A trio of Massachusetts ultrarunners recently tackled races in Europe, and they delivered strong performances. Needham’s Patrick Caron and Quincy’s Greg Soutiea both earned fourth-place finishes at international races, and Boston’s William Hafferty also secured a hard-earned finish in Ireland. Both the Zugspitz Ultratrail in Germany and the Wicklow Way Race in Ireland are captured in our inaugural international roundup.
One month after making his major international debut at the Transvulcania 74K Ultramarathon in May on Spain’s La Palma Island, Patrick Caron – a native of Needham, Mass., and professional runner for Salomon – returned to Europe to once again test himself against a talented international field. This time the destination was Germany on Saturday, June 16, for the Salomon Zugspitz Ultratrail – a 101.9-kilometer race with nearly 18,000 feet of vertical gain.
Caron avoided the stomach issues that plagued him at Transvulcania when he placed 50th out of nearly 1,400 finishers. Instead, he was healthy on race day and showcased the talent that New England runners have witnessed in recent years from the 21-year-old. While a trio of European runners distanced themselves from the field, Caron as among the leaders of the chase pack, and he ultimately pulled away from that group during the latter stages of the race.
A pair of Salomon runners from Spain – Castaner Tofol and Clemente Cristofer – dueled for the victory with Tofol winning in 10:59:03 and Cristofer placing second just 48 seconds later. Another Salomon runner, Austria’s Thomas Farbmacher, finished third in 11:16:03 after winning the race in 2016 and 2017. Caron was the first runner off the podium and top American finisher as he placed fourth overall in 12:53:17.
The women’s winner was Caroline Chaverot of France in 12:59:33.
Nearly 570 runners started the race, and 390 finished.
Wicklow Way Race
Hot and sunny conditions greeted 100 runners – including two from Massachusetts – at the sixth annual Wicklow Way Race, a 127-kilometer ultramarathon from the village of Clonegal, through the Wicklow Mountains, and ultimately to Marlay Park in Dublin where a hard-earned finish line awaited.
A midnight start by the glow of headlamps gave Quincy resident Greg Soutiea, Boston resident William Hafferty, and their fellow runners some temporary reprieve from the heat on Saturday, June 9, but the temperature surged once the sun came up and turned the 80-mile footrace and its 10,000 feet of climbing into a more arduous task.
Soutiea raced among the frontrunners throughout the day. His race was nearly upended when he went off course and was forced to backtrack and slipped back to sixth place, but he rallied strong and made up ground in the final miles.
Rory Campbell of London, UK, earned the victory in 13:34:08, followed more than an hour later by Irish runner Donal McMorland in 14:42:03. Another runner from Ireland, Shane Lynch, rounded out the men’s podium in 14:56:21. The extra mileage from going off course cost Soutiea a spot on the podium, but the 34-year-old ultimately finished fourth overall in 15:06:59.
The top eight runners finished in less than 16 hours, and the top 22 runners finished in less than 18 hours.
Hafferty, 30, battled the heat and the course throughout the day. He found himself in a rough spot when he took a seat at the aid station 71 miles into the race. He was tired and his legs were beat. A pep talk from Irish mountain and ultrarunning legend Eoin Keith was enough to get Hafferty out of the chair and back on the trail however, and he pushed on to the finish where he placed 23rd overall in 18:22:06.
Fifteen women took part in the race, and six finished. Sarah Brady, 28, of Berkeley, Calif., was the women’s winner in 16:50:04. Brady is no stranger to racing in Ireland. She completed the Wicklow Way 50-miler in 2016, placing second, and then ventured to Kildare, Ireland, in 2017 to compete in the Donedea 50K where she finished 12th.
Of the 100 runners who started the race, 62 finished within the 21-hour time limit.