MassUltra Roundup: Jigger Johnson, Continental Divide, and Green Lakes

While much of the ultrarunning world was focused on the European Alps and the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc festival with its week-long series of races and thousands of runners, a new event quietly made its debut in the White Mountains that put the beast in “Beast Coast.” After years of work, White Mountain Endurance introduced the world to the Jigger Johnson Ultras. Eighteen runners ultimately finished either the 100K or 50-mile offerings while also checking off multiple 4,000-foot peaks. As the new kid in the neighborhood, this race leads off this edition of the roundup.

Jigger Johnson Ultras

It took a few years for White Mountain Endurance to bring the Jigger Johnson Ultras to reality, but the event made its long-awaited debut with brutally challenging 100K and 50-mile races on Aug. 27-28 in Waterville Valley, N.H.

Runners in the 100K amassed more than 20,000 feet of rugged climbing and summitted four New Hampshire 4,000-foot peaks – Carrigan, Osceola, East Osceola and Tecumseh – while 50-milers had a bit less climbing and avoided Carrigan. The point-to-point course was unmarked, save for the traditional blazes and signposts, so runners were required to follow a map and navigate accordingly.

Seventeen runners attempted the 100K distance and 10 of them ultimately finished, including three in less than 24 hours. Tyler Kuntz led the way and established the course speed standard as the 31-year-old resident of Belmont, N.H., earned the overall win in 19:57:32. Kuntz will look to build on his performance in October when he races Bubba’s Backyard Ultra. Kuntz was followed by Bryce Spare. Spare last raced 100K at the 2021 Chesterfield Gorge Ultra and finished second. The 39-year-old from Adams, Mass., added another runner-up finish to his resume by finishing Jigger Johnson in 21:50:40.

Less than an hour after Spare finished, 34-year-old Veronica Leeds of Cross River, N.Y., became the final sub-24-hour finisher and women’s champion. Leeds is no stranger to victory at tough races, having won the 2021 MST 100-miler in North Carolina and the 2021 Manitou’s Revenge 54-miler in New York. She earned victory at Jigger Johnson in 22:46:42. Charlotte Cadow, 28, of Burlington, Vt., followed in fourth overall and second among the women’s field in 24:27:47.

Other finishers of the 100K included 17-year-old Luke Spooner of Topsham, Maine (24:41:36); Jeff Davis, 40, of Amherst, Mass. (25:27:54); Jesse Holden, 39, of St. Johnsbury, Vt. (26:01:40); Sarah Slater, 44, and Scott Slater, 44, of Guilford, Conn. (26:53:51); and Brian Staveley, 45, of Marlboro, Vt. (29:55:10).

Another eight runners completed the 50-mile option, led by 24-year-old Andrew Mojciak of Merrimack, N.H., who hammered out a hard-earned victory in 16:22:46. Runner-up Matthew Carbone, 39, of Melrose, Mass., followed about 2 ½ hours later in 18:55:51, and 33-year-old Kevin Gagnon of Epsom, N.H., rounded out the men’s podium in 21:32:45. Matthew LeBlanc, 37, of Somersworth, N.H., finished fourth in 22:11:08.

Marylyn Styles, 55, of Belmont, Mass., was the women’s champion and fifth overall finisher in 24:39:29, just ahead of women’s runner-up and sixth overall finisher Jacqueline Fucile, 38, of Stark, N.H., in 24:54:28. She finished alongside Nicholas Fucile, 43, placed seventh overall in 24:54:29. Mary Moon, 37, of Meredith, N.H., rounded out the finishers in 29:11:47.

Continental Divide Trail Run

A pair of Massachusetts residents earned their first ultramarathon finishes on a tough course in Colorado.

Matthew Brusnahan, 36, and Chloe Heskett, 27, both of Cambridge, both were among the 107 runners who completed the sixth running of the Continental Divide Trail Run 50K on Saturday, Aug. 27, in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Brusnahan placed 26th overall in 5:44:09 while Heskett finished 71st in 6:51:30. Runners had 10 hours to finish the race.

Steven Cornelius, 42, of Valparaiso, Fla., topped the men’s field with the second-fastest time in course history, winning in 4:18:25. Devon Yanko, 40, of Howard, Colo., was the top female finisher and fifth overall in 4:56:36.

Green Lakes Endurance Runs

A half-dozen New England residents made their ultramarathon debuts at the 15th edition of the Green Lakes Endurance Runs on Saturday, Aug. 27, in Fayetteville, N.Y.

The event offered 100K and 50K distances on a 7.75-mile loop course, both with a 15-hour cutoff. Runners in the 100K completed eight loops and 50K runners completed four.

None of the 10 finishers of the 100K were New England residents. Kevin Dames, 35, of Cortland, N.Y., was the men’s winner in 11:03:53 and 25-year-old Joanna Bunker of Canastota, N.Y., topped the women’s field in 12:03:26.

Fifty-seven runners finished the 50K race, including eight New England residents – six of them first-time ultrarunners. Matthew Vernon, 42, of Sunderland, Vt., led the crew of newcomers with a stellar debut performance, placing sixth overall and fourth among the men’s field in 4:55:55.

Others making their ultra debuts were Julian Lamanna, 28, of Boston, Mass., who placed 18th overall in 5:53:09; Elisa Donato, 42, of Sunderland, Vt., who finished 36th overall in 6:34:44; Luis Ramos, 31, of Boston, Mass., who was 38th in 6:44:45; Jonathan Crowe, 35, of Fall River, Mass., who was 39th in 6:52:17; and Harriet Partridge, 31, of Boston, Mass., who tied for 43rd in 7:41:11. The two ultra veterans who were among the finishers were Eric Steinberg, 36, of Norwalk, Conn., who placed 41st in 6:57:30, and 30-year-old Kurt Buchbinder of Boston, Mass., who tied for 43rd in 7:41:11.

Brendan Bloss, 21, of Bel Air, Md., took home the overall win in 4:10:50, followed by 37-year-old Alan Davidson of Bovina Center, N.Y., in 4:21:36. Women’s champion Sarah Dellett, 26, of Syracuse, N.Y., finished third overall in 4:43:52. The top six runners – including Vernon – all finished in less than five 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.

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