MassUltra Roundup: Bel Monte and Everglades

As COVID-19 increases its spread throughout the United States, the ultrarunning season is grinding to a halt. At least a dozen ultras in the US were canceled or postponed during the March 14-15 weekend. Only a handful of ultras took place in what might be the final week of racing for the foreseeable future. There weren’t many local results to report, but there were a handful of big performances turned in by Massachusetts residents during a mostly quiet race weekend. Amy and Brian Rusiecki led the way as the South Deerfield residents made one of their annual early-season trips to Virginia and brought home podium finishes at the Bel Monte 50-miler, Amy taking first in the women’s race and Brian second among the men. Additionally, Cambridge resident Simon Guerard secured a spot on the podium with a speedy performance at the Everglades Ultra in Florida. Both of those races are covered in this week’s roundup.

Bel Monte Ultras

As is their tradition, Amy and Brian Rusiecki made an early-season road-trip to Virginia to ease into the ultramarathon racing season on Saturday, March 14. The residents of South Deerfield, Mass., have raced several different Virginia events through the years, and this year’s choice was the 16th annual Bel Monte Ultras in Lyndhurst.

Rusiecki - Soderholm
Amy Rusiecki, foreground, and Greeta Soderholm do battle late in the second loop of the three-loop Stone Cat 50K course on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Soderholm finished second and Rusiecki was fourth. Photo by Chris Wristen/MassUltra.

Both Rusieckis have raced at Bel Monte before. Amy ran the 50K race in 2010, 2011 and 2012, winning twice and placing third once. Brian ran the 50-miler those same three years, winning once (2012; 8:00:39) and placing second twice (7:48:05 in 201; 7:43:53 in 2011). His performances all rank among the seven fastest in course history.

In their return to Bel Monte, Amy tackled the 50-miler for the first time and dominated the women’s field, racing to a first-place finish in 10:30:16. Her performance ranked 10th on the women’s course record board. Her closest competitor, Haley Bellerby of Knaresborough, U.K., followed in 10:52:43.

In the men’s race, Brian ran near the front of the field throughout the day and finished second in 8:11:07. The only runner ahead of him was race champion Travis Zipfel of Worthington, Ohio, whose time of 7:58:12 was the sixth-fastest in course history. Zipfel and Rusiecki were the only runners to finish in less than nine hours.

Brian was slated to race the Mt. Tammany 10! 40-miler in New Jersey on March 21, as well as the Traprock 50K in Connecticut on April 18. Both races have been canceled due to COVID-19. Both Rusieckis were also scheduled to race the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100-miler in Virginia in May. That race has also been canceled due to COVID-19.

Everglades Ultras

Simon Guerard entered 2020 with big plans. Just how big remains to be seen as the spread of COVID-19 causes more ultras to be canceled, but so far his slate of races appears to have avoided impact.

Guerard, 34, of Cambridge, Mass., opened the year by racing the 52-miler at the Coldwater Rumble in Arizona, and then returned to the state in February to race the Black Canyon 100K. Guerard was back at a starting line on Saturday, March 14, this time in Florida for the 50-mile race at the Everglades Ultras where he raced on the logging trails, through prairies and hardwood forests, and past swampland while winding through the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. He had a very good day, placing third overall in 8:34:35. Guerard was just a few minutes behind the leaders as 27-year-old Ashley Slaughter of Miami Beach, Fla., edged 38-year-old Ramon Palomo of Miami, Fla., by 12 seconds. Slaughter won the race in 8:31:31, followed by Palomo in 8:31:43. Slaughter, Palomo and Guerard were the only runners to finish in less than nine hours.

Forty runners finished the race within the 14-hour time limit.

In addition to the 50-mile race, the event also included a 50K ultra. Sixty-three runners finished that distance, though none were New England residents.

Guerard hopes to be back in action in May when he is slated to race the Bishop High Sierra 100K in California, followed by back-to-back 100-milers in September at the Wasatch 100 and the Run Rabbit Run 100.

*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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