A red-hot October for ultrarunners in New England came to a close with a somewhat quiet Oct. 29-30 weekend. Many runners were recovering from big races like Midstate Massive and Ghost Train while others were tapering before the upcoming Stone Cat 50K or the Hamsterwheel. Still, a few folks headed west to the Halloween party in Arizona known as the Javelina Jundred. Additionally, a few more traveled to Kansas to earn ultramarathon finishes at the Rails-to-Trails Extravaganza. Additionally, we caught up on the Bimblers Bluff 50K in Connecticut from the weekend before.
A hot weekend in the desert featured numerous hot performances at the 20th annual Javelina Jundred on Oct. 29-30 in Fountain Hills, Ariz. Course records were in danger in both the 100-mile and 100K distances, and the 100-miler featured some of the fastest fields the event has ever assembled to take on the five-loop course on the singletrack trails of McDowell Mountain Regional Park.
A whopping 622 runners started the 100-mile race. A dozen New England residents and another Massachusetts native were among the 399 finishers within the 30-hour time limit. In the men’s field, three of the six fastest times in course history were turned in with 31-year-old Dakota Jones of Salt Lake City, Utah, leading the way with a course record-setting performance of 12:58:02. Runner-up Jonathan Rea, 30, of Boulder, Colo., followed in 13:05:58, the third-fastest time in course history, while 29-year-old Arlen Glick of Massillon, Ohio, logged the sixth-fastest time in course history, finishing in 13:25:48. The top five finishers all dipped below the 14-hour mark. Jones and Rea earned Golden Tickets into the 2023 Western States Endurance Run for their efforts.
In the women’s field, the course record survived but the overall record board received a major overhaul as five of the 10 fastest times in race history were recorded at the 2022 race. Devon Yanko, 40, of Howard, Colo, placed sixth overall and finished first in the women’s field in 14:36:10. For Yanko, it was her second Javelina title – she also won in 2015 – and she posted the second-fastest women’s time in course history. Shortly after, 27-year-old Riley Brady followed in 14:45:43. A nonbinary athlete, Brady competed in the women’s category to vie for the Western States Golden Ticket and posted the third-fastest all-time mark. Both Yanko and Brady received the women’s Golden Tickets. Third-place finisher Nicole Bitter, 40, of Austin, Texas, finished in 15:16:25 with the fifth-fastest time in course history. The fourth- and fifth-place women, 36-year-old Kaci Lickteig of Omaha, Neb. (15:40:45), and 38-year-old Heather Jackson of Bend, Ore. (15:42:18), turned in the eighth- and 10th-fastest women’s times in course history to complete the record board overhaul.
Five New England residents were among the top 100 overall finishers. Michael Kelleher, 29, of Burlington, Vt., led the way by placing 39th in 19:25:20. Christopher Cappellini, 56, of Norton, Mass., followed shortly after in 19:40:28, placing 41st overall, Mark Blakeley, 58, of Norton, Mass., was 59th in 21:05:34; 30-year-old Drew Bernhisel of Hamden, Conn., finished 83rd in 22:17:22; and 51-year-old Paul Chekal of Lynnfield, Mass., was 98th in 22:42:04. A few minutes after Chekal finished, 29-year-old Matthew Bryan and 28-year-old Andrew Steen, both of Boston, Mass., tied for 102nd overall in 22:50:52. Michael Medeiros, 37, of West Hartford, Conn., joined them moments later at the finish line in 22:54:51 while placing 110th.
Additional finishers included Waltham, Mass., native Henry Ward, 52, now of Chandler, Ariz., in 23:21:35; Deb Anderson, 48, of Wilbraham, Mass., in 27:29:35; Serena Crutchfield, 41, of Medford, Mass., in 27:53:16; Maurice Lowman, 44, of East Providence, R.I., in 28:09:59; and Dan Balestrieri, 43, of Billerica, Mass., in 28:15:28.
Though not the main event at Javelina, the 100K race shared a few commonalities with the 100-miler. For one, runners shared the same loop course. For another, the course records were under attack. Ultimately, both the men’s and women’s 100K course records fell – and one of them was taken down by a Massachusetts native. Scott Traer, 41, of Woburn, now lives in Arizona and works for race organizer Aravaipa Running. He toed the line for the 100K race and threw down a blistering performance, ultimately placing first overall among 197 finishers while clocking a time of 7:31:46. Traer toppled the men’s course record by 27 minutes. The second overall finisher, 26-year-old Lotti Brinks of Austin, Texas, took down the women’s course record by 12 minutes, finishing in 8:36:01.
Two other New England residents were among the 100K finishers. Catherine Weiner, 28, of South Burlington, Vt., placed 105th overall in 16:47:27 while 57-year-old Kim O’Callaghan of Vineyard Haven, Mass., placed 127th in 17:54:15.
Kansas Rails-to-Trails Extravaganza
A pair of New England residents traveled to the heartland to earn ultramarathon finishes at the eighth running of the Kansas Rails-to-Trails Extravaganza on Oct. 29-30 in Ottawa, Kan. The event offered 100-mile, 100K, 50-mile and 50K ultramarathon distance, all of them as out-and-backs on the Prairie Spirit Trail, a flat, easy-running crushed limestone trail through the prairie about an hour south of the Kansas City metropolitan area. Tammy Volock of Portland, Maine, tackled the 100-mile distance while Justin Johns of Boston, Mass., took part in the 50-miler.
Volock was one of 40 runners who started the 100-mile race. Of that group, 26 ultimately finished within the 30-hour time limit. Volock, 49, had a strong day and raced to a third-place finish in the women’s field (eighth overall) in 24:33:14. For Volock, Prairie Spirit was at least the sixth 100-mile race she has completed. She finished less than one minute behind women’s runner-up Abigail Milian, 32, of Kansas City, Mo. (24:32:33). Kayla Straub, 33, of Newton, Kan., was the women’s champion and second overall finisher in 17:18:28. Straub set a new women’s course record. Bart Paull, 42, of Golden, Colo., was the men’s winner in 14:21:34. Paull missed the men’s course record by eight minutes.
In the 50-mile race, 30 of the 33 starters ultimately finished. Johns, 39, placed on the podium by finishing third overall in 9:07:49. Joe Rodbard, 40, of West Palm Beach, Fla., finished first in 6:30:05 and 43-year-old Taylor Henning of Minneapolis, Minn., was second in 7:14:04. For Johns, it was his third time completing the 50-miler at Prairie Spirit – and also his fastest time. He finished 12th overall at the 2015 race in 9:27:05 and then placed sixth a year later in 9:34:27.
No New England residents were among the 16 finishers of the 100K race or among the 66 finishers of the 50K race.
Bimblers Bluff 50K
An unofficial Nipmuck Trail Marathon reunion took place at the 14th annual Bimblers Bluff 50K on Sunday, Oct. 23, in Guilford, Conn. Several runners who finished on or just off of the podium three weeks earlier at Nipmuck gathered once again to compete for the win at Bimblers Bluff.
In the men’s field, Nipmuck champion Justin Kousky wasn’t there, but several of his closest competitors were. The second-, third- and fifth-place men at Nipmuck all earned top-four finishes at Bimblers Bluff. Nipmuck runner-up Daniel Rogoz, 30, of Hamden, Conn., finished fourth at Bimblers Bluff in 5:29:08. Just ahead of him, Nipmuck third-place finisher Austin Frank, 24, of Glastonbury, Conn., placed third again in 5:26:10. Meanwhile, Nipmuck fifth-place finisher Lee Davis, 41, of Hamden, Conn., surged to second place at Bimblers Bluff in 5:00:42. Davis finished fourth at the 2021 race and made an 11-minute improvement this year. The top men’s finisher was 32-year-old Jacques Saarbach of New Haven, Conn., who finished in 4:55:47.
The top Massachusetts resident was 56-year-old John Grimes of Melrose who placed 16th in 6:08:40 and became a three-time finisher of the race.
In the women’s field, 33-year-old Sarah Connor of New Haven, Conn., followed up her Nipmuck victory three weeks earlier by tying for the win at Bimblers Bluff with 39-year-old Ellen Bath of West Hartford, Conn. Both runners finished in 5:48:11. Third-place woman Kelsey Eng, 30, of Glastonbury, Conn., finished in 6:18:41. Eng was the fourth-place woman at Nipmuck.
Ninety-nine runners finished the Bimblers Bluff 50K within 11 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.