Runners Deliver Big Numbers, Make Bigger Impact at Jug End

Runners put up some big numbers during the first three years of the Jug End Loop Ultra, including men’s and women’s course-record mileage that went untouched at this year’s race. That said, the fourth annual Jug featured plenty of big numbers of its own on Saturday, July 27, at Jug End State Reservation in Egremont, Mass.

For one thing, the 76 runners who took on the 6-hour race made up the largest field in the event’s brief history, and they were joined by more runners in the 27-mile and 4.2-mile races. While the participation tally brought a smile to race director Benn Griffin’s face, he was even more proud by the most impactful big number the runners delivered: $3,600.

The Berkshire Ultra Running Community for Service was founded in 2013 with the mission of using distance running as a vehicle for building community and making a positive impact on the world. The proceeds from each BURCS race go to support various social and environmental causes, land management groups, and charitable organizations. Proceeds from the Jug End Loop Ultra were designated for Louison House for the second year in a row. Located in North Adams, Mass., Louison House is the lone homeless shelter and support organization serving northern Berkshire County. Last year’s Jug raised $1,700 for Louison House; the 2019 race amassed a more than $3,600 contribution between money and personal care goods.

Benn Griffin
Benn Griffin, Race Director of the Jug End Loop Ultra and one of the founders of the Berkshire Ultra Running Community for Service, loads his car with donations to Louison House. Runners contributed $3,200 in cash plus more than $400 in additional supplies to the homeless shelter in northern Berkshire County. Photo courtesy of Benn Griffin.

On Wednesday, Griffin delivered a check for $3,200 and a car full of care packages consisting of several hundred dollars’ worth of personal care items, school supplies, and other goods to Louison House.

“While we were unloading, an ambulance pulled up to assist a resident,” Griffin said in a note to runners following the donation delivery. “Our work is tireless. It is needed. It is valued. Thank you to all of our generous supporters in helping the homeless of northern Berkshire County. Together we can make a difference. No. We ARE making a difference.”

Prior to delivering the donations, Griffin had a race to direct. In the ultramarathon, runners completed a 4.2-mile trail loop as many times as the could during the first five hours of the race and then transitioned to a .88-mile mini loop for the final hour.

Of the 76 runners in the six-hour race, 21 completed more than a marathon distance within the time limit and the top 16 surpassed the 30-mile mark on a sunny Saturday with temperatures in the 80s. None reached the 40-mile mark, meaning Jason Mintz’s men’s course record of 41.52 miles from 2016 went untouched, as did Nick Curelop’s tally of 40.64 miles from his 2018 win that rank second on the record board. Kehr Davis’ women’s course record of 37.67 miles from 2017 also held up.

In the men’s race, Tim Goric of West Hartford, Conn., brought home his second Jug End victory in four years. Goric, 33, logged fewer miles this year – 37.12 – than when he won the 2017 race (39.13) or when he finished second in 2016 (38.0) and 2018 (38.88), but it was still enough to secure the win on a hot day. Curelop, 31, of Great Barrington, Mass., followed up last year’s victory with a second-place finish with 36.45 miles, just a step or two beyond the 36.44 recorded by third-place finisher Justin Kousky, 39, of Westport, Conn.

Meanwhile, the women’s race was close until the end with 47-year-old Kimberly Battipaglia of New Haven, Conn., taking the win with 32.92 miles, followed by 54-year-old Elizabeth Lynch of Milford, Mass., with 31.16 miles. Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello, 45, of Somerville, Mass., rounded out the women’s podium with 30.48 miles.

care packages 2
Care packages compiled from donations by runners at the Jug End Loop Ultra were delivered to Louison House, a homeless shelter that serves northern Berkshire County. Photo courtesy of Benn Griffin.

Other New England residents who surpassed the 30-mile mark were Fernando Salcido, 47, of Somerville, Mass., with 34.48 miles; Andrew Orefice, 41, of New Haven, Conn., with 32.92 miles; Conor Corridan, 30, of Berkshire County, Mass., with 32.04 miles; Jay Durand, 43, of Adams, Mass., and Tom Starodaj, 32, of New Britain, Conn., both with 31.16 miles; Alex Parker of West Roxbury, Mass., with 30.8 miles; and Michael Portanova, 39, of Burlington, Conn., with 30.48 miles.

Others from the region who went beyond the marathon distance were Beau Fair, 37, of Dalton, Mass. (29.6 miles); Bill Odendahl, 54, of Trumbull, Conn. (28.72 miles); Joann Lynch, 53, of Pittsfield, Mass. (27.84 miles); Rob Leder, 48, of Stamford, Conn. (26.96 miles); and Adam Wolny, 38, of Mendon, Mass. (26.28 miles).

In addition to the ultramarathon distance performances, another notable number from Jug End was the number of young runners in the field. BURCS races are known for having introduced several teenagers and younger runners to long-distance running, and several put up strong showings at Jug End. Among them, 13-year-old Jude Loftus of Lenox, Mass., led the way with 23.84 miles, slightly ahead of 18-year-old T.J. Cook of Adams, Mass., and 17-year-old Will Schrade of North Adams, Mass., who finished 23.64 miles apiece; 13-year-old Max Loftus of Lenox, Mass., and 10-year-old Joseph Devino of Lincoln, Vt., with 22.76 miles apiece; 16-year-old Kyle Gwilt of Pittsfield, Mass., with 21.88 miles; and 14-year-old Miles Nordskog of Pittsfield, Mass., with 13.48 miles.

In addition to the six-hour race, this year marked the first time a 27-mile race was offered at Jug End. Runners were required to complete six trips around the 4.2-mile loop followed by two mini-loops to successfully finish that race; a dozen did so. Michael Dixon, 36, of Highland Park, N.J., led all runners with a winning time of 3:29:43. He was followed six minutes later by runner-up Brendon Campbell, 35, of Medford, Mass., in 3:35:47. Dixon and Campbell were the only sub-4-hour finishers. Another Medford resident, 36-year-old Lindsay Croshier, finished third overall and won the women’s race in 4:37:23, followed by 55-year-old Laura Stephen of Brooklyn, N.Y., in 5:04:46.

Additionally, six runners completed the one-loop, 4.2-mile race with 43-year-old Shannon Weldy of Highland Park, N.J., taking the overall win in 47:57 and 14-year-old Isaac Huberdeau of Adams, Mass., finishing first in the men’s field and second overall in 56:13.

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