MassUltra Roundup: Manchester 2 Monadnock, Six Hours at the Reservoir, Cruel Jewel, Spring Fling, and Blood Root

Pandemic restrictions are dropping and ultramarathon races are steadily opening back up. Now, New England is starting to hit its stride. A trio of regional ultras took place during the May 15-16 weekend with Manchester 2 Monadnock in New Hampshire, Six Hours at the Reservoir in Connecticut, and the Peak Blood Root Ultra in Vermont. Additionally, we’ve tracked down last week’s results from the Spring Fling 6-Hour in Connecticut. While most ultrarunners in the region stayed close to home these past few weeks, a few also made the trip to Georgia for the Cruel Jewel 100, so we’ve got that included, too. There’s plenty to read in this week’s roundup.

Manchester 2 Monadnock

After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Manchester 2 Monadnock 55-mile trail ultra returned on Saturday, May 15, and runners were treated to a warm, sunny day and diverse terrain including dirt roads, paved roads, and trails while amassing around 6,000 feet of climbing.

Forty-five runners took part in the sixth running of the event, and 37 ultimately completed the point-to-point journey from Manchester, N.H., to Jaffrey, N.H.

Cole Crosby, 32, of Princeton, N.J., and Roy Van Cleef, 41, of Harvard, Mass., tied for the win in 8:46:03. Their efforts tied for the second-fastest time in course history, missing Jake Dissinger’s course record of 8:32:56 from 2016 by about 13 minutes. Fresh off of his win at the Trail Animals’ “Don’t Run Boston” 50K in mid-April, 47-year-old Jacob Varekamp of Norwell, Mass., finished third in 9:35:47. Rounding out the top four was Will Swenson, 49, of Andover, Mass., who raced his first ultra since late 2019 and finished in 9:54:07.

Top honors in the women’s field were earned by Eleni Peterson, 27, of New Ipswich, N.H., who also finished seventh overall in 10:31:03. Her effort was good for the third spot on the women’s course-record board. The battle for second in the women’s field was close, with 32-year-old Casey Mendrala of Ludlow, Mass., finishing as the runner-up in 11:42:56, followed five minutes later by Emily Wivell, 32, of Barre, Vt., in 11:47:51.

Six Hours at the Reservoir

Forty runners took part in the Six Hours at the Reservoir trail race on Saturday, May 15, at Naugatuck State Forest in Ansonia, Conn., and 20 of them completed ultramarathon distance on the 4-mile loop course within the time limit.

A speedy field of runners turned in impressive performances on the loop, with 40-year-old Justin Kousky of Westport, Conn., leading the way with 11 laps for a course record 44-mile day. Patrick Perry, 22, of New Haven, Conn., and Dan Grip, 41, of Wendell, Mass., followed with 40 miles apiece to round out the men’s podium. Joseph Baldasare, 34, of Point Pleasant, N.J., finished fourth overall with 36 miles.

Two more Massachusetts men logged ultramarathon mileage: Rufus Chaffee, 46, of Williamsburg, Mass., finished with 32 miles, while Nicholas Fucile, 42, of West Newbury, Mass., completed 28 miles.

Brenda Fortin led the way for the women’s field as the 37-year-old from Williamsburg, Mass., completed 32 miles. She was joined at that mileage mark by Elizabeth Allen, 40, of Coventry, R.I. Finishing with 28 miles were Olivia Kousky, 40, of Westport, Conn.; Lauren Flament, 30, of Shelton, Conn.; Katie Flament, 36, of Shelton, Conn.; Melissa Pogwizd Bertele, 44, of Bethany, Conn.; and Jacqueline Fucile, 36, of West Newbury, Mass.

Cruel Jewel

Both Brian Huffman and Dima Feinhaus knew what they were getting themselves into when they signed up for the Cruel Jewel, a 105.9-mile out-and-back journey through the Chattahoochee National Forest in Blairsville, Ga., with 33,000 feet of climbing along the way. Huffman, 37, of Framingham, Mass., previously ran the race in 2019 while Feinhaus, 58, of Waban, Mass., was a two-time finisher of the event (2016, 2019).

Both men returned to the eighth edition of the race May 14-16, and both notched another successful finish. Huffman placed 21st overall in 30:57:46, an improvement of more than seven hours over his performance two years ago. Feinhaus earned his third finisher’s buckle in 40:56:22, just three minutes off of his time from 2019.

The race had a 48-hour time limit, and 138 runners successfully finished. In addition to Huffman and Feinhaus, three additional New England residents were among the finishers. Zachary Miller, 30, of Nashua, N.H., placed ninth overall in 28:56:19; Joseph D’Alessio, 44, of Cambridge, Mass., placed 40th in 33:10:56; and Harry Mattison, 48, of Allston, Mass., earned his sixth 100-mile finish by completing the race in 39:35:35.

Canyon Woodward, 28, of Franklin, N.C., led all runners and was one of just two to finish in less than 24 hours. His time of 22:36:05 established a new course record. Sheila Vibert, 39, of Reston, Va., finished sixth overall and was the first-place female in 27:56:14.

Connecticut Trail Mixers’ Spring Fling 600

A week before earning a victory at the time-based Six Hours at the Reservoir, Justin Kousky had a successful tune-up. Kousky, 40, of Westport, Conn., toed the line at the Connecticut Trail Mixers’ Spring Fling 600 on Saturday, May 8, at YMCA Camp Sloper in Southington, Conn., along with 134 other participants. Runners had 10 hours — 600 minutes — to complete as many laps as possible of an approximately 3-mile loop course through the woods.

Kousky led all runners with a course-record 61.2-mile performance. His closest competitor was 39-year-old Jeff Grant of Woodbridge, Conn., who tallied 54.4 miles, followed by 52-year-old Howie Breinan of Manchester Conn., and 45-year-old Christian Dockum of Fairfield, Conn., with 51 miles apiece.

Caitlin Roston, 35, of West Hartford, Conn., led the women’s field with 47.6 miles. She was joined at that distance by runner-up Rebecca Burke, 45, of Portland, Conn. Olivia Kouky, 40, of Westport, Conn., rounded out the women’s podium with 40.8 miles.

Seventy runners completed at least nine loops of the course for ultramarathon mileage. Of those runners, 19 surpassed 40 miles.

Phil Whittaker, 49, of Rochester, Mass., was the lone Bay State resident to take part in the event. Whittaker successfully completed his first ultramarathon, finishing 30.6 miles.

Proceeds from the race benefitted the Southington YMCA, the Connecticut Forest & Parks Association, and the CT Trailmixers’ Shoe Scholarship Program that provides free shoes to kids in need who want to run track or cross country.

Peak Blood Root Ultra

The multi-day, multi-distance Peak Blood Root Ultra returned from May 13-15 at Riverside Farm in Pittsfield, Vt., challenging runners to ultramarathon distances of 200 miles, 100 miles, 50 miles and 50K on loop courses in the Green Mountain National Forest. The event was a popular draw, especially for New England ultrarunners seeking to race after a year of shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three runners took on the 200-mile challenge, and just one — 40-year-old Sofi Santilo of Buenos Aires, Argentina — finished the race with a time of 48:36:30.

In the event’s 100-mile race, runners had 38 hours to complete 10 loops of the race course. Just two did so, with 25-year-old Matthew Guarino of Henderson, Nev., finishing first in 23:44:13, followed by 33-year-old Bart Lubberts of Cambridge, Mass., in 34:30:09. Nine other runners started the race but did not finish.

Just 13 of 38 starters of the 50-mile race ultimately completed the distance, led by 26-year-old Nigel Bates of Waterbury Center, Vt., who raced to victory in 10:18:50. His closest competitor, 30-year-old Samuel Ballard of Nanuet, N.Y., finished an hour later in 11:20:09. Rich Riopel, 47, of Morganville, N.J., rounded out the men’s podium in 12:03:51, followed by 28-year-old David Maggio of Bennington, Vt., in 12:44:11. Catie Markesich, 35, of Milton, Vt., topped the women’s field in 13:45:08.

Other New England residents who finished the 50-miler included Josh Rollins, 45, of Barre, Vt., in 13:48:36; Kevin Ordonez, 45, of Lynn, Mass., in 13:48:54; Michael Wrobel, 35, of Burlington, Vt., in 14:19:09; and Jeffrey McLean, 30, of Ipswich, Mass., in 14:19:10.

The ultra distance with the highest percentage of finishers was the 50K. Of the 38 starters, 34 finished within the 13-hour time limit. Top men’s honors went to Joshua Ferenc, 39, of Athens, Vt., who cruised to victory in 5:13:55. The race for second place was tight, with Dario Gutierrez, 35, of Waltham, Mass., edging 49-year-old Rob Frost of Hanover, N.H., and 32-year-old Anton Laptsenak of Stoughton, Mass., by a matter of seconds. Gutierrez finished in 5:59:27, Frost in 5:59:31, and Laptsenak in 5:59:50. No other runners finished in less than seven hours.

A close race unfolded in the women’s 50K field with Melissa Milne, 40, of Westford, Vt., taking the win in 7:23:50, followed less than two minutes later by Cesar Anzo Torrez, 41, of New York, N.Y., in 7:25:19. Meghan Drysdale, 23, of Brimfield, Mass., rounded out the women’s podium in 7:48:26, followed by Liza O’Connor, 26, of Boston, Mass., in 7:52:57.

*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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