MassUltra Roundup: Houston Running Festival and Desert Solstice

A busy year of racing is quietly coming to a close for the Massachusetts ultrarunning community. The 2018 slate of races in the Bay State is finished, and only a handful of ultras nationwide remain between now and the new year. That doesn’t mean all has been quiet for Massachusetts ultrarunners, however. Quincy’s Greg Soutiea recently raced at the invitation-only Desert Solstice 24-hour race in Arizona, and Boston’s Jorge Gonzalez turned in a strong performance last weekend in Texas at the Houston Running Festival. Both of those races are featured in this week’s roundup.

Houston Running Festival

Jorge Gonzales closed out the 2018 racing season with a top-five finish in the 50K race at the seventh annual Houston Running Festival on Saturday, Dec. 15, in Houston, Texas.
Racing on a flat, fast 2.01-mile paved loop course around Bear Creek Park, Gonzales and his fellow runners completed 16 trips around the course. The 22-year-old resident of Boston, Mass., was among the fastest to do so. He placed fourth overall with a time of 5:40:11.

Francisco Garza, 53, of Houston, Texas, dominated the race and won by an hour with a time of 3:33:54. Twenty-nine runners finished the race within eight hours.

Desert Solstice

The Desert Solstice 24-hour track meet regularly attracts some of the biggest names in ultrarunning and 24-hour racing, including world-class speedy runners like Zach Bitter and Camille Herron and endurance juggernauts such as Courtney Dauwalter. The ninth annual invitation-only event was no different when runners flocked to the Central High School track on Saturday, Dec. 8, in Phoenix, Ariz., and toed the starting line.

Runners competed in both 100-mile and 24-hour events on the 400-meter loop. That included Greg Soutiea of Quincy, Mass. The 34-year-old previously was invited to Desert Solstice in 2016 when he finished fourth overall in both the 100-mile race (16:23:48) and fourth in the 24-hour event (143.39 miles). This year Soutiea was one of 33 runners to take part in the event. He finished with 84.506 miles, placing 26th overall.

Twenty-three runners finished 100 miles, led by Bitter, 32, of Phoenix, Ariz., in 13:23:12, followed by Herron, 36, of Warr Acres, Okla., in 13:25:00. In the 24-hour event, Herron led all runners as she set a new women’s world record with her winning total of 162.919 miles. Men’s winner Jacob Jackson, 41, of Loma Linda, Calif., had 157.589 miles. Five runners logged more than 150 miles.

*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.

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