MassUltra Roundup: Arches, AZT Oracle, and Big Bend

The warm weather of the west coast and southwest attracted ultrarunners from Massachusetts and greater New England in recent weeks. That included Jeremy Scanlan of Worcester, Mass., who earned a podium finish at the Arches Ultra in Utah. In addition to Arches, last weekend’s AZT Oracle Rumble in Arizona and the Big Bend Ultra from Jan. 20 in Texas are featured in this week’s roundup.

Arches Ultra

Worcester, Mass., is home for Jeremy Scanlan, but he has made a habit of testing his ultrarunning skills on trails beyond the Bay State or greater New England, often heading west to places like California, Colorado, and Utah to explore new trails.

Scanlan went back on the road last weekend to race in the 50-miler at the second annual Arches Ultra on Saturday, Jan. 26, in Moab, Utah. The course took runners over slickrock and red dirt trails along the edge of Arches National Park and offered scenic views of the park for much of the day. Scanlan enjoyed those views before most of the other runners as he raced near the front of the pack throughout the day. Only seven runners finished the race in less than eight hours, and Scanlan was among them. In fact, he beat all but two runners in the field. Scanlan, 36, raced to a third-place finish in 7:14:02. He trailed only Carbondale, Colo., residents Jeason Murphy and Anthony Carroll. Murphy, 39, won the race in 7:03:18 and Carroll, 23, followed three minutes later. The fourth-place runner trailed Scanlan by 12 minutes.

The race was Scanlan’s best finish ever in an ultramarathon, besting his fourth-place finish in the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50-miler in Utah in 2017. Arches was also his first ultra since finishing the Leadville 100 in August 2018.

Scanlan was one of two New England residents who took part in the race, and both had strong performances. Joining Scanlan was 25-year-old David Maggio of Bennington, Vt., who earned his first 50-mile finish while placing 36th overall in 10:15:13.

Kandy Ferris, 44, of Longwood, Fla., was the first-place female finisher in 9:15:52. Eighty-three runners finished the race within 13 hours.

Another 196 runners finished the 50K race within 10 hours. That included a trio of New Englanders. Tim Cronk, 56, of Laconia, N.H., was the top finisher from the region as he placed 18th overall in 4:59:59. Additionally, 55-year-old Douglas Cluff of Middletown, R.I., finished in 6:46:52, and 55-year-old Heather Webber of Laconia, N.H., finished in 6:58:32.

AZT Oracle Rumble

While a deep freeze was settling in on New England, a handful of runners from the region sought out warmer temperatures and dry trails in the sunny southwest by racing at the third annual AZT Oracle Rumble on Saturday, Jan. 26, in Tucson, Ariz.

The event offered runners the option or racing 50K or 50 miles, and the course took them through Oracle State Park on dirt singletrack and over rolling hills while covering parts of the Arizona Trail.

The New England contingent took part in the 50K race, and one of them earned a podium finish. Tracy Drozynski, 53, of Norwich, Conn., was the third-place female finisher and 18th overall finisher in 6:17:34. She trailed only Moira Hough, 31, of Tucson, (5:26:25) and Julie Henk, 24, of Tucson (5:31:10). Two more Connecticut women – Waterford residents Natalie Edwards and Tracy Montoya – also finished the race. Edwards, 40, finished 33rd overall in 6:56:04 and Montoya, 54, finished in 8:04:57.

Meanwhile, two Massachusetts men were also among the finishers. Neither caught 22-year-old Tucson resident Kevin Schofield who was the overall winner in 4:39:06 and was one of just four runners to finish in less than five hours. Still, Burlington’s Alex Markle and Sudbury’s Seng-Lai Tan earned their way across the finish line. Markle, 38, finished 42nd overall in 7:04:36. Tan, 47, finished in 8:53:57.

Seventy-four runners finished the 50K within 10 hours.

In addition to the 50K race, another 28 runners completed the 50-miler. No New Englanders were among the finishers of that distance.

Big Bend Ultra

For a few years the Big Bend Ultra took runners on a two-legged tour of Big Bend National Park. In recent years, however, the race has moved to neighboring Big Bend Ranch State Park. It continues to call that venue home, and the latest edition took place on Saturday, Jan. 20, with runners racing across dusty desert conditions for 50 miles or 50K.

Dawn McCollough was one of the dozen runners to successfully complete the challenging 50-miler in the dry West Texas heat. Racing on singletrack trails, doubletrack trails, and jeep roads, McCollough, 47, of Boston, Mass., finished the race in 14:34:41. McCollough completed the 50K race at the 2017 Big Bend Ultra, and she ran the 30K in 2016.
Jacob Copp, 28, of Auburn, Kan., was the men’s winner in 7:51:42 while Texan Daisy Henson led the ladies’ field in 11:11:39.

In addition to the 50-mile race, another 52 runners finished the 50K race. None were from New England.

*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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