When Amy Rusiecki organized the inaugural Mt. Tom Trail Race 25K and team relay in 2021, the Beast Coast Trail Running race director crafted a course that lulled runners in with a smooth, speedy road section warm-up before smacking them with a strong dose of rugged New England singletrack – much of it hidden under a blanket of leaves. The result was some blood and brutality, outshined by a whole lot of fun.
So much fun was had that Rusiecki doubled down on the event for 2022 and added a 50K ultramarathon to the lineup.
Around 150 runners gathered at the starting line on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Millside Park in Easthampton, Mass., just a few strides from New City Brewery where the post-race party would take place that afternoon. Most were there to tackle the 25K course, but some would ultimately complete two loops for 50K. For those runners, 7,000 feet of climbing awaited them, including a 900-foot ascent near the end of each loop that would test their desire to finish.
For Matt Pacheco, a bit of home field advantage worked in his favor. Pacheco, 37, lives in Holyoke, Mass., making Mt. Tom State Reservation his local trails. From running on his own, to placing ninth in the 25K race a year earlier, Pacheco knew exactly what he was getting himself into on race day. He raced with confidence, gradually built a lead and ultimately cruised to victory in 4:42:44.
Joining Pacheco in finishing in less than five hours was Peter Bonito. The 37-year-old from Westmoreland, N.H., has amassed an impressive trail and ultra resume during the past few years, including victories at the Drummer Hill 50K, Ragged 50K and the Wapack Fall Race 18-miler to his credit this year. Bonito couldn’t quite stick with Pacheco, but he finished second overall in 4:57:27. Bryce Spare, 39, of Adams, Mass., rounded out the men’s podium by finishing third overall in 5:42:17. It was a strong showing for Spare just four weeks removed from a runner-up finish at the brutal Jigger Johnson 100K in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Easthampton local Daniel Hartman, 37, was the fourth overall finisher at Mt. Tom in 6:09:36.
While Pacheco topped the men’s category by a comfortable margin, the race for the women’s win went down to the wire. Isabel Lane and Brenda Fortin raced in close contact throughout the day, at times within just a few strides of each other and never separated by more than a couple minutes. Lane ultimately held on during the home stretch and the 23-year-old resident of Cambridge, Mass., topped the women’s category in 6:09:49. Fortin, 39, of Worthington, Mass., followed exactly one minute later in 6:10:49. Maitee Arocho, 29, of Springfield, Mass., rounded out the women’s podium in 8:07:22.
Michelle Kennedy, 31, of Northampton, Mass., was the first nonbinary finisher in 7:39:53.
Nineteen runners finished the 50K within nine hours.
Fast Pack Battles for 25K Victory
The 25K race challenged runners with a bit of extra distance – nearly two extra miles as it measured in at 17.4 miles – and 3,600 feet of climbing, starting and ending with a bit of pavement but with lots of gnarly singletrack in between. A speedy first five dueled for the men’s win, all finishing within a 6 1/2-minute window. Steven Lange, 30, ultimately prevailed by two minutes in 2:21:13, followed by 36-year-old Shaun Dongegan in 2:23:26 and 44-year-old Brian Rusiecki shortly after in 2:24:13. Liam Cregan, 29, was a close fourth in 2:25:25, and 30-year-old Ian Shultis rounded out the first pack in 2:27:41.
Colleen Chase, 26, cruised to victory in the women’s field in 2:40:00. Her closest competitor was 29-year-old Jada Wensman who finished in 2:48:51. Elizabeth Atwater, 43, rounded out the women’s podium in 3:07:56. Graham Oxman, 30, led the nonbinary field in 4:22:57. The 25K race had 115 finishers, all in less than 6 1/2 hours.
Up Next for the Beast Coast Trail Series
The Beast Coast Trail Series will close out its season with two events in November. Up first is the inaugural running of the All of the Above Trail Fest. The event will take place on Nov. 5 at Berkshire East Mountain in Charlemont, Mass., and offer 25K, 5K and kids’ run. The event aims to be inclusive of all identities and will award prizes based on closest predicted time. The season will conclude with the Race for DFL last-runner-standing event on Nov. 19, at a new site in Winchendon, Mass. Runners will compete on a 4.16667-mile loop course with a new loop starting on the hour, every hour, until only one runner remains.