No matter where she runs these days, it seems Jennifer Kenty can’t be stopped. She has run 100 miles or more four times so far in 2021 and 2022, as well as a 50K race, and all five have ended in victories.
Still, there’s one place where the running is particularly special to Kenty: the Chesterfield Gorge in West Chesterfield, Mass.
Kenty has enjoyed immense success at the Chesterfield Gorge. She finished first overall at the 2021 Chesterfield Gorge Ultra 100-miler and set a new course record for her effort (21:08:09). She returned to the venue last fall for the Race for DFL last-person-standing event and outlasted all other runners, logging 108.3 miles in 26 hours to finish first overall. That successful outing came just weeks after she returned from New Hampshire where she won the Ghost Train 100-miler outright.
After opening her season in April with a victory at the TARC Spring Classic 50K, Kenty returned to the Chesterfield Gorge Ultra on June 4-5 to defend her 100-mile title at the 2022 edition of the race, which offers runners 30 hours to complete 100 miles, 100K, 50 miles and 50K ultramarathon distances on an out-and-back course on jeep road along the Westfield River. Just as she did in her prior races there, the resident of Medford, Mass., raced hard and ran with a happy heart.
“I love the place because of the wonderful community that shows up to race there,” Kenty said of what keeps luring her back. “And in the beautiful Gorge the terrain isn’t overly challenging, but it’s far from boring and is the perfect time to prep for the summer races. It’s really a race everyone needs to put on their calendar.”
The race is also directed by Kenty’s coach, Amy Rusiecki of Beast Coast Trail Running. Kenty met Rusiecki at the 2021 race when the RD hopped in to pace Kenty for the final seven miles of her victory. They spent the miles chatting away, and by the time they reached the finish line they’d formed a strong bond.
Kenty ran away from the field in 2021. This time it didn’t play out in the same way. For Kenty, that proved to be a blessing in disguise that made for a more fulfilling race experience.
“I ran mostly solo up to mile 38 where I had a leg cramp,” Kenty recounted. “Todd, the volunteer coordinator, and another runner, Drew, stopped to help me. This reminded me of how wonderful and kind the ultra-community is; helping each other to get through the tough times.”
The runner who stopped to help her, Drew Shattuck of Waltham, Mass., shared some miles with Kenty at the 2021 race when he earned a 100K finish. This time, Shattuck was attempting his first 100-miler. Kenty was touched by the selflessness Shattuck displayed. A finisher of more than a half-dozen 100-milers, Kenty rallied from the calf cramp and spent the rest of the race running with Shattuck to make sure he achieved his goal.
“I never had a leg cramp during a race before and it compelled me to slow down and help a fellow competitor, Drew, who helped me earlier to finish his first 100-miler,” she said. “We managed to cross the finish line together in under 24 hours. It was so exciting to be part of his first 100.”
Kenty, 40, and Shattuck, 46, tied for the overall win in 22:31:15. They were the lone sub-24-hour finishers of the 100-miler. Four other runners also completed the distance. Louie Ruvolo, 57, of Turners Falls, Mass., earned his first 100-mile finish and placed third overall in 24:38:24. Carol Shirk, 59, of Altoona, Pa., finished in 26:39:11; Gary Dudney, 69, of Salinas, Calif., followed in 27:46:22; and 15-year-old Jacque Boulais of West Brookfield, Mass., rounded out the field with her first 100-mile finish in 29:47:41. The event’s youngest finisher, Boulais already has her sights set on another 100-miler; she’s entered in the Midstate Massive Ultra-Trail 100 in October.
Eleven runners finished four out-and-backs through the course for a 100K finish. Bill Warner, 27, of Hopkinton, Mass., led all runners in 10:25:26, followed by Maria Chevalier, 47, of Cumberland, R.I., who topped the women’s field for the second year in a row in 12:41:35. Colin Marino, 35, of Westminster, Mass., was the third overall finisher and men’s runner-up in 12:52:08, followed by women’s runner-up Casey Mendrala, 33, of Ludlow, Mass., in 14:20:38.
Twenty-three runners completed the 50-mile race, led by 47-year-old Salvatore Frontierro of South Hamilton, Mass., who pulled away from the field and won by a 25-minute margin in 7:29:15. Matt Geary, 31, of Haydenville, Mass., followed in 7:55:23 to notch his first 50-mile finish. Less than three minutes later, women’s champion and third overall finisher Cara Baskin, 32, of East Thetford, Vt., crossed the line in 7:58:12. Durgesh Mankekar, 45, of Medford, Mass., rounded out the men’s podium and finished fourth overall in 8:34:32. Dawn Montague, 44, of Shutesbury, Mass., was the women’s runner-up in 11:30:28.
The deepest ultra field was in the 50K race where 65 runners completed the distance. Matt Pacheo, 37, of Holyoke, Mass., dominated the double out-and-back race in 3:47:40. His closest competitor was 56-year-old Matt Czaplinski of Northampton, Mass., who followed 23 minutes later in 4:09:55. Peter Shanley, 49, of Winchester, Mass., secured the final spot on the men’s podium in 4:25:00, fending off a challenge from 45-year-old Michael Pulli of Medford, Mass., who followed close behind in 4:28:00. Matthew Freitas, 37, of Bedford, Mass., finished fifth in 4:30:00.
Alyssa Godesky, 36, of Lebanon, N.H., topped the women’s 50K field handily and finished sixth overall in 4:31:00. Sarah Bousquet, 39, of South Hadley, Mass., was a distant second in 5:08:35. The race for third was a nail-biter, with Mabeline Velez, 30, of Springfield, Mass., fending off Julie Corey, 43, of Holyoke, Mass., by a matter of seconds. Velez placed third in 5:21:53 and Corey followed five seconds later in 5:28:58.
Rabasco Sets Course Record in 25K Victory
Sunday morning infused the Chesterfield Gorge course with fresh, fast legs as runners convened at the starting line for the 25K race. Eighty-four runners completed the out-and-back race, and a trio at the front of the field had the course record in their sights.
Mark Rabasco, Christopher Freeman and Brian Rusiecki steadily pulled away from the field and raced in close contact throughout, all the while with the course record of 1:41:41 in their sights which Rabasco and Mike Coffey set the year before. Ultimately, both Rabasco and Freeman dipped under the record mark, but Rabasco claimed the new record all for himself as the 27-year-old resident of Pittsfield, Mass., finished first in 1:40:46. Freeman, 33, followed in 1:41:32, and Rusiecki, 43, of South Deerfield, Mass., was a close third in 1:42:30.
Sarah Nelson, 46, of Florence, Mass., topped the women’s field and finished eighth overall in 2:06:04, followed by 36-year-old Carolyn Wisnowski of Shirley, Mass., in 2:10:09. A pair of women from Somerville, Mass., dueled for the final spot on the podium, with 26-year-old Emily Smith finishing third in 2:13:14 and 26-year-old Madeleine Morgan placing fourth in 2:13:59.