Make no mistake, runners didn’t go on a pre-Thanksgiving mileage diet at the Trail Animals Running Club’s third annual TARCkey Trot 6-Hour Ultra on Sunday, Nov. 18.
Sure, the top mileage total looked a bit lighter than the previous two years, but that had nothing to do with cutting back; there’s a reasonable explanation. The first two years of the race were dominated by Patrick Caron, one of American ultrarunning’s top young prospects. After posting 37.2 miles in 2016 and 40.3 in 2017, the 21-year-old from Needham, Mass., missed this year’s TARCkey Trot to compete at the North Face Endurance Challenge championship race in San Francisco (ultimately canceled due to poor air quality from wildfires), leaving the door open for a new TARCkey Trot champion to emerge.
Caron’s top tallies on the men’s record board went untouched, but a pair of Massachusetts men dueled to replace him atop the podium. Daniel Grip and Johan Keller battled for the win while racing along the 3.1-mile loop course through the rocky, winding, leaf- and sometimes snow-covered trails of Whipple Hill in Lexington, Mass., and the open field of Wright-Locke Farm in neighboring Winchester. Grip, 39, of Millers Falls, and Keller, 34, of Malden, matched each other lap for lap as the hours ticked by. Ultimately, both finished with 11 completed loops of the course, but Grip finished his final lap faster and claimed first-place while Keller was second, both with 34.1 miles logged. Brendon Campbell, 34, of Medford, Mass., was the third-place male with 10 laps completed for 31.0 miles.
Grip, Keller and Campbell were the lone runners to achieve at least a 50K distance at this year’s TARCkey Trot, the lowest number to do so in the event’s three years. Ten runners achieved at least a 50K in 2017 and seven did so in 2016.
Grip and Keller matched Beau Langevin (2017), Joshua Fiore (2017) and Sylvain Olier (2016) for the third-most miles logged on the men’s course record board.
Similar to the men’s race, the battle for the women’s win also came down to two runners who matched each other’s total mileage. Both Christin Doneski and Molly Karp completed nine loops of the course for 27.9 miles, but Doneski did so faster and the 47-year-old resident of Hopkinton, N.H., claimed first place in the women’s field while finishing fifth overall. Karp, 37, of Natick, Mass., was the runner-up. Tari Tan, 32, of Brookline, Mass., rounded out the women’s podium with 24.8 miles completed. Maria Chevalier, 43, of Cumberland, R.I., matched Tan’s distance and was the fourth-place woman.
The women’s course record of 31.0 miles, set by Alexandra Brinkert in 2016 and matched by Bess Ritter and Bridget Ferrin-Smith in 2017, went untouched this year.
Just eight runners completed at least nine loops (27.9 miles) and surpassed the marathon distance at this year’s TARCkey Trot. Eighty-seven runners took part in the event, and all completed at least two loops of the course. Sixty-seven runners logged double-digit mileage, and 28 runners finished more than 20 miles.
In addition to the six-hour race, another 17 runners raced one loop of the course for a 5K. Rachel Bainbridge, 32, of Arlington, Mass., was the overall winner of the 5K in 25:23, followed by Mo Bruno Roy, 32, of Arlington in 26:47. The men’s win went to Jacob Varekamp, 44, of Norwell, Mass., in 27:17.