September is typically the busiest month of the ultrarunning racing calendar, and the Sept. 9-11 weekend was no exception with dozens of races throughout the country – including a few in New England, including the popular TARC Fall Classic in Massachusetts that attracted more than 300 runners. Part One of this week’s roundup featured the Groton Forest Trail Run in Vermont, Megunticook 50K in Maine, Tunxis and Macedonia trail ultras in Connecticut, and the Hainesport Hundred in New Jersey. Here in Part Two we feature wins by two Massachusetts residents at the Shawangunk 70-mile and 30-mile ultras, and also catch up on Virgil Crest, the Wasatch 100 and the Pine Creek Challenge.
Russ Dresher mastered the 70-mile course at the Shawangunk Ridge Trail Run in 2021, setting a course record with his winning time of 16:22:52. Dresher returned to the race for its eighth edition on Saturday, Sept. 10, in Rosendale, N.Y., and defended his title. Of the 22 runners who started the 70-mile journey from High Point State Park in New Jersey, 11 ultimately made it to the finish in Rosendale, N.Y. Dresher did so this time in 17:25:55, posting the fourth-fastest time in course history while winning the race for the second time in a row. Roland Mann, 41, of New York, N.Y., was a distant second in 21:35:37, followed by 27-year-old Chris Stevenson of West Coxsackie, N.Y., in 21:56:09. Joining Dresher among the finishers from New England was 47-year-old Michael Morton of Harvard, Mass., who finished fifth overall in 23:23:57.
In addition to the 70-mile race, another 52 runners completed a 30-mile race covering the back end of the course. Matthias Kirchner, 39, of Cohoes, N.Y., led the way in 5:45:42, followed by 33-year-old Ryan Moriarty of Ridgewood, N.Y., in 6:02:06. Topping the women’s field and finishing seventh overall was 23-year-old Sarah Weidman of Somerville, Mass. Weidman earned her victory in 7:22:15 while also finishing her first ultramarathon.
Other New England residents who were among the finishers of the 30-mile race included Nickolas Izzo, 34, of Sandy Hook, Conn., who placed eighth overall in 7:22:18; Eli Sanchez, 28, of Somerville, Mass., who was 10th overall in 7:41:33; Alexander Evans, 29, of Bethel, Conn., who finished 14th overall in 7:54:10; and Krystal Swell, 42, of Lebanon, N.H., who finished 33rd overall in 9:29:45.
Virgil Crest Ultras
Just a few short years ago Caitlin Sheasley made her ultramarathon debut at The North Face Endurance Challenge at Wachusett Mountain in Massachusetts where she cracked the women’s top 10 in the 50K. During the Sept. 10-11 weekend she earned her first 100-mile finish – and first 100-mile victory. Sheasley, 35, of Concord, Mass., joined 24 other runners at the starting line of the 10th running of the Virgil Crest Ultras’ 100-mile race in Cortland, N.Y. Of that group, only 11 would ultimately finish the grueling course and its more than 22,000 feet of climbing. She placed second overall and first among the women’s field in an impressive 28:31:00. Men’s champion Jake Moreau, 28, of Richmond Hill, Ontario, led all runners in 25:10:00.
While it was Sheasley’s first 100-mile race, it wasn’t her first ultra victory. She was the women’s champion at the 2019 TARC Fall Classic 50-miler which was her longest race prior to Virgil Crest.
Joining her among the finishers of the Virgil Crest 100-miler was Kurt Huebner of Somerville, Mass. Huebner, 22, also made his 100-mile debut and placed ninth overall, seventh among the men’s field, in 33:42:00.
The 100K race had the smallest field with 10 starters and seven finishers. The top four positions were earned by women with 51-year-old Molly Zum of Reno, Nev., securing the victory in 14:26:00. Betty Secor, 61, of Salisbury Cove, Maine, was the lone New England resident in the field and she tied for third with 36-year-old Erica Secor of Homer, N.Y. Both women finished in 17:23:00.
In the 50-mile race, 32 runners started and 22 finished with 52-year-old James Blandford of Hamburg, Pa., leading the way in 9:13:00 and 39-year-old Amanda Wilczynski of Mayfield, Pa., leading the women and finishing third overall in 11:15:00. Thea Sousa, 22, of Guilford, Conn., was the fourth-place female and 16th overall finisher in 14:40:00. Javier Perrone, 49, of Bristol, Conn., placed 12th overall in 13:34:00.
The shortest ultra offering at Virgil Crest was the 50K. Two New England residents were among the 33 finishers, and one earned a spot on the podium. Richard Chmielecki, 40, of Greenwich, Conn., raced to a runner-up finish in 6:08, just nine minutes behind winner Forrest Law, 28, of Syracuse, N.Y., who dipped just under six hours to win in 5:59:00. Kevin Daley, 58, of East Hampton, Conn., also was among the finishers as he placed 30th in 9:28:00.
Wasatch Front 100
Big mountains, big vertical and even bigger views greeted four New England ultrarunners as they navigated the Wasatch Mountains at the 42nd running of the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run on Sept. 9-10 in Kaysville, Utah. Three of the runners from the region had been there before – and successfully finished. Another was a newcomer to the event, though with plenty of prior 100-mile experience. Ultimately, all four were among the 155 finishers of the grueling race and its 24,000 feet of climbing.
Jeff Ingalls, 51, of Newburyport, Mass., had a big day and finished 20th overall in 26:55:32. It was an impressive debut at Wasatch Front for Ingalls, who made his first trip to the race but ran his first 100-miler nearly a decade ago at the 2013 TARC 100.
Joining Ingalls among the finishers were three New England men who notched their second Wasatch Front finishes. Bruce Tailey, 51, of Monson, Maine, tied for 74th overall in 32:18:47. He last completed the race in 2017. Steven LaBranch, 49, of Oakdale, Conn. – another 2017 finisher – placed 111th overall this year in 34:13:07. For LaBranche, Wasatch Front marked the end of his Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. He was one of 13 runners to complete the Grand Slam this year, having also completed the Old Dominion 100 in June in 25:50:26; the Western States Endurance Run in June in 28:04:44; and the Vermont 100 in July in 25:08:35. The final finisher from New England was 64-year-old Dane LeBlanc who first finished Wasatch in 2015 and placed 144th this year in 35:39:33.
Shawn Smith, 33, of South Salt Lake, Utah, led all runners in 20:30:28 and won by more than two hours. The top five finishers all completed the race in less than 24 hours. Sarah Pizzo, 39, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., finished seventh overall and first among the women’s field in 24:47:50.
Pine Creek Challenge
There are some races that Michael Condella just can’t get enough of. He’s a regular at both the winter and summer editions of Beast of Burden in New York. He has made several trips to Pennsylvania to run the Pine Creek Challenge, and he is a frequent runner at the Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug Ultras in Connecticut. He was even a familiar face at the 24-Hour Around the Lake in Massachusetts back when the event still existed.
The Pine Creek Challenge is another race that Condella makes a point of running every year. When he toed the starting line of the 100-mile race on Saturday, Sept. 10, in Wellsboro, Pa., the 34-year-old resident of Revere, Mass., was going for his eighth consecutive finish at the 12th edition of the event.
By the time it was done, Condella had successfully finished. Condella and his fellow runners took on out-and-backs of the Pine Creek Rail Trail, and the crushed gravel footing and gradual inclines and declines provided ideal conditions for fast times and successful performances. He placed 30th this year in 28:03:37, comfortably under the 30-hour cutoff. Thirty-nine runners finished this year’s race while another 34 started but didn’t finish. Stephen Greet, 30, of Brooklyn, N.Y., led all runners in 17:10:22. Tatyana Zakharenko, 52, of Harriman, N.Y., led the women’s field and finished sixth overall in 22:23:17.
The race was Condella’s third 100-mile finish of the year. He completed the Winter Beast of Burden in January and the Vermont 100 in July. He will race the Tunnel Hill 100-miler in Illinois in November.
In the 100K race, 28 runners started and 26 finished with 55-year-old Andrew McDowell of Downingtown, Pa., leading the way in 10:28:24. One New England resident was among the finishers. That runner – 58-year-old Richard Camerik of Ridgefield, Conn. – finished fifth overall and third among the men’s field in 12:36:33.
No New England residents were among the 30 finishers of the 50-mile race. Neela D’Souza, 44, of PIckering, Ontario, finished first overall and posted the second-fastest women’s time in course history in 7:28:06. D’Souza also owns the top three women’s times ever at the Pine Creek Challenge’s 100K race.
*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.