While more than 130 runners were taking on the trails of Pittsfield State Forest in western Massachusetts for the 50K and 25K races at the BURCS’ Vegan Power Trail Races, several more runners headed out-of-state to race. Some headed to neighboring New York, where Westborough’s Ben Nephew brought home a win and Woburn’s Samantha LeBlanc earned a second-place finish; others went north to Vermont for the popular Catamount 50K. Others, like Pittsfield’s Kehr Davis, took on the grueling Broken Arrow Sky Race in California, while a few more raced the Many on the Genny 50K in New York and the 50-mile race at Oregon’s Old Cascadia. Those five races are featured in this week’s roundup.
Gnarly courses tend to bring out the best in Ben Nephew, and that was once again the case for the 43-year-old from Westborough, Mass., at the seventh annual Manitou’s Revenge 54-miler on Saturday, June 22, in New York.
Racing on a rocky, rugged and remote course starting in Windham and traveling the Black Dome Trail and Long Path through the Catskills to the finish line in downtown Phoenicia, Nephew was in dominant form. He handled the more than 15,000 feet of climbing – much of it steep, rocky scrambling – and pulled away from the field for the win in 11:25:14. It was Nephew’s second ultramarathon win of the year; he won the Iron Mines 50K in New Jersey in May after finishing second at the Castle to River Run 50K in New York in March.
Saturday marked the second time Nephew has won Manitou’s Revenge. He also finished first in 2017 (10:57:49) and has second-place finishes in 2018 (10:54:42) and 2014 (11:04:57).
Nephew’s closest competitor on Saturday was 34-year-old Andy Pearson of Santa Monica, Calif., who was a distant second in 11:48:31. Jeffrey Adams, 41, of Buffalo, N.Y., finished third in 12:12:16. The top six men all finished in less than 12 hours. Brian Shafer, 42, of Litchfield, Conn., was the second-highest finisher from New England, placing 11th overall in 13:33:20. Additionally, 37-year-old William Jackson of Danvers, Mass., finished 24th overall in 14:32:40.
The women’s race also saw the 2018 runner-up bring home the victory in 2019. Kelly MacDonald, 30, of Alexandra, Va., built upon her second-place finish last year by earning a second-place finish at the grueling Hellgate 100K in December. She then kicked off 2019 with a pair of ultramarathon wins (Waterfall 50K in Virginia and Holy Cowan’s Gap 50K in Pennsylvania) before riding that momentum into Manitou’s Revenge.
MacDonald led the women’s field for much of the day and earned her victory in 13:40:21. MacDonald had enough in the tank at the end to hold off a hard-charging Samantha LeBlanc as the 30-year-old resident of Woburn, Mass., earned a runner-up finish in 13:52:42. For LeBlanc, it was her first ultramarathon since placing third at the Grindstone 100 last fall. Pandora Down, 25, of Cottonwood Heights, Utah, was a distant third in 14:13:09. Kristen Smith, 33, of Danvers, Mass., finished fifth in the women’s field and 34th overall in 15:10:53.
There were 105 finishers within 24 hours.
Familiar faces took down the course records at the sixth annual Catamount Ultra 50K on Saturday, June 22, in Stowe, Vt.
Rob Bond, 30, of Seattle, Wash., previously won the race in 2016 when he set the course record of 3:46:52. That mark stood until Saturday when Bond returned to the race and earned an 11-minute victory in 3:46:52. In the women’s race, 25-year-old Britta Clark of Goshen, Vt., defended her title and lowered her time. After winning the 2018 race with a course-record time of 4:22:00, Clark won this year’s race in 4:20:49.
Both Bond and Clark capitalized on a day where the weather was warm and course conditions were good on the two-loop dirt course. Bond’s closest competitor, 36-year-old Neal Graves of Stowe, Vt., finished 11 minutes back in 3:57:53 for his third top-five finish in four years. Kanoa King, 30, of Portsmouth, N.H., led Bond by a stride after one loop and ultimately finished third in 4:05:33. Jason Baer, 41, of South Burlington, Vt., finished fourth in 4:14:34.
In the women’s race, Clark held a narrow 17-second lead on Sara Dunham at the race’s midpoint before pulling away. Dunham, 42, of Plattsburgh, N.Y., ultimately finished second in 4:26:18. Vanessa Garlick, 31, of Montpelier, Vt., was a distant third in 4:38:38, followed by 24-year-old Riley Brady of New Hope, Pa., in 4:41:52.
Noah Vihinen, 41, of Wenham was the top Massachusetts finisher. He placed ninth overall in 4:28:16. Other top performers from Massachusetts were Marc Almanzan, 36, of Jamaica Plain, who placed 11th overall in 4:31:19; Nelson Knudsen, 29, of Roslindale, who was 17th in 4:44:43; Matthew Turnbull, 41, of Watertown, who was 20th in 4:47:46; Tim Finocchio, 41, of Holbrook, who was 22nd in 4:53:56; and Joseph D’Alessio, 42, of Cambridge, who was 24th in 4:55:33.
There were 158 finishers of the 50K within nine hours.
Broken Arrow Sky Race 52K
David Sinclair closed out his 2018 racing season by hammering out a dominant course-record performance at the TARC Fells Winter Ultra 40-miler at the Middlesex Fells Reservation. The 27-year-old resident of Peru Vt., has been quiet on the racing scene since then, but he reemerged out West at the fourth annual Broken Arrow Sky Race 52K on Saturday, June 22, at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Sinclair was part of a highly competitive field, and he held his own just fine. The top four men all went under the previous course record, and that group included Sinclair who finished third in 4:41:41, a minute behind runner-up Michelino Sunseri, 26, of Kings Beach, Calif., who finished in 4:40:29. Hayden Hawks, 28, of Cedar City, Utah, won the men’s race in 4:25:50 on the two-loop, high-altitude, highly-technical course that takes place above 6,200 feet and includes more than 10,000 feet of vertical gain. The fourth-place male, 31-year-old Paddy O’Leary of San Francisco, Calif., also finished under the previous course record in 4:53:55.
Similar to the men’s race, the top three women all finished under the previous course record. Megan Kimmel led the way as the 39-year-old from Ridgway, Colo., clocked a winning time of 5:09:40. The top New England woman was Kehr Davis, 42, of Pittsfield, Mass. Davis has spent the past few years racing and winning the Manitou’s Revenge 54-miler in New York, but she opted to head cross-country this year where she finished eighth in the women’s field in 6:12:51.
Five more New England residents were among the 384 runners to finish the race within 12 hours. Andrew MacGibbon, 23, of Lebanon, N.H., led that group, finishing 20th overall in 5:17:22. Additionally, 35-year-old Jereme Leafe of Manchester, N.H., finished in 6:25:43; Zoe Dawson, 43, of Hinesburg, Vt., finished in 7:11:42; Phoebe Seltzer, 23, of Sudbury, Mass., finished in 8:27:44; and Dennis Penna, 39, of Pittsfield, Mass., finished in 8:58:19.
Many on the Genny
Matthew Marden is still relatively new to ultramarathons – he ran his first ultra in the 50K race at the Vermont 50 in September 2018 – but he’s quickly building a list of states where he has completed an ultra, and he’s running them quite well.
Marden, 41, of Framingham, Mass., placed 10th overall at the Vermont 50K and then added an ultra in Massachusetts in April when he finished sixth overall at the TARC Spring Classic 50K. On Saturday, June 22, Marden took part in the third annual Many on the Genny 40-mile race in Castile, N.Y., and he finished 11th overall (ninth-place male) in 7:17:52.
Marden will attempt to add a fourth state to his list of ultramarathon finishes in September when he races the Pisgah 50K in Chesterfield, N.H.
While Marden had a solid day racing on the singletrack trails of Letchworth State Park at Many on the Genny, so did several other runners. Brett Long, 35, of Johnson City, Tenn., had a big day and brought home the win with a sub-6-hour finish, completing the race in 5:54:37. Meanwhile, 27-year-old Ellie Pell of Ithaca, N.Y., was the women’s champion for the third year in a row, clocking a time of 7:00:33.
Three more New England residents joined Marden among the 133 runners to finish the race in less than 13 1/2 hours. Andrea Buono, 51, of Unionville, conn., placed 48th overall in 9:25:13; Chelsea Jackson, 27, of Standish, Maine, was 57th overall in 9:44:48; and David Ash, 53, of Glastonbury, Conn., finished in 12:03:12.
The second annual Old Cascadia Ultras took place June 22-23 at Lava Lake Sno Park and the Williamette National Forest in Blue River, Ore., and two residents of Somerville, Mass., took part in the event’s 50-mile race on a mostly singletrack dirt lollipop loop course with 12,500 feet of climbing.
Brian Bresee, 30, finished 17th overall in 11:39:31, and Jason Nochlin, 30, placed 48th in 15:20:03. Fifty-eight runners finished the race within 22 hours. For Bresee, the race was his first ultramarathon since the 2012 Bimbler’s Bluff 50K in Connecticut. Meanwhile, Old Cascadia was Nochlin’s first ultra.
In addition to the 50-miler, 28 runners completed two loops of the course for 100 miles. None of those runners 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.