MassUltra Roundup: Cocodona 250, Quad Rock, Tillamook Burn, Strolling Jim, and C&O Canal

A red-hot start to May saw so many New England ultrarunners take part in races beyond the Bay State borders that it merited two roundups for the May 5-7 weekend. In Part I, we caught up with ultras from the region. Here in Part II, we turn to events throughout the rest of the country. There was no tougher race in early May than the Cocodona 250 in Arizona, and that made it an ideal choice for Vermont’s Aliza Lapierre to make her debut at the 200-plus-mile distances. Additionally, we we catch up with the Quad Rock 50 in Colorado, the Tillamook Burn Ultras in Oregon, the Strolling Jim 40-mile road race in Tennessee, and then close out with late April’s C&O Canal 100-miler in Maryland where four New Englanders secured hard-earned finishes.

Cocodona 250

Since its creation by Aravaipa Running founder Jamil Coury, the Cocodona 250 has surged in popularity as runners have flocked to Arizona to take on the 252.7-mile journey from Black Canyon City to Heritage Square in Flagstaff, Ariz., battling through the Bradshaw Mountains, amassing more than 25,000 feet of climbing, and passing through a number of small towns along the way.

The third annual event took place May 1-6. The starting line saw 191 runners attempt the journey, but by the end only 137 ultimately completed the distance within the 125-hour time limit. Two New England residents were among the finishers, including one on the podium.

In the women’s race, 42-year-old Aliza Lapierre of Richmond, Vt., made her debut at 200-plus-mile distances after amassing numerous top-10 finishes at Western States, two top-10 finishes at the Leadville 100, and a victory at the 2022 Vermont 100. Lapierre raced near the front throughout her three-plus days on the course and ultimately finished second in the women’s field and seventh overall in 77:04:14. Close behind was 31-year-old Mika Thewes of Lakewood, Colo., who finished third among the women and eighth overall in 78:27:13. Topping the women’s field was 31-year-old Sarah Ostaszewski of Flagstaff, Ariz., who capitalized on home-course advantage and earned the win in a speedy 72:50:27 while also finishing fourth overall.

Though the women’s course record (Annie Hughes, 71:10:22 in 2022) survived, the stacked women’s field produced the second-, third- and fourth-fastest times in course history.

In the men’s race, after finishing as the overall runner-up to Joe McConaughy in 2022, 33-year-old Michael McKnight of Smithfield, Utah, returned and earned the win this year in 59:41:31. His time was around 10 hours behind McConaughy’s course record performance.

Joining Lapierre among the finishers was 33-year-old Jared Buchanan of Ellington, Conn. Buchanan began running ultras in 2016 and quickly progressed to tackling distances of 200 miles and beyond. He placed 50th overall at this year’s Cocodona 250 in 104:17:30 for his sixth finish of a race of 200 miles or more. He also completed Cocodona in 2022 in 104:01:31, making this year a 16-minute improvement.

The event also included two shorter distance events. Fifty-three runners completed Cocodona’s inaugural Sedona Canyons 125, which covered the second half of the Cocodona course. Included among the finishers was 24-year-old Eojin Kim of Somerville, Mass., who completed the race in 71:08:06. Another 103 runners finished the inaugural Elden Crest 36-miler, though none were New England residents.

Quad Rock 50

Jason Baker ran his first ultramarathon in 2021 when he completed the Ragged 50K in New Hampshire. Since then, he has traveled for several ultras, including the Hood River 50K in Oregon and the Red Feather Jamboree 50K and Run the Ranch 6-Hour in Colorado. Baker, 24, of Carver, Mass., returned to Colorado to take part in the 12th annual Quad Rock 50-miler on Saturday, May 6, in Fort Collins. The race consisted of two 25-mile loops with more than 11,000 feet of climbing over the course of 50 miles on the trails of Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Park.

Baker ran the event’s 25-mile race in 2022, so he was familiar with the course. That knowledge served him well as he had a strong two-loop race this year. Of the 132 finishers within 14 ½ hours, Baker placed 23rd overall in 10:25:13.

Ryan Montgomery, 29, of Wanship, Utah, and Anna Fisher, 30, of Salt Lake City, Utah, were the men’s and women’s winners in 7:42:24 and 9:31:56, respectively. 

Baker will return to Colorado in July to run his longest race yet at the Never Summer 100K.

Tillamook Burn

Rosalie Samide made her ultramarathon debut by finishing the Laurel Highlands 70.5-miler in 2017. The 31-year-old resident of Brookline, Mass., will return to Pennsylvania for a second running of Laurel Highlands in June. But first, she headed to Oregon for a tune-up run at the seventh edition of the Tillamook Burn Ultras on May 6-7 at Tillamook State Forest.

The event offered 50-mile and 50K ultras. No New England residents were among the 50-mile field, and Samide was the lone New Englander to tackle the 50K race and its 7,000 feet of climbing. She placed 61st overall out of 107 finishers in 7:21:22. Jared Bassett, 33, of Bend Ore., and Ellen Cannon, 31, of Philadelphia, Pa., were the men’s and women’s winners in 4:28:36 and 5:09:42, respectively.

Strolling Jim

For the second straight year, Greg Wolodkin traveled to Tennessee to take part in a rare road ultramarathon.

Wolodkin, 56, of Sutton, Mass., once again completed the classic Strolling Jim 40-miler on Saturday, May 6, in Wartrace, Tenn. The 45th edition of the race traces its history to the 1970s. Wolodkin finished this year’s race in 9:57:50 in what is a tune-up for his running of the Vol State 500K in July.

Additionally, Bjavya Dabas, 40, of Hudson, Mass., finished the race in 13:04:49. It was Dabas’s second ultramarathon finish.

Dan Green, 26, of Huntington, W.V., led all runners in 4:18:48. Women’s champion Allison Mercer, 40, of Atlanta, Ga., finished second overall in 4:57:11. The top three runners finished in less than five hours.

C&O Canal 100

Four New England residents were among the finishers of the 10th edition of the C&O Canal 100-miler on April 29-30 in Knoxville, Md. Runners had 30 hours to complete one 40-mile loop and two 30-mile loops on the flat and fast C&O Canal Towpath, passing back and forth between Antietam and Brunswick, Md.

Of the 116 runners who started the race, 79 finished within the time limit with Mitch Ables, 32, of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and Mackenzie Nolan, 28, of Columbia, Pa., topping the men’s and women’s fields in 14:26:35 and 18:33:40, respectively.

Among the New England contingent, 49-year-old Armado Casuga was the top finisher. He placed 31st overall in 24:38:47. It was Casuga’s third straight year finishing the race and his fastest performance yet. The next New Englander to finish was 25-year-old Tyler Beaulieu of Portland, Conn., who finished 42nd overall in 26:21:35 for his first 100-mile finish. A pair of Dartmouth, Mass., residents, 45-year-old Kim Gibson and 56-year-old Brian Tjersland, ran the race together and finished in 28:36:31 and 28:36:35.

*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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