Boston resident Laura Ricci headed west to Washington state to have a family reunion run at the Chuckanut 50K. Meanwhile, former Boston resident Joe McConaughy journeyed from Seattle back east to Tennessee where the FKT phenom made his debut appearance at the notorious Barkley Marathons. Additionally, New England ultrarunners represented at ultras in North Carolina and California during the March 18-19 weekend, and we have them all included in this edition of the roundup.
A year ago, Laura Ricci traveled to her native Michigan and ran the Lighthouse 50-miler with her sister in what served as a running family reunion. The Ricci sisters reunited for another run – and this time were joined by a cousin – when they took on the 29th edition of the Chuckanut 50K on Saturday, March 18, in Bellingham, Wash.
They took on the mountain course and its diverse terrain, amassing around 5,000 feet of climbing on a mix of steep, technical trails and smooth, easy-running singletrack dirt while being rewarded with plenty of scenic views along the way.
The Ricci crew was among the 446 runners who completed the race within 10 hours as all three Riccis were well under the cutoff. The cousin, 42-year-old Steve Ricci of Juneau, Alaska, led the way in 5:30:20, finishing 156th overall. Laura Ricci, 39, of Boston, Mass., followed 12 minutes later in 5:42:20. Allison Ricci, 41, of Woodinville, Wash., joined them at the finish line soon after in 6:36:17.
Adam Merry, 32, of Golden, Colo., squeaked out the overall win in 3:33:26, just ahead of 28-year-old Seth Ruhling of Longmont, Colo., who was a close second in 3:34:46. Eric LiPuma, 29, of Richmond, Vt., missed a spot on the podium by 11 seconds and finished fourth overall in 3:38:02.
Clare Gallagher, 31, of Boulder, Colo., won the women’s race in 4:07:34, three minutes ahead of runner-up Kat Drew of North Vancouver, B.C. (4:10:54).
For Laura Ricci, the race was her first of the season as she builds up to the Wapack and Back 50-miler in May and the Midstate Massive Ultra-Trail 100-miler in October.
The Barkley Marathons
It has been a few years since Joe McConaughy moved back to Seattle, Wash., but the former Massachusetts resident and Boston College track standout gave his New England friends plenty to cheer about during the 36th running of the Barkley Marathons on March 14-17 at Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee.
A setter of fastest known times on the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, Vermont’s Long Trail, the Arizona Trail, and the John Muir Trail (north to south), as well as the winner of the 250-mile Cocodona 250-miler in 2022, McConaughy is no stranger to moving fast over long distances and through harsh terrains. That experience made him well prepared to have a successful first crack at the notorious Barkley, which had only been finished by 15 people in its history.
Runners had to complete the unmarked course five times, changing directions and navigating the course by finding books hidden at checkpoints along the way, all while covering somewhere around 130 miles and amassing well over 60,000 feet of climbing.
The 2023 race saw some of the best weather in its history, and the runners capitalized. For the first time in Barkley history, four runners began loop five and for the second time in history three finished. Aurelien Sanchez of France earned the victory in 58:23:12, John Kelly of Boone, N.C., followed in 58:42:23 and became the third person to finish Barkley more than once. Kelly last finished the race in 2017, and he was the last person to complete the race prior to 2023. Karel Sabbe of Belgium joined Sanchez and Kelly at the finish line in 59:53:33, less than seven minutes under the 60-hour cutoff. Damian Hall of the United Kingdom started the fifth loop but failed to finish.
Jasmin Paris of the United Kingdom finished a Fun Run for the second year in a row and made Barkley history by becoming the first woman to begin a fourth loop at Barkley since Vermont’s Sue Johnston did so in 2001.
McConaughy capped his inaugural Barkley by earning a three-loop Fun Run finish in 39+ hours, beating the 40-hour cutoff to be credited with a Fun Run.
Badwater Cape Fear
The Badwater brand made its name taking runners on a journey through Death Valley in California. Its Cape Fear edition challenges runners on the beach. The ninth edition of the Badwater Cape Fear 51.4-mile and 50K ultras took place on Saturday, March 18, in Bald Head Island, N.C. Both distances started at the Old Baldy Lighthouse and then tested runners on a mix of roads, dirt trails and sandy beaches.
Four New England residents were among the 103 finishers of the 51.4-mile race within 14 hours. John Linsley, 41, of Topsfield, Mass., led the way for the local crew in 10:54, placing 46th overall. Additionally, 22-year-old Jack Morris of Bethel, Conn., finished in 11:20:00; 22-year-old Joe O’Loughlin of Hull, Mass., finished in 11:33:00; and Jennifer Napillanutter, 48, of Lunenburg, Mass., completed the race in 13:23:01. Adam Kimble, 36, of Truckee, Calif., and Liza Howard, 51, of San Antonio, Texas, were the men’s and women’s winners in 6:20:00 and 6:50:00, respectively.
Another 89 runners finished the Cape Fear 50K race within nine hours. Andrew Cadigan, 25, of Boston, Mass., was the lone New England resident in the field and finished in 6:04:30, placing 29th. Matthew Smith, 34, of Raleigh, N.C., won the race in 4:25:00.
Sycamore Canyon 50K
Seng-Lai Tan runs numerous ultras throughout the country each year and has been doing so dating back to 2008. He ran his first ultra of 2023 at the ninth annual Sycamore Canyon 50K on Saturday, March 18, in Poway, Calif.
For Tan 51, of Sudbury, Mass., it was a successful outing as he completed the loop course through the Goodman Ranch Sycamore Canyon Preserve in 9:17:11. He was one of 25 runners to complete the race within 10 hours. Caleb Samson, 28, of La Mesa, Calif., led all runners in 5:01:01.
Another nine runners completed the 100K distance at Sycamore Canyon within 17 hours, though none were New England residents.
Tan’s latest busy racing season is just getting started. He already has races in Georgia, Hawaii, New Hampshire and a return trip to California on his calendar for later this year.
MST Endurance Races
A pair of New England men earned 50-mile finishes at the third edition of the MST Endurance Races on March 18-19 in Durham, N.C. The event took place on the singletrack dirt trails of Rolling View Recreation Area on the Mountains to Sea Trail, with runners completing multiple out-and-backs.
Michael McLaughlin, 61, of Needham, Mass., finished the 50-miler in 13:19:49 and 39-year-old Jeff Lipchus of Sandy Hook, Conn., followed a few minutes later in 13:26:47. Sonny Gerardi, 49, of New Hill, N.C., led all runners as he won by 62 seconds in 8:29:18 and set a new course record. Thirty-two runners finished the race within 15 ½ hours.
In addition to the 50-miler, another 14 runners completed the MST 100-miler and 42 finished a 50K. No New England residents were among the finishers of those distances.
*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.