MassUltra Roundup: Promise Land, Jack Bristol, TNFEC-DC, the Canyons, and Zion

A few of the Northeast’s classic ultras – Virginia’s Promise Land 50K, Connecticut’s Jack Bristol Ultras at Lake Waramaug, and The North Face Endurance Challenge’s annual stop outside Washington, D.C. – attracted ultrarunners from Massachusetts, as did a relatively new ultra out West on some of the sport’s most hallowed grounds. Additionally, we tracked down the results of the Zion 100 from April 21-22, which included a handful of buckle-earners from the Bay State. Those five races make for plenty of reading in this week’s roundup.

Promise Land 50K

Even though they make their home in South Deerfield, Mass., Brian and Amy Rusiecki are regulars on the ultrarunning scene in Virginia. Year after year, they travel throughout New England to race, but they also make a point of hitting the highway multiple times to take part in some of Virginia’s challenging and competitive ultras.

The Rusiecki road trip on Saturday, April 28, was particularly fruitful. They took part in the Promise Land 50K in Bedford, Va., and they swept the wins. Brian Rusiecki, 39, earned the men’s victory in 4:38:34, easily outdistancing 29-year-old Michael Owen of Pomeroy, Ohio, by 18 minutes. Meanwhile, Amy Rusiecki, 38, cruised to the women’s win in 5:46:24, topping runner-up Sheila Vibert, 36, of Arlington, Va., by nearly 13 minutes. The Rusieckis were the lone Massachusetts runners in the field of 269 finishers who completed the course within 10 hours.

For Brian Rusiecki, it was his fifth race of the year and third straight victory, following wins at the Traprock 50K and the TARC Spring Classic 50K. For Amy Rusiecki, it was her second victory of the year. She won the Terrapin Mountain 50K in Virginia in March.

Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug Ultras

The Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug Ultras are one of the oldest ultaramarathon offerings in the United States, and the 44th edition of the event included numerous runners from the Bay State on Sunday, April 29, in New Preston, Conn.

More than 80 runners completed either the 100K, 50-mile or 50K ultaramarathons while racing on a multi-loop course that consisted of fast, smooth, rolling hills around Lake Waramaug. By the end of the day, runners at one of the distances brought home victories for the Bay State.

Twenty-one runners finished the 50-mile race, and the wins were swept by Massachusetts residents. For the men, 29-year-old Nick Curelop from Housatonic dominated the race and cruised to the victory in 6:23:08. His closest competitor, 57-year-old Brian Teason of Manchester, Vt., finished more than 32 minutes later in 6:55:58. The strong performance set that stage for what is expected to be a big summer for Curelop. He is entered in four ultramarathons in Western Massachusetts this summer – the Vegan Power 50K, the BURCS Summer Fat Ass 6-Hour Run, the Jug End Loop Ultra, and the Sweltering Summer 8-Hour Ultra.

Joining Curelop atop the podium was Jenny Hoffman. The 40-year-old Cambridge resident successfully defended her Jack Bristol title, winning in 8:02:27. Hoffman’s closest competitor, 33-year-old Jessie Makela of Mystic, Conn., finished 46 minutes later. Up next for Hoffman is another title defense, this time at the Manchester 2 Monadnock 55-Mile Ultramarathon on May 12.

While Curelop and Hoffman brought home the victories, other Massachusetts residents also delivered strong efforts in the 50-mile race. Boston resident Billy Hafferty, 30, raced to a third-place finish in 7:06:20. It was his latest strong performance, building upon a win at the Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass 50K and a sub-12-hour 100K finish at the Black Canyon 100K in Arizona. Other finishers of the 50-miler included Bennjamin Griffin, 31, of Pittsfield in 8:50:16, and 33-year-old Taryn Reese of Beverly in 10:32:19.

In the 100K race, a dozen runners finished within 14 hours, led by 38-year-old Michael Daigeaun of Philadelphia, Pa., who won by more than an hour and 40 minutes with his time of 7:30:51. Kellie Brown, 48, of Stamford, Conn., was the first-place woman in 11:04:21. Fran Curtis, 50, of Westminster, Mass., was the lone Bay State resident to complete the 100K. He placed fifth overall in 11:04:21.

The 50K race was the largest of the day with 52 finishers. Most notably, 42-year-old Andy Costa of Shelton, Conn., blazed to victory in 3:56:55. He was the lone sub-4-hour finisher and won by a 33-minute margin. Margaret Walsh, 50, of Trumbull, Conn., was the women’s winner in 4:49:13. Walsh edged 4unner-up Vanessa Russo, 37, of Cromwell, Conn., by 37 seconds. A half-dozen Massachusetts residents recorded 50K finishes. They were Melissa Martin, 42, of Wellesley in 5:29:44; Matt Aponte, 29, of Somerville in 5:35:18; Lee Dickey, 64, of Dracut in 7:21:57; Marie Gryszowka, 33, of Spencer in 7:37:50; Maureen Mullins, 57, of Worcester in 7:51:01; and Charlene Gryszowka, 55, of Ware in 8:01:22.

TNFEC – Washington, D.C.

If Ralph Crowley were interested in using a particular race as a measuring stick for progress, The North Face Endurance Challenge – Washington, D.C., could fill that role for him. Crowley, 33, of Princeton, Mass., first raced TNFEC-DC in 2015 when he finished the 50-miler in 8:58:26. After a few years away, Crowley returned to the event on Saturday, April 28, in Sterling, Va., and tackled the same distance. This time, he was more than 90 minutes faster.

Crowley delivered a stellar performance, placing third overall in a speedy 7:25:40. Only two runners were faster, and they ran away from the field. Michael Bailey, 26, of Chesapeake, Va., won in 6:16:41, followed by 29-year-old Devon Olson of Steamboat Springs, Colo., in 6:32:02. Crowley’s closest competitor, 39-year-old Matthew Perkins of Washington, D.C., finished nearly 10 minutes behind him. The top nine runners finished in less than eight hours.

Meanwhile, the women’s victory went to 31-year-old Grayson Vincent of Washington, D.C., in 8:21:04. The top Massachusetts finisher among the women was 50-year-old Michele Norman. The Wellesley resident was the sixth overall female finisher in 9:48:51.

Another Massachusetts resident, 21-year-old Adam Josephson of Newton, joined Crowley and Norman among the 181 finishers of the 50-mile race. Josephson finished in 12:42:55.

Additionally, two Massachusetts residents were among the 331 finishers of the 50K race. Tess Gannaway, 27, of Hopkinton finished in 6:19:57, and Jeannette Brown, 21, of Cambridge finished in 6:37:47. A pair of Maryland residents swept the 50K wins. Charlie Epperson, 41, was the men’s winner in 4:03:02, while Ayshalynn Perez, 26, was the first-place woman in 4:46:57.

The Canyons 100K

The Tahoe Rim Trail 100-miler is less than three months away, and Marilyn Oberhardt is nearing the home-stretch of her build-up to the big race. Her longest day of preparation came in the form of The Canyons 100K on Saturday, April 28, in Foresthill, Calif., where she logged many miles on the hallowed Western States trail, including many of the steepest climbs.

Oberhardt, 53, of Arlington, Mass., was one of 347 runners to start the race, and among the 279 to finish. Lon Freeman, 43, of Kensington, Calif., was the men’s winner in 10:08:19, while 28-year-old Corrine Malcolm of Bellingham, Wash., was the women’s champion in 11:44:50. Oberhardt finished in 18:22:34.

Saturday marked the second time Oberhardt has raced The Canyons 100K; she finished the 2016 race in 19:15:27. The Canyons was her third race of 2018. She ran the To Hale and Back 6-Hour Race and the Runamuck 50K earlier. The Tahoe 100 will take place July 21 in Nevada. Oberhardt finished Tahoe last year in 34:21:11, as well as in 2015 in 33:52:41.

Zion 100

A trio of Massachusetts residents were among 154 runners to finish the sixth annual Zion 100 near Zion National Park on April 21-22 in Virgin, Utah.

Runners in the 2018 race took on a course that was slightly modified from previous years and included nearly 10,000 feet of climbing. The trio of Topsfield resident Christopher Pulick, Norwell resident James Diggins, and Hingham resident Kelly Adams all represented the Bay State at the finish line. Pulick, 48, finished in 30:06:08. Meanwhile, Diggins, 49, and Adams, 41, finished together in 31:48:23.

Michael McKnight, 28, of Smithfield, Utah, was the men’s winner in 16:56:58. Jessi Bream, 26, of Columbus, Ohio, was the first-place female in 24:02:07.

In addition to the 100-miler, Zion also presented runners with 100K and 50K distance options. Emily Null, 34, of Jamaica Plain, Mass., was one of 279 finishers of the 50K. She completed her race in 8:39:39.

*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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