MassUltra Roundup: Forgotten Forest, Firebird, and Yukon’s Gold Rush

After a busy summer of racing, Sept. 21-22 was a relatively calm, quiet weekend for the New England ultrarunning community before the fall racing season ramps up beginning with the annual TARC Fall Classic. There were still a few races, however, including a new one on Cape Cod (see separate story on the Y-Not 50K) the always-popular Forgotten Forest 9-Hour Ultra in Connecticut and the new Firebird 50K in Maine that attracted runners from throughout the region. Both of those races, as well as the Yukon’s Gold Rush 50K in New Jersey are featured in this week’s roundup.

Forgotten Forest Ultra

The approximately 3.1-mile loop in Roosevelt Forest lured runners back for the fourth annual Forgotten Forest Ultra on Saturday, Sept. 21, in Stratford, Conn. The event tempts runners to tackle the rolling singletrack trail and its occasional trip-hazards as many times as possible within the nine-hour time limit. This year, 59 runners were up for the challenge, including 40 who ran beyond the marathon distance

The forest has been mighty good to Justin Kousky this year. The 39-year-old from Westport, Conn., earned a top-10 finish at the Enchanted Forest 6-Hour Ultra in April, as well as a top-10 performance and his first 100-mile finish at the Forbidden Forest 30-Hour Ultra in June. Both races took place on the trails of Roosevelt Forest. Kousky was back on the trails on Saturday, and this time he earned a victory, winning the event outright with 55.98 miles in nine hours. That total set a new record for the event.

Kousky’s closest competitor was 35-year-old David Maher of Norwich, Conn., who logged 46.65 miles. Both Durgesh Mankekar, 42, of Medford, Mass., and Joseph Jankolovits, 34, of Milford, Conn., followed with 43.56 miles. Both Pascal Fuchs, 49, of Fairfield, Conn., and Alex Cabrera, 35, of Nashua, N.H., also broke the 40-mile mark.

Shannon Czako took top honors in the women’s field as the 33-year-old from Plainville, Conn., completed 40.46 miles in nine hours. The women’s runner-up was 54-year-old Elizabeth Lynch of Milford, Mass., with 37.36 miles, followed by Angie Thomas, 30, of Waterford, Conn., with 37.35 miles.

Four other Massachusetts residents Melissa Arnold, 37, of Framingham; David Danzak, 45, of Boston; Arianna Ramini, 12, of Gloucester, and Hollis Graham, 62, of Longmeadow all earned 50K finishes.

Firebird 50K

Maine’s newest trail ultramarathon took place on Saturday, Sept. 21, with the inaugural Firebird 50K in Falmouth. Runners were challenged with a technical course with rocky, rooty singletrack trails mostly on the Cross-Falmouth Trail, starting at the Lowell Preserve in Windham, passing through the Blackstrap Hill and Knight’s Pond Preserves and then back to the finish line in Windham.

Gordon Collins led all runners. The 40-year-old resident of Gray, Maine, earned the victory in 5:42:40. He was followed by 35-year-old Ed Donahue of Abington, Mass., who was the men’s runner-up in 6:02:42. Billy Nichols, 58, of Rumford, Maine, rounded out the men’s podium in 6:18:56.

A trio from Maine swept the women’s podium. South Portland resident Shannon Jenkins, 30, earned the victory in 7:10:01, followed by Bridgton’s Katy Dowd, 37, in 7:20:48, and Westbrook’s Tami Kasoff, 44, in 7:57:44.

Sixteen runners finished the 50K within nine hours. Several other runners also completed the 13-mile and 5K races.

Yukon’s Gold Rush 50K

A trio of New England residents were among the finishers of the inaugural Yukon’s Gold Rush 50K on Saturday, Sept. 21, in Mountainside, N.J. Racing on a mostly flat and fast course with a few hills, rocks and roots thrown in for good measure, 46-year-old Charlotte Dequeker of Greenwich, Conn., delivered a strong performance in her first race since completing the Eastern States 100-miler last month. Dequeker raced to a second-place finish in the women’s race in 6:07:11, trailing only Amy Nalven, 41, of Brick, N.J., who finished first in the women’s field and fourth overall in 5:31:14.

Tony Kharitonov, 50, of Millburn, N.J., finished first overall in 5:05:00. Two more New England men also were among the race’s 22 finishers within the eight-hour time limit. Ted Listokin, 52, of Stamford, Conn., finished 13th overall in 6:53:19 in what was his final tune-up before racing back-to-back 100Ks, first at Tesla Hertz in New York on Oct. 12 and then at the Javelina Jundred in Arizona on Oct. 26. Additionally, 27-year-old Nicholas Hudak of Lawrence, Mass., earned his first ultramarathon finish in 7:48:08.

*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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