It has been a wild month for major local ultras with the Midstate Massive Ultra-Trail and Ghost Train Rail Trail Race taking top billing for largest events. Those events on back-to-back weekends were followed by an Oct. 22-23 weekend that featured two more Massachusetts ultras – the Womp Romp 50K and Mt. Tom Trail Race 50K. Still, there were a handful of events in New England and beyond that attracted runners from the region during the second-to-last weekend of October. Included among them were the inaugural running of the Rhode Island Trail Classic, as well as the return of Maine’s Farm to Farm Ultra – which saw 20-year-old Lila Gaudrault deliver a stunning 50-mile debut performance that ranks among the best performances in North America this year. Read all about it in this edition of the roundup.
Farm to Farm Ultra
Following a two-year hiatus from in-person running due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Farm to Farm Ultra returned for its 10th in-person running with 50-mile and 50K ultra distance offerings on Sunday, Oct. 23, in Freeport, Maine. Runners raced on a 25K out-and-back loop that they completed either two (50K) or three (50-mile) times between Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport and Crystal Spring Farm in nearby Brunswick while running mostly on paved roads with a few miles of trails mixed in.
Highlighting the event’s return was an explosive performance in the 50-miler from Lila Gaudrault. The 20-year-old from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, has already enjoyed quite the year of ultra racing with victories at the Big A 50K and TARC Fall Classic 50K to her credit. She followed up her win at the Fall Classic by becoming the youngest women’s champion in the history of the Maine Marathon earlier this month. At Farm to Farm, Gaudrault dominated from the start and cruised to the overall victory in a sizzling 6:28:01. Her time established a new women’s course record by 37 minutes. Gaudrault’s effort also clocked in as the seventh-fastest women’s 50-mile performance in North America this year (as of 10/25/22) according to UltraRunning Magazine’s data tracker.
Runner-up Gordon Collins, 43, of Poland, Maine, also had a big day. The winner of the 2021 Riverlands 100-miler and Outlaw 135-miler, Collins topped the men’s field in 7:31:32 and posted one of the top men’s performances in course history. Erik Benham, 35, of Kennebunk, Maine, rounded out the top three in the field of seven finishers with a time of 7:49:03.
Ten runners started the 50K race and eight ultimately finished. The men’s and women’s champions separated themselves from the rest of the field by the final miles, but the overall winner was in doubt until the final moments. Brent Vanni, 48, of Yarmouth, Maine, ultimately earned the men’s and overall victory in 4:22:27 while women’s champion Hannah Bewsey, 30, of Topsham, Maine, finished less than a minute later in second place overall in 4:23:25. Bewsey’s time was the second-fastest by a woman in course history. The men’s and women’s runner-ups tied for third overall with Johnathan Plummer, 36, of New Gloucester, Maine, and Tammy Turcotte, 42, of Lewiston, Maine, both finishing in 4:38:12.
Bobcat Trail Race
Anthony Parillo’s big year of ultra racing continued with a trip to Colorado to race the Bobcat Trail Race 50K on Saturday, Oct. 22, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The race took place on the trails of Palmer Park, not far from Pikes Peak and the Front Range Mountains, on a course entirely above 6,300 feet. Runners completed two 25K loops and amassed nearly 4,000 feet of climbing along the way.
Parillo, 38, of Williamsburg, Mass., was primed to have a good day. His season already included top-10 finishes at the TARC Spring Classic 50K and Chesterfield Gorge 50K, as well as finishes of the Black Canyon 50K in Utah and the Vermont 50-miler. Parilla notched his third top-10 finish of the year as he finished fifth overall and fourth among the men at the Bobcat 50K in 6:33:28.
Gil Allgood, 31, of Colorado Springs, Colo., led all runners in 4:25:59 and won with a 75-minute cushion. Monica Taylor, 37, of Golden, Colo., finished third overall and first in the women’s field in 5:53:43.
Parillo will close out his season at the Stone Cat 50K on Nov. 5 in Ipswich, Mass.
Rhode Island Trail Classic
As trail ultras go, Rhode Island is well known for the popular Anchor Down Ultra – a 24-hour event in the summertime. The event’s organizers added a second event to their lineup with the inaugural Rhode Island Trail Classic on Saturday, Oct. 22, in Charlestown, R.I., and it proved to be mighty popular as more than 100 runners took part in this year’s event.
Runners had 11 hours to complete as many loops as they could of the 7.5-mile Vin Gormley Trail, racing from sunup to sundown on the mixed terrain of Burlingame State Park. Of the 123 runners who took part, 84 completed at least four loops for 30 miles and an ultramarathon finish.
Nobody hammered the course harder than Aaron Fitzenry, 45, of Providence, R.I. Fitzenry was the lone runner to complete eight laps as he earned the overall win with 60 miles.
Six more runners finished 52.5 miles, though in varying times. Jon Lawson, 51, of Portsmouth, R.I., did so the fastest and finished second overall, followed by Tim Tapply, 47, of Sherborn, Mass., who rounded out the men’s podium. The other seven-lap finishers were Tristan Heuvelman, 42, of Warwick, R.I.; Joe Soul, 38, of Raynham, Mass.; Anthony D’Eramo, 34, of Bristol, R.I.; and Bryan Engstrom, 39, of Middleborough, Mass.
Holly Goodman, 32, of Madison, N.J., finished eighth overall and first in the women’s field with 45.0 miles. Matching her in distance while rounding out the women’s podium were Kathleen Shoda, 47, of Satellite Beach, Fla., and Melissa Peplinsky, 39, of Concord, Vt. Both Deb Downs, 46, of Watertown, Mass., and Hanna Littlefield, 31, of Taunton, Mass., finished 37.5 miles apiece to round out the women’s top five.
*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.