After a relatively slow and quiet start to the 2021 racing season, the final weekend of March was sizzling with several races across the country and some big performances by runners from New England. Most notably, two Massachusetts men — Scott Traer and Lance Doherty — finished in the top three overall at the Umstead 100-miler in North Carolina while Crystal Ross also had a big day and came within 2 minutes of finishing on the women’s podium. In addition to six races from the last weekend of March, we’ve also highlighted the big day that some local runners had a week earlier at the F.I.T. Challenge 50K in Rhode Island. The COVID-19 vaccination rate is rising and so are the number of in-person ultras taking place, making this a jam-packed roundup.
The Bay State made a big impression at the Umstead 100-miler on March 27-28 in Raleigh, N.C., as two Massachusetts men finished in the top three overall at the 26th annual event.
The 100-mile race takes place on a 12.5-mile loop on a wide, smooth, mostly crushed-gravel course that winds through William B. Umstead State Park that runners must complete eight times within the 30-hour time limit. For Scott Traer of Woburn, Mass., less than half the time was necessary. An ultra veteran with numerous big performances under his belt including a victory at the 2015 Vermont 100, runner-up finish at the 2016 Cascade Crest 100, fifth-place finish at the 2019 Run Rabbit Run 100 and runner-up finish at the 2019 Desert Solstice 100, Traer came to North Carolina primed and ready to race. He and Ohio’s Arlen Glick dueled throughout the day and the 28-year-old Glick edged Traer for the win in 13:22:40. Traer cruised across the finish a little while later and placed second in 13:44:03.
A few hours after Traer finished, 44-year-old Lance Doherty of Somerville, Mass., crossed the finish line in third place overall in a speedy 16:41:42. For Doherty, it was just the latest in a series of impressive 100-mile efforts as he won the 2019 Yeti 100 and placed second at the same event in 2020.
A North Carolina local, 33-year-old Leigh Jackson, finished fourth overall and was the first woman to finish in 17:24:47. Narrowly missing joining her on the women’s podium was 40-year-old Crystal Ross of Carver, Mass., who finished fourth in the women’s field (2 minutes off the podium) and 14th overall in 22:09:54.
Joining Traer, Doherty, and Ross in finishing the 100-miler was 45-year-old Kyle Robidoux of Roxbury, Mass. who finished 35th overall in 25:02:36. For Robidoux, the Umstead buckle is the fourth in his collection joining buckles from the Vermont 100, Ghost Train 100, and Yeti 100.
In the 50-mile race, former Massachusetts resident David Huss finished second overall in 8:57:14, just 13 minutes behind the winner. Massachusetts resident Lisa Allen, 57, finished the 50-miler in 13:35:22.
Naked Prussian/Naked Bavarian
Soggy weather conditions led race organizers to combine the Naked Prussian 50-miler and Naked Bavarian 40-miler into one joint event on Saturday, March 27, on the Blue Marsh Lake trails in Leesport, Pa. The multi-loop courses overlap between the two events, which made the racer merger relatively seamless for the participants, which included a handful of New England residents.
In the 50-mile race, runners amassed around 5,000 feet of climbing on the mildly technical singletrack and 105 people successfully completed the course within 13 hours. A Pennsylvania local, 24-year-old Graham Peet, topped the men’s field in 7:19:41, while Florida resident and multi-time Vermont 100 winner Kathleen Cusick, 45, topped the women’s field in 9:29:22. Eleven New England residents were also among the finishers, led by Samuel Dybdahl, 33, of Windsor Locks, Conn., and Matt Gerber, 32, of Durham, Conn., who placed 32nd and 38th overall, respectively, in 10:09:41 and 10:18:02. Others from the region who finished were Alex Wirth-Cauchon, 60, of South Hadley, Mass., in 10:29:29; Benjamin Gerber, 29, of Durham, Conn., in 11:28:00; Melody Mallozzi, 29, of Brighton, Mass., in 11:33:34; Tess Harvey, 34, of Brighton, Mass., in 11:33:35; Michael Pereiro, 25, of Shelton, Conn., in 11:52:55; Melissa Pogwizd Bertele, 44, of Bethany, Conn., in 11:58:52; Sean Meade, 39, of Stamford, Conn., in 12:16:41; Jennifer Rizzo, 38, of Marblehead, Mass., in 12:37:34; and Steven Chard, 42, of Wrentham, Mass., in 12:42:18.
Meanwhile, another 65 runners finished the Naked Bavarian 40-mile race within 11 hours, including a trio of runners from Massachusetts. Norton’s Padraig Mullins, 39, led the local contingent with a seventh-place overall finish in 6:24:35. Additionally, West Newbury residents Nicholas Fucile, 42, and Jacqueline Fucile, 36, finished together in 9:35:37.
Maryland resident Benjamin Linne, 23, and Pennsylvania’s Riley Brady, 25, were the race winners in 5:19:44 and 5:51:40, respectively.
Behind the Rocks
Recent Colorado transplant Brent Kocis represented New England for the second time at a trail ultra when he headed back west to take part in the seventh running of the Behind the Rocks 50-miler on Saturday, March 27, in Moab, Utah.
Kocis, who last raced in August 2019 at the Waldo 100K in Oregon where he finished fourth, spent his entire day in the top 20 while racing along slickrock trails through the Behind the Rocks Wilderness Area. The lead pack pulled away quickly, but Kocis stayed in close contact with the next pack and ultimately finished 10th overall in 9:31:38.
Ninety-one runners finished the race within 14 hours, led by 32-year-old Anthony Costales of Salt Lake City, Utah, who won by an hour in 6:53:02.
In addition to the 50-miler, another 204 runners completed the event’s 50K offering within 10 hours. That included 61-year-old Peter Troast of South Freeport, Maine, who finished 76th in 6:38:04.
Spring On the Trails 6-Hour
Daniel Grip had been on a multi-year tear at trail races prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The resident of Wendell, Mass., either won or finished on the podium at nearly every trail race he took part in starting with a victory at the 2018 TARCkey Trot 6-Hour Ultra and continuing through to the 2019 NipMuck Trail Marathon which he also won. That span, which consisted of seven trail races, saw Grip win four and place second twice. He returned to racing in October 2020 and picked up where he left off, winning the Cat’s Tail Trail Marathon in Shandaken, N.Y.
On Sunday, March 28, Grip made his first trip to a starting line in 2021 and the 41-year-old hammered out yet another strong performance. This time it came at the inaugural Spring On the Trails 6-Hour time-based ultra in Lagrangeville, N.Y. He and 61 other runners took on a 5K trail loop course with around 250 feet of gain per loop and tried to finish the loop as many times as possible within the time limit.
Grip finished second overall with 13 laps completed for 40.3 miles. Chris Irwin, 47, of Cortland Manor, N.Y., matched Grip’s distance. Only one runner — 26-year-old Nicholas Mamrak of New York, N.Y. — ran farther, finishing 14 laps for 43.4 miles.
Capri May, 34, of Owego, N.Y., topped the women’s field with 37.2 miles, tied for fourth overall.
Thirty-six runners surpassed the marathon distance within the allotted time, including New England residents Ron Locandro, 54, of Simsbury, Conn. (37.2 miles); Rebecca Burke, 45, of Portland, Conn. (34.1 miles); Michael Lo Presti, 49, of Norfolk, Conn. (31 miles); and Aaron Thompson, 37, of Concord, N.H. (31 miles).
Prairie Spirit Trail
After closing out 2019 and welcoming in 2020 by running her first ultramarathon at the Across the Years 24-hour race in Arizona, Nicole Considine had to wait more than a year to see if she could build upon her 38.76-mile effort as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most races nationwide for more than a year. On Saturday, March 27, she finally got her chance. The 30-year-old resident of Medford, Mass., traveled to Ottawa, Kan., to take part in the eighth running of the Prairie Spirit Trail Ultras.
Considine entered the 50-miler, which gave runners a 29-hour time limit to complete their out-and-back journey on the Prairie Spirit Trail, a flat, mostly smooth rails-to-trails course on crushed gravel that passes through small towns and farmland about an hour southwest of Kansas City. Runners in the 50-mile race shared the course with those tackling three other ultra distances.
Considine was one of 106 runners to finish the 50-miler within the time limit, completing the course in 12:59:47.
Considine was the lone New England resident to take part in the Prairie Spirit ultras. In addition to the 50-miler which she raced, another 49 runners completed the 100-mile distance, 20 finished the 100K, and 125 completed the 50K.
F.I.T. Challenge 50K
F.I.T. Challenge kicked off its racing season in Rhode Island on Sunday, March 21, with a 50K trail race on a six-lap course at The Monastery in Cumberland. Thirty-nine runners completed the race within 7 ½ hours, including several standouts from the obstacle course racing circuit that F.I.T. Challenge’s events typically cater to.
The women’s podium saw a New England sweep, with Boston resident Alia Rawji, 30, taking home the win in 5:15:24, followed by Kelly Sullivan of Westminster, Mass., in 5:49:46. Taylor Miller of Laconia, N.H., rounded out the top three in 5:54:59.
In the men’s field, Jarrett Newby of Ithaca, N.Y., led the way in 3:29:45, followed by Steve Brightman of Providence, R.I., in 3:46:09, while Ryan Brizzolara of Binghamton, N.Y., placed third in 3:48:01.
*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.