Past Champions Prevail at Seth’s Fat Ass 50K

A pair of previous winners of Seth’s Fat Ass 50K reclaimed their thrones at the ninth running of the race on Saturday, Dec., 21, in Springfield, Mass.

Martha Berrouard returned to the top of the women’s field for a third time, while Eric Ciocca bested the men’s field for the second time in three years on a cold day that started with temperatures in the mid-20s and didn’t get above freezing until midway through the race. Runners took on a 5K paved loop at Forest Park, and they had seven hours to complete the loop 10 times. Seventy-five runners took part in the race, and 35 completed it within the time limit for “official” finishes while three more covered the distance with a little extra time.

The first runner to finish was Ciocca. The 42-year-old resident of Northampton, Mass., last ran the race in 2017. His winning time of 4:04:21 that year was the ninth-best on the men’s course-record board entering this year’s race. It was bumped from the top 10 all-time thanks to his performance this year, as well as that of runner-up Matthew Musiak. Ciocca threw down a personal-best effort on the course and won in 3:55:18, snagging the sixth-fastest time in course history along the way.

The win was Ciocca’s third ultramarathon victory this year. He previously won the Enchanted Forest 6-Hour Ultra in April and the Sweltering Summer 8-Hour Ultra in August.

Musiak also earned a spot on the record board as the 37-year-old from Easthampton, Mass., posted a second-place performance in 4:00:41 that secured him the ninth spot on the record board. Justin Madry, 37, of Waterford, Conn., was a distant third in 4:15:44, followed by 43-year-old Jonathan Gessner of Charlton, Mass., in 4:27:36.

While Ciocca had to fend off a challenge from Musiak to top the men’s field, another previous champion — Berrouard — overcame some tough competition, too. The 43-year-old from East Longmeadow, Mass., has a long history of successful performances at the race. Notably, she won in 2012, and her time of 4:20:30 that year currently sits third on the women’s course record board. Her winning mark of 4:21:02 in 2013 is the fourth-fastest mark in course history, and the 4:32:38 that she ran during her runner-up finish in 2011 is the sixth-fastest mark in course history. She finished sixth at the race in 2018 when Christin Doneski set the current women’s course record of 4:11:39 and won the race outright.

Casey Mendrala, 31, of Ludlow, Mass., led the women’s field for much of the day while Berrouard and 48-year-old Ericka Emerson of Easthampton, Mass., ran in close proximity. Berrouard ultimately tracked down Mendrala on the final lap and pulled away for the win in 5:01:17. Mendrala was a close second in 5:05:03, followed a minute later by Emerson in 5:06:12. Devon Smith, 44, of South Hadley, Mass., was fourth in 5:13:01.

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