finished again in 2016 in 25:58:02. The 2018 performance marked his personal-best time at the distance.
Additionally, 32 runners completed two out-and-backs of the course in the 50-mile race. That included 33-year-old Marie Gryszowka of Spencer, Mass., who finished in 14:05:09.
Virginia Beach Distance Races
The stated goal of the Virginia Beach Distance Races was to create an environment that would runners to earn personal-record times, and the flat, fast 2-3.-mile loop on asphalt made an ideal setting for obstacle-free running.
Jimmy Stavlo was one of the runners who was up for the challenge. The 28-year-old resident of Falmouth, Mass., was one of seven runners who completed the 100K distance within the 12-hour time limit on Sunday, Feb. 18, at Bow Creek Golf Course in Virginia Beach. He finished fourth overall in a personal-best time of 10:15:31 – easily surpassing his previous 100K PR of 13:42:38 from the 2014 Bandera 100K in Texas.
Behnam Kamrani, 43, of Karaj, Iran, won the race in 9:22:19, followed by 35-year-old Josh Sanders of Kalamazoo, Mich., in 9:44:02. They were the lone runners to finish in less than 10 hours. Jimmy Stavlo, 28, of Falmouth, Mass., finished fourth in 10:15:31. Additionally, 56 runners completed the 50K race within 9 1/2 hours.
SCT Dawn to Dusk 12-Hour
Twelve hours on pavement in flat Florida can put a heavy pounding on runners, but Adena Schutzberg pounded back hard at the fourth annual SCT Dawn to Dusk 12-Hour Ultra on Saturday, Feb. 17, at Ft. Mellon Park in Sanford, Fla. The race took place on a one-mile loop around the park’s sidewalks, making for fast running on a hard surface.
Schutzberg had quite the day for herself. The 53-year-old resident of Somerville, Mass., logged 53 loops around the park for 53 miles. That earned her second-place honors in the women’s field and a fourth-place overall finish. Only women’s and overall champion 33-year-old Jennifer Jordan of Heathrow, Fla. (65 miles) and the top two men (58 and 56 laps) covered more ground during the half-day run.
Don Keren spends most of his time logging miles around New England, but the 62-year-old resident of Melrose, Mass., opted for a change of scenery when he headed to Florida for the Everglades Ultras. Keren opted for the 50K distance on Saturday, Feb. 17, in Copeland, Fla., although a 50-mile race was available, too. He took on a course that wound through Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park on old logging trails.
Ultimately, Keren was one of 65 runners to complete the 50K within 11 1/2 hours. He placed 49th overall in 7:58:16. Ramon Palomo, 36, of Miami, Fla., earned the victory in 4:26:24, just two minutes ahead of runner-up Mark Brose, 49, of Minneapolis, Minn.
Additionally, 23 runners completed the 50-mile race within the 14-hour time limit, though none were from New England.
*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.