MassUltra Roundup: Diablo Trails Challenge, Smith Rock Ascent, and Big Bear Squatch North

The Massachusetts ultrarunning schedule began its April ramp-up during the April 8-9 weekend as Amy Rusiecki’s Beast Coast Trail Running Series kicked off with the annual Mt. Toby 50K Ultra and 24K trail races. More than 150 runners took part in the two distances. Still, several New England ultrarunners ventured beyond the Bay State to race during the weekend – including a pair who made their ultra debuts out west. Sam Randall of Amherst, Mass., burst onto the ultra scene with a top-10 performance at the Diablo Trails Challenge 50K in California, and Uyenphuong Nguyen of Cambridge, Mass., battled for a hard-earned finish at the scenic and tough Smith Rock Ascent 50K in Oregon. Additionally, a number of other runners from the region flocked to Bear Mountain, N.Y., for the second annual Big Bear Squatch North. We’ve got them all covered in this edition of the roundup.

Diablo Trails Challenge

Sam Randall’s first ultramarathon included a West Coast trip and a top-10 finish.

Randall, 26, of Amherst, Mass., made his ultra debut at the Diablo Trails Challenge 50K on Saturday, April 8, in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Racing on the trails of Mt. Diablo State Park, Randall took on the sweet singletrack dirt and its 6,500 feet of climbing and handled it just fine. He raced among the faster runners throughout the day and ultimately finished ninth overall in 5:53:31. Of the 110 finishers within 11 hours, the top nine finished sub-6. Mark Johnson, 37, of Castro Valley, Calif., led all runners in 5:21:52, followed by 38-year-old Kenneth Bujer of Arnold, Calif., in 5:24:06. Emily Hren, 32, of Oakland, Calif., was the top female finisher in 6:32:19.

Smith Rock Ascent 50K

For Uyenphuong Nguyen of Cambridge, Mass., challenging Pacific Northwest trails were a great attraction for her first ultramarathon. The 26-year-old made her ultra debut at the 10th annual Smith Rock Ascent 50K on Saturday, April 8, in Terrebonne, Ore.

Racing on a course with 4,800 feet of climbing in Smith Rock State Park, Nguyen took in panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains while racing to a hard-earned finish in 7:06:38. She finished 95th overall and 21st in the women’s field. There were 160 finishers, nearly all within nine hours. Mario Mendoza, 37, of Bend, Ore., and Amanda Hardcastle, 32, of Manhattan, Kan., were the men’s and women’s winners in 4:11:18 and 5:09:12, respectively.

Big Bear Squatch North

For several years ultrarunners in the Northeast flocked to Bear Mountain, N.Y., for the popular The North Face Endurance Challenge, but the series folded a few years ago following a successful run with multiple events nationwide.

In 2022, Sassquad Trail Running invited runners back to Bear Mountain and Harriman State Park for the inaugural Harriman Big Bear Squatch North, and runners were eager to return to the technical trail system. The event was such a popular attraction that it bumped up the distance offering to an ultra for the section annual event on Saturday, April 8.

Runners in the 50K amassed around 7,000 feet of climbing while winding their way through the park on technical trails. Ultimately, 85 runners finished within 11 hours. A close battle unfolded for the win, with 30-year-old Numa Briet of Brooklyn, N.Y., fending off 27-year-old Tyler Dion of Southborough, Mass., by three minutes. Briet took the win in 6:15:46 and Dion followed in 6:18:46. Luke Longo, 24, of Turnersville, N.J., edged 35-year-old Michael Giambalvo of New Fairfield, N.J., for the final spot on the men’s podium by one second, as the duo finished in 6:31:33 and 6:31:34, respectively.

Amy Nalven, 44, of Brick, N.J., topped the women’s field in 7:29:07.

Other New England residents among the finishers were 39-year-old Johnny Bontemps of Becket, Mass., who placed 14th overall in 7:20:27; 48-year-old Brian Woerlen of West Hartford, Conn., who was 61st in 8:48:25, and 42-year-old Michael Lee of New Canaan, Conn., who finished 63rd in 8:57:23.

*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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