Fresh off of enduring weeks of temperatures in the 90s, runners in the 40-mile and 50K races at the TARC Summer Classic enjoyed reprieve from the heat at the eighth annual event on Saturday, Aug. 11, at Noon Hill Reservation in Medfield, Mass.
In place of the heat were temperatures in the upper 60s to mid-70s and a cool, steady rainfall that compounded with the humidity to turn the trails into a wet sauna.
Areas of standing water and extra-slick roots made for challenging footing on what is otherwise a highly runnable 10-mile loop course with rolling hills that 40-milers circled four times and 50K runners completed three times. The weather made for slower running in 2018 – the men’s and women’s course records were safe at both distances – but more than three quarters of the runners still found their way to the finish line.
Perkins, Zioto Earn 40-Mile Victories
In the 40-miler, it was Michael Perkins who earned the overall victory. The 38-year-old from Concord, N.H., was in third place after his first trip around the course, trailing Jason Dunklee, 44, of Watertown, Mass., and Scott Deslongchamps, 48, of North Grosvenordale, Conn. Dunklee maintained the lead throughout the second loop and built a 13-minute lead on Perkins by the halfway point. Dunklee’s pace fell off during the third loop, however, and a steady Perkins surged into the lead. He led built an eight-minute advantage by the end of his third loop and steadily pulled away during his final trip around the course, finishing in a winning time of 6:45:14. Dunklee secured second place in 7:21:18, followed by Chris Rosol, 43, of Somerville, Mass., in 7:35:21.
While the men’s podium was spaced out, the battle for the women’s 40-mile victory was much tighter. A pair of Boston residents, Kathryn Zioto, 31, and Laura Ricci, 34, dueled throughout the day, never more than 10 minutes apart on the course. A Summer Classic veteran, Ricci took the early lead and built a four-minute lead on Zioto during the first 10 miles. Ricci remained the front-runner the second time around the course and slightly expanded her lead, but Zioto hung tough. Ricci and Zioto ran some of the most consistently paced loops of anybody for the day which accounted for their close contact throughout the race, but Zioto was the most consistent and that worked to her advantage during the second half of the race as she ultimately moved to the front and earned the victory in 7:40:20. Ricci finished eight minutes later in 7:48:13 to claim second place. Lauren Pettit, 31, of Dudley, Mass., was a distant third in 8:46:17.
The race marked Zioto’s second ultramarathon and her first win. She was the women’s runner-up at the Jug End Loop 6-Hour Ultra in July in Egremont, Mass., where she logged 33.8 miles. For Ricci, the runner-up finish was her third top-three performance in the Summer Classic 40-miler in the last four years. She won the race in 2015 and placed third in 2016 before taking 2017 off. She previously had a win and two second-place finishes in the Summer Classic 50K.
Of the 35 runners who started the 40-miler, 27 finished within 12 hours. The top six overall finishers completed the race in less than eight hours. In addition to the podium finishers, 35-year-old Pedro Grullon of Lawrence, Mass., was among that group in 7:55:20.
Woburn’s Murphy, Boston’s Bloom Take Top Honors in 50K
Emmett Murphy outdueled a close field of competitors to earn the men’s victory in the 50K race. Murphy, 42, of Woburn, Mass., was in a tight race with North Easton’s Adam Kempner, 46, and East Sandwich residents Barry Ahern, 47, and George Gomes, 55, for much of the day before Murphy opened up a lead earn secured the victory in 5:29:30. Kempner finished 10 minutes later to claim the runner-up spot in 5:39:09, and then Ahern and Gomes did battle for the final position on the podium. Ahern inched ahead by a few strides and placed third in 5:47:05, followed 16 seconds later by Gomes in 5:47:21.
In the women’s race, 32-year-old Boston resident Maria Bloom brought home the victory in 5:50:51, outdistancing the rest of the ladies’ field by more than 20 minutes. Renee DeMarsh, 53, of East Sandwich, Mass., finished second in 6:12:29, followed by Elizabeth Lynch, 53, of Milford, Mass., in 6:27:42.
Of the 56 runners who started the race, 42 finished within 10 hours.