Winter is nearly upon us, and the 2021 ultramarathon season is rapidly coming to a close. The first weekend of December saw far fewer races than in recent months, and although most New England residents who raced during the Dec. 4-5 weekend opted to stay local at the Fells Winter Ultra in Stoneham, Mass., a handful headed out of state to race. That included Graham Simon who delivered a dandy of a performance in his first 100-mile race at the Devil Dog Ultras in Virginia. His strong performance leads off this week’s roundup.
Devil Dog Ultras
When Graham Simon decided to start running ultramarathons in late 2020, the 27-year-old went all in. First, Simon raced the classic JFK 50-miler in November 2020 in Maryland. Then, he stacked up his 2021 race calendar to include several big races, including the Ultra Race of Champions 100K and the Speedgoat 50K. On Dec. 4-5, the resident of Jamaica Plain, Mass., capped his season with his first 100-miler.
Simon took part in the 100-mile race at the Devil Dog Ultras at Prince William Forest in Triangle, Va. The fifth running of the event offered both 100-mile and 100K distances on a loop course with rocks, roots, and plenty of flowing singletrack dirt. As a runner in the 100-mile race, Simon had to complete five loops. Of the 83 runners who started, just 37 finished within the 32-hour time limit. Simon placed fifth overall in 23:14:51 and was one of seven runners to complete the race in less than 24 hours. Ryan Clifford, 25, of New Hyde Park, N.Y., took home the win in 16:03:57, outdistancing the rest of the field by nearly seven hours. Peter Pomerantz, 45, of Moretown, Vt., was the only other New England resident to finish the 100-miler, completing the race in 31:41:56 for his first 100-mile finish.
Runners in the 100K had 20 hours to complete three loops of the course. Of the 71 starters, 49 did so with 33-year-old Katherine Thompson of Charles Town, W.V., winning in 12:08:43 and Mikka MacDonald, 27, of Washington, D.C., a close second in 12:10:34. Vincent Lucas, 44, of York, Pa., finished third overall and led the men in 12:34:14. Grace Leightheiser, 22, of Lexington, Mass., finished fourth among the women and seventh overall for her first ultramarathon finish in 13:32:28. Andrea Ulery, 44, of Stratford, Conn., collected her first 100K finish in 18:26:35.
McDowell Mountain Frenzy
The scenic singletrack and expansive desert views of McDowell Mountain Regional Park and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve lured plenty of runners – including several from New England – to the 10th annual running of the McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50-mile and 50K ultras on Saturday, Dec. 4, in Fountain Hills, Ariz.
Five Massachusetts residents were among the 70 finishers of the 50-mile race, including several relative newcomers to the sport. Three of the local runners ran their first ultra just six months ago, and another made the race his first 50-miler. Mark Turechek, 54, of Stoneham, Mass., and Nicholas Heath, 30, of Newburyport, Mass., both made their ultra debuts in June at the Catamount 50K in Vermont. The McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50-miler was the second ultra and first 50-miler for both. Turechek finished 44th overall in 13:15:16, while Heath placed 62nd in 14:36:56. Meanwhile, Glenn Dorr, 56, of Manchester, Mass., made his ultra debut at the Austin Rattler 50K in Texas just one month earlier, but he recovered from that race and then finished his first 50-miler in 13:33:49, placing 51st overall.
Ryan Drumm, 32, of Wrentham, Mass., had four ultras under his belt before McDowell Mountain, but the race marked his first attempt at 50 miles. He finished 45th overall in 13:15:17. Additionally, 35-year-old Jennifer Yee of Cambridge, Mass. – a veteran of many ultramarathons – finished the race in 14:37:06.
Adam Gloyeske, 33, of Hamilton, Ohio, led the men’s field in 7:49:36 while Jo Ann Saab, 30, of Salt Lake City, Utah, won the women’s race in 8:45:49.
The event also included a 50K race. Stephen Reed, 63, of Concord, N.H., finished 108th in that race in 8:02:59, while Sarah Richardson, 50, of Berlin, Vt., finished 164th in 12:35:48. They were the lone New England residents among the 164 finishers at that distance.
The last time Todd Falker crossed the finish line of a 100-mile trail ultramarathon, it was at the 2017 edition of Brazos Bend. Four years later, Falker did it again. The 40-year-old resident of Malden, Mass., returned to the site of his fastest 100-mile finish (19:12:26) and earned his second sub-24-hour finish at the race at the seventh running of the event on Dec. 4-5 in Needville, Texas.
Billed as the fastest trail in the nation, the flat and fast course at Brazos Bend State Park was home to the USATF 100-mile Trail Championship. Falker took part in the championship race and finished 15th out of 29 runners in this year’s edition in 23:20:10. The top 18 finishers completed the race in less than 24 hours, and 36-year-old Mark Hammond of Cottonwood Heights, Utah, took home the overall win in 14:01:22. Kalie Demerjian, 25, of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., led the women’s field and finished third overall in 15:02:18. Another 112 runners took part in a non-championship 100-mile race, though none were New England residents. Additionally, no New England residents took part in the 50-mile race.
Dead Horse Ultras
A handful of New England residents were among the finishers of the 50-mile and 50K races at the seventh running of the Dead Horse Ultras on Saturday, Nov. 20, in Moab, Utah. Both races took place on singletrack trails through sandy washes and over slickrock near Arches National Park.
Seth Hoynoski, 21, of Shelburne Falls, Mass., earned his first ultramarathon finish when he placed 28th out of 209 runners in the 50-miler. Hoynoski’s time was 8:52:40. Jonathan Rea, 29, of Boulder, Colo., won the race in 6:02:49. Additionally, 27-year-old Nicholas Hart of Oakland, Maine, earned his first ultra finish in 11:25:53, while 45-year-old John Collmer of Hingham, Mass., completed the race in 11:30:22 – a 34-minute improvement from 2019 when he ran the 50-miler as his first ultra.
Another 456 runners finished the 50K race, with top men’s and women’s honors going to Kyle Lund, 26, of Boulder, Colo. (3:17:52) and Sarah Gage, 26, of Lafayette, Colo. (4:08:40). A trio of New England residents made the race their first ultra: Drew Houx, 25, of Boston, Mass., finished 50th overall in 4:46:44; Jeremiah Jones, 27, of Ashfield, Mass., finished 163rd in 5:46:00; and Meg Pelis, 39, of Lunenburg, Mass., finished 189th in 5:53:34. Additionally, two local ultra veterans also were among the 50K finishers. Jenn Brooks, 42, of Gloucester, Mass., finished in 5:10:17 and Mike Fuller, 48, of Eliot, Maine, finished in 6:53:59.
*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.