Cayuga Trails 50 Chat

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Many of you know that there is a new and challenging Ultra Race coming to our region this summer. We have heard much discussion on our facebook page, and much discussion at our events. To those of you who are not aware, The Cayuga Trails 50 is  open for registration and ready to impress you with it’s deep field, innovative course offerings, and challenging yet beautiful terrain.

Being run on June 8th, 2013 with a $12,000 cash purse including in race incentives on a beautiful course with historic stair cases? Please read on to find out more.


We had an opportunity to sit down with Race Director Ian Golden late last week to discuss the upcoming race, and we wanted to share some of the more relevant, and  exciting pieces of that chat with you.

We hope you take a look at this race, the course, and the energy being put in to it, and consider it on your race schedule this summer.

It may seem odd to start a chat about your first ever running of this race by asking about next year, but it can show how organized and ready to go this race is, can you tell us about the exciting news we have been hearing about this course and the year 2014?

For 2014…yeah, pretty cool, we will be hosting the 2014 USA Trail National Championship. The truth is that not many events bid for the titles. It’s more work on top of a lot of work already on RD’s plates. I’m excited to host and it should for sure provide a bit more coverage of the event. It’ll be great to bring the 50 M championships east, with a larger event in terms of numbers, and be able to provide solid prize money to a trail championship event.


 When/where did the idea for the event come from and why did you pick that area?

My original course for what started as the Iroquois Trails 100 in 2008 (now Virgil Crest Ultras) intended to use and be based out of Treman and Buttermilk State Parks. That course and staging didn’t pan out, mostly on account of night running over private property using the FLT, but I’ve always wanted to bring an event to those trails.
What is it about those trails that you wanted to do something like this? Tell us a bit about your course.
The 2 loop figure 8 course, which starts in lower Robert Treman S.P., predominately makes use of Treman and Buttermilk State Parks (with a connection via the Finger Lakes Land Trust’s Lick Brook) covers some of the most scenic trail networks in the area. It’s pretty fair in terms of difficulty: 6,500 ft of climb (mostly short and steep) which splits the difference between the Finger Lakes Fifties 50M of 3,900 ft and Virgil Crest 50’s 10,000 ft. aircases constructed by the CCC/WPA.
StairsAndFallsIt’s about 80% trail and of that a mix of single to triple track. There are some pretty technical sections with significant roots/rocks, and others that are easy fast running. Depending on water levels come June, there are 6 creek crossings (3 should be pretty dry, one is usually knee to thigh deep), numerous waterfall passings, and ascents/descents on historic stone st
We are hearing some rumors that you will have a decent elite level field in for this event. We would imagine that this being the championship course some runners may want to see if this year as well. Is this true.
There is a decent field either in or considering. Several won’t have their schedules set until January. I’ve reached out to most of the names ultra people might recognize, or winners of major ultras. Some are still considering, some have event conflicts, some didn’t get back to me.
On the men’s side a few national names in so far are Dave James (USATF 100 Mile Trail Champion, 2nd USATF 50M), Jordan McDougal(USATF 50 Mile Trail Champion, NF 50 winner), and Ben Nephew (Escarpment legend, 3rd place North Face Bear Mountain), and regional including Daven Oskvig.
For the women’s field, a few national names that are in are Meghan Arbogast (10th female Western States ’12, 2nd JFK 50 ’11 behind currently injured phenom Cassie Scanlon who crushed it), Ragan Petrie (2nd UROC 100K ’12, 1st NF Washington ’11), and Jacqueline Palmer (4th UROC 100K ’12).
What are you offering for prizes/incentives? We are hearing some crazy ideas to keep it fun out there.In terms of incentives, these are only possible through a grant from the Tompkins County Tourism Program.  We have a $12,000 purse. Injecting prize money into ultras (although not new) is somewhat of a divided issue in Ultra at the moment, and can be somewhat of an issue as all sports grow. In directing a couple of other events, the Virgil Crest Ultras, the Catharine Valley Half…I’ve put on low key grass roots events with very little if any in the way of sponsors, prizes, or hype.
For Cayuga Trails I wanted to bring to the other side…sponsors, big money, big names, national if not international awareness/coverage…and do it over the trails that I have been most inspired by in the region, and that are meaningful to me (I live a mile from the course). If you’ve been to or read my reports from Virgil, you know that the entrants closest to the race, and which inspire me as much as any, are those that finish in the back of the back, but finish. I’m also inspired by the leaders though, the individuals that are pushing the limits of speed in Ultra, that are redefining what’s possible on that front.
I have several friends whose primary occupation at the moment is distance running and I’m not opposed to creating an additional opportunity for them to make money doing it. Does it change the face of Ultra a bit? Increase race entry fees? Create a situation where the masses are paying for the winnings of the leaders? Yes to all.
I know for me, as an occasional ultrarunner, I’m inspired by elites and I don’t mind if a bit of my entry fee goes toward making it possible for them eek out a living resetting the bars.
Some of the incentives will be spread throughout the pack, something that Karl’s done w/ Speedgoat. Whether it’s cash incentives, or the prospect of winning a pie for racing the next climb…I think it not only pushes and mixes it up a bit, but is also fun for spectators and entrants alike. The inspiration for these in-race incentives, or Prem’s, is rooted in watching a cycling criterium come through my prior location of Bend, OR each year. I was really entertained by the cyclists pushing for prem’s on given laps, they and the fans were into it.
So you are the race director? That makes you in charge huh? Is that how you see it?
Whose in charge…well, I guess it’s me, and my shop the Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company here in Ithaca which allows me the flexibility to put on events on the side. I opened the shop in 2006 and am looking at another potential store opening in 2013. I’m for sure not a good businessman, still learning on the fly, but have loved most every minute of it. I like creating things, the shop and the events are flowing from the same vein and keep me living in and amongst the running world, even if reducing the time I have to get out and run myself.
So you mentioned you have a grant for this event, how about other sponsors. They help us get out and running so we would love to mention some of them here for you.
The sponsors on board are GU who will be graciously providing gels and brew on the course, Atayne (an awesome company with an awesome mission…check them out), and Scott Sports. Scott’s run line has been making really great strides in quality. It’s newer director of running is a friend Scott McCoubrey, the prior owner of the former Seattle Running Company, and RD for one of the premier 50 milers in the country, White River.
UltrAspire, a new hydration company has a pretty amazing contingent of ultrarunners designing their product. Year one was slick but with some kinks to work out…year two for them I think is where they’ll hopefully really become more mainstream in the trail running world. I’m stoked to have all of these guys on board. IRunFar, a site run by a good friend Bryon Powell will be on for media coverage more than as a sponsor per se.
This all sounds awesome.. how is registration going? Is it filling up fast?
Registration went live about last week on the event’s website. We have about 60 entrants thus far, or 20% of the field. I guess it’s possible we’ll fill in a month, but it could trickle off a bit as well, we’ll see. Entrants fill out an online registration form and seal the deal by mailing in a check. The website (all of my websites) are created and managed by Ed Edington, a local Ultrarunner from the Rochester area. He puts in an amazing amount of time, all of it volunteer.
In any case, he was able to create an online registration page. Pairing that with payment’s by check allows the event to bypass credit card fees. Until Bank of America starts donating a portion of their profits to Ultrarunning, I’ll look to cut them out of the equation if possible.
That’s all good stuff, one thing our runners always want to know about is how will this course set up for spectators, families, friends, etc.
The course is very spectator friendly. The park trails are open to pedestrians through the event and have multiple access points. A family could plant themselves at lower Treman and see their runners 4 times during the race without moving more than a half mile or so.
We want to give a big thank you to Ian for sitting down with us and taking the time to help us highlight this fantastic new event. It looks like it will be exciting, challenging, supportive, and pretty local. We hope you will consider this race, and as always, we will see you on the trails.

One thought on “Cayuga Trails 50 Chat

    Heather O said:
    December 19, 2012 at 2:42 am

    Great article TrailsRoc! I love that area and would love to be able to run those trails…. SOME DAY!!!


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