For Nick Curelop, Feb. 23 marked yet another successful trip to North Carolina when the Housatonic resident raced the difficult Mt. Mitchell Challenge 40-miler. Meanwhile, Sudbury’s Dylan Ascolese and Lincoln’s Jacqueline Anton both made their ultramarathon debuts in impressive fashion with podium finishes, Ascolese at the Febapple Frozen Fifty in New Jersey and Anton at Sycamore Canyon in California. That trio of races and stout performances highlight this week’s roundup.
Mt. Mitchell Challenge
When it comes to early-season tests, the Mt. Mitchell Challenge ranks high on the list among East Coast races. The 40-mile race starts in Black Mountain, N.C., and takes runners 20 miles out and up to the 6,684-foot summit of Mt. Mitchell before reversing course back into town. The 22nd annual running of the event took place on Saturday, Feb. 23. Two New England runners toed the starting line, and both were among the top performers.
Aliza Lapierre and Nick Curelop both turned in strong performances on a course they know well.
For Lapierre, 38, of Williston, Vt., her performance was just the latest to earn her a place on the all-time record board. She was the women’s runner-up and eighth overall finisher out of 112 with a time of 5:34:06. That time was the fifth-fastest in course history. A consistent performer, Lapierre also has the fourth-fastest time in course history (5:31:29 from 2018) and the sixth-fastest time in course history (5:35:45). Only 33-year-old Amanda Morris ran faster than Lapierre this year. Morris, 33, of Charlotte, N.C., was the top woman and sixth overall finisher in 5:27:48. Morris’s time ranks second all-time on the women’s record board; only Krissy Moehl has gone faster with her course-record mark of 5:10:38 from 2010.
Meanwhile, Curelop made his third appearance at Mt. Mitchell. He was 12th overall in 2015 (5:42:33) and fifth overall in 2018 (5:27:32), the former being his ultramarathon debut. Since that inaugural trip to North Carolina, Curelop has been a force at races in Western Massachusetts, posting victories at the Notchview Ultra in Windsor and the Jug End Loop Ultra in Egremont in 2018 in addition to third-place finishes at the Vegan Power 50K and the Sweltering Summer 8-hour, both in Pittsfield. He also won the Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 50-miler in 2018.
This year at Mt. Mitchell, the 30-year-old resident of Housatonic, Mass., finished 12th overall and 10th among the men in 5:43:57.
Luke Paulson, 26, of Asheville, N.C., was the overall winner in 4:29:00, a time that earned second place on the men’s record board. Runner-up Michael Owen, 29, of Pomeroy, Ohio, turned in the fifth-fastest time in course history, finishing in 4:37:48.
Febapple Frozen Fifty
Dylan Ascolese threw down a 3:13:57 performance at the Beantown Marathon in September 2018. On Saturday, Feb. 23, the 36-year-old resident of Sudbury, Mass., hammered out an speedy first ultramarathon when he took part in the ninth annual Febapple Frozen Fifty in Maplewood, N.J.
Ascolese was one of 13 runners to successfully complete the 50-mile race. Competing on a course that consisted of five 10-mile loops of singletrack and doubletrack trails, a little bit of pavement, and plenty of rolling hills, Ascolese earned a third-place finish in 9:12:52.
Justin Kousky, 38, of Westport, Conn., won the race in 8:39:36, followed by 34-year-old Nick DeSantis of Wanaque, N.J., in 8:41:36.
In addition to the 50-mile race, another 62 runners completed a 50K. One New Englander, 19-year-old Matthew Piotrowski of Ellington, Conn., finished ninth overall at that distance in 4:55:06. Michael Postaski, 37, of Maplewood, N.J., won in 3:54:28.
Jacqueline Anton made her ultramarathon debut at the fifth annual Sycamore Canyon Ultras on Saturday, Feb. 23, in Poway, Calif., and the resident of Lincoln, Mass., stood out with her performance.
Anton, 24, earned a spot on the women’s podium and was one of the top overall performers in the 50K race. The race consisted of four trips around a figure-eight loop course on the trails of the Sycamore Canyon Preserve, amassing around 5,600 feet of vertical gain along the way. Fifty-eight runners completed the race within 13 1/2 hours. Anton was the 11th overall finisher and the third-place woman. She cruised across the finish line in 6:16:55. Two California locals – 38-year-old Elizabeth Tenuto of Solana Beach and 41-year-old Deborah Cosmetis of San Diego – were the only women to finish faster. Tenuto finished fifth overall and was the top woman in 5:32:55 while Cosmetis finished 10th overall in 6:12:11.
The overall win went to men’s champion Carson Kidwell, 23, of San Diego, Calif., who was the lone sub-five-hour finisher, posting a time of 4:31:50.
In addition to the 50K, another 16 runners completed eight trips around the course for a 100K. All but one runner were California locals, and 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.