With 100 on the Horizon, LeBlanc Blazes at Summer Classic

The Idaho Mountain Trail Ultra Festival (IMTUF) 100-miler is a month away, but that didn’t stop Samantha LeBlanc from entering the TARC Summer Classic for a tune-up run.

IMTUF is a rugged mountain race, whereas the Summer Classic on Saturday, Aug. 10, had plenty of rocks and roots but a lot more runnable surface on the trails of Noon Hill Reservation in Medfield, Mass. That meant there’d be a lot more running and a lot less power-hiking practice for LeBlanc – and she made the most of the opportunity to throw down some speed.

LeBlanc spent the entire race running at the front of the pack; the 31-year-old Woburn, Mass., resident’s closest companions were 41-year-old Jason Baer of South Burlington, Vt., and 35-year-old Keith Bourassa of Keene, N.H., who dueled for the men’s victory. Bourassa hammered the first of four 10-mile loops in 1:32:50, five minutes ahead of LeBlanc and Baer, and the gap stayed the same through the race’s midpoint. By then, the trio was far ahead of the field with a 15-minute gap on the fourth overall runner.

Bourassa began to fade in loop three, while Baer moved to the front. Baer steadily pulled away during the remainder of the race. LeBlanc and Bourassa dueled for the second overall spot, and Bourassa eventually inched ahead.

Summer Classic Trustees donation
The Trail Animals Running Club raised more than $1,800 for the Trustees of Reservations from the TARC Summer Classic. The race took place at Noon Hill Reservation, a Trustees property. Photo courtesy of Michael Barrett.

While Baer earned the men’s victory in 6:43:55, followed by Bourassa in 7:04:49, LeBlanc finished third overall, first in the women’s field and set a new women’s course record. LeBlanc’s time of 7:09:17 surpassed the previous course standard of 7:13:26 set by Lisa Rising in 2016. LeBlanc’s closest competitor in the women’s field was Lori Wetzel, 46, of Beverly, Mass., who was the runner-up in 8:02:48. Wetzel last ran the Summer Classic in 2016 and also placed second that year. Elizabeth Lynch, 54, of Milford, Mass., rounded out the women’s top three in 8:32:52. She was also third in 2018 and sixth in the 2016 race.

While Baer and Bourassa ran away from the rest of the men’s 40-mile field, three more men joined them in breaking the 8-hour mark. Peter Guza, 38, of North Andover, Mass., finished third in 7:46:31, followed by Chris Rosol, 44, of Somerville, Mass., in 7:52:47, and Christopher Karter, 28, of Plainville, Mass., in 7:57:38.

Of the 47 runners who started the 40-mile race, 36 finished within 11 hours. That included 21-year-old Zachary Rex of Boston, Mass., who made his ultramarathon debut with an impressive performance, finishing ninth overall in 8:36:48.

Jones, Mingle Race to 50K Victories

The three-loop 50K race played out similar to the 40-miler with the lead pack establishing early separation from the remainder of the field. Devin Jones, Jake Aquino, Douglas Hall and Adam Morales went out fast and hammered the first 10 miles in just over an hour and a half, crossing the timing mat within less than a minute of each other while the rest of the field followed after a seven-minute gap. Jones was in the lead with Hall on his heels five seconds back. Morales eventually fell off the pace, and the 29-year-old resident of Somerset, Mass., ultimately dropped after 20 miles. The remaining trio raced onward, and Jones slowly opened up a comfortable lead while Aquino and Hall dueled for second place. Maciej Nowicki and Rufus Chaffee followed a few minutes back, slowly closing in but never overtaking them.

TARC founders Howie Breinan-Chris Haley - Summer Classic
Trail Animals Running Club founders Howie Breinan, left, and Chris Haley spent time volunteering at the TARC Summer Classic. Breinan sported a classic TARC singlet. Photo courtesy of Michael Barrett.

Ultimately, Jones went on to secure the victory. The 39-year-old resident of Beverly, Mass., finished first in 4:46:56 and secured the fifth spot on the men’s course-record board. The victory was the second of the year for Jones; he won the 37.5K race at Drummer Hill in Keene, N.H., in mid-June after finishing fifth in the half marathon at the TARC Spring Classic.

Aquino, 37, of Tewksbury, Mass., was the men’s runner-up in 5:04:20, followed by Hall, 42, of Belmont, Mass., in 5:09:05. Rounding out the top five were Nowicki, 30, of Boston, Mass., in 5:16:48, followed closely by Chaffee, 44, of Northampton, Mass., in 5:17:54.

The women’s 50K race was dominated by Katie Mingle, as the 27-year-old resident of Cambridge, Mass., made a strong TARC debut. She entered the Summer Classic with impressive performances under her belt in her first few ultras, winning the FATS 50K in South Carolina in 2017, taking third at the Mt. Mitchell Challenge 40-miler in North Carolina in 2018 and second at the Pineland Farms 50K in 2018.

Mingle led the women’s race from start to finish, cruising through her first loop in 1:42, eight minutes ahead of her closest competitor and steadily pulled away from there. Her winning time of 5:30:32 was the seventh-fastest on the women’s course-record board.

While Mingle ran solo, the race for second went down to the wire. Chelsea Loy was the second woman through the 10-mile mark with Kathryn Seyfarth and Tess Harvey following 11 minutes back in third and fourth. Harvey fell off the pace during the next loop while Seyfarth picked it up and closed the gap on Loy. By the end of the second trip around the course, Loy’s 11-minute advantage was down to just one minute. The race for second was on, but ultimately the positioning ended up the same. Loy, 27, of Lee, N.H., held on for second in 6:03:49, followed less than a minute later by Seyfarth, 29, of Ashland, Mass., in 6:04:46. Laura Dunn, 36, of Scotch Plains, N.H., finished fourth in 6:31:56, followed by Harvey, 29, of Brighton, Mass., in 6:43:45.

Of the 54 runners who started the 50K race, 47 finished.

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