The first in-person trail of the year in Massachusetts took place Sunday, April 18, with the return of the Trail Animals Running Club’s “Don’t Run Boston” 50K at the Blue Hills Reservation, but plenty of out-of-state racing also went down during the April 17-18 weekend. No place was more active for New England ultrarunners than Connecticut where a trio of events were held, including some record-setting performances at the Traprock 50K and the Enchanted Forest 6-Hour Ultra. As an in-state race, DRB will be featured in a separate story, but the Connecticut races lead off this week’s busy roundup.
The 2020 Traprock 50K was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the event returned with a vengeance for its 11th running on Saturday, April 17, at Penwood State Park in Bloomfield, Conn.
Runners started in waves to allow for extra distancing on the 11-mile loop course as a pandemic safety precaution, but by the time they’d completed all three loops of the rocky singletrack and forest road course, both the men’s and women’s course records had been smashed.
The most dominant performance of the day was turned in by 41-year-old Dan Grip of Wendell, Mass. Grip spent 2020 setting several Fastest Known Times on New England trails. He then opened the 2021 racing season with a runner-up performance at the Spring On theTrails Endurance Runs 6-hour race in late March, logging 40.30 miles for the day. He built upon that performance at Traprock by hammering the course and pulling away from a stout field to take home the victory and breaking the course record in a stunning 4:36:59.
While Grip toppled the previous course record by nearly 11 minutes, his closest competitors also had big days. Runner-up Justin Kousky, 40, of Westport, Conn., clocked a time of 4:47:42 that was just four minutes off of Brian Rusiecki’s old course standard from 2017, while third-place finisher Byron Critchfield’s mark of 4:56:51 was the fourth-fastest men’s time in course history. Other top men included fourth-place finisher Koby Nelson, 29, of Newington, Conn., who finished in 5:21:04, and 40-year-old Brian Pitreau of Falmouth, Maine, who placed fifth in 5:22:02.
In the women’s field, 39-year-old Rachel Whitbeck of Ivoryton, Conn., dazzled in her ultramarathon debut, placing seventh overall and setting a new women’s course record along the way. Her time of 5:35:40 took nearly 13 minutes off of Kristina Folcki’s previous course record from 2018. Women’s runner-up Debbie Livingston, 46, of Bolton, Conn., posted the seventh-fastest time by a female in race history. Elizabeth Allen, 40, of Coventry, R.I., rounded out the women’s podium in 6:32:23, followed by Julia Maurer, 25, of Milford, Conn., in 6:36:52, and Stacia Broderick, 43, of Tisbury, Mass., in 6:37:09.
Of the 130 runners who started the race, 115 finished within 9 1/2 hours.
Enchanted Forest Ultra
It was a day of record-setting performances at the fifth annual Enchanted Forest Ultra 6-hour race on Saturday, April 17, at the Roosevelt Forest in Stratford, Conn. Both the men’s and women’s course records fell as runners tackled the 2.3-mile singletrack and doubletrack loop course as many times as they could during the allotted time.
On the men’s side, 21-year-old Patrick Perry of New Haven, Conn., made an explosive ultramarathon debut as he threw down a speedy 46 miles to eclipse the previous course record and take home the overall victory. His closest competitor, 23-year-old Chase Arsenault of Shelton, Conn., logged 39.10 miles, the third-best performance by ever on the men’s recordboard. Third-place Fred Willis, 35, of Cheshire, Conn., completed one fewer loop for 36.8 miles.
In the women’s field, 32-year-old Melissa De Fabrizio of Stratford, Conn., had a big day in her second-ever ultra, posting a women’s course-record mark of 36.8 miles. Women’s runner-up and fifth overall finisher Yuki Chorney, 48, of Mont Vernon, N.H., completed 34.5 miles and secured the third spot on the womens’ record board. Rounding out the womens’ podium was Kate Shumenyko, 43, of Pompton Plains, N.J., who also completed 34.5 miles.
Of the 58 runners who took part in the event, 24, ran beyond the marathon distance. In addition to those who finished on the men’s and women’s podiums, others who finished at least a 50K distance were Christopher Bridge, 34, of Oxford, Conn., and Donovan Lee, 48, of Avon, Conn., with 34.5 miles apiece; and 34-year-old Katie Flament of Shelton, Conn., 38-year-old Jared Pare of Feeding Hills, Mass., 37-year-old Thaddeus Nelson of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., and 37-year-old Laura Dunn of Scotch Plains, N.J., with 32.2 miles apiece.
Ledyard Mini-Loop 8-Hour
The Ledyard Rotary Club made its first foray into the ultrarunning scene when it played host to the inaugural Ledyard Mini-Loop 8-Hour Ultra on Saturday, April 17, at Colonel Ledyard Park in Ledyard, Conn. With a limited field of 50 total participants, runners had the option of running for the full 8 hours or taking on the 1.3-mile trail loop course on one of several 2-hour waves.
While most runners opted for the 2-hour option, nine took on the 8-hour event with five of them going beyond the marathon distance during that time. An ultrarunning veteran who completed his first 100-miler last year, 36-year-old David Maher of New London, Conn., led all runners with 40.80 total miles. Race runner-up Lance Reed, 48, of Preston, Conn., completed 36.72 miles for his second ultramarathon finish. Rounding out the top three, 29-year-old Steve Bracero of Shrewsbury, Mass., earned his first ultramarathon finish by logging 32.64 miles.
The two other runners who ran beyond the marathon were Todd Semmelrock, 48, of Preston, Conn. (28.56 miles) and Damon Kelliher, 59, of New Canaan, Conn. (27.20 miles).
Jimmy Stavlo has a big year on tap with two 100-mile races on his calendar – Massanutten in May and the Yeti 100 in September – followed by the Moab 240 in October. To prepare for those big efforts, the 31-year-old resident of Falmouth, Mass., started his year by racing the Bandera 100K in Texas in January, and built on that performance Saturday, April 17, by racing the 50K at the fifth annual Chopawasmic Ultras in Triangle, Va.
Held on the trails of Prince William Forest Park, the race took place on a 10K loop consisting mostly of singletrack trails. Runners in the 50K had to complete the loop five times, amassing around 6,000 feet of vertical gain along the way. Thirty-two runners completed the race, with Stavlo finishing 11th overall and eighth in the men’s field in 6:28:11. Jeremy Gardner, 43, of Baltimore, Md., topped the men’s field in 4:52:35 while race runner-up Karen Dunn, 44, of Trappe, Pa., was first in the women’s field in 4:59:20.
In addition to the 50K race, another 10 runners completed a 100K race, though none of them were New England residents. Adam Vonallmen, 38, of Arlington, Va., won the 100K in 13:04:29.
Whiskey Basin Ultras
After waiting for a year to race a ultra due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rebekah Zimmerer returned to the starting line when the 33-year-old resident of Boylston, Mass., took on the 92K distance at the sixth annual Whiskey Basin Ultras on Saturday, April 17, in Prescott, Ariz.
Zimmerer and her fellow runners took on a full loop of the Prescott Circle Trail, winding on singletrack through forests and desert while amassing around 5,000 feet of vertical gain along the way.
Zimmerer was one of 106 runners to finish the race within the 17-hour time limit. She placed 67th overall in 13:48:55. Megan Slavin, 35, of Phoenix, Ariz., placed 11th overall and topped the women’s field in 10:37:20. Nick Coury, 33, of Scottsdale, Ariz., took top honors in the men’s field in 8:04:52.
Whiskey Basin also included a 60K race that challenged runners with parts of the longer course as well as 2,300 feet of climbing. There were 122 finishers with 11 ½ hours, led by a pair of runners from Flagstaff, Ariz., with 22-year-old Joey DeFeo winning the men’s race in 4:58:15 and 26-year-old Courtney Barnes topping the women’s field in 5:12:24. The lone New England resident in the field – 40-year-old Ermanno Mondonesi of Newton, Mass. – had a strong showing and placed 22nd overall in 7:00:51.
*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.