MassUltra Roundup: Last Skier Standing and Black Canyon Ultras

February is traditionally one of the quietest months of the ultrarunning calendar, especially here in New England. Sure, several folks were willing to endure the sub-zero conditions of the TARCtic Frozen Yeti 30-Hour Ultra, but many of them were decked out in ski gear to combat the temperature. That made sense since … well … it’s still ski season. More than 100 New Englanders took that to heart during the Feb. 10-11 weekend when they took part in the fourth edition of the Last Skier Standing ultra ski race in Rumford, Maine. Additionally, several New Englanders took part in the Snow Devil Snowshoe Ultra 100-miler and 100K on Feb. 10-11 in Vermont and the Endurance Society’s Frigus Snowshoe Festival 30-Hour Ultra on Feb. 17-18 in New York, though results were unavailable for either event as of this posting. Not content to stick around the Northeast for winter ultra action, a number of New Englanders headed to Arizona on Feb. 18-19 to take on the trails of the Sonoran Desert at the Black Canyon Ultras. A bit of cold weather action and some warm weather fun are featured in this edition of the roundup.

Last Skier Standing

The fourth edition of the Last Skier Standing competition featured a new course and several familiar faces on Feb. 10-11 at Black Mountain in Rumford, Maine.

The course required skiers to complete the 1.5-mile trip up the Allagash Trail, amassing around 1,200 feet of elevation gain, and then ski back down to the starting chute to complete the three-mile round-trip journey within an hour to advance to the next round.

Of the 138 skiers who took part this year, 29 surpassed the 65-mile mark, 13 eclipsed the 100-mile barrier and the top two went beyond 180 miles.

Several familiar faces returned to the starting line, but it was an event newcomer who took home the victory. Dan Romano, 25, of Brighton, Mass., completed 63 laps of the course and tallied a winning total of 189 miles. Runner-up Brend Underkoffler, 33, of Portland, Maine, improved upon his fourth-place finish in 2022 by taking second with 186 miles. Ben Eck, 30, of Somerville, Mass., followed his 2021 victory and 2022 runner-up finish by placing third this year with 165 miles. Additionally, 39-year-old Rich Connell of Bristol, Vt., followed his third-place finish in 2022 by taking fourth this year with 156 miles.

Benjamin Lane, 29, of Groveland, Mass., became a four-time finisher of the event. He was fourth in 2020, third in 2021 and 10th in 2022. This year he placed fifth with 138 miles. Event first-timers Jacob Walsh, 25, of Somerville, Mass., and August Myers, 26, of Quebec, Canada, followed with 129 and 120 miles respectively. Jack Murphy, 23, of Arlington, Mass., followed his fifth place finish a year ago by placing eighth this year with 111 miles. Top female and first-time competitor Hilary McCloy of Jackson, N.H., finished ninth overall with 108 miles; she was joined at that mileage tally by Luke Plummer, 30, of Bolton, Vt., and Lukas Janulaitis, 21, of Centerville, Mass. The final skiers to surpass 100 miles were Kaitlyn Mac Guthrie, 24, of Ashby, Mass., and Ian Connell, 27, of Guilford, Conn., with 105 miles apiece.

Black Canyon Ultras

A massive field of runners descended on Arizona to compete in 10th annual Black Canyon 100K and 60K trail ultramarathons on Feb. 18-19 in Mayer, Ariz. The scenic views of the Sonoran Desert were the reward for most runners as they raced along the singletrack trails and jeep roads that make up the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, though for the top-performing men and women in the 100K there was an additional prize at stake – Golden Tickets into the Western States Endurance Run.

More than 840 runners started the race and 704 ultimately finished within the 20-hour time limit. Anthony Costales, 34, of Salt Lake City, Utah, earned the first of the men’s Golden Tickets for the overall win in 7:32:50. Runner-up Tom Evans, 31, of the United Kingdom finished in 7:37:40, but he already had a spot in the Western States field so the Golden Ticket fell to third-place finisher Janosch Kowalczy, 32, of Stuttgart, Germany, in 7:40:00. In the women’s field, 30-year-old Keely Henninger of Portland, Ore., set a new course record and collected a Golden Ticket for her win in 8:45:30. Heather Jackson, 38, of Bend, Ore., finished as the runner-up in 8:47:59, but having already secured a spot in Western States the Golden Ticket slid to 25-year-old Meghan Morgan of Boulder, Colo., who placed third in 8:53:52.

Though not in the mix for a Golden Ticket, 35-year-old Ben Quatromoni of Newport, R.I., had a big day in leading the New England contingent. He finished 17th overall for the second year in a row, but his time of 8:54:01 was a 24-minute improvement from 2022.

Quatromoni led a large New England contingent who were among the finishers. An additional dozen runners from the region were among the finishers. Brenda Fortin, 39, of Worthington, Mass., was the top female finisher from New England, placing 39th in the women’s race and 121st overall in 11:45:48. Liz Derstine, 37, of Cambridge, Mass., returned to Arizona for the first time since finishing first female and fourth overall at the Across the Years Last Person Standing race on Dec. 31. 2022. She completed Black Canyon in 12:58:49. Soon after, 31-year-old Denise Klatt of Brookline, Mass., finished in 13:24:01, followed by 42-year-old Peter Guza of North Andover, Mass., in 13:27:30.

Additional finishers included 30-year-old Effie Drew of Gray, Maine (15:01:57); 29-year-old Eleni Peterson of New Ipswich, N.H. (15:15:20); 27-year-old Sabrina Bohrer of Stoneham, Mass. (15:26:55); 45-year-old Karen Deyesso of Scarborough, Maine (15:58:53); 55-year-old Shawn Talbott of Plymouth, Mass. (16:06:59); 53-year-old Michael Donnelly of Gorham, Maine (16:38:55); 43-year-old Dan Balestrieri of Billerica, Mass. (16:42:08); and 25-year-old Desmond Goodwin of Cambridge, Mass. (18:22:20).

A day after the 100K race, more than 370 runners stepped to the starting line for the Black Canyon 60K. Five New England residents were among the 338 who ultimately finished within 13 hours. Kassandra Spitler, 34, of Newport, R.I., was the top local performer placing ninth overall and securing the third spot on the women’s podium in 5:12:38. Two more Newport residents, Mac Manion, 51, and Sarah Ethier, 32, finished together in 8:22:03 and 8:22:05, respectively. Additionally, a pair of men from Maine, 46-year-old Scott Layton of Rockport and 45-year-old Nathan Deyesso of Scarborough, finished in 6:59:49 and 8:19:06.

Joshua Park, 25, of Amherst, Ohio, and Mimmi Kotka, 41, of Sweden, topped the men’s and women’s 60K fields in 4:37:10 and 4:55:46, respectively.

*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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