The weekend before the Ghost Train Rail Trail Race is typically pretty quiet in New England as hundreds of ultrarunners rest and make final preparations for the 30-hour event. A handful always race, however, and that was certainly the case this year as runners scattered to multiple races during the Oct. 8-10 weekend. Some headed north to Maine for the popular Big Brad Ultras, while others ventured to nearby New York and Pennsylvania for the CanLake Ultras and the Green Monster Challenge. Additionally, a dozen runners from the region successfully finished the most grueling race of all in North America that weekend — the Moab 240 in Utah — and that leads off this edition of the roundup.
One of the most grueling ultras in the West had a distinctly East Coast feel at the finish line as a dozen New England residents were among the 168 finishers of the fifth annual Moab 240 on Oct. 8-12 in Utah.
The 240.3-mile race on a giant loop course through mountains, canyons, and red rock mesas near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks threatened runners with more than 29,000 feet of climbing. Runners had 113 hours to finish the race, and some needed every minute of it; the final two finishers crossed the line within the last 10 seconds before cutoff.
The 12 New England finishers were well ahead of the cutoff. Leading the way was 36-year-old Cody Cutler of Sterling, Mass. A year ago, Cutler was racing his first 100-miler and on his way to a podium finish at the Midstate Massive Ultra-Trail. In his 200+-mile debut, he was equally strong. Cutler endured all the course threw at him and placed 14th overall (12th among the men) in 75:49:28. A few hours later, 36-year-old Justin Curreri of Glastonbury, Conn., crossed the finish line 17th overall in 78:37:54. Bryan Baynes, 45, of Winchester, Mass., joined them in the top 25, placing 24th overall in 81:36:38. Capping a busy year of racing, 32-year-old Jimmy Stavlo of Falmouth, Mass., earned his first 200+-mile finish by placing 42nd in 87:02:40.
Additional New England residents who finished were Billy Baker, 39, of West Hartford, Conn. (42nd; 91:03:36); Marc Raby, 31, of Avon, Conn. (83rd; 98:24:06); Steven Turner, 54, of Rye, N.H. (94th; 101:06:13); Jared Buchanan, 31, of Ellington, Conn. (100th; 102:23:46); Davey Edwards, 49, of South Glastonbury, Conn. (103rd; 102:43:56); Pascal Fuchs, 51, of Fairfield, Conn. (126th; 105:14:37); Andrew Mayne, 40, of Nashua, N.H. (133rd; 107:23:06); and Melissa Ossanna, 52, of Bar Harbor, Maine (152nd; 109:56:10).
The top two men broke the course record this year, with 31-year-old Michael McKnight of Smithfield, Utah, taking home the win in 55:49:58, followed by 34-year-old Jovica Spaijic of Serbia in 56:54:39. Annie Hughes, 23, of Leadville, Colo., topped the women’s field in 68:50:02.
Tesla Hertz Ultras
Loops on the Long Island Greenbelt Trail were the challenge for runners at the ninth annual Tesla Hertz Ultras on Oct. 9-10 in Rocky Point, N.Y. The only question for runners was how many loops they dared to attempt.
Runners had 100-mile, 100K, 50-mile and 50K ultra distance options, meaning they could circle the 10.48-mile loop course anywhere from three to 10 times. Though relatively flat and mildly technical in some spots, the miles on the winding course add up over time, and the 100-milers actually amass 104+ miles by the time they reach the finish line.
Just 17 of the 41 entrants in the 100-miler successfully finished within the 30-hour time limit, including two Connecticut residents. Jayme Dorr, 40, of Simsbury finished seventh overall in 26:30:44, and Stamford resident Toni Canora, 51, was the lone female finisher in 29:25:29.
Two New England residents were among the 11 finishers of the 100K. Constance Douglass, 31, of Weymouth, was victorious in just her second ultramarathon and first 100K, topping the women’s field and placing second overall in 13:06:17. Only 36-year-old Joseph Eggers of New York, N.Y., went faster, leading the men’s field in 13:06:17. Jennifer Bryant, 42, of Weatogue, Conn., also finished the 100K in 24:28:56.
A trio of New England residents were among the 18 finishers of the 50-mile race. Andy Marinelli, 36, of Cambridge, Mass., was the women’s runner-up and fourth overall finisher in 10:22:35. It was her second time winning the race, having previously done so in 2014. She also won the 100K at the 2017 edition of the event. David Walker, 55, of Fairfield, Conn., was the top New England man at 50 miles, placing third overall in 10:15:55. Additionally, 35-year-old Gregory Deutscher of Shelburne, Vt., finished in 13:15:11. Paige Buzard, 27, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., was the 50-mile champion in 9:39:49, nine minutes ahead of runner-up and men’s winner Justin Demurias, 35, of East Islip, N.Y., who finished in 9:48:27.
In the 50K race, 25-year-old Sierra Downs of Boston, Mass., made her ultramarathon debut in strong form, winning the women’s race in 4:39:09 and placing second overall. Jacquelyn Jackman, 43, of Warwick, R.I., was the women’s runner-up and third overall finisher in 5:07:49. Jared Whalen, 36, of Keene Valley, N.Y., led all runners in 4:35:45. Thirty runners finished the race within 11 ½ hours.
Big Brad Ultras
For the fifth time in six years, Beau Langevin stood atop the podium in the 50-mile race at the Big Brad Ultras on Sunday, Oct. 10, in Pownal, Maine. The Maine classic ultra, which takes place on a 16.2-mile loop course on the trails of Bradbury Mountain State Park, offered runners both 50-mile and 50K options. For Langevin and his fellow 50-milers, that meant three loops through the course, up and over Tryon Mountain and on the winding, rocky, root-covered trails.
Langevin, 42, of Biddeford, Maine, was victorious in 8:40:54, though he had to fend off a strong challenge from two men from Massachusetts. Israel Agront, 27, of Arlington, and 44-year-old Donal Reynolds of Belmont hung around long enough to keep things interesting and then did battle for the runner-up spot. Ultimately, Agront placed second in 8:54:56 followed less than a minute later by Reynolds in 8:55:44. David Ricklefs, 51, of Middlebury, Vt., finished fourth in 9:14:37 and joined them as the only runners completing the race in less than 10 hours.
In the women’s 50-mile field, 24-year-old Olivia Letenre of Pelham, N.H., earned the victory in 10:55:13, followed by 36-year-old Jasmine Daigle of Peru, Maine, in 11:07:04 and 50-year-old Manuela Arundel of Gorham, Maine, in 12:30:55.
Two additional Massachusetts men finished the 50-miler. Ed Donahue, 37, of Abington placed sixth overall in 10:48:34 and 34-year-old David Lane of Haverhill finished 11th in 11:17:25.
In the 50K race, 28 runners completed their two loops of the course and finished within nine hours. Jacob Brady, 26, of Portland, Maine, led all runners in 5:03:36, followed by fellow Portland resident August Posch, 25, in 5:15:44. Matthew Davenport, 44, of Concord, Mass., rounded out the men’s podium in 5:54:08.
Dana Kennedy, 28, of Auburn, Maine, led the women’s field and finished third overall in 5:50:29. She was followed seven minutes later by Effie Drew, 28, of Gray, Maine, in 5:57:58. Nina Gargan, 38, of Lewiston, Maine, rounded out the women’s podium in 7:05:06.
Two more Massachusetts men completed the 50K race. Bryan Engstrom, 38, of Middleborough finished in 6:29:56 and 28-year-old MIke Kelley of Beverly finished in 7:17:52.
Harkening back to the early days of ultrarunning in the Northeast, the CanLake Ultras took place on road. Specifically, the event on Saturday, Oct. 9, in Canandaigua, N.Y. challenged runners to take on 50 miles or 50K of rolling hills and a few sustained climbs on a giant road loop course through the Finger Lakes region.
Forty-six runners completed the 50-miler within its 12-hour time limit, led by New Yorkers Nick Brady, 22, and Ellie Pell, 29, who finished 1-2 overall and swept the men’s and women’s podiums. Brady finished in 6:05:59 and Pell in 6:21:54. They were the only runners to complete the race in less than seven hours. A trio of New England residents also were among the finishers. Lindsay Murphy, 44, of New Hampshire narrowly missed a spot on the women’s podium, finishing fourth in the field and seventh overall in 8:49:55. Additionally, Massachusetts resident Joshua Slocum, 25, finished in 9:42:52 and New Hampshire resident Katie Pisani, 41, finished in 10:35:30.
Two Massachusetts residents were among the 35 runners who finished the 50K race within nine hours. Arthur Thovmasian, 36, finished in 6:27:45 and Dayna Kendall, 40, finished in 6:33:55. The race was the first ultra for both. A pair of New Yorkers won the race with 29-year-old Elias Dawli (3:42:24) leading the men’s field and 26-year-old Lauren Castellucci (5:08:54) topping the women’s podium.
Green Monster Trail Challenge 50K
The ninth annual Green Monster Trail Challenge 50K on Sunday, Oct. 10, in Wellsboro, Pa., marked the debut ultra performance of a handful of young, new faces on the Northeast racing scene. Three of the top four finishers of the race were 19 or 20 years old.
Ian Nolon, 19, of Norwich, Vt., navigated the challenging course and its 7,800 feet of climbing just fine as he ran away with the victory by a 26-minute margin in 5:42:52. Tommy Christen, 20, of Ithaca, N.Y., was a distant second in 6:09:34. Joining them near the front was fourth overall finisher and new ultrarunner Michael Tyrrell, 20, of North Reading, Mass., who clocked a time of 6:18:44.
Sixty-four runners finished the race within 10 hours. Two other New England men were among that group. James Pelletier, 49, of East Longmeadow, Mass., finished 24th overall in 7:36:45, and 50-year-old Dominic Wilson of Somers, Conn., finished 43rd overall in 8:37:21.
*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.