MassUltra Roundup: Beast of Burden, Sean O’Brien, and the Algonquin

February opened with a flurry on the New England ultrarunning scene with the second annual TARCtic Frozen Yeti 30-Hour Ultra in Westwood, Mass., but the following weekend was mostly quiet. Just a handful of runners from the region headed elsewhere to race on the Feb. 8-9 weekend, and those that did sought out both warmer and colder climates, from sunny California to chilly Maryland and New York. The weekend was highlighted by Revere resident Michael Condella, whose fifth finish of the Beast of Burden winter 100-miler leads off this week’s roundup.

Beast of Burden – Winter Edition

The Beast of Burden celebrated its 12th running of its winter 100-mile race on Feb. 8-9, once again challenging runners with four out-and-backs on the flat Erie Canal Towpath in Lockport, N.Y. The race has developed its share of traditions during that time, and one of those traditions is seeing Michael Condella cross the finish line.

Condella, 32, of Revere, Mass., placed eighth overall in 26:06:09. It wasn’t his fastest performance – that came in 2018 when he placed sixth in 21:54:49; it wasn’t his top placing finish – that came in 2019 when he was the runner-up in 22:46:36; but it did land him a spot among the most frequent finishers as he completed the race for the fifth time. In addition to 2018, 2019 and 2020, Condella also finished the race in 2015, placing 14th in 28:11:46, and 2016, placing ninth in 25:58:02.

Thirty-five runners finished this year’s race, led by 32-year-old Pete Kostelnick of Brunswick, Ohio, who repeated as champion in 16:54:06. Another New England resident – 41-year-old Fred Pinero of East Windsor, Conn. – joined Condella in finishing this year’s race. Pinero placed ninth in 26:13:11.

In addition to the 100-miler, another 23 runners finished the 50-mile race, completing two out-and-backs of the course. Justin Fitzgerald was the lone New England resident to complete that distance. Fitzgerald, 36, of Malden, Mass., placed 15th in 12:41:31. It was his fifth time finishing the winter 50-miler at Beast of Burden.

Sean O’Brien 100K/50M

California courses have become a staple on Russell Dresher’s ultrarunning schedule in recent years, starting with the Sean O’Brien 50K in 2017, followed by the Miwok 100K and Angeles Crest 100-miler, both in 2019. He kept the tradition alive in 2020, racing on Saturday, Feb. 8, in the 100K race at the sixth running of the Sean O’Brien ultras in Malibu, Calif.

Runners had 16 hours to complete the race, and 127 did so within the time limit. Daniel Kwon, 33, of Los Angeles, Calif., won the race outright in 10:10:33, while 37-year-old Luzia Buehler of Films Waldhaus, Switzerland, placed sixth overall and topped the women’s field in 10:59:55. Dresher, 37, of Berlin, Mass., also had a strong day, placing 50th overall in 13:37:15.

Dresher will try to build off of that performance when he races the Wapack and Back 50-miler in May before returning to California for another crack at Angeles Crest in August.

In addition to the 100K race, another 156 runners finished a 50-miler within the 16-hour time limit. David Huang, 36, of Cambridge, Mass., finished in the middle of the pack, placing 90th in 13:16:25. Dylan Bowman, 33, of Portland, Ore., took home the win in 7:05:32.

The Algonquin 50K

Fresh off of a speedy run in the 15-mile race at the TARCtic Frozen Yeti, Barny Sanchez hit the road to Maryland for a fast 50K just six days later.

Sanchez, 42, of Charlton, Mass., took part in the fourth annual Algonquin 50K on Saturday, Feb. 8, in Pocomoke City, Md., and cruised through the flat, fast out-and-back course. Of the 235 runners who completed the race within the eight-hour time limit, Sanchez placed in the top third of the field, taking 63rd overall in 5:49:12. Up next for Sanchez are the TARC To Hale and Back 6-Hour Ultra, the TARC Spring Classic 50K, and the Connecticut Ultra Traverse 60-mile race.

Rob Coslick, 37, of San Diego, Calif., topped the men’s field with a course-record time of 3:49:27. Chris Matthews, 46, of Essex Junction, Vt., led the New England crew by placing fifth overall in 4:17:12.

In the women’s field, 35-year-old Holly Smith of Rehoboth, Del., set a course record while winning in 4:21:38. Kelsey Miller, 35, of Portsmouth, R.I., finished sixth in the women’s field in 5:09:38.

*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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