Race recap: The inaugural Hampshire 100 ultramarathon

Photo from the 2013 Hampshire 100

No one knew exactly what to expect at the inaugural Hampshire 100 running race, other than that new course records would definitely be set.

The Hampshire 100 is in its seventh year as a bike race, but this year, for the first time, the event included a 100k running race as well. “We had always thought about adding a running race,” said race director Randi Whitney. “We think there’s a place for it.” The course winds over the trails and back roads of southern New Hampshire, offering runners a chance to travel a single loop at a distance found in few other races in the Northeast.

Tristan Williams, from Jackson, N.H., who has found success on the mountain running circuit, chose the race as his first ultramarathon. He said after the race that he wasn’t sure how fast to start, so he just ran at a pace that felt comfortable. Within the first few miles, he started to pull away from the other runners. By mile 23, he had built a 20-minute lead. “The first 20 miles were kind of fast, now that I look back on it,” he said. “The course was fast. It was super runnable.” Despite the quick start, Williams continued to add to his lead, which grew to 50 minutes 45 miles into the race. He crossed the finish line in 8:23:27, setting a course record that could stand for years.

Chad Denning likewise pulled away from the runners behind him, finishing second in 9:53:48. Tsutomu Bessho traveled from New Jersey for the race and finished third in his first ultramarathon. He was glad he made the trip. “It was a beautiful course,” he said.

Like Williams, Kristina Folcik-Welts built an early lead on the women behind her and added to it throughout the day. Although she said the course didn’t play to her strengths as a runner, she crossed the line in 10:21:12, which earned her first place among women and tied her for fourth overall with her husband, Ryan Welts. Elaine Allen took second and Carolyn Shreck earned third.

Given the cutoff times, simply finishing the race in time was a significant achievement. Out of a starting field of 47, there were 19 finishers, although not all who didn’t finish dropped due to time. Runners had 14 hours to finish the race. Those who were able to make it to the 50-mile mark but did so after the cutoff time of 5:30 p.m. were not allowed to continue but would be given a 50-mile finish time rather than a DNF.

As a comparison, the median time in the 100k race at this year’s Vermont 100 was about 15:11. The Hampshire 100 course appears to be somewhat faster, judging by the top finishing times, but it does include more than 8,000 feet of climbing.

Whitney expected that it would be a hard course. “It’s not a beginner’s race, that’s for sure,” she said. “We knew that going in.”

For a first running of a race, the event appears to have gone smoothly. Runners had a lot of praise for the race and some criticisms as well. A few mentioned that there were more road miles than they had expected and that they either ran out of water or were close to running out at some points. Other runners really enjoyed the course, particularly the trail sections. “The singletrack was awesome,” Williams said. Runners also noted that the course was well marked.

Whitney said that she is keen to hear from runners. “Their feedback will be critical to making it better in the future,” she said. “We’ll be excited to see what they have to say.” The bike race has grown over the years and attracts riders from all over the East Coast. She would like to see the running race grow as well.

Most of all, she hoped that the runners had a good time. “I’m sure many of them will wonder why they’re doing this at some point,” she said. “But I hope that when they finish their day, most people will say that it was worth it.”

Full results are available here [PDF].

Photos from the 2013 Hampshire 100: