MassUltra Roundup: Grindstone, Cuyamaca, Bubba’s Backyard, Hennepin, and Blues Cruise

Grindstone weekend is always a big weekend for New England ultrarunners, and this year was no different. Thirteen runners from New England spent Oct. 4-6 on the course in Swoope, Va., with six of them earning their first 100-mile finishes. Other 100-mile runners headed to Illinois for the Hennepin 100, while three Massachusetts residents went all the way to California to run the Cuyamaca 100K. Closer to home, a few runners took on the Blues Cruise 50K in Pennsylvania while several more took on a Last Person Standing race in New Hampshire. It all made for a jam-packed weekend of racing and we have it covered in this week’s roundup.

Grindstone 100

The Grindstone 100 has become a popular race for first-time 100-mile runners from New England and veterans of the distance alike. The 2019 race was no different as 13 runners from the region were among the 197 runners to complete the 101.85-mile course and its 23,000 feet of climbing within the 38-hour time limit on Oct. 4-6 in Swoope, Va.

Leading the veterans from the region was 37-year-old Andy Vermilyea of Castleton, Vt. Vermilyea last ran Grindstone in 2015 for his second 100-mile race. He placed second that year in 20:58:12. In his return to the course he placed just off the podium, finishing fourth in 20:15:40. The top seven runners finished in less than 21 hours.

The top three men delivered a close race that went down to the final miles. Paul Jacobs, 41, of Washington, D.C., held off fellow D.C. resident Chris Roberts, 34, by three minutes. Jacobs won in 19:44:19, followed by Roberts in 19:47:43. Holden Rennaker, 28, of Durango, Colo., rounded out the men’s podium in 19:58:02.

In the women’s race, 32-year-old Beth Bauer of Cincinnati, Ohio, dominated the race and won in 24:23:01. There was a close race for second with 34-year-old Deborah Marcus of West Hyattsville, Md., finishing in 26:15:19, followed a few minutes later by 50-year-old Michelle McLellan of Elizabethton, Tenn., in 26:23:06.

Other top 100-mile veterans included 49-year-old David Ricklefs of South Burlington, Vt., who finished 11th overall in 22:24:16, and 41-year-old South Burlington resident David Huffman who placed 71st in 27:56:04 while notching his third Grindstone finish in four years. Additionally, 43-year-old Brian Shafer of Litchfield, Conn., finished the race for third year in a row in 28:52:44. Other veterans of the distance were 29-year-old Zachary Miller of Merrimack, N.H., who finished in 29:50:13; 31-year-old Johnny Bristol of Newmarket, N.H., who finished in 33:26:09; 49-year-old Kristin Lundy of Charlotte, Vt., who finished in 33:27:11; and 42-year-old Christopher Agbay of Jefferson, Mass., who earned his sixth consecutive Grindstone finish and seventh overall in 32:41:30.

Six New England residents earned their first 100-mile finishes at Grindstone. Richard Rushka led the way as the 47-year-old from New Milford, Conn., placed 15th overall in 22:55:59, followed by 37–year-old Peter Keyo of Canton, Conn., who placed 18th in 23:08:11. Others included 32-year-old Matthew Veiga of Lynn, Mass., in 26:45:49; Joshua Burns, 34, of Huntington, Vt., in 27:03:59; 33-year-old Kristijan Begic of Wallingford, Conn., in 30:13:28; and 29-year-old Wayne Capacillo of Warren, R.I., in 33:25:47.

Cuyamaca 100K

A pair of Massachusetts ultrarunners tackled 62 miles of trails and climbed to the top of a 6,500-foot peak together during the eighth annual Cuyamaca 100K on Saturday, Oct. 5, at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in Julian, Calif.

Lori Wetzel, 46, of Beverly, and 45-year-old Greg Esbitt of Ipswich took on the course, which included three separate loops and a trip to the summit of Cuyamaca Peak, and they finished a stride apart. Wetzel finished the race in 62nd place overall and the 11th woman in 14:38:34. Esbitt finished a second later in 14:38:35.

Additionally former California resident Sarah Weigel, 43, now of Byfield, Mass., finished the race in 15:49:26.

Guillaume Hansel, 26, of Danville, Calif., was the top male finisher in 8:50:27, and 34-year-old Laura Dunn of San Diego, Calif., was the top woman in 11:51:04.

Of the 235 runners who started the race, 171 finished within the 19-hour time limit.

Bubba’s Backyard Ultra

The Last Person Standing-style ultramarathon format has reached New Hampshire. The inaugural Bubba’s Backyard Ultra last person standing race took place Saturday, Oct. 5, in Center Conway, N.H. Nineteen runners took part in the race in which runners tackled a four-mile loop course with 350 feet of gain. Runners had one hour to complete the loop and return to the starting line or face elimination.

Sixteen of the runners ran an ultramarathon distance, and the last person standing was 54-year-old Ed Clifford of Raymond, N.H., who logged 86 miles. His closest competitor was 24-year-old Nathan LaMarre of Moultonborough, N.H., who completed 82.56 miles, followed by 17-year-old Benjamin Quist of Kennebunk, Maine, with 58.48 miles. Two more runners – Justin Chapman, 44, of Center Harbor, N.H., and Seth Acton, 41, of Charlestown, R.I., each finished 51.60 miles before being eliminated.

The top two women were 45-year-old Suz Laughland of Silver Lake, N.H., and 31-year-old Emily Rose of Portland, Maine. Laughland logged 48.16 miles and Rose finished with 44.72. The third-place woman was 27-year-old Jodie Davis of Boston, Mass., who completed 41.28 miles.

Hennepin 100

Some races are best run with a friend. For Jenn Miola and Joanna Anderson, the Hennepin 100-miler has been such a race.

In 2018, the pair ran the race together and finished side-by-side in 28:30:11. They returned for another try on Oct. 5-6, racing in the fifth annual event on a point-to-point course on the Hennepin Canal Trail from Sterling to Colona, Ill. They once again finished together. Miola, 45, of Lunenburg, Mass., finished in 27:03:01, while Anderson, 45, of North Grosvenordale, Conn., registered an official finishing time one second later in 27:03:02.

Danny Tresise, 35, of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, was the top male finisher in 16:29:14. Danielle Wangsness, 41, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, finished eighth overall and was the top female finisher in 18:55:19. There were 175 finishers within the 30-hour time limit.

Blues Cruise 50K

A pair of New England runners earned their first ultramarathon finishes at the 14th annual Blues Cruise 50K on Sunday, Oct. 6, at Blue Marsh Lake in Reading, Pa. Runners had 10 hours to complete the single-loop course, and 354 did so. That included 41-year-old Jusin Popso of Boston, Mass., who finished 55th overall in his first ultra in 5:11:38. Another first-time ultramarathon finisher, 22-year-old Ryley MacKay of South Burlington, Vt., finished in 7:55:55. Another New England resident, 34-year-old Joy Perkett of Essex, Conn., finished in 7:02:18.

Michael Dixon, 36, of Highland Park, N.J., was the top male finisher in 3:53:28 and 44-year-old Justyna Wilson of Fairless Hills, Pa., won the women’s race in 4:28:02.

*Editor’s Note: Results are found on a variety of sites, including, 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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