MassUltra Roundup: Bandera, South Mountains, and Sandy Bottom

Bandera, Texas, was the main attraction for North American ultrarunning during the Jan. 7-8 weekend, and a handful of New Englanders were there to join in the fun, including Vermont’s Kasie Enman and Massachusetts’ Elena Horton who secured top-10 finishes in the 100K. Additionally, Vermont’s Nigel Bates traveled to North Carolina and brought home a 50K victory, and New Hampshire’s Kerri Haskins kicked off the year with a 50K in Virginia. The 2023 season is off to a fast start, and we have it covered in this edition of the roundup.

Bandera

A trio of New England residents raced alongside a highly competitive field at the Bandera 100K on Jan. 7-8 at the Hill County State Natural Area in Bandera, Texas.

The biggest prizes at stake in the 100K race were Golden Tickets into the Western States Endurance Run for the top two men and women. Leading the way among the 320 finishers were Jeff Colt and JP Giblin, both of Colorado. Colt, 31, of Carbondale, topped the men’s field and secured the first Golden Ticket in 8:32:51. Giblin, 28, of Boulder, followed five minutes later in 8:29:06 to take second overall and secure the second pass into Western States. Topping the women’s field were Courtney Dauwalter, 37, of Leadville, Colo., in 8:59:34, a performance that was sixth overall and earned her the first women’s Golden Ticket. She’ll be joined at Western States by 40-year-old Nicole Bitter of Austin, Texas, who was 14th overall and the second woman in 10:03:59.

Though the New Englanders finished off the podium, two of them snagged spots in the women’s top 10. Kasie Enman, 43, of Huntington, Vt., finished 23rd overall and eighth among the women’s field in 10:52:58. Elena Horton, 26, of Allston, Mass., followed 16 minutes later in 11:09:24 to snag the final spot on the women’s top 10 and place 29th overall.

Additionally, 45-year-old Ryan Carroll of Plymouth, Mass., had a strong day and finished 86th overall in 13:49:28.

In addition to the 100K, Bandera also offered two 50K ultra races – a non-competitive Saturday race and the competitive Sunday event.

Three New Englanders raced in the Saturday 50K, with 33-year-old Tess Harvey of Wilbraham, Mass., finishing 18th overall and first among the women in 6:58:24. She ran the entire race with 39-year-old Matt Howard of Westfield, Mass., and Howard finished two seconds back in 6:58:26 for 19th place overall. Lee Douthitt, 40, of Weston, Mass., also was among the Saturday 50K finishers in 7:34:42, good for 33rd place.

In the Sunday 50K race, Joshua Fowler, 28, of Houston, Texas, and Lucy Bartholomew, 26, of Melbourne, Australia, earned the men’s and women’s victories in 4:01:59 and 4:32:51, respectively. Alexandre Vallette, 47, of Brookline, Mass., was the lone New Englander among the 130 finishers. He placed 41st in 6:25:33.

South Mountains Marathons

After taking a year off from racing ultras, Nigel Bates picked up right where he left off – with a victory.

Bates last competed in an ultra in November 2021 when he won the Batona 55-miler in New Jersey. That followed a victory at the Blood Root 50-miler in Vermont and a top-10 finish at the Ragged 50K in New Hampshire earlier in the year.

Bates, 28, of Waterbury Center, Vt., opened 2023 at the South Mountain Marathons 50K on Saturday, Jan. 7, in Connelly Springs, N.C. Taking on a field of 62 runners, Bates pulled away early on the trails of South Mountains State Park, navigated the singletrack and doubletrack trails, the stairs and 6,500 feet of climbing, and cruised to the win. His time of 4:29:43 was the third-fastest in the five-year history of the race, and he finished nearly 21 minutes ahead of his closest competitor.

Bates and 44-year-old Nathan Stanford of Kannapolis, N.C., were the only sub-5-hour finishers. Stanford finished in 4:50:02.

Sandy Bottom 8-Hour

Kerri Haskins has done many fixed-time ultras during the past several years, and she kicked off her 2023 season in similar fashion. Haskins, 51, of Danville, N.H., headed south and took part in the third annual Sandy Bottom 8-Hour Ultra on Saturday, Jan. 7, in Hampton, Va. The event used a 3.75-mile loop course that wound through Sandy Bottom Nature Park. Runners tackled the loop for the first seven hours and then moved to a .5-mile out-and-back for the final hour.

Of the 91 runners who took part, 52 ran at least 30 miles. Haskins was one of six who finished with 31 miles. Steve Speirs, 56, of Virginia Beach, Va., was the only runner to surpass 50 miles, finishing with 53.75 for the day.

*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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