MassUltra Roundup: Gorge Waterfalls, Vernal Equinox, Placer Trail Festival, and April Fools

April opened with a bang for several New England ultrarunners with trips to events throughout the country. No race was a more popular draw than the Gorge Waterfalls Ultras in Oregon where several runners from the region took on either the 100K or 50K distances on singletrack trails through the spectacular Columbia River Gorge. Also out west, Maine’s Gordon Collins reunited with old friends and took in the warm weather and smooth singletrack of California at the Placer Trail Running Festival. And in the heartland, Tiffany Woodger of Granville, Mass., earned her first 100-mile finish at Vernal Equinox. Those efforts and more are included in this edition of the roundup.

Gorge Waterfalls

One of the most popular trail ultramarathons in the Pacific Northwest proved to be an alluring attraction for several New England ultrarunners who traveled to Cascade Locks, Ore., for the 10th edition of the Gorge Waterfalls Ultras on April 1-2 in the Columbia River Gorge.

On Saturday morning, a crowd of 320 runners packed the starting line for the 100K race and had 17 hours to complete the course. Of that group, 208 ultimately finished – including one runner from New England. Meghan Bongartz, 35, of West Burke, Vt., was the lone New England resident among the 100K finishers. She placed 52nd overall and 13th in the women’s field in 12:38:30.

Vincent Bouillard, 29, of Portland, Ore., led all runners in 8:27:57 and posted the second-fastest men’s time in course history. A nonbinary runner competing in the women’s division, 27-year-old Riley Brady of Boulder, Colo., earned the women’s victory in 9:59:37.

On Sunday, another 270 runners lined up to race the 50K distance. Eight New England residents were among the 201 runners who ultimately finished. Stephanie Christau, 36, of Williamstown, Mass., led the local crew as she finished 69th overall in 6:21:48. Christopher Leforce, 44, of Colchester, Vt., followed in 6:33:47, and 44-year-old Derek MacDonald of South Burlington, Vt., finished shortly after in 6:42:37. Robert Struck, 44, of Taunton, Mass., joined them in the top half of the field, placing 92nd overall in 6:45:01. For Struck, it was his second ultramarathon with his introduction to the distance coming last fall at the inaugural Womp Romp 50K.

Other New England residents among the finishers were 44-year-old David Huffman of Jericho, Vt. (6:51:04); 33-year-old Libby Maret of Williamstown, Mass. (6:53:43); 43-year-old Erik Martin of Boston, Mass. (7:50:32); and 42-year-old Raiel Barlow of Colchester, Vt. (7:53:32).

Matt Daniels, 34, of Superior, Colo., and Meghan Morgan, 25, of Boulder, Colo., were the men’s and women’s 50K winners in 3:58:50 and 4:39:25, respectively.

Vernal Equinox

Tiffany Woodger’s first 100-mile finish came in one of the most unique racing venues – an equestrian facility.

Woodger, 40, of Granville, Mass., was the lone New England resident to take part in the second annual Vernal Equinox Ultras from March 31-April 2 in Batavia, Ohio. Runners were given 48-hour, 24-hour, 12-hour and 8-hour options, as well as the opportunity to ruck the course. Woodger raced the 48-hour event.

Woodger and her fellow runners took on a two-mile loop course on the wooded trails and through the meadows of the Majestic Farm equestrian facility. Of the 45 participants in her event, 25 completed 100 miles or more – including Woodger who finished 14th overall and seventh in the women’s field with 100 miles even. Nine runners surpassed the 100-mile mark, led by 45-year-old Donnie Symonds of Cassopolis, Mich., and 42-year-old Sarah Forman of Columbus, Ohio, with 156 miles and 140 miles, respectively.

Placer Trail Running Festival

Gordon Collins’ introduction to trail running began with a 5K where he met Ken and Shannon Krogsrud. Since then, the couple moved from Maine to California, helped launch the Bad Luck Run Club, and then organized the inaugural Placer Trail Running Festival.

The first running of the event was enough to tempt Collins to travel from Poland, Maine, cross-country to reunite with his old friends on Saturday, April 1, in Auburn, Calif.

Collins, 44, was the lone runner from the Northeast to take part in the 50K distance at the festival, which also offered a number of shorter distance races. The 50K consisted of two 25K loops and around 3,800 feet of climbing on the smooth singletrack dirt and gravel doubletrack trails of Hidden Falls Regional Park.

Forty-six runners completed the race within eight hours. Collins was the sixth-place male and eighth overall finisher in 5:23:47. Aroa Sio, 43, of Vigo, Spain, was the women’s champion and overall winner in 4:32:11. It was her latest big performance, following an eighth-place finish in the women’s field at UTMB in 2022 and 12th place at Western States. Cavin Miller, 33, of Woodland, Calif., was the men’s champion in 4:54:23.

April Fools Tour de Sedona 50K

After opening the 2023 ultrarunning season with a victory at the Across the years 12-hour race on January 1 in Arizona, Krista Fasciano returned to the Grand Canyon State for her second ultra of the season when the took part in the fourth annual April Fools Tour de Sedona 50K on Saturday, April 1, in Sedona, Ariz.

Fasciano, 24, of Berlin, Conn., was the lone New England resident to take part in the fatass-style event where runners took on an unmarked loop course, guided only by maps, through sun-soaked, hilly, rocky trails. Thirty-nine runners finished the event, including Fasciano who was among a pack of four who finished together in 7:45:39.

A pair of Sedona residents, 24-year-old Cody McKesson and 30-year-old Jade Belzberg, topped the men’s and women’s field and finished 1-2 overall in 4:21:19 and 4:41:47, respectively. Belzberg also broke her own women’s course record by 15 minutes.

*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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