Vineyard man completes ultramarathon

Whit Hanschka, just before the start, in New Ipswich, N.H. — Whit Hanschka

Updated Oct. 16

Whit Hanschka ran and finished the 100-mile Midstate Massive Ultra Trail on Oct 10-11. Though official results are not yet available, Hanschka’s self-recorded time showed 30 hours and 27 minutes. “I’m sore and very satisfied,” Hanschka said about his feat. 

The race’s terrain is varied, stretching along roads and hiking trails in the woods from New Hampshire to Rhode Island. “It was long and tiring,” said the Vineyard blacksmith. “There were 15 aid stations. Psychologically, that is what you do, you go from aid station to aid station, rather than think, ‘Oh, how many miles do I have until the finish?’ It is much easier not to think about that, until you start getting close.”

Hanschka, who is 56 years old, didn’t seriously start running until he turned 50. When asked what motivated him to start this gargantuan challenge, Hanschka credited his friend Dave Diriwachter for introducing him to this practice, as well as happenstance. After meeting up with a small group of long-distance runners and realizing he was both having fun and not having too much trouble keeping up, he decided to aim for some longer races.

Though this was his first time running this particular race, Hanschka had already completed two other 100-milers in Arizona. In addition to meeting people during the race, discovering new and beautiful places is part of the fun: “It is a pretty cool way to see a new place,” Hanschka said. “I had no idea of the existence of this Midstate trail. Literally no idea. I had never heard of it.”

Before this race, Hanschka had signed up for a 100-mile ultramarathon in Vermont this summer, which was pushed back to July 2021 due to the pandemic, so he already has another challenge to start training for. 

Despite the post-race pain, Hanschka explained the emotional rollercoaster that accompanies such immense physical exertion and how he is already looking to the future. “There is this feeling like everything hurts and this is crazy, and then, like the next day: ‘I can’t wait for the next one; what’s gonna be the next one?’” 

Updated to correct the date, as well as the starting and ending point of the race.