Ultrarunning has enjoyed massive growth across the country and around the world in recent years, and that boom has certainly been felt here in Massachusetts. Long-established races have experienced record turnout and new events have been added to the calendar yearly. Today, the number of ultras in the Bay State stands at more than 30, ranging from distance-specific races to time-based ultras, fatass-style gatherings and last-person-standing events.
This year, Plymouth will join in on the action when it plays host to its first ultramarathon with the inaugural Plymouth’s Long, Hard and Dirty Ultra on Saturday, April 18, at Myles Standish State Forest. The event was the brainchild of co-Race Director Kristen DeMeo Winger who saw the potential for a trail race to thrive in an area that has a robust road-running community. She pitched that idea to her friend, Anne Marie Winchester, and the idea soon turned into reality.
“I mentioned the idea to my great friend Anne Marie of South Shore Race Management LLC while we were both training for Ghost Train in 2018,” Winger recalled. “We have kicked it around for the past year or so and decided it was finally time that we give it a go in the late fall of 2019. We have been working hard non-stop since (to make it happen).
“I felt that this area was really booming with road races and saw a need for a local trail race to draw in the many roadies to something new. I thought that by giving the option for inexperienced trail runners as well as seasoned trail runners we can really put together a fun event that will cater to all skill levels.”
The event will feature 50K and 8-hour ultramarathon options, as well as shorter distances of 30K and 10K and relay options for the 8-hour event, giving both beginners and veterans multiple options to choose from. All of the distances will be run on a 10K loop course that winds through Myles Standish State Forest on a mixture of singletrack dirt, jeep trails, bike path, a little bit of pavement, and around 325 feet of vertical gain per loop.
Whether it’s a runner’s first time trying out the trails or they’re a seasoned ultrarunning veteran, Winger said the first-year event should have a familiar feel in terms of the atmosphere and support.
“I feel that this race will be very runner-friendly as it is not technical and we have a great group of seasoned trail/ultra volunteers that will help bring a great atmosphere and experience to all that attend,” she said.
So far, 23 runners have signed up for the 50K, 14 for the 8-hour solo race, 37 for the 30K and another 77 for the 10K.
Winger acknowledged that the race falls on a busy weekend for the Massachusetts running community as it takes place the day before the Trail Animals Running Club’s “Don’t Run Boston” 50-mile and 50K races at the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton and the Cape Cod Trail Race 50K at the Crane Wildlife Management Area in Falmouth. Additionally, the Boston Marathon is the following Monday.
“We were aware of the DRB Fun Run and of course the Boston Marathon when we took into account the dates,” Winger said. “When we put in for our permit, Cape Cod had not released their date. We had assumed they would be putting on their race the first week in April as they had done for years prior. So we were not aware of their date changing until we had already put our permit in and opened registration. It was never to slight any organization but to just have other options.”
While the weekend will be jam-packed with racing options, some runners aren’t choosing one race over another and instead are seizing the opportunity to go for a “double.”
“We are excited to have a few runners doing both 50K events at our race and Cape Cod the following day – BEASTS!” Winger said.
Registration for the inaugural event in Plymouth can be done via UltraSignup. The cost is $85 for the 8-hour ultra, $80 for the 50K, $45 for the 30K, $25 for the 10K, $189 for a four-person relay team in the 8-hour race and $139 for a two-person team in the 8-hour relay. Race day registration will be available for an increased fee.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Friends of Myles Standish, an organization that promotes and conserves the natural, scenic and historical resources of Myles Standish State Forest. That work includes maintenance of the forest’s many trails, some of which will be used for the race.