Ultra Series Home Page

Ultrarunning on the Niagara Frontier

Nickel City 50 (1980-1995)

The Inaugural Race.  Dave Broad  organized the first Nickel City 50 in 1980 so he would have a local ultra to run.  The 50-mile race used a 1.75 mile road loop around Buffalo's Delaware Park.  Eighteen runners started the inaugural race with 14 completing the distance.   Ed Cohn won in 6:16:09; Carl Pegels was the top Masters runner in 7:45:48 and Joan Zirkelbach was the top woman finisher in 8:58:32.

TAC National Championship.  The Nickel City 50 hit the big time in its second year by being designated the TAC National 50 Mile Road Championship.  Entries for the race included some of the top men in the country.  Frank Bozanich from Seattle, WA took his fifth national ultramarathon championship with his strong 5:17:09 finish.  He led four additional men under 6 hours.  Ed Cohn was the top local runner, finishing 3rd overall in 5:40:49, more than 35 minutes faster than the year before.  The top Masters runner was John Sullivan from Massachusetts in 5:42:19, a very strong time for a 49-year-old man.  Lennie Tucker, well known to this day for her work in the Syracuse running community, was the 1981 women's national champion with her 7:41:23 finish.

Race Reports.  Ultrarunning magazine published full results along with a brief stories for most of the 16 years the race was held.  The report on the 1981 race is especially worth a read.  Click here for a 12-page compilation of the Ultrarunning race reports.

Top Times.  The following list was compiled from available race results.  If we have overlooked anyone with a fast time, please send a note with the addition. 

Men

18-39          

Race

 Directors

Rank Year Name Age State Time   1980-1985 Dave Broad
1 1981 Frank Bozanich 37 WA 5:17:09   1986-1992 Jerry Moss
2 1985 Robert Perez 37 TX 5:23:13   1993-1995 Carl Pegels
3 1981 Ray Scannell 30 MA 5:36:42      
4 1981 Ed Cohn 30   5:40:59      
5 1983 Ed Cohn 32   5:42:58  

 

 

6 1985 Terry Martin 39 ON 5:46:56      
7 1985 Robbie Wade 19 ON 5:55:18      
8 1981 James Murphy 34 MA 5:59:01      
               

Men

40-49              
Rank Year Name Age State Time      
1 1981 John Sullivan 49 MA 5:42:19      
2 1983 Irv Frawley 46   6:19:52      
3 1981 Gene DaGaiu 42   6:30:39      
4 1881 Irv Frawley 44   6:35:34      
               

Men

50-59              
Rank Year Name Age State Time      
1 1981 Bill O'Brian 50   6:25:38      
2 1987 Ken Laverick 51 ON 6:43:43      
3 1993 Jim McLean 50 ON 6:56:17      
4 1981 Walt Connolly 51   7:10:09      
5 1987 Joseph George 56   7:15:42      
6 1986 Carl Pegels 52   7:27:35      
               

Women

               
Rank Year Name Age State Time   Category  

1

1985 Mary Hanudel 25 OH 7:15:00   Women 18-39  
2 1983 Nedra Weaver-Osborne 36   7:58:08   Women 18-39  
3 1981 Lennie Tucker 43   7:41:23   Women 40-49  

Top Local Runner.  Ed Cohn deserves special recognition as the region's top road ultramarathoner in the past 30 years.  In common with many of the best ultrarunners of his era, he moved up to the challenge of ultras from the marathon... in his case, he ran his first ultra after completing 23 marathons with times consistently in the 2:29 to 2:35 range.  He won the Nickel City 50 twice (1980 & 1983) and placed third overall against top national competition in 1982.  His 1981 and 1983 marks both ranked in the top five times and he is the only New York State resident to finish under 6 hours in the 16 year history of the race.

Women in the Nickel City 50.  Relatively few women ran ultras in that era (1980-1995).  Most years only had one or two women finishers and some years had none... not surprising considering that women had only recently begun running marathons, e.g., it was not until 1972 that the Boston Marathon officially permitted women to enter.  The fastest women's time in the Nickel City 50 was set by Mary Hanudel in 1985.  She went on to considerable fame two years later.  Ultrarunning magazine named her Runner of the Year for her American six-day best (486+ miles) set en route to a second-place finish (8 days, 13 hours) at Australia's 1987 Sydney-to-Melbourne 658-mile run.  She also won the 1987 Sri Chinmoy 24 Hour with 122+ miles.

North Coast Hundred & 24 Hour (1985-1989)

With the Nickel City 50 well established on the fall calendar, Dave Broad organized a spring ultra using the same Delaware Park course.  The inaugural race was won by Dan Brannen (a top ultrarunner in the 1980's and now Executive Director of the American Ultrarunning Association) in 15:09:30 with race director Dave Broad finishing second in 18:44:49.

After two years as a 100-miler, the race format shifted to a timed 24-hour run.  The new format proved to be much more popular with entries more than doubling.  Dick Sitter from Pennsylvania ran 122.6 miles in 1987 for a mark that proved to be the best over the three years the event was held.  Marshal Ulrich, now best known for having completed Badwater ultra 15 times, came closest with a 122.3 mile effort in 1988.

Race Reports.  Ultrarunning magazine published full results along with a brief stories for all five years the race was held.  Click here for a 5-page compilation of the Ultrarunning race reports.

Top Times & Distances.  The following list was compiled from the available race results.

100 Miles              

Race

 Directors

Rank Year Name Age State Time Category   1985-1987 Dave Broad
1 1985 Dan Brannen 32 PA 15:09:30 Men 18-39   1988-1989 Jerry Moss
2 1985 Dave Broad 38   18:44:49 Men 18-39      
3 1986 Dick Sanders 37   18:48:12 Men 18-39      
4 1986 Tom Jewiss 37 ON 20:23:36 Men 18-39      
5 1985 Dick Sanders 35   21:28:04 Men 18-39      
6 1986 Jerry Moss 50   23:14:18 Men 50-59      
             
24 Hour            
Rank Year Name Age State Miles Category
1 1987 Dick Sitter 48 PA 122.6 Men 40-49
2 1988 Marshall Ulrich 39 CO 122.3 Men 18-39
3 1988 Dick Sanders 41   119.8 Men 40-49
4 1987 Dick Sanders 36   119.6 Men 18-39
5 1987 Bob McGee 46 ON 112.1 Men 40-49
6 1989 Dick Sanders 42   111.1 Men 40-49
7 1988 Kevin Magin 41 MI 110 Men 40-49
8 1988 Dick Sitter 49 PA 109 Men 40-49
9 1987 Michel Careau 46 ON 107.8 Men 40-49
10 1989 Michel Careau 48 PQ 106.8 Men 40-49
11 1988 John Sholeen 43   106.5 Men 40-49
12 1989 Kevin Magin   MI 104.1  
13 1987 Greg Buhuslawsky 35 ON 103.3 Men 18-39
14 1989 Michael Kinzel   OH 102.3  
15 1989 Greg Buhuslawsky 37 ON 100.6 Men 18-39
16 1988 Carl Pegels 55   100.2 Men 50-59
17 1988 Stanley Paccione 41   100.2 Men 40-49
18 1988 Ronald Johnstone 47   100.2 Men 40-49
19 1988 Joseph Dabes 49   100.2 Men 40-49
20 1988 Greg Helbig 49   100.2 Men 40-49

BPAC 6 Hour (1997-2013)

The Transition:  50 Miles to 6 Hours.   In its last three years the Nickel City 50 had experienced a continued decline in entries.  After the November 1995 race, Race Director Carl Pegels and the sponsoring Buffalo Philharmonic Athletic Club announced their intention to change the race format and move it to a different time.

The race was reborn in April 1997 as the BPAC 6 Hour Distance Classic. Still using the same Delaware Park loop, the change brought immediate improvement... where the last Nickel City 50 had only 14 entrants, the new 6 Hour had 41 entrants with 26 of them running more than a marathon distance.  Most importantly for the future of the race, there was much improved participation from the Buffalo running community.

Delaware Park to the Amherst Bike Path.  By 2002 the race management began considering other venues for the race.  The City of Buffalo had imposed steep park usage fees and reduced the level of park service, e.g., closed bathrooms.  In 2006 race management finally moved the race to the Amherst bike paths.  The new longer loop course proved to be immediately popular with entries nearly doubling.

Race Reports.  Ultrarunning magazine published results listing all runners completing more than the marathon distance for 1997 to 2009.  Most results include brief stories.  Click here for a 17-page compilation of BPAC results from 1997-2009.

Top Times & Distances.  The following list was compiled from results the the 1996-2012 races.

Men 18-39            

Race

 Directors
Rank Year Name Age State Distance Course   1997-2006 Carl Pegels
1 1998 Michael Kichty 37 PA 51.59 Delaware Park   2007 Peggy Hillery
2 2000 Ryne Melcher 31 ON 49.57 Delaware Park   2008 Peggy Hillery &
3 1997 Len Fetterly 31   48.21 Delaware Park     Sue Devlin
4 2012 Daven Oskvig 34   47.28 Amherst   2009- Sue Devlin
5 2005 Ryne Melcher 26 ON 46.03 Delaware Park      
                 
Men 40-49                
Rank Year Name Age State Distance Course      
1 2009 John Ehntholt 42   47.23 Amherst      
2 2001 Mark Bomhower 43 ON 46.03 Delaware Park      
3 2007 Brian Murray 44   45.18 Amherst      
4 1999 Mark Bomhower 41 ON 44.81 Delaware Park      
5 2011 John Ehntholt 44   44.49 Amherst      
                 
Men 50-59                
Rank Year Name Age State Distance Course      
1 2008 Todd Baum 50   45.50 Amherst      
2 1998 Ron Gehl 50 ON 44.94 Delaware Park      
3 2009 Ed Housel 50   44.60 Amherst      
4 2012 Dave Carver 50 ON 44.18 Amherst      
5 2012 Ed Housel 53   42.25 Amherst      
                 
Men 60-69                
Rank Year Name Age State Distance Course      
1 1999 Richard Sitter 60 PA 38.81 Delaware Park      
2 2006 Bryan Mason 61 ON 38.79 Amherst      
3 2007 Joseph Reynolds 62   35.75 Amherst      
                 
Men 70+                
Rank Year Name Age State Distance Course      
1 1997 Odino Soligo 76 ON 33.64 Delaware Park      
2 2008 Carl Pegels 75   29.25 Amherst      
3 2007 Carl Pegels 74   29.25 Amherst      
                 
Women  18-39        
Rank Year Name Age State Distance Course
1 1999 Deanna Lindsay 39 ON 43.99 Delaware Park
2 2006 Laura Bleakley 36   43.40 Amherst
3 2001 Karin Westfahl 29 ON 42.35 Delaware Park
4 2007 Rebecca Harmon 37   41.71 Amherst
5 2010 Jill Perry 39   41.09 Amherst
           
Women  40-49        
Rank Year Name Age State Distance Course
1 2007 Katie Stettler 42   41.71 Amherst
2 2006 Katie Stettler 41   39.00 Amherst
3 2013 Vikki Baylis 41 ON 38.74 Amherst
4 2007 Lorrie Tily 46   38.62 Amherst
5 2009 Tamara Loos 42   38.32 Amherst
           
Women  50+        
Rank Year Name Age State Distance Course
1 2009 Elizabeth Hurdman 52 ON 35.75 Amherst
2 2005 Patricia Sommers 51 ON 35.40 Delaware Park
3 2002 Jean Gerstein 51 OH 34.88 Delaware Park

Performance Trend:  Men Down.  Note that only one man has completed 50 miles or more in the 16-year history of the six hour format while there were nine men who completed the Nickel City 50 in under six hours.  While some of the difference may be due to the greater motivational difficulties inherent in the timed format (e.g., running harder doesn't make the race end sooner), most of the difference is probably due to the general decline in the level of road ultrarunning that has accompanied the rise of participation in trail ultras.

Performance Trend:  Women Up.  Women's participation and race times are much improved over the earlier Nickel City 50 years when some races had no female finishers.  Note especially how many of the top women's marks were set on the Amherst course which only came into use in 2006, indicating the trend toward increasingly competitive women's fields continues.

Western New York Ultra Series.  Before the Ultra Series started in 2004, the average number of runners going beyond the marathon distance at BPAC was in the 20-25 range.  Over the six years of the Series, that number has grown to 40-45 runners despite a wide-spread loss of Canadian runners to competing races in Ontario Province.   While most of those runners do not go on to contest the other races in the Series, at least some of the recent BPAC growth can be attributed to the greater regional awareness that has come with being in the Series.

The Man Who Kept Ultrarunning Alive in Buffalo.  The hero of this narrative is Carl Pegels.  He was there at the start in 1980, winning the Masters division in the first Nickel City 50.  He ran all three North Coast 24 Hour runs, completing over 100 miles once.  In 1993 he took over directing the Nickel City 50 and then guided its successful transition to the timed format as the BPAC 6 Hour Distance Classic in 1997.  When continued use of the Delaware Park venue became problematic, he guided the highly successful shift to the Amherst course in 2006.  And, now that he is no longer the race director and is able to run BPAC, he has posted two of the top three times for the Men 70+ age category.

Submitted by Tom Perry
Updated February 19, 2014