The summer ultra racing season continues to heat up, and some of the hottest racing during the Aug. 12-14 weekend was turned in at the seventh edition of the Anchor Down Ultra in Rhode Island where hundreds of runners from the region gathered to race for 6, 12 or 24 hours on a loop course. A multi-time defending champion and an upstart challenger delivered a dandy of a race, and that battle leads off this edition of the roundup.
Anchor Down Ultra
Christopher Cappellini has maintained a stronghold on the 24-hour race at the Anchor Down Ultra since 2016 when he made his Anchor Down debut at the second edition of the event. Since then, Cappellini has taken part each year – with the exception of 2020 when it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each year, Cappellini raced and won the 24-hour event.
Given his string of success – winning tallies of 129.85 miles in 2016, 115.15 miles in 2017, 124.95 miles in 2018, 122.5 miles in 2019, and 128 miles in 2021 – it was going to take a massive effort to dethrone Cappellini, 56, of Norton, Mass. That massive effort was delivered by Jason Bigonia at the seventh edition of the Anchor Down Ultra on Aug. 12-13 in Bristol, R.I.
Bigonia, 45, of Walpole, Maine, has done most of his racing at Last Person Standing events in recent years, including a top-10 finish at the 2021 Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra in Tennessee where he logged 208.335 miles. In his Anchor Down debut, Bigonia hammered the 2.45-mile loop course at Colt State Park and ultimately outdueled Cappellini by one loop. Bigonia’s winning mileage tally of 122.50 miles topped Cappellini’s runner-up tally of 120.05. Joseph Baldasare, 35, of Point Pleasant, N.J., was a distant third with 112.70 miles.
Of the 82 runners who took part in the 24-hour race, 75 surpassed the 50-mile mark, 53, eclipsed the 60-mile mark and 18 completed 100 miles or more.
Mark Blakeley, 58, of Norton, Mass., missed the podium by one loop, finishing fourth overall with 110.25 miles. Jon Lawson, 50, of Portsmouth, R.I., followed with 105.35 miles, with 44-year-old Brendan Chambers of Taunton, Mass., a loop back in sixth overall with 102.90 miles.
Eleven runners finished with 100.45 miles, including New England residents Paul Chekal, 51, of Lynnfield, Mass; John Straw, 47, of Dudley, Mass.; Ryan Pelletier, 37, of New Bedford, Mass.; Benjamin Simanski, 38, of Greenfield, Mass.; Matthew Beland, 26, of North Brookfield, Mass.; Daryl Beecher, 38, of Providence, R.I.; and Ryan Danby, 29, of Old Saybrook, Conn.
Kali Fatti, 37, of Syracuse, N.Y., was the women’s champion with 100.45 miles. Women’s runner-up Nicole Fleming, 48, of Springfield, Mo., followed with 93.10 miles, and 57-year-old Kathy Jacques of Taunton, Mass., rounded out the podium with 90.65 miles.
In the half-day, 12-hour race, 38 runners competed and all surpassed the marathon distance with six breaking the 50-mile mark. Corinne Griffiths, 38, of Boston, Mass., was the overall champion and women’s winner with 61.25 miles. Men’s champion Chris Merrill, 49, of Woodbridge, Conn., followed with 56.35 miles. The second- and third-place women – Tina Ryan, 49, of West Roxbury, Mass., and Erika Hamel, 36, of Nashua, N.H. – were a loop behind with 53.90 miles apiece. Men’s runner-up Jeffrey Wohlen, 42, of Lakeville, Mass., finished fifth overall with 51.45 miles, as did fourth-place female Lynn McElroy, 48, of Cranston, R.I. Jon Perroni, 26, of Bristol, R.I., rounded out the men’s 12-hour podium with 49.00 miles.
Seventy-three runners took part in the 6-hour race, and the top 10 completed a 50K or more. Carter Mikkelsen, 19, of Holliston, Mass., led all runners with 39.20 miles, followed by 51-year-old Pete Harley of Bristol, R.I., and 34-year-old Douglas Hackenyos of Canton, Conn., with 36.75 miles apiece. A pair of women from West Roxbury, Mass. – 44-year-old Ericka Coutts and 53-year-old Kathleen Kearnan – led the women’s field. Coutts was the women’s champion with 34.30 miles and Kearnan followed a lap behind with 31.85 miles. Linnea Laverty, 35, of Stoneham, Mass., rounded out the women’s podium and placed 10th overall, also with 31.85 miles.
Eastern States 100
A year ago, a pair of New England residents swept the men’s and women’s victories at the Eastern States 100. This time, a New Yorker and a Pennsylvania local were the champions of the 103.1-mile race that is known for its grueling terrain, challenging summer weather conditions, and 20,000 feet of climbing.
Ryan Clifford, 25, of New Hyde Park, N.Y., dominated the race and won by 2 ½ hours, finishing in 20:13:26. Justyna Wilson, 46, of Fairless Hills, Pa., finished 12th overall and first among the women’s field in 26:04:37.
Though victories eluded the New Englanders this year, 11 runners from the region were among the 121 runners who secured hard-earned finishes within the 36-hour time limit. Michael Obara, 45, of North Kingstown, R.I., led the way, placing 18th overall in 27:31:21. He was joined in the top 25 by 33-year-old Keith Nadeau of Fairhaven, Mass., who placed 23rd overall in 28:06:44. Ryan Williams, 33, of Concord, Mass., followed shortly after in 29:18:21, good for 32nd place. Less than three minutes later, 47-year-old Rufus Chaffee of Worthington, Mass., joined Williams at the finish line in 33rd place in 29:20:57. Derek Breitenstine, 33, of Salem, Conn., followed a little while later in 39th place in 29:44:12.
The top female finisher from New England, 38-year-old Brenda Fortin of Worthington, Mass., placed fifth among the women and 46th overall in 30:28:58.
Other New England finishers were Eric Nelson, 40, of Somerville, Mass. (32:19:48); Will Robinson, 27, of Middlebury, Vt. (33:20:05); Jonathan Lagoa, 38, of Fairhaven, Mass. (33:36:20); Kristijan Begic, 36, of Waterbury, Conn. (35:01:25); and Dani Rai, 40, of Dorchester, Mass. (35:33:24).
6 Hours on Lover’s Lane
The course was short but the miles were hard-earned at the second annual 6 Hours on Lover’s Lane on Saturday, Aug. 13, in Chester, Vt. Runners had six hours to complete as many laps of a 1.75-mile loop course as they could. The terrain was varied, blending singletrack dirt, doubletrack trail and jeep roads, but sneakily tough with 320 feet of gain per loop.
Of the 42 participants, 12 surpassed the marathon distance and seven broke the 30-mile mark. A trio of runners – Keith Bourassa, 38, of Keene, N.H.; Kevin Ellis, 38, of Richmond, N.H.; and Donald Coletta, 19, of Branford, Conn. – tied for the win with 35 miles apiece. Ashley Hensel-Browning, 36, of Weathersfield, Vt., and Israel Agront, 28, of Medford, Mass., followed with 33.25 miles apiece. Hensel-Browning was the first-place female. Following one loop behind were women’s runner-up Amanda Paul, 46, of Swanzey, N.H., and fifth-place male Robert Breckenridge, 51, of Keene, N.H., with 31.5 miles apiece.
Bloobs Punk Ass 50K
The ultramarathon racing scene continues to grow in New Hampshire, and the latest addition – the Bloobs Punk Ass 50K – played host to its inaugural event on Saturday, Aug. 13, in Pike, N.H. The free, fatass-style event, consisted of two 25K loops of a course that blended singletrack dirt, doubletrack trail, and dirt roads with 5,000 feet of vertical gain.
Nineteen runners finished the inaugural event with 41-year-old Scott Donnelly of Exeter, N.H., and Aymen Mejri, 39, of Longueuil, Quebec, tying for the victory in 6:24:05. Nicholas Belanger, 30, of Providence, R.I., finished third overall in 6:39:20 and 33-year-old Felipe Paloma of Arlington, Mass., was the fourth-place finisher in 6:57:21. Catherine Weiner, 28, of South Burlington, Vt., placed sixth overall and first among the women in 7:15:04. Martina Drew, 30, of State College, Pa., and Faith Eharts, 28, of Nashua, N.H., rounded out the women’s podium, both finishing in 7:49:16.
The Waldo 100K has been a Pacific Northwest staple for two decades, and the 20th edition of the event took place on Saturday, Aug. 13, in Oakridge, Ore. Runners took on a loop course that started and finished at the Willamette Pass Ski Area and amassed more than 11,000 feet of climbing – including three major climbs of more than 2,000 feet – along the way to mostly remote areas.
Two New England residents were among the finishers. Kai Hoeffner, 41, of Medway, Mass., and Sarah Weigel, 46, of Byfield, Mass., both secured hard-earned finishes, Hoeffner in 16:48:24 and Weigel in 19:06:23. For Hoeffner, the successful finish served as redemption after a DNF in 2021. It also marks his longest race to-date, surpassing his two 60-mile finishes at the TARC Ghost Train Rail Trail Race (2019, 2021).
Colton Gale, 31, of Bend, Ore., led the men’s field in 9:33:53 while Jessie Goodell, 35, of Eugene, Ore., led the women in 12:21:44. There were 103 finishers within 21 hours.
*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.