July has been heating up in the West in terms of both temperature and ultramarathon racing, and several New England ultrarunners were right in the middle of it from July 16-21. They turned in gutsy performances at ultra classics like the Badwater 135 and Hardrock 100, as well as new soon-to-be classics like the West Coast edition of the Yeti 100. We have all of them – and a few more – covered in this belated roundup.
Running the Badwater 135 has been a longtime dream for Lori Mitchener, so she was devastated when the 2020 race was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After waiting another year to finally get her chance at the 2021 race on July 19, there was no way she was going to allow a broken foot to keep her on the sidelines.
Michener, 44, of Lynnfield, Mass., broke her foot less than two weeks before race day and was relegated to wearing a medical boot up until race day. A serious racer at a variety of distances with overall 100-mile victories to her credit, Michener wasn’t able to tap into her typical speed due to the foot – though the 135-mile Badwater course creates its own limits on speed thanks to the extreme heat of crossing Death Valley in the summertime. Between the foot injury and the temperatures that soared past 115 degrees Fahrenheit, Michener leaned heavily on grit and desire to push through. Ultimately, she completed her journey from Death Valley to the base of Mt. Whitney, amassing 14,600 feet of climbing along the way, and placed 62nd overall in 45:14:07.
Michener wasn’t the lone Massachusetts resident in the field. She was joined by Malden’s Ryan Fecteau who, at 28 years old, was the youngest runner in the field. Wise beyond his years with several 100-mile finishes and multiple 200-mile finishes to his credit, Fecteau was ready for Badwater. He overcame the heat, the extreme elevation change, and exhaustion to finish 28th overall in 37:40:26.
Additionally, two Vermont residents also finished Badwater, and both are multi-time finishers. Todd Baum, 63, of Essex Junction, finished 57th in 43:36:51 while Jackie Brown, 59, of St. Albans Bay, placed 66th in 45:57:42. It was Baum’s fourth time finishing the race and Brown’s second.
Harvey Lewis, 45, of Cincinnati Ohio, and Sally McRae, 42, of Huntington Beach, Calif., topped the men’s and women’s fields in 25:50:23 and 30:48:47, respectively. Sixty-eight runners finished the race within the 48-hour time limit; another 16 started but did not complete the race.
After a two-year hiatus caused by weather and a pandemic, the Hardrock 100 made its long-awaited return July 16-18 in Silverton, Colo. The high-altitude race with its big mountains, steep climbs, and unpredictable weather, once again welcomed 146 starters to take on the 100-mile loop course through the San Juan Mountains. Of those who started, 112 finished within the 48-hour time limit, including a handful of New England residents and a few more former residents of the region.
Jeff Davis, 35, of Amherst, Mass., led the way for the New Englanders in his debut performance representing the region after moving from Nashville, Tenn. Davis finished 52nd overall in 39:37:00 for a successful first running of Hardrock.
A few hours after Davis finished, another Massachusetts man crossed the finish line. Dima Feinhaus, 58, of Waban, Mass., earned his second Hardrock finish in 44:03:00, placing 82nd overall. A few minutes before Feinhaus finished the race, Mike Weigand, 47, of Middlebury, Vt., finished the race side-by-side with Alex Robertson, 47, of Louisville, Colo., in 43:46:00, in a tie for 79th place.
Two former Massachusetts residents also successfully finished Hardrock. Jeff List, 62, of Anacortes, Wash., completed the course in 42:18:00 for his ninth Hardrock finish in nine tries. Additionally, Bogie Dumitrescu, 46, of Boulder, Colo., earned his second Hardrock finish in 42:47:00.
France’s Francois D’Haene, 35, made his Hardrock debut a memorable one as he ran ahead of course-record pace throughout the day and ultimately smashed the record with a winning time of 21:45:50, exactly one hour ahead of runner-up Dylan Bowman, 35, of Portland, Ore. Dhaene broke the previous course record of 22:41:33 by Kilian Jornet in 2014. In the women’s field, 31-year-old Sabrina Stanley of Silverton, Colo., defended her title and notched the second-fastest time in women’s history on the course in 27:21:48.
Yeti 100 – Washington
The Yeti 100 has grown to be one of the most popular 100-mile ultramarathons on the East Coast during the past few years; so much so, in fact, that Race Director Jason Miller created a West Coast edition in Washington State a year ago. Similar to the original Yeti, the new offering took place on a rails-to-trails course which made it ideal for first-timers and those in pursuit of fast times, as well as those simply looking for a good time surrounded by great scenery.
The second running of the Yeti 100 – Washington edition – took place July 16-17 in North Bend, Wash., with both 100-mile and 100K options for the runners. One New England resident made the cross-country trip to race, and he had a solid performance on the course that snaked through scree fields, a long tunnel under a mountain, and valleys surrounded by the Cascade Mountains.
Bill Howard, 72, of Winchester, Mass., was one of 18 runners to complete the 100K race. A veteran of dozens of ultras during the past decade-plus, including several 100-milers, Howard had a strong showing and secured the third-place position on the men’s podium and sixth place overall in 14:29:46. Olivier Biscaldi, 45, of Longmont, Colo., topped the men’s field in 11:53:47, followed by race runner-up and women’s champion Trena Chellino, 57, of Marietta, Ga., in 13:22:08.
Thirteen runners completed the 100-mile race, led by 35-year-old Andrea Kane of Livermore, Calif., in 21:04:12.
Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs
No New England residents were among the finishers of the 19th running of the Tahoe Rim Trail 100-mile race on July 17-18 in Carson City, Nev.; however, a handful of ultrarunners from the region were among the finishers of the event’s two shorter-distance ultras: the 50-miler and 55K.
Kristen Kercher, 50, of Bedford, N.H., was the lone New Englander to complete the 50-miler. She finished the race in 15:17:08, marking a successful effort in her build-up to the Wasatch 100-miler in September. Both Ben Tedore, 42, of Reno, Nev. (8:18:28) and Katy Pieri-McCaffrey, 41, of Oakland, Calif. (10:44:29), were victorious at that distance, amassing around 4,000 feet of vertical gain along the way on the singletrack trails and dirt roads of Spooner State Park.
In the 55K race, Alan Denadel, 30, of Boston, Mass., made a successful ultramarathon debut while placing sixth overall out of 109 finishers and fifth among the men in 6:41:25. Charles MacNulty, 47, of Grass Valley, Calif. (5:28:57) and Erica Sonnenberg, 44, of Carnelian Bay, Calif. (6:18:09) took top honors among the men’s and women’s fields, respectively.
Big Chief 50K
John Schneyer picked a memorable race for his first trail ultramarathon. The 31-year-old resident of Boston, Mass., selected scenic Lake Tahoe, its altitude and forested trails as a destination race when he signed up for the second running of the Big Chief 50K on Sunday, July 18, in North Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Schneyer and his fellow runners amassed 4,500 feet of vertical gain – all of it coming at 6,000 feet or more above sea level – on fire roads and singletrack dirt through the forest.
Schneyer finished 65th out of 140 runners in 6:45:09. Jake Lawrence, 40, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., and Alissa St. Laurent, 37, of Mountain View, Alberta, finished first and second overall in 4:36:15 and 4:38:10, respectively.
*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.