The inaugural Kilkenny Ridge 50-miler lived up to its reputation on Sept. 8 … and into the early hours of Sept. 9 … as the newest ultra in New Hampshire enticed runners from the Bay State to head north for a burly challenge in the White Mountains. That race, which was won by former Boston resident Rob Rives and current Cambridge resident Lisa Rising, highlights this week’s roundup. Additionally, Salem’s William Jackson notched his fourth straight Hardrock qualifier by finishing the Wasatch Front 100 in Utah, and Revere resident Michael Condella finished the Pine Creek Challenge 100 for the fourth year in a row.
The buzz surrounding the inaugural Kilkenny Ridge 50-miler was palpable since the event was first announced. One of the first races to be put on by Rockhopper Races LLC, which is led by accomplished New Hampshire ultrarunners Ryan Welts and Kristina Folcik-Welts, the event tempted runners with its promise of gnarly, rugged singletrack trails through the forests of the White Mountains. The course – and out-and-back along the Kilkenny Ridge Trail starting and ending at the South Pond Recreational Area in Stark, N.H. – would throw everything at the runners, from monster climbs to rocky, technical descents, with the reward of numerous panoramic scenic views along the way.
The course was plenty tempting, and ultimately 38 runners accepted the challenge and gathered at the starting line at 5 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8. They had 24 hours to complete the out-and-back course where they would summit two 4,000-foot peaks and amass around 15,000 feet of vertical gain. Ultimately, 28 runners finished the race, the final two doing so with less than an hour to spare.
The battle for the overall win came down to the wire between Rob Rives and Ryan Gibbs. Rives, 28, a former Boston resident now living in South Burlington, Vt., squeaked out the victory in 12:33:50. Gibbs, 31, of Levant, Maine, followed less than two minutes later in 12:35:33. Nate Weeks, 28, of Deery, N.H., rounded out the men’s podium in 12:46:44. One more runner, 36-year-old Peter Keyo of Canton, N.H., also broke the 13-hour barrier, posting a time of 12:58:25.
While Rives set the inaugural course standard for the men, a Massachusetts resident established the bar for the women. Lisa Rising, 27, of Cambridge, placed sixth overall and earned first-place female honors in 14:03:51. She comfortably outdistanced women’s runner-up Brianna Russell, 22, of Bozeman, Mont., who finished in 14:50:31. Kristen Smith, 33, of Salem, Mass., rounded out the women’s podium in 15:21:33.
Dave Dillon, 35, of Tewksbury, Mass., earned a top-10 overall finish, placing eighth in 14:34:44. Boston resident Will Holets, 30, finished 13th overall and 11th among the men in 15:08:32.
Other Massachusetts residents who finished were Dave Burnett, 25, of Boston in 16:19:39 and Michael McDuffie, 34, of Ashland in 17:20:12.
In addition to the 50-miler, a 25-mile one-way race was offered. Forty-five runners finished that distance within 12 hours, led by 37-year-old Aaron Stredny of Shavertown, Pa., in 5:14:06. Hilary McCloy, 35, of Madison, N.H., was the first-place female and fourth overall finisher in 5:47:16. Matthew Carbone, 35, of Melrose, Mass., was the lone Bay State resident to finish in the top 10. He placed 10th overall in 6:26:36.
Wasatch Front 100
William Jackson ran his string of years finishing a 100-miler to seven when he collected a hard-earned buckle at the 38th annual Wasatch Front 100 on Sept 7-8 in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. For Jackson, 36, of Salem, Mass., Wasatch Front was also his eight 100-mile finish, and his fourth-straight Hardrock qualifier.
He previously finished Grindstone in 2017, Mogollon Monster in 2016, and the Bear in 2015 – all Hardrock qualifiers, as well as the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in 2014, Pine to Palm and the TARC 100 in 2013, and Ghost Train in 2012.
Wasatch Front was one of his grittiest efforts of all of his 100s. Jackson was among 300 runners who took on the point-to-point course that started in Kaysville, Utah, and wound its way up, down and through the Wasatch Mountains to the finish line at Soldier Hollow Midway, Utah. Runners compiled around 24,000 feet of vertical gain during the course of the race. In the end, 187 finished within the 36-hour time limit. Jackson was among them. He crossed the finish line with less than an hour to spare in 35:04:53.
Jesse Rich, 28, of Salt Lake City, Utah, earned the overall win in 21:07:17, outdistancing his closest competition by more than an hour. Rebecca Hall, 40, of Golden, Colo., was the first-place woman and 20th overall finisher in 26:46:05.
Pine Creek Challenge
Michael Condella has become a regular at the Pine Creek Challenge 100-miler. The 30-year-old resident of Revere, Mass., took on the race for the fourth straight year on Sept. 8-9 in Wellsboro, Pa.
Tackling a double-out-and-back course on the smooth crushed stone surface of the Pine Creek Rail Trail, Condella successfully finished the race for the fourth time. Forty runners started the race, and Condella was among the 26 to finish within the 30-hour time limit. He placed seventh overall in 24:23:08, one second behind the sixth-place finisher. Aaron Smith, 21, of Port Ludlow, Wash., was the men’s winner in 17:44:01, while women’s winner Michelle Mariotti, 40, of Old Forge, Pa., was second overall in 18:36:08. The next runner was more than three hours behind Mariotti, and the top five overall finishers completed the race in less than 24 hours.
Condella’s performance was his second-fastest on the course. His best performance came in 2017 when he placed seventh in 22:47:43. He finished 13th at the 2016 race in 26:51:45 and was 30th in 2015 in 26:49:14.
In addition to the 100-mile race, 33 runners took on a 100K option and 28 finished within 18 hours. Lee Dickey was among them. The 64-year-old resident of Danvers, Mass., finished in 16:24:29. Matthew Sabath, 40, of Harrisburg, Pa., won the race in 10:10:59 while women’s champion Claire Olshin, 33, of West Chester, Pa., was second overall in 10:49:20.
*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.