MassUltra Roundup: Enchanted Forest, Hellbender, Yakima Skyline, and Mendocino Coast

While most Massachusetts ultrarunners who competed on April 21-22 were in Weston, Mass., for the TARC Spring Classic, a few headed out-of-state to take on new trails. Some were in Connecticut, others in North Carolina, Washington or California. All are included in this week’s roundup.

Enchanted Forest Ultra

Eric Ciocca’s road trip to Connecticut resulted in a victory at the second annual Enchanted Forest 6-Hour Ultra on Saturday, April 21, in Stratford, Conn.

Ciocca and his fellow competitors took on a 3.5-mile loop course through the Roosevelt Forest that was mostly flat and consisted of singletrack and doubletrack trails. He hammered the loop throughout the day, circling it 11 times for a winning total of 38.50 miles. Ciocca’s mileage total stands second on the race’s record board behind 2017 champion Raphael Sarfati’s 42-mile tally.

Ciocca’s closest competitors were 38-year-old Christian Fiorelli of New York, N.Y., and 23-year-old Gina Demeo of New Preston, Conn. Both completed 10 loops for 35.00 miles. Fiorelli was the men’s runner-up, while Demeo earned first-place for the women and set a new ladies’ course record.

Fifteen runners ran farther than a marathon distance, and 11 completed at least 31.5 miles. James Gawle was among them. The 66-year-old from Webster, Mass., finished his day with 31.50 miles.

All 32 participants completed at least 17.50 miles. That included 61-year-old Hollis Graham of Longmeadow, Mass., who logged 21 miles.

Hellbender 100

No stranger to taking on steep challenges, Christopher Agbay jumped at the opportunity to be one of the first runners to tackle the Hellbender 100.

Agbay – whose 100-mile finishes include Grindstone, Eastern States, and Massanutten multiple times, as well as Bighorn and Cruel Jewel – was joined by 102 other runners at the starting line of the inaugural 100-mile race on Friday, April 20, in Old Fort, N.C., and the 40-year-old resident of Jefferson, Mass., was one of 74 to finish the race within the 40-hour time limit. Agbay and his fellow runners took on numerous climbs and steep descents, amassing more than 25,000 feet of vertical gain including a high point at 6,500 feet above sea level in the Black Mountains.

Ultimately, Agbay finished 51st overall in 35:13:17. Just 20 runners finished in less than 30 hours, and only two – 50-year-old Karl Meltzer of Sandy, Utah, and 27-year-old Jonathan Ibach of Asheville, N.C. – did so in less than 24 hours. Meltzer won in 21:56:00, followed by Ibach in 22:38:13. Alyson Kirk, 35, of Morrison, Colo., was the first-place female and fourth overall finisher in 26:09:38.

Agbay has another grueling race on his calendar later this year. He is headed to the Fat Dog 120 in Manning Park, B.C., in August.

Yakima Skyline 50K

Scenic, challenging trails and spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains and Mt. Rainier attracted nearly 200 runners to the starting line of the Yakima Skyline 50K on Saturday, April 21, at the Umtanum Creek Recreation Area in Ellensburg, Wash. That included Damien Pinault of Belmont, Mass.

Pinault, 45, was one of 165 runners who started the race, as well as one of the 182 who completed the course within the nine-hour time limit. Pinault conquered the out-and-back course and its 10,000 feet of climbing in 8:00:10.

Mike Wolfe, 40, of Boseman, Mont., earned the men’s victory in 5:04:30, while Kaytlyn Gerbin, 28, of Issaquah, Wash., was the first-place woman in 5:48:40.

Mendocino Coast 50K

A trio of Bay State residents traveled cross-country to take part in the third annual Mendocino Coast 50K on Saturday, April 21, at Big River State Park in Mendocino, Calif.

Liz McHutcheon, 51, of Boston, and Plainville residents Danielle Levesque, 41, and Chris Noyes, 39, were among the 137 runners to complete the race. McHutcheon finished in 8:11:16, while Levesque and Noyes finished side-by-side in 8:43:31.

The fast field included 25 sub-6-hour finishers and eight sub-5-hour finishers, led by men’s champion Alexander Kramer, 38, of Calpella, Calif., in 4:12:17, and women’s champion Jenn Humberstone, 31, of Alameda, Calif., in 5:39:47.

*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.

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