As the summer ultramarathon racing season nears its final weeks, New England runners traveled from coast to coast to take part in a mix of new events and long-time classics. From top-25 finishes at the high-altitude Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado, to the Bigfoot 200 in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, to the Mountain Lakes Backyard Ultra in nearby New York, and more, there’s plenty to read in this week’s roundup. Additionally, several local runners also raced the Twisted Branch 100K in New York, though results from that race aren’t yet available.
Lori Wetzel has done her fair share of ultramarathon racing on the West Coast during the past two decades, from three successful finishes of the legendary Western States Endurance Run, to two finishes of the Miwok 100K – including a top-10 finish in 2016, as well as the Lake Sonoma 50 and Cuyamaca 100K, all in California. She also raced the Mountain Lakes 100-miler in Oregon in 2016 and finished in fourth place.
Wetzel returned to the West Coast last weekend and made her debut at another classic race – the 19th running of the Waldo 100K – on Saturday, Aug. 21, in Oakridge, Ore. The loop course started and finished at the Willamette Pass Ski Area at an altitude of 5,120 feet, and the singletrack trail course took place almost entirely above 5,000 feet with a trip to the high point of the 7,818-foot summit of Maiden Peak. Along the way, runners amassed more than 11,000 feet of climbing with three sustained climbs of more than 2,000 feet.
Wetzel was up to the task. The 48-year-old resident of Beverly, Mass., earned a 43rd-place finish overall out of 90 finishers, and she placed 12th in the women’s field in 14:52:17. Megan Myers, 38, of Bend, Ore., led the women in 11:39:21 and finished seventh overall. Matt Palilla, 39, of Bend, Ore., led all runners in 9:31:16 and outdistanced the second-place finisher by 53 minutes.
Following a cancellation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bigfoot 200 returned for its sixth running on Aug. 13-17. One hundred and ninety-nine runners toed the line for the point-to-point race through the Cascade Mountains in Washington from Marble Mountain Sno-Park to the finish line in Randle, Wash., and 111 ultimately completed the journey before time expired. Three New England residents were among those to successfully finish.
Matthew Pedersen, 32, of Bridgeport, Conn., earned his third finish of a race 200 miles or more in distance, placing 58th overall in 99:36:11. Less than an hour later, 46-year-old Peter Agbay of Shrewsbury, Mass., finished 46th overall in 100:20:38, notching his first finish of a 200-miler. Rounding out the local field was 55-year-old Ken Tulloch of Cos Cob, Conn., who placed 100th in 105:22:56. For Tulloch, it was his third time finishing a 200-mile race.
Michael McKnight, 31, of Smithfield, Utah, earned the overall victory in 57:58:22, five hours ahead of runner-up Nathan Williams, 31, of Sandy, Utah.
Mountain Lakes Backyard Ultra
A spot in the classic Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra was up for grabs at the second running of the Mountain Lakes Backyard Ultra on Aug. 20-21 in North Salem, N.Y. Modeled after Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra and its last-person-standing format, runners had one hour to complete a 4.1666666-mile loop course and return to the starting line to start another loop at the top of the hour, every hour, until only one runner remained.
Forty-two runners took on the challenge. Of that group, 29 ran beyond a marathon, 16 ran 50 miles or more, and six completed at least 100K. Ultimately, 44-year-old Marc Kelly of New Britain, Conn., earned the victory with 80.04 miles completed. Runner-up Douglas Haines, 37, of Goshen, N.Y., completed one fewer loop and finished with 79.23 miles.
Chase Smith, 24, a former Massachusetts resident now living in Norwalk, Conn., completed one more lap and finished in a tie for ninth with 54.21 miles completed. Additionally, 45-year-old Matt Rich of Longmeadow, Mass., was one of five runners who tied for 11th place with 50.04 miles completed. It was Rich’s third ultra and first time going 50 miles.
Post Canyon 50K
Two weeks after making his ultramarathon debut at the Ragged 50K in New Hampshire, 22-year-old Jason Baker was at it again. The resident of Carver, Mass., headed west to take part in the seventh annual Post Canyon 50K on Saturday, Aug. 21, in Hood River, Ore.
Racing through forested trails and amassing 5,500 feet of vertical gain along the way, Baker pushed the pace and clocked a personal-best time of 5:33:26 while placing 11th overall.
Eric Yan, 37, of Portland, Ore., took home the overall win in 4:15:26, outdistancing runner-up Marianne Falk, 38, of Portland, Ore., by 11 minutes. Twenty-four runners finished the race within eight hours. Yan missed the men’s course record by four minutes, while Falk set a new women’s course record with her performance.
All eyes were on Anton Krupicka at the Leadville Trail 100 on Aug. 21-22 in Leadville, Colo., and understandably so. A multi-time winner of the race in the mid-2000s, Krupicka has been largely absent from ultramarathon racing for several years while recovering from injuries and pursuing other projects. One of the sport’s top performers for several years before his absence, Krupicka delivered an inspired performance in his return and the 38-year-old from Boulder, Colo., finished third overall in 17:07:55, trailing only Colorado resident Adrian MacDonald, 32, who won in 16:18:19, and Indiana’s Matt Flaherty, 36, who outkicked Krupicka in the final miles and placed second in 16:59:38. Leadville local Annie Hughes, 23, led the women’s field in 21:06:58.
While the front of the pack stole the headlines, several New England residents also took on the high-altitude course and its more than 15,000 feet of climbing in the Rocky Mountains. A dozen runners from the region were among the 321 who finished within the 30-hour time limit.
Five of the New England residents secured Leadville’s large belt buckles for sub-25-hour finishes, with 31-year-old Tyler Andrews of Cambridge, Mass., leading the way. Andrews finished 16th overall in 21:34:19, followed shortly after by 27-year-old Jack Murrel of Boston, Mass., who placed 23rd in 22:09:16. Jeff INgalls, 50, of Newburyport, Mass., joined them in the top 25, placing 25th overall in 22:34:33. Aliza Lapierre, 41, of Richmond, Vt., was the top local female finisher, placing seventh among the women and 50th overall in 24:01:41. Additionally, 35-year-old Simon Guerard of Cambridge, Mass., continued his quest for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning as he finished Leadville in 59th place overall in 24:23:40.
Additional finishers from New England included 45-year-old Brian Shafer of Litchfield, Conn., who placed 86th in 26:24:21; 58-year-old Bill Tidd of Alton Bay, N.H., who finished 90th in 26:28:18; 32-year-old Trevor Stern of Avon, Conn., who finished 153rd in 28:26:32; 52-year-old Kellie Brown of Stamford, Conn., who finished in 29:37:02; 50-year-old Jason Dominick of Wilbraham, Mass., who finished in 29:44:17 and 27-year-old Andrew Closson of New Hampshire who followed seven seconds later in 29:44:24. Massachusetts resident Robert Lynch, 46, was the final local finisher, crossing the finish line in the final minutes in 29:53:44.
*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.