The 2022 ultramarathon racing season kicked off locally on Saturday, Jan. 8, with the return of the G.A.C. Frozen Fat Ass 50K. While around 100 New England residents took part in that classic event as it celebrated its 22nd running, a handful of runners from the region journeyed south to Texas to take part in the 100K and 50K ultras at the Bandera Endurance Runs. Included among the field was former Boston resident Joe McConaughy who made a fierce attempt to secure a Western States Golden Ticket before coming up just minutes short. McConaughy’s performance and those of the New England crew at Bandera are included in this week’s roundup.
Bandera Endurance Runs
After coming close to securing a Western States Golden Ticket in late 2021 when he placed fourth at the Javelina Jundred 100-mile race in Arizona, former Boston resident and current Seattle resident Joe McConaughy took another crack at securing a spot in the sport’s original 100-mile trail run when he raced the first Golden Ticket event of 2022 at the Banera Endurance Runs on Saturday, Jan. 8, in Bandera, Texas.
The top two male and female finishers of the 100K race earned Golden Tickets into Western States and McConaughy, 30, raced aggressively to position himself to secure one of those prized tickets. He was close throughout as he raced two loops through the rocky, sharp and all-around gnarly course. He ran with the lead pack and was in fifth place after loop one before methodically picking his way through the field the rest of the way. Ultimately, McConaughy’s quest for the Golden Ticket came up just short. Jonathan Rea, 29, of Boulder, Colo., won the race in 8:10:00 and Tyler Fox, 29, of Lander, Wyo., finished second in 8:14:53. McConaughy followed less than three minutes later, placing third overall in 8:17:34.
A relative newcomer to ultrarunning, 24-year-old Gabriel Kline of Acton, Mass., had a solid day and finished ninth overall in 9:05:58. Kline’s ultra debut came back in June 2021 when he finished second overall at the Black Mountain 50K in San Diego, Calif. Other New England men who were among the race’s 310 finishers were John Dasch, 46, of North Dartmouth, Mass., in 14:43:49, and 25-year-old Dean Bibens of Milford, Conn., in 18:44:24.
One of the women’s Golden Tickets from Bandera was secured by a runner from the Northeast. Ellie Pell, 30, of Ithaca, N.Y., parlayed her experience running gnarly trails in the Northeast into a successful run on the technical Texas trails.
Marianne Hogan, 31, of Montreal, Quebec, led the women’s race from start to finish and earned the victory and first Golden Ticket in 9:17:05 while placing 13th overall. Pell and 30-year-old Leah Yingling of Salt Lake City, Utah, were separated by just seconds at the midpoint, but Pell pulled away during loop two and secured the runner-up spot and second Golden Ticket in 9:49:12. Yingling finished third in 10:05:20.
Joining Pell in representing the Northeast well was 30-year-old Kate Mingle of Cambridge, Mass. Since winning the TARC Summer Classic 50K in 2019, Mingle has enjoyed plenty of ultra-trail success, placing ninth at the 2019 JFK 50, first at the 2021 Shawangunk 30-miler, second at the 2021 Runamuck 50K, and first at the Mountain Masochist 50-miler. Bandera was Mingle’s 100K debut, and she finished 13th in the women’s field (41st overall) in 11:27:40.
Joining Mingle among the New England women who finished the race was 51-year-old Toni Ann Canora of Stamford, Conn., who finished in 19:54:05.
While the 100K was Bandera’s marquee event, it also included a 50K ultra that saw 204 runners successfully complete. Two Massachusetts men were among those finishers, both making their ultramarathon debuts. Jon Martin, 53, of Southborough finished 58th overall in 6:28:01 and Christopher LaBreck, 45, of West Boylston placed 95th in 7:02:44. Kris Brown, 32, of Missoula, Mont., led all runners in 3:47:02 while 50-year-old Stephni Romero of Flower Mound, Texas, topped the women’s field and finished fifth overall in 4:25:18.
*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.