Where to begin with the 2022 edition of the Notchview Ultra? Two women surpassing the 200-mile mark in the 72-hour race? A 13-year-old running 100 miles? An assortment of runners carrying a watermelon around the course for 74 miles? All of that and more played out at the seventh running of the Berkshire Ultra Running Community for Service’s Notchview Ultra on July 8-10 at Notchview Reservation in Windsor, Mass.
First held in 2015 as a 6-hour race, Notchview steadily added distance and time through 2019, at one point offering seven racing options including the Quadzilla – where runners had 72 hours to complete a 52K four times. Following a pause in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many races locally and nationally – including the entire BURCS Race Series – to cancel, the event returned in 2021 with three time-based offerings. The 2022 event returned to a more familiar format, offering six racing options (100.7 miles; 72 hours, 48 hours, 24 hours, 12 hours, 6 hours).
Of the 135 runners who finished their races among the various options, 63 surpassed the 100-mile distance. Included among that finishing tally was the club’s notorious mascot – Wally Watermelon – which runners took turns carrying for loops of the course throughout the weekend, a tradition that began at the 2019 event.
Verville, Alessandrini Break 200 to Top 72-Hour Race
Though the watermelon appeared in the official results for the 72-hour race and was the top performing fruit of the weekend, it was the runners whose performanced dominated the weekend. Most notably, the top two women in the 72-hour race delivered the biggest performances in Notchview Ultra history. Ann Alessandrini, 62, of Johnsonville, N.Y., became the first runner to surpass the 200-mile mark at Notchview in 2019 when she cranked out 106 loops of the course for a record-setting 201.4 miles. She returned in 2022 and did one lap more for a 203.3-mile tally. For Alessandrini, that number placed her second overall this year since 31-year-old Taylor Verville of Kingston, Mass., had an even bigger weekend. Verville looped the course 114 times for a whopping 216.60 miles to win in her Notchview debut.
Verville and Alessandrini were the lone runners out of the field of 41 to surpass 200 miles in the 72-hour race, but another 26 joined them in surpassing the 100-mile mark. Men’s winner and third overall finisher Benjamin Manning, 30, of Palmer, Mass., amassed a men’s course record of 190.0 miles, followed by 57-year-old Andy Cable of Monroe, Conn., and 31-year-old Samantha Brand of Southborough, Mass., who were the second male and third female, respectively, with 169.10 miles apiece. George Alexion, 63, of Waterboro, Maine, and Frederick Davis III, 74, of Bedford, Ohio, tied for third among the men with 167.2 miles. Four more runners surpassed the 150-mile mark: Claire Robinson-White, 42, of Milton, Vt. (161.50 miles); Robert Breckenridge, 51, of Keene, N.H. (157.70 miles); Julian Casola, 28, of Revere, Mass. (157.70 miles); and Ira Wheeler, 43, of Danville, Vt. (152.0 miles).
Several runners achieved their first 100-mile finishes at the race. Most notably, 13-year-old Joseph Devino of Williston, Vt. – who ran his first ultra at age 9 – earned his first 100-mile finish, completing 100.7 miles in the 72-hour race.
One Week Before VT100, Ung Goes 100+ in 48-Hour Race
After finishing the Vermont 100 in both 2018 and 2019, Tek Ung planned to make it three in a row at the classic 100-mile race in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic had other plans, though. VT100 was canceled in both 2020 and 2021, so Ung had to wait until 2022 to pursue her third finish of the race.
Ung has been a long-time regular at the Notchview Ultra, typically racing the 24-hour race. In both 2018 and 2019 it served as a final tune-up two weeks before the Vermont 100. This year, however, Notchview was held just one week prior to VT100 and Ung entered the 48-hour race. Given the tight turnaround between events, Ung didn’t hold back at Notchview. Instead, the 40-year-old from Cranston, R.I., pushed hard and turned in her biggest performance ever at Notchview, logging 117.80 miles, placing second among the women and sixth overall. Audrey Pittel, 30, of Fowlerville, Mich., topped the women’s field with 121.60 miles. Fiona Cosham, 55, of Southbury, Conn., was the third-place female with 110.20 miles.
The top four men swept the top four overall positions and also logged the four biggest performances by men in Notchview Ultra 48-hour history. Jim Logan, 44, of Philadelphia, Pa., led the way with 148.20 miles, followed by 65-year-old Trishul Cherns of Kingston, N.Y., with 144.40 miles. Dan Pulskamp, 43, of Chesterfield, Va., rounded out the men’s podium with 136.80 miles, followed closely by 38-year-old Jeffrey Stauch of New York, N.Y., who completed 133.00 miles.
Twenty runners completed the 48-hour race with 14 surpassing the 100-mile mark.
Dybdahl Goes Sub-24, Wins Inaugural 100.7-Mile Race
The newest event in the Notchview Ultra lineup was a distance-specific 100.7-mile race. Runners had 72 hours to achieve that mileage total, which required them to loop the course 53 times. Twenty-three runners took on the challenge, and 19 ultimately completed it.
By default, a course record was guaranteed to be set in the first-time offering, and Samuel Dybdahl took advantage. The 34-year-old from Manchester, Conn., pushed the pace throughout the day, quickly lapping the field and amassing a sizable lead. Ultimately, Dybdahl raced across the finish line in 20:34:00. For Dybdahl, it was an impressive showing three months before his next big race, the Midstate Massive Ultra-Trail 100 in October.
Dybdahl was followed by 45-year-old Jeremy Shafer of New Hartford, Conn., who finished second overall in 25:02:28. Bob Law, 53, of Mantua, N.J., rounded out the men’s podium in 27:28:06, less than four minutes ahead of fourth-place overall finisher and women’s champion Mary Ruiz. Ruiz, 34, of Manahawkin, N.J., finished in 27:31:47. A pair of New Yorkers rounded out the women’s podium with Kimberly Wrate, 26, of New Hartford taking second (43:35:15) and Martha Doody, 52, of Shortsville finishing third (49:05:09).
Other top finishers included Vincent Ma, 52, of San Jose, Calif., who was fifth overall in 27:44:33; Gary Dudney, 69, of Salinas, Calif., who was sixth overall in 29:15:14; and Scott Johnson-Yasufuku, 44, of Springfield, Mass., who finished seventh overall in 32:59:08. A BURCS Race Series regular, Johnson-Yasufuku earned his first 100-mile finish.
The event’s youngest finisher, 15-year-old Joseph Idoni III of Stroudsburg, Pa., finished in 55:50:50.
Burke a Master of Consistency in 24-Hour Race at Notchview
The 24-hour race was first offered at Notchview in 2017. That year, Rebecca Burke raced the 12-hour event and finished fourth overall, first female, with 53.2 miles. A year later, she ran the same race and earned the same place, but finished one more loop for 55.1 miles.
Burke made the jump to the 24-hour event in 2019 and has stayed with it ever since. During that time she has had a remarkable run of consistency, completing 53 laps – 100.7 miles – each year. In 2019 she was the first woman and second overall finisher; in 2021 she was the second woman and third overall finisher, and this year she once again led the women’s field and placed second overall. In fact, of the four female 100+-mile performances in the 24-hour event’s history, Burke owns three of them.
Byron Lane, 54, of Stony Brook, N.Y., matched Burke’s mileage this year and topped the men’s field. He is just the third man to surpass the 100-mile mark in the 24-hour event’s history.
Keith Bourassa, 38, of Keene, N.H., was the second-place male and third overall finisher with 89.3 miles, followed a loop behind by women’s runner-up Lynnsey Martin, 23, of Boston, Mass., who completed 87.4 miles. John Lellos, 33, of Concord, N.H., and Lena Wood, 19, of South Portland, Maine, were the third-place male and female, respectively, with 81.7 miles apiece.
Six more runners surpassed the 100K distance. Carla Halpern, 52, of New Salem, Mass., and Kenneth Flood, 50, of East Meadow, N.Y., each finished 74.1 miles; Jay Durand, 46, of Adams, Mass., logged 70.3 miles; Dietmar Bago, 54, of Andover, Mass., finished 66.5 miles; Tessa Pettit, 28, of New York, N.Y., completed 64.6 miles; and 47-year-old Jennifer Kelley of East Hampton, Conn., logged 62.7 miles.
Twenty-three runners took part in the 24-hour race; all surpassed the 50K distance for ultramarathon finishes.
Kelleher Sets Course Record in 12-Hour
A month and a half after winning the Infinitus marathon, Michael Kelleher earned his first ultramarathon victory in the Notchview 12-hour race. Kelleher, 29, of Burlington, Vt., cranked out a course-record performance, circling the course 34 times for 64.60 miles. His effort surpassed the previous mark of 62.70 miles set by Matt Aponte and Matt Breidenstein in 2019 and matched by Durgesh Mankekar in 2021. Kelleher benefitted from being pushed by Peter Keyo, 39, of Canton, Conn., who was close on his heels throughout the half-day race. Keyo tied the previous course record while finishing second with 62.70 miles. Brandon O’Neill, 49, of Maynard, Mass., was third with 55.10 miles.
In the women’s field, 40-year-old Sarah Brandt of Salem, Mass., led the way with 51.30 miles, followed by Tonya Caisse, 46, of Milford, Mass., with 43.70 miles and Jo Palerm, 43, of Chicopee, Mass., with 41.80 miles.
Nineteen runners completed the 12-hour race with 14 surpassing the marathon distance.
Proteau Tops 6-Hour Field
Thirteen runners took part in the 6-hour race, with three surpassing the marathon distance. Judy Proteau, 48, of Marlborough, Mass., led the way with 28.50 miles, followed by the top two men, Brian Teason, 61, of Manchester, Vt., and Patrick Karalekas of Ludlow, Mass., who each logged 26.60 miles. Stefanie Clark, 62, of Cummington, Mass., was the women’s runner-up with 24.70 miles.