The resurgent ultramarathon racing scene rolled into a new month with a solid start on June 5-6 as New England ultrarunners turned in strong performances at some challenging races throughout the East Coast. From impressive showings at the grueling Worlds End Ultras in Pennsylvania, to a crossing of Connecticut at the CUT, to the classic Old Dominion 100 and the Dam Yeti in Virginia, there were plenty of positive results for runners from the region.
Worlds End Ultramarathons
Since its inaugural running in 2015, the Worlds End 100K and 50K ultramarathons in Forksville, Pa., have earned a reputation for their difficulty. From unpredictable weather, to steep climbs and rock scrambles, to treacherous footing in some of the late miles, the event fully embraces the Beast Coast moniker. The sixth edition was no different on June 5, as runners returned to Worlds End State Park for another tough test on the challenging course.
In the 100K race, which tests runners with 12,400 feet of climbing over 63.8 miles, the women’s course record fell as 37-year-old Nicole Yokum topped the women’s field and finished third overall in 13:23:06. Yokum, who recently moved back to Vermont from State College, Pa., tallied her second victory in the state this year as she built upon her victory at the grueling Hyner 50K in April. Yokum’s time bested the previous course record of 13:29:42 that was set by Kristina Folcik in 2017.
The men’s course record went untouched this year, though 28-year-old Peter Weida of Lancaster, Pa., still had a strong day on the course and took home the victory in 12:21:00. His closest competitor, 23-year-old Emanuel King of Mill Hall, Pa., followed in 13:08:53 with Yokum not far behind.
Two more New England residents were among the 64 finishers within the 19-hour time limit. Jack Spaulding, 22, of Clinton, Mass., blazed his way to a fourth-place overall finish in 13:29:38. Kristijan Begic, 35, of Waterbury, Conn., beat the cutoff and finished in 18:43:42.
In the 50K race, 39-year-old Jamie Miller was the only New England resident to toe the starting line, but she made sure the region’s presence was felt. The North Haven, Conn., resident raced hard and earned a top-10 overall finish, placing ninth out of 92 finishers and first in the women’s field in 6:24:53. Eric Kosek, 40, of Wellsboro, Pa. was the overall winner in 5:20:09.
In 2017, Jordan Grande and Art Byram successfully ran 112 miles across Connecticut. Their effort laid the foundation for the Connecticut Ultra Traverse — or, “The CUT” — which began as a semi-formal event a year later.
The fourth running of The CUT took place June 4-6, starting at the northern border in Southwick, Mass., and following the New England Trail’s blue blazes for 112 miles south to Long Island Sound in Guilford, Conn. The lightly supported effort required runners to be largely self-sustaining while journeying through some of the state’s most scenic wild spaces and most challenging trails, amassing more than 16,000 feet of climbing along the way.
Eighteen runners took on the challenge this year, and 14 successfully completed the journey. Leading the way was 52-year-old Howie Breinan of Manchester, Conn., who set a new course record with his time of 28:54:41. He was followed by 34-year-old Tom Starodaj of New Britain, Conn., who finished in 29:16:36, and 51-year-old Brian Vanderheiden of Bethel, Conn., in 30:25:01.
Amy Hanlon, 46, of Danbury, Conn., became the third woman to finish The CUT and she set a new women’s course record with her time of 38:29:08. Mary Troy, 36, of Southwick, Mass., was the final finisher and she became the fourth woman to complete The CUT as she secured a hard-earned finish in 47:05:00.
Old Dominion 100
Simon Guerard’s quest to complete the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning started strong on June 5-6 in Fort Valley, Va. That’s where Guerard, 35, of Cambridge, Mass., completed the first step of the Grand Slam at the Old Dominion 100.
One of the sport’s original races, Old Dominion was first held in 1979. Runners earn a buckle for finishing in 24 hours or less, while the race has a 28-hour time limit. Forty-nine runners finished the race, including 27 within 24 hours. Oliver Leblond, 48, of Arlington, Va., led all runners with a hard-fought victory in 17:22:35. Leblond narrowly edged 36-year-old Michael DuBova of Charlottesville, Va., by 79 seconds. Guerard finished 32nd overall in 26:17:22.
After making her first endeavor into ultramarathon distances via virtual races during the 2020 season, Kristen Nassif raced her first in-person ultra on Saturday, June 5, at the Dam Yeti Ultras in Damascus, Va. For Nassif, 35, of Haverhill, Mass., it was a successful day. She handled the out-and-back course with ease and finished in 5:36:22, good for a 25th-place overall finish out of 213 runners and ninth-place finish in the women’s field. Ron Wireman, 39,of Knoxville, Tenn., was the overall winner in 3:31:41, followed closely by women’s winner and overall runner-up Lotti Zeiler, 25, of Austin, Texas, in 3:39:49. Only three runners finished in less than four hours, including the top two women.
Nassif wasn’t the only New England resident to race the 50K. Jeffrey Wayman, 69, of East Templeton, Mass., earned his first ultramarathon finish in 7:19:32.
The event also included a 50-mile race, but no New England residents were among the finishers at that distance.
*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.