BROOKLINE, N.H. ̶ If ultramarathoning was a gambling sport, April Farnham would be a sure bet. At the Ghost Train 30-hour Trail Race, the 56-year-old Plainfield grandmother took on her third 100-mile ultra of the year. Once again, Farnham made it to the century mark.
The 30-hour race started at 9 a.m. on October 14, and finished at 3 p.m. on October 15. A huge field of 375 finishers completed 15 to 115 miles within the time limit. Michael Whittemore, from Vineyard Haven, Mass., was the only 115-mile finisher. His time of 29 hours, 29 minutes, and seven seconds made the cutoff with a half hour to spare.
Farnham was one of 69 athletes to put 100 miles under her feet. Running six-plus loops on the 15-mile out-and-back course, Farnham hit the century mark in 26 hours, three minutes, and 32 seconds. Her finish time was a new personal best for 100 miles.
“I went into this race with the mindset to just get it done,” said Farnham. I knew I could get it. What I didn’t know is that I’d have four hours to spare at the end!”
The ultramarathoners enjoyed ideal conditions. One of Farnham’s ultrarunning friends got to the site the day before the race, claimed their spot, and set up the tent. The race was a new venue for Farnham, who has competed in ultramarathons since 2014.
The course ran along a railroad bed that was used in the late 1800s and early 1900s to ship granite from Milford and ice from Lake Potanipo in Brookline to Massachusetts. The rails were removed for scrap metal during World War II. The rail trail is mostly straight and flat, with one hill. One mile of the 15-mile out-and-back loop is paved.
While the course was easier than Farnham’s spring and summer 100-milers, it was still a daunting challenge to take on the long-distance race. Ira Wheeler, from Danville, ran the first 60 miles with Farnham, despite being sick the first part of the week. As Farnham pressed on, Wheeler took a break before returning to the course for one more loop, making 75 miles.
“As with any ultra, the first 20 miles are the worst,” said Farnham. “You have to settle in, shake the nerves off, and get your pace down. With an out-and-back course, you have no idea where you are in the pack. When I saw the clock as I crossed the finish line with 26:03, I was both shocked and elated!”
Farnham was the eighth of 28 women to reach 100 miles. Kristin Loiko, 43, from South Hadley, Mass., was the first woman finisher, in 22:28:18. Katya Divari, 61, from Ashfield, Mass., was the only woman older than Farnham to go 100 miles. Divari finished just under the cutoff, in 29:37:45.
“I was consistent ̶ slow and steady,” said Farnham. “I kept telling myself this is why I trained so hard, for this moment. All the long runs, the hikes up Spruce Peak, the weight lifting, the tire pulling, and the sled pushes ̶ all of it was for this: to complete the last of the 100 milers on my summer list feeling strong.”
Niemi Sixth in Green Mountain Marathon
SOUTH HERO ̶ Colton Niemi pulled off an October surprise at Sunday’s 52nd Annual Green Mountain Marathon. Running in his first marathon, the 2020 Hazen Union graduate finished sixth of 108 runners in the talented field. Pacing consistently at 7:04 per mile, Niemi crossed the finish line in three hours, four minutes, and 57 seconds.
Niemi, 21, is from Greensboro. Last year, he ran 1:35:33 to place 16th in the Leaf Peepers Half Marathon. His half-marathon splits at Sunday’s marathon were even faster. He ran the first loop of the race in 1:32:32 and the second loop in 1:32:24.
Niemi competed for the Wildcats in soccer and golf. After graduating from Vermont Technical College in 2022, he started running to keep fit. If his first marathon is an indication, Niemi has a knack for distance running. Few marathoners are able to pace as evenly as Niemi did, with a negative split for the 26.2-mile race.
Daniel Moncada, 33, from Vergennes, won the marathon in 2:43:48. Averaging 5:55 per mile, Moncada opened up a huge lead during the first half of the race. Although he slowed down during the second half of the race, at 6:35 per mile, he still gained ground on the rest of the field.
Catie Markesich, 38, from Milton, was the fastest female marathoner. She paced the two halves of the race at 7:22 and 7:25 per mile, respectively, to finish in 3:13:48.
The Green Mountain half marathon had 288 finishers. Division winners were Danielle Winslow (women), Teage O’Connor (men), and Avery Hamill (nonbinary). The winners’ respective times were 1:21:20, 1:12:16, and 2:03:17.
English Wins Muddy Memphremagog Race
NEWPORT ̶ Hazen Union technical education teacher Maxfield English won his fourth consecutive weekend race Saturday. English was one of 17 runners and 48 mountain bikers who signed up for the Grateful 2023 Trail Races hosted by Memphremagog Trails.
Runners took on a nominal half marathon trail race, while bikers took part in a series of three cyclocross races. Cyclocross is described as a mix of road cycling, mountain biking, and steeplechase. Athletes dismount their bikes during races to hurdle over barriers, climb steep hills or steps, and traverse obstacles.
The Grateful 2023 running and cyclocross events were held at the Barn at Top of The World. Races were low-key with unofficial timing. Adverse weather, rain, and abundant mud added to the challenge.
“The course was extremely slippery,” said English. “Descent speed was curtailed for safety.” English paced the first 10k of the race with Paul Chambers before pulling away to victory.
English left his mark across the Northeast Kingdom during the past month. He notched consecutive wins in the Footprints Trail Race (Sept. 30), the Fly to Pie Marathon (Oct 7), and the Kingdom Challenge Half Marathon (October 14).
Fallen Leaves Race Series Begins November 4
MONTPELIER ̶ The Fallen Leaves Race Series provides runners of all ages with another chance to try for a personal 5k best. The low-key races on November 4, 11, and 18 are held at Montpelier High School. Runners start and finish on the dirt track. The fast flat course includes an out-and-back section on the Montpelier Bike Path. The race entry fee is $5. Day of Race registration is from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m. The start time is at 9 a.m. Age group prizes are awarded. More information is available online at cvrunners.org.