The Vegan Power 50K in Pittsfield, Mass., has become a popular destination for ultrarunners from New York since the race’s inaugural year in 2014 – specifically, it has been a race of choice for speedy New Yorkers.
Runners from the Empire State swept the men’s and women’s victories in three of the first four years; the only disruption from that trend came in 2016 when Samantha LeBlanc of Woburn, Mass., earned the top spot among the women. New York maintained its stronghold on the top of the podium once again at the fifth annual Vegan Power 50K on Saturday, June 16, at Pittsfield State Forest.
A pair of Vegan Power newcomers – Tyler Wolfe of Huntington, N.Y., and Michelle Pratt from Albany, N.Y. – earned the victories, and both did so by leading nearly wire to wire. Wolfe, recently completed his senior season on the track team at Johns Hopkins University, and the 22-year-old delivered a memorable effort in his first ultramarathon, setting a new course record of 3:58:29. His closest competitor, two-time Vegan Power champion (2015, 2016) and former course record-holder (4:08:49 from 2016) Jason Mintz, 38, of Syracuse, N.Y., earned a second-place finish while posting the third-best time in course history at 4:10:29. Nick Curelop, 29, of Housatonic, Mass., rounded out the men’s podium while finishing third overall in 4:30:23.
While Wolfe rewrote the men’s record book, Pratt came close on the women’s side. The 29-year-old’s winning time of 5:12:57 on the six-loop singletrack course was the second-fastest time behind Laura Kline’s winning mark of 4:48:36 in 2014. A pair of Massachusetts women – Megan Dawson, 32, of Brookline, and Tess Gessler, 33, of Worcester – earned the final two spots on the podium. Dawson finished second in 5:38:55, and Gessler placed third in 5:53:32.
Fifty-five runners completed the race, which kicked off the annual BURCS Race Series that offers ultrarunning events in the Berkshires throughout the summer.
Proceeds from the event benefitted Bluebird Farm Animal Sanctuary and Rehabilitation in Cheshire, Mass.; Vine Sanctuary in Springfield, Vt., and Red Robin Song Animal Sanctuary in West Lebanon, N.Y.
Hamlin, Thomas Earn Victories in 25K Race
In addition to the 50K ultramarathon, a 25K race was also offered. Forty-two runners finished that shorter distance within eight hours. Four-time finisher Richard Hamlin led the way as the 45-year-old from Chichester, N.Y., defended his title with a winning time of 2:25:26, edging fellow New Yorker Andrew Reynolds, 41, of Gardiner, by two minutes. In the women’s race, 29-year-old Angie Thomas of East Lyme, Conn., secured the victory while placing third overall in 2:43:48. Her closest competitor, 51-year-old Molly Cantor of Shelburne Falls, Mass., finished in 2:56:45 and placed fourth overall. It was Cantor’s third time finishing the 25K, as well as her third time as the women’s runner-up.