MassUltra Roundup: Bubba’s Backyard, Joe English, and Yeti 100

October arrived with cooler temperatures and a less crowded ultramarathon racing schedule for the Oct. 1-2 weekend, but plenty of New Englanders found opportunities to run long. In New Hampshire, runners ran from dusk to dark at the Joe English Twilight Challenge. In Virginia, several New Englanders ran through the night and into the next day on their way to 100-mile finishes at the Yeti 100-Mile Endurance Run. And in New Hampshire, runners ran all day, all night, all day and well into a second night for far beyond 100 miles at Bubba’s Backyard Ultra. It was once again a showdown between Ed Clifford and Brian Burke at Bubba’s, and that race leads off this edition of the roundup.

Bubba’s Backyard Ultra

Ed Clifford continued his reign as the only champion of Bubba’s Backyard Ultra when he won the fourth annual last-person-standing race on Oct. 1-2 in Center Conway, NH, but for the second straight year he was pushed to the limit by Brian Burke.

Clifford and Burke matched each other hour for hour for 44 hours in 2021 before Burke’s race ended and Clifford completed a 45th lap for 157.50 miles and the victory. In 2022, the pair were once again the last two standing – but the goal was to be the only one left. After winning in 2019 with 89.0 miles, 2020 with 119 miles and 2021 with 157.50 miles, Clifford finished 42 loops – one more than Burke – and the 57-year-old from Raymond, N.H., secured his fourth straight victory with 147.00 miles. Burke, 40, of Medford, Mass., finished second for the second straight year, this time with 143.50 miles. Another runner hung with them nearly the entire way; 27-year-old Nathan Lamarre of Center Ossipee, N.H., finished third with 140.00 miles. Lamarre was the runner-up at the inaugural Bubba’s and finished third in 2020. Benjamin Feinson, 30, of Richmond, Vt., was a distant fourth with 129.50 miles.

Maia Buckingham was the women’s champion for the second year in a row, and the 29-year-old from Richmond, Vt., lasted 35 hours and 122.50 miles this year. Her mileage tally in 2021 was 94.50 when she also placed seventh overall. Sydney Dolan, 25, of Boston, Mass., followed with 119.00 miles – her first time surpassing the 100-mile mark – after placing fourth among the women with 70 miles in 2021. Megan Underhill also improved upon her 2021 performance when she finished ninth among the women with 45 miles. Underhill was the third-place female and eighth overall finisher with 115.50 miles.

Other top-10 overall finishers included Breck Stewart, 29, of Waterbury, Vt. (T-6th, 119.00 miles), and Declan Kiley, 23, of Franconia, N.H. and Douglas Lewis, 58, of Kamas, Utah (T-9th, 112.00 miles apiece).

The top 16 overall finishers all surpassed the 100-mile mark. Other New Englanders in that group included Adam Ribeiro, 31, of Lowell, Mass., and Theja Putta, 33, of Boston, Mass., with 105.00 miles apiece, and the trio of 37-year-old Dan West of Lynnfield, Mass., 39-year-old Ian O’Reilly of Kensington, N.H., and 27-year-old Danny Mejia of Portland, Maine, with 101.50 miles apiece.

Joe English Twilight Challenge

The Joe English Twilight Challenge offers runners the unique opportunity to race almost completely at night. The dusk-to-dark event returned for its eighth year at Freestyle Farm on Saturday, Oct. 1, in Amherst, N.H., and it once again offered a variety of distance options on the 2.62-mile loop course. Included among those offerings was a 6-hour ultra that began at 5 p.m.

Thirty-two runners took part in the 6-hour race; 13 of them ultimately surpassed the marathon distance and achieved ultra mileage. None went farther than 40-year-old Eric Nelson of Somerville, Mass., who earned his first ultra victory with 35.37 miles completed. It was an impressive performance in his first race since completing the Eastern States 100-miler in August. Jay Martin, 55, of Epping, N.H., was the runner-up with 34.06 miles. Martin finished seventh at the 2018 race. A trio of runners followed with 32.75 miles apiece – C. Sawyer, 43, of Red Lodge, Mont.; Joseph Mello, 46, of Milford, Mass.; and Molly Karp, 40, of Natick, Mass. Karp was the women’s champion of this year’s race following her runner-up performance in 2021.

Joining Karp on the women’s podium were Amelia Downs, 30, of Los Angeles, Calif., and Lesley Rossi, 42, of New Boston, N.H., who finished 28.82 miles apiece. Fourth-place woman Jessica O’Dowd, 36, of Manchester, N.H., matched them in mileage.

Matthew Hoffman, 43, of Chelmsford, Mass.; Mark Nelson, 38, of Kaysville, Utah; and William Caddoo, 48, of Waltham, Mass., also finished 28.82 miles apiece. The final runners to surpass the marathon distance were Hannah Vickery, 27, of Burlington, Vt., and Kevin Quinn, 53, of Bristol, R.I., who each finished 27.51 miles.

Yeti 100

Whether seeking a fast 100-miler, a first 100-miler, or a measuring stick from years past, the Yeti 100-Mile Endurance Run offered something for everyone. The eighth annual event took place Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in Abingdon, Va., and runners once again took on a course consisting of multiple out-and-backs on a crushed limestone and cinder path while amassing around 3,000 feet of elevation gain along the way.

Despite the non-technical terrain, the course proved plenty challenging between the 100-mile distance itself and the temptation to push too hard too early. There were 117 finishers within the 30-hour time limit, but another 116 runners ended their races early.

Seven New England residents were among those whose race ended by being handed a belt buckle at the finish line. Among that group were four first-time 100-mile finishers: Eric Hollis, Jamie Romaniak, Janel Goodman and Shannon Johnson. Both Hollis and Romaniak broke the 24-hour mark with Hollis, 37, of Holden, Mass., placing 39th overall in 22:43:56. Romaniak, 42, of Easton, Mass.., finishing 59th in 23:52:30. Goodman, 49, of Scarborough, Maine, finished 66th overall in 25:03:55 and Johnson, 40, of Windham, Maine, was 81st in 26:35:20.

Wayne Capacillo was the top performer among the New England contingent. The 32-year-old from Rochester, N.H., placed 21st overall in 21:10:25. It was his second 100-miler this year and fourth overall (2022 Vermont 100, 2021 Midstate Massive 100, 2019 Grindstone 100).

Adam Kempner made Yeti his second 100-miler; his first was the 2018 Ghost Train 100. Kempner, 50, of North Easton, Mass., finished 71st in 25:43:17. Another North Easton resident, 43-year-old John Sherback, finished 91st in 27:09:26. It was at least Sherback’s fifth 100-mile finish – and his second time finishing the Yeti 100. He completed the 2020 race in 28:44:45, so this year’s performance was an improvement by more than 90 minutes.

Lee Whitaker, 48, of Fort Mill, S.C., led all runners in 14:50:05. Keith Gruchaz, 37, of Greensboro, N.C., followed 18 minutes later in 15:08:24. The top three runners finished in less than 17 hours. Rebecca Joyner, 44, of Alto, Mich., led the women’s field and finished 11th overall in 19:55:15.

*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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