After a quiet March, April has opened with a flurry of Massachusetts ultrarunners hitting the road or taking to the air to travel to out-of-state races. Runners tackled trails all across the country, from Vermont, Virginia, and North Carolina out east, to California out west and Wisconsin in the heartland. We chased them all down – and likely missed a few along the way – in this week’s roundup.
The record books were rewritten at the Runamuck 50K on Saturday, April 7, at the Suicide Six Ski Area in Pomfret, Vt. Despite eight inches of fresh snow on the course that made for snowy and at times muddy conditions, both the men’s and women’s course records fell, and many other spots on the course’s top-10 lists were established on both sides at the fifth annual event.
The event’s youngest competitor, 20-year-old Remi Leroux of Cardiac, Quebec, delivered a dynamite performance at his first American ultramarathon. Building upon his third-place finish at the North Face Ultra-Trail Harricana of Canada 65K in September 2017, Leroux led the speed-packed field with a winning time of 3:33:23. Hot on Leroux’s heels was 39-year-old Brian Rusiecki of South Deerfield, Mass., who earned runner-up honors in 3:38:43, followed 12 minutes later by Michael Austin, 36, of Delmar, N.Y., in 3:50:06.
Joining Rusiecki in the men’s top 10 from Massachusetts were 41-year-old Michael Pulli of Medford who was sixth in 4:00:49, 36-year-old Brian Burke of Somerville who was seventh among the men and eighth overall in 4:10:43, and 34-year-old Benjamin Simanski of Greenfield who was 10th among the men and 12th overall in 4:22:45.
Leroux’s victory came as the result of a course-record effort. He surpassed Ruckiecki’s previous record – 3:35:30 from the 2017 race – by a little more than two minutes. Rusiecki’s time on Saturday was the third-fastest in course history. Six of the 10 fastest men’s times in the five-year history of the race were established this year.
Not to be outdone, the women’s field delivered an equally historic day. Sarah Keyes, 33, of Lake Saranac, N.Y., cruised to the win and a seventh-place overall finish in 4:14:22, followed by ladies’ runner-up and ninth overall finisher Lindsay Simpson, 40, of Waterbury, Vt., in 4:14:22. Dylan Broderick, 27, of Montpelier, Vt. – the runner-up at the 2017 Vermont 100 – finished third among the women and 13th overall in 4:23:03.
Keyes broke her own course record – set in 2016 – by more than six minutes. Just as in the men’s race, six of the 10 fastest women’s times in course history were set this year. Lori Wetzel, 45, of Danvers was the lone Massachusetts woman to finish in the top 10. She finished eighth in 4:51:10.
Fifteen other Massachusetts residents were among the 101 runners to finish the race within 10 hours. Included among them were 36-year-old Padraig Mullins of Cambridge who was 15th in 4:27:28, 31-year-old Jeff LeBlanc of Woburn who hammered out a 50-minute 50K PR while finishing 24th overall in 4:50:14, and 49-year-old Carsten Braun of Greenfield who was 28th in 4:53:57. They were among the 30 runners to finish in less than five hours. Additional finishers were Justin Ellison, 30, of Rochester in 5:05:42; Elizabeth Masterjohn, 37, of Hudson in 5:22:58; Kerrie-Ann Briguglio, 47, of Townsend in 5:25:57; Jeff Dixon, 52, of North Attleboro in 5:47:49; Dane LeBlanc, 60, of Littleton in 6:06:11; Bill Howard, 69, of Winchester in 6:07:14; Marilyn Oberhardt, 53, of Arlington in 6:09:56; Kyle Sevits, 34, of West Yarmouth in 6:10:18; Brennan McGuane, 57, of Sunderland in 6:36:06; Seng-Lai Tan, 46, of Sudbury in 6:56:01; Diane Souza, 53, of Fall River in 8:03:00; and John Spelko, 71, of Monson in 8:13:28.
Bull Run Run 50
The Bull Run Run 50 has become one of Virginia’s most popular ultras during its 24-year history, and that popularity has extended into Massachusetts where seven Bay State residents were among the 233 finishers on Saturday, April 7, in Clifton, VA.
Russell Dresher was the top local performer. The 36-year-old resident of Hudson, Mass., knows the Virginia ultramarathon scene well – he’s a three-time finisher of the Massanutten 100, after all. He had another good day in the Old Dominion State, racing to the finish line in 9:39:06 and placing 41st overall. Following Dresher to the finish line was 51-year-old Brian Tjersland of Dartmouth, Mass., who finished 100th overall in 10:48:46. Thirteen minutes later, 27-year-old Michael Schmitt of Medford, Mass., finished, only to be followed a few seconds later by New Bedford’s Steve Drayton, 53, in 11:02:31.
Rounding out the Massachusetts contingent were 37-year-old Ryan Powers of Fairhaven in 11:29:46; 60-year-old Kevin Mullen of Fairhaven in 12:40:31; and 49-year-old John Correiro of Westport in 12:50:25.
The overall victory went to 39-year-old Paul Jacobs of Washington, D.C., in 7:05:13, followed seven minutes later by 24-year-old Shihan Wijeyeratne of Richmond, Va. The top five runners finished in less than eight hours. Women’s champion Anna Piskorska, 45, of Blandon, Pa., placed 19th overall in 8:47:11.
Mad City Ultras
Conditions were prime for fast running at the Mad City Ultras on Saturday, April 7, in Madison, Wisc. Runners in the 50K and 100K races were treated to a fast, mostly flat, asphalt- and concrete-paved 5K loop that they circled as many times as necessary to achieve their distance goal. For 24-year-old David Perloff of Lowell, Mass., that meant 10 trips around the course as a 50K race participant. Perloff, it turned out, was among the fastest to race at that distance.
Perloff hammered the loop and finished seventh overall – sixth among the men – in 4:22:51. The top overall finisher and men’s champion was 40-year-old Rolando Cruz of Fitchburg, Wisc., who posted a time of 3:45:36. The women’s champion and second overall finisher was 32-year-old Jenny Ellis of Port Barrington, Ill., in 3:54:32.
The top five finishers broke the four-hour barrier. There were 28 total finishers of the 50K race, including 25 in less than six hours.
The event also served as the USATF 100K National Championship Race. No Massachusetts residents competed at that distance, but the winners – 26-year-old Anthony Kunkel of Durango, Colo., and 46-yea-rold Liza Howard of San Antonio, Texas – took advantage of the fast course to blaze speedy winning times. Kunkel was the men’s champion in 6:52:09, while Howard was the winning woman in 8:07:58.
Jimmy Stavlo delivered a memorable first 100-mile performance at the 24th annual Umstead 100 on April 7-8 at William B. Umstead State Park in Raleigh, N.C.
The eight-loop, fast and mostly flat course had a 30-hour time limit, but Stavlo didn’t need it. He finished with plenty of extra hours to spare. Stavlo, 28, of Falmouth, Mass., ran nearly even splits for the first four loops around the course, hitting the 50-mile mark in 8:41:58. His pace only slowed slightly during the next 25 miles, and he crossed the 75-mile mark in 13:45:17. His seventh loop was the first to take more than three hours and his final lap lasted nearly five, but he ultimately ran across the finish line in 21:51:52 and placed 28th overall. Of the 266 runners who started the race, 114 finished.
Stavlo’s big 100-mile effort came on the heels of strong showings at shorter ultramarathon distances during his build-up, including a fourth-place finish at the Virginia Beach 100K in February, and a 15th-place finish at the North Face Endurance Challenge Washington D.C. in 2017.
The overall victory went to 45-year-old Oliver LeBlond of Arlington, Va., who edged Jim Sweeney, 36, of Albany, N.Y. LeBlond finished in 14:04:57 and beat Sweeney to the finish line by almost three minutes. The third-place finisher crossed the line more than an hour later.
Two more Massachusetts residents started the Umstead 100 but did not finish.
East Falmouth’s Glenn Pacheco, 54, started the race but dropped after 62.5 miles and was credited with a 50-mile finish in 11:29:36. Carl Gustafson, 57, of Hatchville, dropped after 25 miles.
Mountains-to Sea-50K Challenge
Hanna Littlefield has been running ultras since August 2016, and the 26-year-old resident of Pembroke, Mass., eased into the sport by tackling New England courses in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She took on her first ultra challenge beyond the region on Sunday, April 8, when she traveled to Raleigh, N.C., for the ninth annual Mountains-to-Sea 50K Challenge.
Littlefield and her fellow runners competed on the singletrack dirt of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail where they raced over rolling hills and a few short but steep climbs on the out-and-back course. Littlefield successfully completed the race in 7:10:59 for her fifth ultramarathon finish.
Aaron Kolk, 30, of Wilmington, N.C., was the men’s winner in 4:16:42, while 31-year-old Erin Jobe of Pittsboro, N.C., was the women’s winner and fifth overall finisher in 4:42:21. Ninety-six runners finished within 8 1/2 hours.
Brendan Wiley has completed two ultramarathons in 2018, and both have taken place in California.
Wiley, 42, of Danvers, Mass., finished the Griffith Park 50K in Los Angeles in early March. Wiley was back at the starting line on Saturday, April 7, this time for the ninth annual Oriflamme 50K at Anza Borrego Desert State Park in Julian, Calif.
The race featured an out-and-back course that gave runners a few miles on the Pacific Crest Trail as well as a few other trails in the area as they made their way to the base of Oriflamme Canyon and through Box Canyon. That included a 2,000-foot downhill stretch, and the eventual climb back up.
Wiley placed 32nd overall in 6:41:02. Ninety-five runners finished the race within the nine-hour time limit.
Fabrice Hardel, 44, of San Diego, Calif., was the overall champion. He won with an 18-minute cushion while posting a time of 4:14:07. The top four runners finished in less than five hours, and the top 15 finished in less than six hours.
*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.