A frightful 2020 ultrarunning year is nearing its conclusion, and one of the final major races that took place in-person – the annual Halloween party in Arizona known as the Javelina Jundred – took place with pandemic precautions in place from Oct. 29-31. A few runners from New England journeyed to the desert to race, and ultimately earned a trip across the finish line. We have them highlighted in this week’s roundup.
The Javelina Jundred has long been known as a Halloween party in the desert, with hundreds of runners – many decked out in festive costumes – running for hours on end under the hot Arizona sun. The COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out hundreds of races this year, but Javelina couldn’t be stopped.
The 18th annual event took place Oct. 29-31 in Fountain Hills, Ariz. Pandemic precautions were in place, including wave starts over multiple days to reduce the number of runners on the course at one time.
Runners took on the five-loop course, starting with the 22.3-mile first loop followed by four 19.4-mile loops on desert singletrack with hard-packed granite, rocks, sand, and rolling hills. Of the 247 runners who took on the 100-mile distance, 160 finished within the 30-hour time limit, including four runners from New England. Michael Schnepp, 36, of New Haven, Conn., was the top regional finisher, placing 33rd overall in 22:36:58. His time was a three-hour improvement over his 2019 Javelina performance. Not far behind was 34-year-old Simon Guerard of Cambridge, Mass., who earned his first 100-mile finish in 23:06:08.
Ultrarunning veteran Gregory Lowe, 56, of Ipswich, Mass., earned his second straight Javelina Jundred finish in 24:32:36, a 46-minute improvement from 2019. Finally, 47-year-old Javier Perrone of Bristol, Conn., earned his first 100-mile finish in 27:22:45.
The top three men and top three women split the overall top six finishing positions, and the men’s and women’s winners logged some of the fastest performances in course history. In the men’s field, 35-year-old Tim Tollefson of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., hammered out a winning time of 13:28:04. Tollefson’s effort ranks third all-time at Javelina, with only Patrick Reagan having run faster (13:01:14 in 2017; 13:11:48 in 2019). Nick Coury, 33, of Scottsdale, Ariz., was second in 14:09:48; and 34-year-old Sean Van Horn of Carbondale, Colo., was the third-place male and fifth overall finisher in 16:01:10.
In the women’s field, 38-year-old Nicole Bitter of Phoenix, Ariz., blazed to the second-fastest time in course history in 15:17:47, while placing third overall. Devon Yanko is the only woman to have run the course faster (14:52:06 in 2015). Women’s runner-up Darce Claus, 49, of Bonners Ferry, Id., finished fourth overall in 15:58:45. Kalie Demerjian, 24, of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., rounded out the women’s podium and placed sixth overall in 16:10:47.
In addition to the 100-mile race, 83 runners completed three loops of the course for 100K finishes. None of them were New England residents.
*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.