March opened with a flurry as Massachusetts ultrarunners took on courses as close as New York and as far away as Florida and California. Included among the notable performances were Dartmouth resident Brian Tjersland’s effort at the Dunes 100 where he was one of just seven finishers, and Boston resident Robert Lafranee’s top-five finish at the USATF 50K championships in New York.
The Dunes 100
As Brian Tjersland made his way through the sand along Sandy Neck Beach with a pack of friends during the Cape Cod Frozen Fatass 50K in late January, the 50-year-old resident of Dartmouth, Mass., was preparing for something bigger. He was a little more than a month away from toeing the starting line of The Dunes 100-Mile Run, so where better to train than through the dunes and along the beach on Cape Cod?
Tjersland’s training paid off. He was one of seven runners to complete the second annual Dunes 100 on March 3-4 at Dickinson State Park in Jupiter, Fla. Tjersland handled all four of the course’s out-and-backs just fine, navigating stretches of sandy trail over dunes, hard-packed dirt, wooden bridge crossings, and stretches through wetland prairie. Miranda Bachman, 48, of Pasco, Wash., secured the overall victory in 26:34:06, followed by 38-year-old Meredith Taylor of Coconut Creek, Fla., who placed second overall in 28:23:24. Tjersland earned second place among the men and fourth overall in 28:45:51. He finished 18 minutes behind men’s winner Lucien Boulet, 46, of Miami, Fla., who posted a time of 28:27:52.
Caumsett Park 50K
Robert Lafranee made his debut at the USATF 50K Championships on Sunday, March 4, at the Caumsett Park 50K in Lloyd Harbor, N.Y., and the 21-year-old Boston resident had a breakthrough performance. He hammered through 10 loops of the 5K paved course in 3:28:28 and placed fifth overall.
The men’s national championship went to 24-year-old Eric Lipuma of Boulder, Colo., who cruised to victory in 3:03:50. His closest competitor was 29-year-old Chris Raulli of Manlius, N.Y., in 3:15:10, followed by 43-year-old Aaron Heath of Chappaqua, N.Y., in 3:17:01. The women’s national championship went to 33-year-old Gabrielle Russo of Patchogue, N.Y., in 3:36:23.
In addition to Lafranee, two more Massachusetts residents were among the 91 finishers within the 7 1/2-hour time limit. Marblehead resident Terrence Pricher, 48, finished in 5:18:49, and Danvers resident Lee Dickey, 64, finished in 6:31:54.
Griffith Park 50K
A year after tackling his first 50K and 50-mile trail ultramarathons, Brendan Wiley is back for more.
The 42-year-old resident of Danvers, Mass., earned his first ultramarathon finish of 2018 – and his shortest ultra finish ever – at the Griffith Park 50K on Saturday, March 3, in Los Angeles, Calif. The race was part of the larger Griffith Park Trail Marathon endurance festival, and also included a half-marathon. Runners had nine hours to complete the 50K race, which was a little light on the distance at 29.4 miles. Making up for the short mileage was the inclusion of 6,200 feet of vertical gain.
Of the 122 runners who finished within the time limit, Wiley held his own just fine and placed 33rd overall in 5:50:11. Local Los Angeles resident Riccardo Tortini, 34, was the men’s champion in 3:44:45. He won by a 24-minute margin. Meanwhile, 45-year-old Veronica Alaniz of South Gate, Calif., was the women’s champion in 5:21:13.
Easy running and scenic miles were aplenty at the fourth annual Naked Bavarian 40-miler on Saturday, March 3, in Leesport, Pa. Runners tackled two loops of rolling singletrack trails and gravel roads around Blue Marsh Lake. A pair of Massachusetts residents were among the finishers for the second year in a row.
James Diggins, 49, of Norwell, Mass., placed 24th overall in 7:35:16, eight seconds shy of matching his time of 7:35:08 from 2017. Meanwhile, 41-year-old Kelly Adams of Hingham, Mass., placed 34th overall and was the seventh-place woman in 7:57:39. She knocked nearly two minutes off of her 2017 time of 7:59:19.
James Weaver, 25, of Denver, Pa., fended off 40-year-old David Stango of Aston, Pa., for the overall victory, winning by seven minutes in 5:34:57. Jasmine Chiaramonte, 41, of Meadowbrook, Pa., placed seventh overall and was the first-place woman in 6:30:57.
Seventy runners completed the race within 10 hours.
Way Too Cool 50K
The Way Too Cool 50K not only attracts a massive crowd each year, it also draws plenty of fast ultrarunners. That was the case again at the 29th annual race on Saturday, March 3, in Cool, Calif. More than 600 runners took on the course, which featured sections of the legendary Western States trail and 4,800 feet of climbing.
When all was said and done, the men’s and women’s course records still stood, but the all-time boards required some adjustments. Max King, 38, of Bend, Ore., posted the eighth-fastest men’s time in course history with his winning mark of 3:18:04. Hot on his heels was 22-year-old Jared Hazen of Flagstaff, Ariz., in 3:18:37. Hazen’s time was the 10th-fastest on the men’s record board.
Notably, King also has the second-best time on the course, 3:08:50, from his 2013 victory.
The field was also speedy among the women as the top two finishers posted the fourth- and fifth-fastest times in course history. Ladia Albertson-Junkans, 32, of Snoqualmie, Wash., earned the victory while placing 13th overall in 3:44:01, and she was followed by 31-year-old Brittany Peterson of Pocatello, Idaho, in 3:46:43.
One Massachusetts resident was among the 601 runners to finish the race within 9 1/2 hours. Roslindale’s Annette Florczak, 43, finished the race in 7:01:26.
Florczak is staying out West this week to race the Marin Ultra Challenge 50K on Saturday, March 10, in Sausalito, Calif. It will be her third race of the year in California. Prior to Way Too Cool, she completed the San Diego Trail Marathon in January in Escondido, CA.
*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.