MassUltra Roundup: Pine Creek Challenge, Virgil Crest, IMTUF, Teanaway Country, and Olympic Mountains

Mid-September presented the busiest weekend of ultramarathon racing this year, with dozens of runners from Massachusetts and greater New England branching out beyond the Bay State to race throughout the country. This second of two roundups aims to recap results from the Sept. 10-12 weekend, with the top highlight coming from Cambridge resident Jenny Hoffman who threw down a women’s course record and the third-fastest time of anybody in history at the Pine Creek Challenge 100-miler in Pennsylvania.

Pine Creek Challenge

Massachusetts ultrarunners have enjoyed their share of success through the years in the 100-mile race at the Pine Creek Challenge. In the race’s second edition in 2012, Newburyport’s Maddy McCarthy took home the overall win. In 2019, Lynnfield’s Lori Mitchener topped the overall field when she outkicked the top male and earned the victory by 2 ½ minutes. Then in 2020, Cambridge resident Padraig Mullins topped all runners by an 11-minute margin.

The 11th annual Pine Creek Challenge took place Sept. 11-12 on the Pine Creek Rail Trail in Wellsboro, Pa., and the race saw historic performances by the top men and women – including a record-setting performance by Cambridge, Mass., resident Jenny Hoffman.

Racing on the double-out-and-back course, 21-year-old Ethan Koza of Philadelphia, Pa., ran the second-fastest time in course history by anybody, male or female, taking the overall win in 14:55:37. An hour later, Hoffman hammered across the finish line in 15:55:23, placing second overall and first female. In doing so, Hoffman smashed the women’s course record by 21 minutes and logged the third-fastest time in course history by anybody. Only Koza and 2017 men’s winner Brad Popple (14:16:34) have ever gone faster. The third-place overall finisher followed 81 minutes after Hoffman.

Hoffman’s performance highlighted a weekend where nine New England residents finished the 100-miler. Matt Gerber, 33, of Durham, Conn., finished 11th overall and 10th in the men’s field in 21:17:38 for his second successful 100-mile finish, while 33-year-old Samuel Dybdahl of Manchester, Conn., earned his first 100-mile finish by placing 12th overall in 21:38:25. Other New England finishers were 44-year-old Shane Robinson of North Conway, N.H. (15th, 22:50:05); 57-year-old Joseph Laskey of Southington, Conn. (31st, 25:41:03); 43-year-old Kim Gibson of Dartmouth, Mass. (37th, 26:23:13); 33-year-old Michael Condella of Revere, Mass. (56th, 28:26:51); 46-year-old Russell Tarbell of Danby, Vt. (59th, 28:38:29); and 49-year-old Brandon Manzo of Milton, Vt. (28:47:07).

The event also offered 100K and 50-mile ultramarathon races, as well as a marathon. There were 23 finishers of the 100K, including 70-year-old Ed Peters of Norwalk, Conn., who finished in 18:47:39.

Additionally, 43 runners finished the 50-miler, including women’s runner-up and third overall finisher Lynn Poyant, 58, of New Bedford, Mass., who 9:11:09, just 39 seconds behind women’s champion Julie Pentico, 53, of Williamsport, Pa. Ethan Lewis, 28, of Goffstown, N.H., finished sixth overall and fourth among the men’s field in 9:58:31. Other New England residents who finished the 50-miler included Kimberly Kaye, 41, of New Bedford, Mass., who finished 12th overall and fourth in the women’s field in 10:52:41; George Barth, 59, of North Attleboro, Mass., who finished 23rd overall in 11:46:21; and Clare Zecher, 47, of Stamford, Conn., who finished 26th overall in 12:42:32.

Virgil Crest Ultras

After a five-year hiatus, the Virgil Crest Ultras made their return Sept. 11-12 in Cortland, N.Y., with 100-mile, 100K, 50-mile and 50K ultra distances on a loop course with plenty of climbing – the 100-miler amasses 22,000 feet of gain – but lots of runnable terrain and generous time limits.

Forty-two runners completed the 100-miler within the 36-hour time limit, with 42-year-old Daniel Grip of Wendell, Mass., finishing second overall in 22:57, trailing only 33-year-old Andrew Simpson of York, Pa., who won the race in 20:09. Riley Brady, 26, of New Hope, Pa., rounded out the overall top three in 23:45.

Five more New England residents were among the 100-mile finishers. Jack Ryon, 40, of West Bath, Maine, and Tony Bonanno, 56, of Ellington, Conn., both placed in the top 10, with Ryon finishing seventh overall in 27:46 and Bonanno 10th in 27:57. Scott Slater, 43, of Guilford, Conn., was 11th in 28:17, while Jillian Elefson, 41, of Vernon, Conn., finished in 34:11 and Cherie Bilbie, 46, of Ellington, Conn., completed the race in 34:21.

Eight runners finished the 100K, with 29-year-old Ellie Pell of Brockport, N.Y., taking home the overall win in 13:02. No New England residents were among the finishers at that distance.

In the 50-miler, four New England residents secured hard-earned finishes, led by 29-year-old Benjamin Thomas of Waterbury, Vt., who placed 13th in 13:16. Additionally, 20-year-old Maxwell Schweik of Amherst, Mass., finished in 13:44; Jeremy Tarwater, 35, of Montpelier, Vt., finished in 14:34; and Al Catalano, 68, of Newbury, Mass., finished in 17:53. James Blandford, 51, of Hamburg, Pa., won the 50-miler in 10:25.

The 50K race saw three New England residents among the 47 finishers, including women’s champion and fifth overall finisher Niveen Ismail, 39, of Williamsburg, Mass., who won in 7:18. Marissa Thomas, 29, of Waterbury, Vt., finished 17th in 8:39, and Heather Wiatrowski, 46, of Auburn, Mass., was 34th in 10:09. Chris Cowden, 48, of Montrose, Pa., led all runners in the 50K in 6:15.

IMTUF 100

The Idaho Mountain Trail and Ultra Festival (IMTUF) revealed a revamped race course for its 10th edition on Sept. 11-12, but the course still included plenty of high alpine running including eight high passes and 22,000 feet of climbing at Jug Mountain Ranch in McCall, Id.

Of the 180 runners who took on the challenge, 116 finished within the 36-hour time limit, including three men from New England. Luke Nugent, 34, of Greenfield, Mass., made his 100-mile debut and was the top runner from the region, placing 32nd overall in 29:25:36. Ryan Trott, 33, of Berwick, Maine, finished 66th in 32:37:43, earning his second 100-mile finish. Trott’s first 100-miler also took place in Idaho at the 2019 Palisades 100. Additionally, 44-year-old Wayne Chan of Westborough, Mass., finished in 34:29:19. For Chan, it was his fourth time completing a 100-miler, adding IMTUF to a list that includes Grindstone in 2017, Run Rabbit Run in 2018, and Wasatch in 2019.

Jeffrey Colt, 30, of Aspen, Colo., led all runners in 20:16:25. The top five finishers all completed the race in less than 24 hours.

Teanaway Country 100

Two Massachusetts residents were among the finishers of the third running of the Teanaway Country 100-miler on Sept. 11-12 in Cle Elum, Wash. Both Lisa Rising of Cambridge and Michael Barrett of Arlington secured hard-earned finishes of the grueling course that loops the Teanaway Valley and amasses 31,000 feet of gain along the way.

Runners had 40 hours to complete the course, but both Rising and Barrett got it done in less than that. Rising, 30, finished in 38:37:35, while Barrett, 50, finished in 39:28:13. Of the 72 runners who started the race, just 35 finished. John Maxwell, 33, of Sedro-Wooley, Wash., topped the men’s field in 23:07:33, while Kristen Casey, 42, of Poulsbo, Wash., led the women’s field in 30:19:38.

Olympic Mountains 50

A grueling new ultra lured a handful of New England ultrarunners to the Pacific Northwest to take part in the second running of the Olympic Mountains 50 on Saturday, Sept. 11, in Quilcene, Wash. The event featured both 50-mile and 50K ultra distances, both with plenty of west coast singletrack, steep climbs, and lush green scenery including thick forests, ferns, and moss to go along with views of the Olympic Mountains range.

The 50-mile race challenged runners with 14,000 feet of climbing, and 30-year-old Quentin Young of Westminster Station, Vt., handled it well while earning his first ultra finish. Young placed seventh overall in 11:07:51. Jon-Erik Jardine, 31, of Seattle, Wash., led the pack of 23 finishers with a winning time of 8:44:32.

Fifty-four runners completed the 50K race, which had 8,800 feet of climbing including a massive 4,609-foot climb over a 12.4-mile span. Drew Tyger, 34, of Bozeman, Mont., led the men’s field in 5:45:29 and Leah Parr, 23, of Renton, Wash., led the women in 6:55:06. Three New England women were also among the finishers. Brittany Annis, 33, of Shelburne, Vt., and Nicole Duquette, 32, of Burlington, Vt., ran the race together and finished side-by-side in 7:45:35. Additionally, 32-year-old Michelle Milos of Worcester, Mass., earned her first ultramarathon finish when she crossed the finish line in 8:37:02.

*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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