Snow has started making its way into New England, and a handful of ultrarunners from the region headed for warmer climates to race during the Jan. 14-15 weekend. A few headed to the U.S. Virgin Islands, including Maine’s Nikolas Franks who capped the trip with a course-record performance. Others traveled south to Florida for the Long Haul 100, while a few more traveled to Hawaii and Arizona for 100-mile ultras, including Rhode Island’s Justin Hetherington who raced to a podium finish at the Coldwater Rumble. Those warmer weather races produced some feel-good results for New Englanders, and we have them covered in this edition of the roundup.
St. Croix Scenic 50K
Though he calls Kittery Point, Maine, home now, Nikolas Franks grew up in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, so the 38-year-old was thrilled to return to the island to race the sixth annual St. Croix Scenic 50K on Sunday, Jan. 15. The figure eight-style course started and finished at Cane Bay beach, with spectacular scenery all along the way.
Franks capped his memorable trip home by winning the race in his ultramarathon debut by clocking a speedy 4:30:27. His performance left a major mark on the race as he set a new course record by 24 minutes. His closest competitor was another New England resident. Jay Noonan, 54, of St. Albans, Vt., was the runner-up in 4:56:24. Franks and Noonan were the lone runners to finish in less than five hours.
Kathleen Brownsdon, 51, of Kingshill, Va., finished fifth overall and first among the women in 5:21:37. It was Brownsdon’s fourth win in the past five years.
Franks and Noonan weren’t the only New England residents among the 28 finishers within 9 ½ hours. Shari Bashaw, 61, of St. Albans, Vt., followed up her 2019 and 2020 finishes by completing the 2023 race in 7:04:35, good for 15th place overall and fifth in the women’s field. Bryan Gould, 41, of Wayland, Mass., also finished in 8:27:37.
Since making his 100-mile debut in 2020, Justin Hetherington has been hooked on the distance – and he’s become mighty good at it, too. The 37-year-old from Jamestown, R.I., made his first attempt at the distance at the 2020 Midstate Massive Ultra-Trail and completed the north-south crossing of Massachusetts in 24:43:14, good for seventh place overall. He completed the distance for the second time in July 2022, placing 17th overall at the Burning River 100 in Ohio in 21:47:27. On Jan. 14-15, Hetherington completed his third 100-miler when he took part in the 10th annual Coldwater Rumble 100 at Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Goodyear, Ariz.
Hetherington took on five 20-mile loops through the rolling desert hills and raced to a fourth-place overall finish and third position on the men’s podium in 21:48:44, tying with Yannick Vezina, 31, of Quebec, Canada. Jeff Browning, 51, of Flagstaff, Ariz., earned the overall win in 18:07:29. Kelly Teeselink, 36, of Flagstaff, Ariz., topped the women’s field and finished third overall in 20:17:50.
Fifty-seven runners finished the race within the 32-hour time limit. Joining Hetherington in representing New England among the finishers was 39-year-old Caitlin Rossi of Torrington, Conn., who was the ninth-place woman and 39th overall finisher in 28:22:33.
In addition to the 100-miler, Coldwater Rumble also included 52-mile and 52K ultras. No New Englanders were among the 40 finishers of the 52-miler, but two were among the 84 finishers of the 52K. Jane Mellors Lebel, 38, of Hingham, Mass., and Amber Christoffersen, 41, of Boston, Mass., made the race their first ultramarathon. Mellors Lebel finished fifth in the women’s field and 24th overall in 6:25:34 and Christoffersen finished 42nd overall in 7:11:43. Allison Baca, 32, of Golden, Colo., won the race in 4:05:12, followed by men’s champion Matthew Deyo, 28, of Albuquerque, N.M., in 4:10:47.
Runners at the HURT 100 had 36 hours to complete the course. Peter Lawson needed nearly every minute he was given, but the 59-year-old from Burlington, Vt., got it done.
Lawson was the 55th out of 56 finishers at the 22nd edition of the race on Jan. 14-15 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Lawson and another 126 runners took on five loops of a grueling course consisting of steep climbs, lots of rocks and even more roots and mud. It was wet, humid, and brutal with 24,500 feet of climbing and an equal amount of descent during the course of 100 miles. Of the group that started the race, 71 did not complete it.
Lawson gritted out a hard-earned finish in 35:58:18. Nate Jaqua, 41, of Eugene, Ore., and Alyssa Clark, 29, of Pacific Grove, Calif., topped the men’s and women’s field in 23:14:33 and 24:35:31, respectively, and finished 1-2 overall.
For Lawson, HURT was the latest tough 100-miler on his resume. He’s a two-time Hardrock 100 finisher (2017 and 2022). Additionally, his credits include the 2015 Wasatch Front 100, the 2022 San Diego 100 and Mogollon Monster 100, as well as the Tahoe 200, among others. In June he will take on Western States.
Long Haul 100
A couple of savvy ultrarunning veterans from New England headed to Florida and earned finishes at the Long Haul 100 on Jan. 14-15 in Land O’ Lakes, Fla. David Redline, 57, of Middlebury, Conn., and Lori Chekal, 46, of Lynnfield, Mass., took on 10 10-mile loops through the Cypress Creek Preserve on a mix of singletrack and doubletrack trails and sand. Ultimately, both were among the 110 finishers within the 32-hour time limit.
Redline, who has completed numerous 100-milers during his 23-year ultrarunning career, finished in 29:01:06. Chekal, who has a number of 100-mile wins to her credit and finished the Badwater 135 in 2021, finished in 29:41:27.
Kalo Axsom, 29, of Jacksonville, Fla., topped the men’s field in 15:18:36 for the fourth-fastest time in course history. Amanda Richmond, 38, of Crystal River, Fla., led the women in 19:47:14.
*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.