The combination of spring weather and the continued successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccines made the April 10-11 weekend enticing for several New England ultrarunners to head West to race. Two headed to Colorado to race the Rattler 50K, but Utah’s Zion National Park was by far the most popular destination as 19 New Englanders tackled ultra distances from 50K to 100 miles on desert trails. Both events are featured in this week’s roundup.
The pandemic isn’t yet behind us, but case counts have waned considerably and vaccination levels are rising. That combination of good news cleared the way for around 1,000 ultrarunners descended on Apple Valley, Utah, on April 10-11, to take part in the 100-mile, 100K, and 50K races at the Zion Ultras on the outskirts of Zion National Park.
The 100-mile race featured three major climbs and more than 10,700 feet of elevation gain. Runners had 36 hours to complete the course, and 163 successfully did so. Simon Guerard, 35, of Cambridge, Mass., was among the top runners. He placed 20th overall in 27:07:58, and notched his second 100-mile finish of the year. He also completed the Coldwater Rumble 100 in Arizona in January. Guerard will return to Utah again in September to race the Wasatch Front 100-miler.
Jeff Browning, 49, of Montana took home the overall win in the Zion 100-miler in 17:44:24, outdistancing his closest competitor by more than two hours. Colorado resident Gwendolyn Rudy, 27, placed 12th overall and topped the women’s field in 26:15:31.
The most popular event for the New England contingent was the 100K as 13 runners from the region were among the 217 finishers. Californian Sean Lee, 51, took home the overall win in 10:49:12, holding off 37-year-old Luke Watkins of Arizona by 76 seconds. Californian Kelly Fruth, 27, placed sixth overall and was the top female finisher in 11:53:57.
Leading the way at 100K for the New Englanders was 42-year-old Massachusetts resident James Loomis who placed 30th overall in 14:11:48. Joining him in finishing in the top half of the field was 21-year-old Yosef Ellis-Rech of Sharon, Mass., who placed 96th in 16:40:37 for his first 100K finish.
Other New Englanders who finished the 100K race included Massachusetts residents Michael Morton, 46, in 17:18:20; Ray Weaver, 51, in 17:46:41; Autumn Loomis, 41, in 17:53:19; Robert Gallagher, 40, in 18:28:20; George Gambill, 44, in 18:58:14; Louis Perry, 41, in 18:58:16; Sylvie Grenier, 25, in 20:14: 51; and Jocelyn Mongillo, 26, in 20:14:56; as well as Maine’s Charlotte Clews, 46, in 18:28:24; and Rhode Island’s Tammy Harrigan, 47, and William Harrigan, 48, in 19:55:54 and 19:55:57, respectively.
The 50K was the biggest race of the weekend with 548 finishers. Hayden Hawks, 30, of Utah led the field with a winning time of 4:01:58, outdistancing his younger brother, Levi, by about 15 minutes to take home the win. Californian Rachel Banton, 31, finished ninth overall and topped the women’s field in 5:25:37.
New Hampshire’s Tim Cronk led the New England contingent as the 58-year-old raced to a 28th-place overall finish in 6:16:16. For Cronk, it was the second successful performance of the year, building upon his solid day at the Black Canyon 100K in Arizona in February. Cronk will head back West to Arizona in May to race the Cocodona 250.
Other New England resident who completed the 50K included New Hampshire’s Elizabeth Rioux, 43, in 8:05:50; and Massachusetts residents Thomas Engels, 31 (8:25:58); Yvette Tetreault, 33 (8:25:59); Alexandra Hicks, 45 (8:43:45); John Levy, 49 (9:12:29); and Jessica Levey, 25 (9:12:29).
Rattler Trail Races
The Rattler Trail Races offered two days of racing to allow the 2021 event to be held safely during the COVID-19 pandemic with a 50K race held on Saturday, April 10, and another of the same distance on the same course a day later in Colorado Springs, Colo.
In addition to separate days of racing, runners also started in waves a minute apart to create additional separation on the singletrack dirt course that wound its way up and down rocky bluffs with plenty of scenic views of nearby Pikes Peak. Sixty-eight runners raced on Saturday, and another 43 toed the line Sunday.
Saturday’s race saw two New England residents in the field. Casey Mendrala, 32, of Ludlow, Mass., was the ninth-place female finisher and 44th overall in 6:28:32. Evan Krepps, 28, of Bridgeport, Conn., also finished in 6:53:32. Top male and female honors for the day went to Brian Flink, 39, of Littleton, Colo., in 4:21:32 and Jennifer Mawn, 29, of Golden, Colo., in 4:51:18. Mawn, who placed fourth overall, edged the second-place female and fifth overall finisher, 35-year-old Monica Carr of Littleton, by 65 seconds.
In Sunday’s race, 25-year-old Michael Tappel of Seattle, Wash., topped the men’s field in 4:03:06 while 38-year-old Andrea Austin of Colorado Springs led the women’s field in 5:00:45. No New England residents took part in the Sunday race.
*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.