Big performances and grand adventures were had by New England ultrarunners during the June 11-12 racing weekend. That began with a trio of New England men who put on a thrilling race at the Drummer Hill 50K, continued with Boston resident Laura Ricci who shared a podium finish with her sister at the Lighthouse 50-miler in Michigan, and was capped by Denise Klatt of Brookline, Mass., who was victorious in the inaugural Ring the Springs 50-miler in Colorado. Those performances and more are included in this edition of the roundup.
Drummer Hill 50K
The Drummer Hill 50K returned from a two-year pandemic-forced hiatus for its fifth running on Saturday, June 11, and a wild race unfolded on the four-loop course in Keene N.H. The leaders jostled back and forth throughout the first three loops before a clear leader emerged.
A speedy trio held down the front of the field throughout the day with Peter Bonito, David Herr and 2019 race champion Will Swenson leading the way. Bonito and Herr traded the lead, rarely more than a matter of seconds apart while Swenson lurked a few minutes back in striking distance. Herr was the first runner to finish loop one, just four seconds ahead of Bonito. Bonito, 36, of Westmoreland, N.H., amassed a 45-second lead on Herr, 57, of Canaan, Vt., by the race’s midpoint. Herr rallied, pulled even with Bonito and ultimately inched ahead by a few seconds by the time he and Bonito finished loop three. Swenson, who had been just minutes back earlier, had slipped 21 minutes off the pace and was a distant third.
During the fourth and final loop, however, the closest competition shifted from the battle for first to the race for second. Bonito pushed hard in loop four and Herr fell off the pace, Meanwhile, Swenson held strong and the 50-year-old from Andover, Mass., rapidly closed the gap on Herr. The only question was whether he had enough in the tank to completely catch up.
Bonito was the first runner to finish, clocking a winning time of 4:43:05 that was the second-fastest in course history behind Patrick Caron’s course-record performance of 4:26:38 in 2016. Herr ultimately held on for second, but not by much. He crossed the finish line in 5:12:21, and Swenson followed less than six minutes later in 5:18:03. Swenson cut 15 minutes off the gap during the final loop.
Bill Cobb, 36, of Strafford, N.H., finished fourth overall in 5:30:41, followed by John Lawson, 50, of Portsmouth, R.I., in 5:40:13. The top nine runners finished in less than six hours. Carter Tracy, 20, of Danvers, Mass., finished ninth overall in 5:57:11.
In the women’s field, 43-year-old Jasmine Fowler of Morrill, Maine, earned the victory in 6:44:12. Sophia Novacek, 21, of Lancaster, N.H., followed in 7:52:58 and Kathryn Maier, 41, of Bolton, Mass., rounded out the podium in 8:17:07. Kristen Kercher, 51, of Bedford, N.H., was a close fourth in 8:19:29.
Twenty-seven runners finished the race within 9 ½ hours.
Ring the Springs
In December, Denise Klatt made her ultramarathon debut at the Trail Animals Running Club’s challenging Fells Winter Ultra. That day, the 31-year-old resident of Brookline, Mass., finished second in the women’s field in the 32-mile race. On June 11-12, Klatt took on her second ultra and first 50-miler at Ring the Springs in Colorado Springs, Colo. This time, Klatt took home the overall victory.
Sixteen runners started the 50-mile race and just seven finished. Klatt dominated the field in 12:00:23. Her closest competitor was men’s champion Nicholas Logan, 38, of Colorado Springs, who followed more than an hour later in 13:03:05. Klatt will return to Colorado in September to race the Run Rabbit Run 100-miler in Steamboat Springs.
The 50-mile race wasn’t the only one to be won outright by a woman. The inaugural 100-mile race was won by 25-year-old Elizabeth Shell of Boulder, Colo., in 25:36:57. She won by more than an hour. No New England residents were among the 100-miler’s 13 finishers.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Laura Ricci at the fifth running of the Lighthouse Ultras.
A Michigan native, Ricci now lives in Boston, Mass. The 38-year-old returned to Michigan to race the 50-mile distance at the Lighthouse Ultras on Saturday, June 11, in Peninsula, Mich. Sharing the road course with her older sister, 40-year-old Allison Ricci of Woodinville, Wash., the Ricci sisters raced side-by-side and tied for 12th place overall and third in the women’s field in 9:55:17.
Fifty-two runners completed the race. Zach Crim, 30, of Haslett, Mich., led all runners in 7:09:01 while 45-year-old Denny Capling of Mainstee, Mich., led the women’s field and finished second overall in 8:55:30.
The event also included a 100-mile race with 48 finishers within the 30-hour time limit. None of the participants in that race were New England residents.
Squaw Peak 50
Two years ago, Jeff Miner traveled to Utah to race the Squaw Peak 50. He placed 27th that year in 10:53:53.
On Saturday, June 11, Miner returned to Provo, Utah, to take on the challenging course again. First held in 1997, the Squaw Peak 50 presents a grueling test for runners as they travel through the rugged Wasatch Mountains on a mixture of singletrack trails, dirt roads, and pavement, amassing more than 13,000 feet of climbing including five sustained climbs of more than 1,000 feet in a single push. Altitude is another challenge as the course maxes out around 9,300 feet above sea level.
Despite a two-year wait due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Miner proved he was still up for the test of Squaw Peak as the 51-year-old resident of Andover, Mass., placed 28th overall in 11:14:21. Jesse Rich, 32, of Salt Lake City, Utah, won this year’s race in 8:31:02. There were 223 finishers within 22 hours.
Shadow of the Giants
As she prepares to race a desert 100-miler in Arizona in October, Deb Anderson headed West for a preparatory run in the dry heat at another scenic location: the outskirts of Yosemite National Park.
Anderson, 47, of Wilbraham, Mass., took on the classic Shadow of the Giants 50K on Saturday, June 11, in Fish Camp, Calif. First held in 1990, the race takes runners on a journey past Giant Sequoias on singletrack trails through the Sierra National Forest.
Anderson was one of 126 runners who finished the race, doing so in 7:59:51. Oscar Perez, 35, of Fresno, Calif., won in 4:20:24. Erica Jennison, 37, of Fraton, Calif., led the women’s field and placed sixth overall in 5:14:31.
*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.