MassUltra Roundup: McDowell Mountain Frenzy, Cloudland Canyon, and Brazos Bend

December is upon us, and with it comes the final few weeks of the 2022 ultramarathon season. Races are becoming fewer across the country, but New England residents are still finding places to compete. Locally, the Trail Animals Running Club played host to its annual Fells Winter Ultra, which was the most popular attraction for regional ultrarunners. A handful headed elsewhere to race on Dec. 3-4, led by Rhode Island’s Ben Quatromoni who competed for a Salomon professional sponsorship in Arizona. A few others traveled to Georgia and Texas to take on new trails. All of those races are featured in this edition of the roundup.

McDowell Mountain Frenzy

Professional sponsorships from Salomon were on the line as the biggest prize at the McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50-miler on Saturday, Dec. 3, in Fountain Hills, Ariz., and Rhode Island’s Ben Quatromoni gave it his best shot.

Quatromoni, 35, was the lone New Englander in the field and the Newport resident was among the fastest to toe the line. Racing on a fast course with some short, punchy climbs and lots of rolling singletrack through McDowell Mountain Regional Park and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Quatromoni raced to a fifth-place finish out of 78 finishers, completing the race in 7:13:15. Bryan Kerl, 31, of Salida, Colo., led all runners and secured the men’s Salomon sponsorship with his victory in 6:18:41. The top three finishers dipped under seven hours. Georgia Porter, 34, of Flagstaff, Ariz., earned the women’s sponsorship with her win in 7:40:45.

Cloudland Canyon

Erin Tiernan’s first ultramarathon since 2020 involved plenty of scenic trails and a trip to Georgia. Tiernan, 43, of Oak Bluffs, Mass., took part in the ninth annual Cloudland Canyon 50-miler on Saturday, Dec. 3, in Rising Fawn, Ga. Racing on a course with lots of singletrack dirt, rolling hills, and a few big climbs that added up to 7,500 feet of climbing, the course offered rewarding views of panoramic landscape and waterfalls. Tiernan was among the 88 runners to finish the race, completing the course in 12:44:43.

Both the men’s and women’s course records fell, with 40-year-old Justin Brown of Signal Mountain, Tenn., taking a little more than a minute off the men’s mark with his win in 7:33:06. Shannon Wheeler-Deboef, 46, of Hixson, Tenn., finished seventh overall in 8:26:42 and broke the women’s record by 19 minutes.

In addition to the 50-miler, another 129 runners completed a 50K race. None of the finishers were New England residents.

Brazos Bend

Todd Falkner has a bit of history with the Brazos Bend 100-miler, and he added to it at the eighth annual Brazos Bend Ultras on Dec. 3-4 in Needville, Texas.

Falkner, 41, of Malden, Mass., took part in the event for the third time this year, and for the third time he finished in less than 24 hours. Of the 188 runners who started the race, 108 finished within 30 hours. Falkner placed 24th overall in 21:21:10. It was a two-hour improvement from 2021, and was his second-best time on the course. Falkner finished the 2017 race in 19:12:26.

Falkner was one of two New England residents among the finishers. He was joined by 56-year-old Giuseppe Le Pera of Bedford, N.H., who also finished sub-24. Le Pera blazed to a 35th-place overall finish in 22:51:23. It was his third time completing a 100-mile race.

While Falkner and LePera had big days at Brazos Bend, so did Zach Bitter and Liza Howard. Bitter, 36, of Austin, Texas, was the men’s champion in 13:47:55 and Howard, 50, of San Antonio, Texas, was the women’s winner in 18:16:09.

The event also included a 50-mile race. No New England residents were among the 164 finishers of that distance.

*Editor’s Note: Results are found on a variety of sites, including, 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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