MassUltra Roundup: Big Backyard Ultra and Sinnemahone

The Ghost Train Trail Races may have attracted hundreds of ultrarunners from Massachusetts and greater New England on Oct. 20-21, but it wasn’t the only race that lured runners from the Bay State. Adrian Will-Orrego and Daniel Coppersmith hit the road to Pennsylvania for the Sinnemahone Ultra – the first ultramarathon for both men – while Padraig Mullins and Alicia Rich earned a small piece of the sport’s biggest spotlight event of the weekend when they traveled to Bell Buckle, Tenn., and took part in the last-person-standing Big Backyard Ultra. Those races are featured in this week’s roundup.

Big Backyard Ultra

The allure of the Big Backyard Ultra is undeniable: it’s an opportunity to test oneself against a field of runners where failure is almost guaranteed, to the extent that being credited as a finisher is concerned. The Big Backyard Ultra is a last-person-standing event with only one finisher and an undetermined mileage and time total. It’s all about who can keep going the longest.

The race began at 6:40 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, and on a 4.166667-mile trail loop in Bell Buckle, Tenn., and runners had one hour to complete the loop or be disqualified. A new loop began on the hour, every hour. The race shifted to an out-and-back road course for the overnight hours before returning to the trail, and the trend continued until only one runner was left standing.

Two Massachusetts residents took part in the event, which was a test of both physical and mental endurance. Padraig Mullins, 36, of Cambridge was among the runners earning a DNF despite logging 120.834 miles – the 17th-best tally of any runner in the field. He competed for more than 24 hours before being disqualified. Additionally, Boston resident Alicia Rich, 32, competed in the event and completed 104.167 miles during more than 20 hours of running before being disqualified. She tallied the 27th-most runners of anyone in the field.

Thirty-four runners completed at least 100 miles. The top five runners surpassed the 200-mile mark. Defending champion Guillaume Calmettes, 34, of Los Angeles, Calif., was unable to match his course-record effort of 245.835 miles from 2017 as he retired from this year’s race fifth overall with 225.001 miles completed. Johan Steene, 44, of Stockholm, Sweden, earned the win with a new course-record mark of 283.335 miles, edging 33-year-old Courtney Dauwalter of Golden, Colo., who tallied 279.168 miles. Gavin Woody, 41, of Bellevue, Wash., completed the third-most miles with 270.835.

Sinnemahone Ultra

A pair of Massachusetts men earned their first ultramarathon finish together at the sixth annual Sinnemahone Ultra on Saturday, Oct. 20, in Emporium, Pa. Brookline resident Adrian Will-Orrego, 26, and Concord resident Daniel Coppersmith, 25, took on the challenging “heavy” 50K and finished the 33-mile race through the Elk State Forest one second apart. Will-Orrego crossed the finish line in 10:40:15, followed by Coppersmith in 10:40:16.

Twenty-four runners finished the race, led by Dan Timmerman, 38, of Trumansburg, N.Y., who cruised to the win in a new course-record time of 4:46:19. Only five runners finished the race in less than six hours.

*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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