MassUltra Roundup: Kansas Rails-to-Trails, Norwitch, Javelina, Sage Burner, and Way’s Bluff

While hundreds of ultrarunners from New England were recovering from Ghost Train, a handful of Massachusetts runners spent Oct. 27-28 tackling the trails across the country. A few logged their first 100-milers, first ultramarathons, or turned in personal records. Benjamin Simanski returned to Kansas for a second crack at the Kansas Rails-to-Trails 100-miler, and he returned with a PR and a podium finish. Additionally, runners from the Bay State competed at ultras in Vermont, Arizona, Colorado and Mississippi, and we’ve got them all covered in this week’s roundup.

Kansas Rails-to-Trails Extravaganza

Four seconds made the difference between just finishing and securing a spot on the podium for a Massachusetts man at the Kansas Rails-to-Trails Extravaganza 100-miler.

The fourth annual event took place Oct. 27-28 on an out-and-back course that started and finished at Celebration Hall in Ottawa, Kan. Runners raced on a crushed limestone trail that was flat, fast, and conducive to securing a personal-record time. That’s exactly what 35-year-old Benjamin Simanski did. The resident of Greenfield, Mass., was among the fastest runners in the field, and he turned in his finest 100-mile performance.

Martin Gruebele, 54, of Champaign, Ill., cruised to the win in 18:01:37, followed by 30-year-old Michael Holton of Tonganoxie, Kan., in 19:58:45. Simanski was in a close battle for third with Wyatt Hockmeyer, 37, of Owasso, Okla., and ultimately Simanski secured the final spot on the podium by a narrow four-second margin, finishing in 20:57:41 to Hockmeyer’s 20:57:45. Pamela Chapman-Markle, 63, of San Leon, Texas, was the fifth overall finisher and the first-place woman in 20:58:24.

The race showcased Simanski’s considerable improvement as a 100-mile runner this year. He was the 11th overall finisher at the 2017 Kansas Rails-to-Trails race when he clocked a time of 23:14:38. That was Simanski’s 100-mile debut. In August he added a second 100-mile performance when he logged 102.90 miles at the Anchor Down Ultra 24-hour race in Bristol, R.I. His performance in Kansas this year was a personal best by more than two hours.

Sixteen runners finished this year’s Kansas Rails-to-Trails 100-miler in less than 24 hours, and 25 finished within the 30-hour time limit.

Meanwhile, Brennan McGuane of Sunderland, Mass., competed in the 50-mile race and turned in a strong showing. McGuane, 57, spent the day racing in the top quarter of the field on the out-and-back course before finishing alongside Steve McGaughey, 59, of Lindsborg, Kan., in a tie for ninth place overall. Both McGaughey and McGuane clocked a time of 9:50:49. Jerod Honrath, 44, of Austin, Texas, was the men’s winner in 7:16:56 while Marcia Dority Baker, 41, of Lincoln, Neb., was the women’s winner and fourth overall finisher in 8:37:15. Forty runners finished the 50-miler within 15 hours.

The race was McGuane’s third ultarmarathon finish of the year. He ran the Runamuck 50K in Vermont in April and then finished 66.15 miles at the 24-hour Anchor Down Ultra in Rhode Island in August.

Norwitch Halloween Ultra

A trio of Massachusetts residents were among the finishers of the inaugural Norwitch Halloween Ultra on Sunday, Oct. 28, in Norwich, Vt., and two of them finished on the podium.

Eighteen runners completed the 50K race, led by 46-year-old Daniel Rosenthal of East Arlington, Vt., who earned the victory in 4:19:19. He was followed seven minutes later by David Rondeau, 21, of West Springfield, Mass., who finished second in his first ultramarathon in 4:26:28. Pablo Espinosa, 38, of Saint-Polycarpe, Quebec, was third in 5:00:24.

Morgan Fowler, 34, of East Haven, Conn., was the winner of the women’s field in 5:21:46, while Nicole Ponte, 20, of Dartmouth, Mass., finished second in 5:47:47.

Also included among the finishers was 34-year-old Jason Goldweber of West Newbury, Mass., who completed his first ultra in 6:42:21.

Javelina Jundred

Two first-time 100-milers and a seasoned veteran at triple-digit distances represented the Bay State at the party in the desert known as the Javelina Jundred when they took part in the 16th annual race on Oct. 27-28 in Fountain Hills, Ariz.

Javelina uses a five-loop course, with the first loop measuring 22.3 miles and the remaining four at 19.4 miles apiece. Runners had 30 hours to complete the race, and 367 of the 563 starters did so. That included three Massachusetts residents. Anthony Holand, 42, of Vineyard Haven, and Jen Bergstrom, 37, of Woburn, both were taking on the 100-mile distance for the first time. Meanwhile, Roslindale resident and 100-mile veteran Annette Florczak, 44, was also in the field.

For Holand, it was his second trip to the desert. He ran the 100K race at Javelina in 2017 and returned for the longer race this year. He successfully finished in 27:57:15. For Bergstrom, she spent all of 2018 getting ready for Javelina. She diligently built up the mileage, racing the Manchester 2 Monadnock 55-miler and the Vermont 100K as part of her lead-up to Javelina. She finished her 100-miler in 28:48:35.

For Florczak, whose endurance feats include completing the Tahoe 200 in 2017, Javelina was her first 100-miler of the year. She finished in 29:29:06.

Patrick Reagan, 31, of Savannah, Ga., was the men’s winner by nearly two hours with a time of 13:42:59. That performance ranked third all-time at Javelina. Meanwhile, Darcy Piceu, 43, of Boulder, Colo., was the women’s winner in 18:49:06 for her fourth 100-mile win of the year.

In addition to the 100-miler, another 199 runners completed three loops of the course for a 100K finish. Jacob Jackson, 41, of Loma Linda, Calif., was the men’s winner in 8:55:05 while Charli McKee, 26, of Brigham City, Utah, was the women’s winner in 9:47:43. Two Massachusetts residents also finished the 100K. Lisa Menninger, 50, of Dighton finished in 22:43:14 and Mary Horowitz, 37, of Norwell finished in 23:42:52.

Sage Burner 50K

Xavier Liang traveled to Western Colorado to race his first trail ultramarathon. The 29-year-old resident of Watertown, Mass., took part in the 11th annual Sage Burner 50K on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Hartman Rocks Recreation Area in Gunnison, Colo. The course consisted mostly of singletrack dirt trails that were covered in sage brush with very little shade.

Liang held his own among the 90 finishers within the 8 1/2-hour time limit, placing 53rd overall in 6:33:25.

John O’Neill, 28, of Boulder, Colo., outdueled fellow Boulder resident Matt Daniels, 30, by a minute. O’Neill’s winning time of 3:44:06 set a new course record while Daniels finished in 3:45:14.

Way’s Bluff 50K

Taking on his first ultramarathon since the Brazos Bend 50-miler in Texas in 2016, Michael Seymour made a return trip to trails in the South.

Seymour, 39, of Boston, Mass., took part in the second annual Way’s Bluff 50K on Saturday, Oct. 27, in Canton, Miss. The race took place on an eight-mile cross country and singletrack loop course over rolling hills in the forest surrounding a lake at the Duncan M. Gray Episcopal Camp and Conference Center. Runners had nine hours to complete four loops for a heavy 50K. Seymour crossed the finish line in 8:39:58. Leanne Johnson, 39, won the race and set a new women’s course record with her time of 4:20:46. Clayton Smith, 37, of Flora, Miss., finished second overall and was the men’s winner in 4:41:50. Forty-eight runners finished the race.

*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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