Trail closures and advocacy

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We think Spring is finally here. It was a long wet winter for our local trail systems and they are in pretty rough shape in some places. We urge you to all take consideration with where you run and what the conditions are like. If you are leaving footprints, it’s a good idea to find a drier place to run. This is also a good time to remind everyone to stay on approved trails when out and about.

Locally, at least 3 places have recently lost trail space.

  1. The Doc Lilac Trail in the Crescent Trail system is no longer public access. We have removed it from our app and there will be signs placed to let runners know where the private property begins. Much of the Crescent and Seneca trails are on private land that needs property owner permission. In this case, they decided to revoke the permit for the trail on their land.
  2. The backside of a route in Ellison Park known as the “Coyote 4X4”. The section of trail that was used for this route was never on public land and the new land owner is very serious about runners and hikers not trespassing on the land. Signs and even barriers have been in place on this route educating us as to where public lands end. Please respect the land owner and stay only on public lands on actual trails when at Ellison Park.
  3. The Finger Lakes Trail  Letchworth branch south from Access K-Closed due changing conditions, with major portions of the hillside slumping toward the gorge It has become too dangerous. Explorations are proceeding, but for now we have no trail route down to access L at the river bridge in Portageville.
    To reach trail south of the park, from Access K walk uphill on the paved road to NY 436; turn right onto 436 and drop down to river level to use the bridge, which has NO SHOULDERS. On the south end of the bridge, continue straight past the immediate intersection, then very soon veer left onto the old railbed/towpath and the Genesee Valley Greenway. This is roughly 1.5 miles.
    This section of the Letchworth Trail also appears on map M7.

    These are all great reminders that we must be good stewards of the lands that we run and race on. If we abuse, ignore rules, liter, and in general disrespect the lands, it is likely we will continue to lose them.

    #TrailsRoc is more than just trail running though, we are also a trail advocacy organization. When we can, we work to keep lands open and available to the public. It is important that we respect rules and boundaries if we want to save, or even grow our available outdoor spaces. We really, truly, need your help.

With that in mind – Consider joining us for some trail work days this season! We have at least 5 projects planned for this work season that can all be seen here https://trailsroc.org/trail-stewardship/


Thanks for listening, and we will see you out on the trails!



#TrailsRoc Trailfecta Series

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Good morning – We have a big announcement that some of you may have already seen on facebook!

NEW THIS YEAR – A #TrailsRoc Series – The Trailfecta!

Run all 3 of our races and earn a hoodie at the completion of WTF –

You have 3 options:

The Long Series 0 SPF 1/2 Marathon – Webster Trail Classic 10 Miler and the WTF 15 Miler
The Mid Series   0 SPF 1/2 Marathon – Webster Trail Classic 10 Miler and the WTF 10 Miler
Short Series        0 SPF 1/2 Marathon – Webster Trail Classic 3.5 Miler and the WTF 5 Miler

The cost for the series is just $75.00. This includes all 3 races and the hoodie at the end!


0 SPF July 13 –

Webster Trail Classic September 7th –

WTF December 7th-

As most of you know our main focus with these races (other than putting on some pretty epic events) is to raise money to continue to build and improve the trails in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region.  The series gives you an opportunity to earn some swag, but also to allow us to continue to raise these funds.


You can register for the series here https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=64654

Join us – Summer, Fall, and Winter and let’s raise some money and earn those hoodies!




Not interested in the entire series? You can sign up for individual races at the links below

0SPF https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=60358
WTC https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=60356
WTF https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=64328

Join us at the Webster Trail Classic

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On September 8th join us for the Webster Trail Classic – A beautiful run through 3 amazing parks near the shores of Lake Ontario.

Register here: 



With 2 options, a10 mile tour of the parks or a 3.5 mile tour of Webster Park  there is an option for everyone-


Both races start and finish at the same point.


Please join us and help us raise money for the Friends of Webster Trails and the Webster Volunteer Ambulance company.




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.

Snow Cheap Preview

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It’s that time of year again. You know – when your average runners stay inside with a cup of hot chocolate, a warm blanket, and the same boring shows on T.V.

It’s a good thing trail runners are not your average runners. The Fleet Feet Snow Cheap is back and ready to get running again this year. If you guys liked the Dirt Cheap series then this event is right in your wheel house.

Running on 6 Wednesday nights during the winter, the Fleet Feet Snow Cheap trail series is one of the best ways to get out and race trails in Rochester this winter.

There are 2 categories, snowshoe and non-snowshoe. If there is not enough snow, the event will be run as a trail race. Fleet Feet rents snowshoes on a first come – first served basis for $5.00

You meet at the Lake Riley Lodge at Cobbs Hill Park and the races start at 7:15pm. After each race head inside to the lodge for some warm refreshments and a good time recapping the race with your fellow runners.

Fleet Feet and Yellow Jacket Racing allow you to register for individual events or the entire series. Click here for registration information.

$12 per race as individuals or $50 for the Series.

The races are run on the following nights;

Date Time Location Fees Online Registration
Register for the Entire Series 7:15PM Riley Lodge, Cobbs Hill Park $50 for entire series
Wed., Dec. 19th 7:15PM Riley Lodge, Cobbs Hill Park $12
Wed., Jan. 2nd 7:15PM Riley Lodge, Cobbs Hill Park $12
Wed., Jan. 16th 7:15PM Riley Lodge, Cobbs Hill Park $12
Wed., Jan. 30th 7:15PM Riley Lodge, Cobbs Hill Park $12
Wed., Feb. 13th 7:15PM Riley Lodge, Cobbs Hill Park $12
Wed., Feb. 27th 7:15PM Riley Lodge, Cobbs Hill Park $12
You can rent snowshoes that evening on first come, first serve basis for $5

We look forward to seeing you out on the trails this winter. Because as we told you a few weeks ago the snow is no reason to stay inside.

***Please note, headlamps are required for these events***

Dirt Cheap Trail Series Recap

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The Dirt Cheap Trail Races have come to a close for another season and what a season it was. In a typical year, Boots and Yellow Jacket Racing will find a way to get us muddy, wet, and covered in dirt before a race is over… This year was a bit more challenging for them as the weather on every single race was beautiful! Sunny, not too hot, slight breeze, not wind. Beautiful.

They still managed to find some wet spots, heck we even ran through a section of pond in one race… but it was nothing like if Mother Nature had decided to get us wet!

While not allowing for the mudfest of years past, this season did allow for some awesome post race beers and food as everyone would hang out and mingle waiting for Ellen to give away some awesome prizes.

The overall series winners this year were consistent in earning points at each race, and ran hard despite the heat. The best 4 races count towards your total, meaning you can miss a couple and still lock up the championship.

Lindsay Conway did just this, missing the very first race but earning enough points to win a close womens race winning by just over 7 points.

Paul Glor won the men’s series (and it’s final event) with a bit more of a cushion about 13 points over his closest runner. This was Pauls first year running the series and it sounds like he had a blast.

This is the first year I have run the series and I LOVED it. I ran one trail race as part of the series last year and really enjoyed the course and the competition. I enjoyed the series because it is low key and fun and gives individuals a chance to run on some unique courses at area parks. I also enjoyed that is was held once a month spread out over the entire summer. It feels great to win the series. I trained really hard during the last month and ended up winning the 6th and final race of the series.

If you need some motivation to kick it in to year to challenge Glor for next years series title.. think about this: “I was really excited to find out that as the series winner I would receive a gift certificate for a free pair of trail running shoes and a dental pack that included an electric toothbrush!” Paul Glor

The Dirt Cheap Series has become pretty popular around these parts, men’s winner Paul Glor agrees;

Overall, I think that the Dirt Cheap Trail Series is one of the most fun running events in the Rochester Area. The courses are challenging, the competitors are great and each week you get to finish with a post race party that includes hot dogs and cookies. I plan on doing much more trail running in the future

Fleet Feet and Yellow Jacket Racing Owner, Boots was more than happy with the series this year and with the weather.

Like the entire summer we had great weather for the series which made for fun racing and post race festivities. We ended up having about 400 registered runners per race ,which is amazing for our little Wednesday night series. Our goal was to offer a low cost fun option for runners and it has been well recieved. From what we can find it is now one of the largest off road series in the US.

Fleet Feet and Yellow Jacket Racing do a wonderful job of race management, especially for a Wednesday night summer series, but they tip their hats to the sponsors who assist in making this wonderful events possible.

Salomon has been a huge supporter from year one along with Darn Tough Vermont, they undestand what we are trying to offer. Dr Randy Raetz DDS, is also a great supporter as well as a partcipant in the series

The Dirt Cheap Stage Race is coming up  November 10th and 11th before we head into the Snow Cheap season. The stage race is 3 races over the course of two days. It is run Tour De France style with a time trial, a regular trail race and a longer trail race. It highlights the trails at Mendon Ponds Park just south of Rochester, NY. According to Boots you can run 1, 2, or all 3 events. It is a perfect way to get off the roads and take in the fall season on some amazing trails.

The stage race coming up is a great season ending off road challenge. 3 races over 2 days on tough terrain. We try and keep it inclusive by allowing a person to run a single stage as we want everyone to get outside and enjoy the autumn season on the trails.

Check out our calendar to see more of the local trail races that are coming up. We hope to see you out on the trails!

Stay dirty, run hard! #trailsRoc



Sehgahunda Trail Marathon: A multi perspective look

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We thought it would be fun, seeing as all 4 of us would be down at Sehgahunda this past weekend to share our thoughts and views on what went down. Sean, Ben and Ron ran and Eric participated as a spectator.

“Ber Beer Bear” @roctherun

As the loan bum on the TrailsROC crew that was NOT running Sehgahunda I had to find a way to be as involved as I could. To be honest it was pretty fun being part of a race but not actually being PART of the race.

I recently wrote this piece “What I learned at Sehgahunda” But I wanted to add some of my actual race viewpoints from my perspective.

1. The volunteers were fantastic. I was so thrilled to see them treat each and every runner with every bit of focus and energy that they could. As the day wore on, and runners became lethargic and some a bit confused, they NEVER relaxed. They never lost the energy and the pep. I am certain many of the runners were only able to move on because they knew a well staffed and excited volunteer checkpoint would be just a few more miles down the trial.

2. The runners showed so much grit and determination. Not just the guys and girls in the lead. Not just the TrailsROC dudes, but all of the runners. We did not leave until after the clock was well into its 6th hour. Many runners were still on the course at this point. Plugging away, and shockingly still smiling. This is how you know, that we as runners LOVE what we do. 6+ hours into a brutal trail race, and smiles were all around us.

3. The families and support crews were so important. Not just to the runners, but to each other. My wife and I spent a considerable amount of time with Rons family and with Seans family. As we did, the other families of runners “of the same pace” as our groups would say things like “Your guy should be here any minute” and they would get up and get ready to cheer. They began to know names. As we did as we cheered for other runners than our own. This never happens out on the roads, it was unique to me to see this going on. This… well, investment emotionally in another runner who you have never actually met. I was cheering for people by name that I only knew a wife or mother or husband, and I did not know THEM by name. It was odd, but it was awesome.

4. Fleet Feet and Yellow Jacket Racing have designed probably the best possible spectator trail marathon. Every few miles you get to see your runner. Not only see them, but talk to, support, help. On the roads, you might get one or two chances to hold up a sign. Here we had the start, 6 check points and a finish. A minimum of 8 places to see your runner and help them along. That made what is sometimes a very boring spectator sport, a much more enjoyable day.

5. Runners were supporting the heck out of each other. I saw runners encouraging, high fiving, and helping each other out. You won’t see this on the roads. At each check point they were asking “did he look ok, is he holding up well, how is the family” I heard all sorts of questions from runners about other runners. Not to know where they were as to beat them, but to get a handle on if they were OK. This is why we do what we do at TrailsROC. That sort of kinship is rare in any other sport.

6. Volunteering is tiring, supporting is draining. BUT it is also the most motivating thing you can do as a runner. If you are in a rut, if you are bumming around with your workouts, get out there and volunteer. Get out there and support a runner. Your passion will be back within 20 minutes. Trust me on this.

7. Next year people will need to play the support role for me. I am going to be on the course. I am going to be crushing those trails with my crew. After watching and cheering all day, there is no way I am not going to be out there!

The event was awesome. As a spectator, supporter, bystander I loved it.

“Papa Smurph” @athletedad

Oh, Sehgahunda. You little bastard.

At this point in my short endurance racing “career“ (I was obese less than three years ago), a trail marathon isn’t too bad. I’ve soloed longer trails. 10-12 hours spent mountain biking or trail running are second nature by this point. Heck, I was actually using Sehgahunda as a part of my off road triathlon training because I’m tackling a solo off road ironman triathlon later this year. Coming into Saturday’s race I’d already thrown in a 100 mile single speed road bike and 2.5 mile swim in the week prior just to see how my body would respond to it all. So I know what I’m capable of and had no reservations at all headed into Saturday’s race. I showed up ready to go, not play it conservatively, and see how fast I could crank through Sehgahunda’s 26.3 miles of trail with a goal of finishing in the 5:30 range – give or take half and hour.

But in my racing experience I’ve also learned, mostly the hard way, that I need to listen to my body. Especially with endurance undertakings. There’s a time to push your limits. The pain cave has become a familiar “friend” by now. But there’s also a time to back off, cut your losses, and live to fight another day. Like when you’re risking heat stroke; like during Saturday’s race.

I showed up Saturday ready to play. A single speed road century and 2.5 mile swim already under my belt during the preceding week – to see how my body would react to my upcoming off road Ironman undertaking – I was confident and felt great heading into Saturday’s race. Unlike the long, off road solo undertakings I’m used to tackling, I went into Sehgahunda ready to push myself both physically and mentally. Aid stations? People cheering? Drop bags? Piece of cake. I’m used to doing this self-supported and solo. So I cranked through the first 12 miles or so right on target at a 12 min/mile pace (which would have had me finishing around the 5:30 mark)… but then my body got other ideas.

I’ve never had stomach problems on endurance races. Ever. I did Saturday. Man it sucked. I’m pretty good at ignoring the hurt, but somewhere after the second race checkpoint about ½ way through the race my stomach started feeling horrible. Having learned the hard way from my past experiences with heat stroke, dehydration, and cramping, I knew that I simply had to keep downing the fluids, calories, and electrolytes, but the more I took in the worse my stomach felt. And so the less I took in the worse my dehydration got. It’s a maddening cycle that only complicates the already daunting mental game that is endurance trail racing. At around mile 18 I knew that as much as I didn’t want to pull out – it might come down to making the safe decision rather than risking continued dehydration and possibly heat stroke.

I had heat stroke once back in high school on a 5 mile training run in the July heat of central Pennsylvania out by myself on a back road. I got cold. I stopped sweating. I blacked out momentarily… I was lucky enough to be about 2 miles from my start point and shuffled back without further incident. Thankfully I didn’t pass out in the road. But it definitely shook me up and ever since then I’ve had a very healthy respect for the heat.

So Saturday, deep in the woods by myself, knowing my time splits were continuing to tank rapidly and I was falling towards the back of the field, I knew there was a good chance the prudent choice might be to pull out. I hate pulling out. I don’t quit things. I’m not a fast athlete, but I can go longer than and suffer more than most people. But at that point in the race I stopped to see if a bathroom break would alleviate my stomach problems. My urine was practically brown. That’s a bad sign. Than I started sweating noticeably less. Another really bad sign. By the time I made it into checkpoint 5 at mile 19.4 I was seriously considering pulling out. My legs were fine, definitely tired, but no cramps – and my mental game was still fine, but I know my body and the reality was I was risking heat stroke. I sat for a few minutes. Iced my neck and head, fueled up and headed back out… But about .3 miles back down the trail I started feeling cold. That was the deciding factor. When heat stroke becomes a real possibility it’s time to call it quits. Sure, I had the motivation to finish of a beautiful wife, my 3 amazing kids, and my parents waiting at the finish line for me. But not wanting them to see me show up in an ambulance is also a very relevant kind of motivation. So I turned around,  headed back in to checkpoint 5 and pulled out of the race after covering 20 miles. Cut my losses. Live to fight another day.

Thankfully a friend was heading back to Mt. Morris to get his car and stopped to chat and let us use his cell phone to call ahead and let family know what was going on. A mile or two down the road at checkpoint 6 we were greeted by some volunteers and relay team members who actually seemed to know what was going on and – after making sure we were ok – allowed us to hitch a ride back to the finish area. To his credit, someone from Fleet Feet eventually stopped by the checkpoint on his rounds and was positively livid when he found out that we’d been left on our own. But by that point I really didn’t care. And I still don’t. That shouldn’t happen. Ever. It was absolutely pathetic.

It’s a good thing my fascination with Sehgahunda transcends the race organizer snafu‘s. Aside from the post-DNF logistics, Sehgahunda was an utterly amazing day. And I will definitely be back next year to kick Sehgahunda’s ass. Even having to pull out 20 miles in, it was still an  incredible experience. The fact is that DNF’ing is sometimes par for the course in endurance racing. When you’re out there pushing yourself sometimes you do actually find your limit. It was just one of those days. In hindsight, I still wouldn’t have changed a thing about how the day went. Given the circumstances I know I made the right call and I have no regrets.

I suppose that if I’d tapered properly for Sehgahunda and not squeezed the rest of an Ironman into the preceding week I probably would have done fine. But that wasn’t the point. This year’s Sehgahunda was part of training for something bigger and it definitely served that purpose.

Sehgahunda is truly a remarkable race. I’ve never experienced a course so beautiful and brutal that doesn’t involve mountains. It’s all rocks, roots, gully drops, and steep scrambles. There’s nothing flat. There are no smooth sections of trail. It is thoroughly relentless. And it is utterly beautiful. The views of the Letchworth gorge are breathtaking, the ravines, fern fields, pine tree forests, and old growth tress have an almost mystical presence. The place has an ancient spiritual quality about it – one that leaves you feeling privileged for having been part of it.

I happen to have a rather unique perspective on these experiences, because 3 years ago I weighed over 60 pounds more than what I do now. I was obese. Not “Biggest Loser” obese, but definitely, by the BMI charts, I was obese. I’m really proud to have accomplished what I have since then. I’m thankful for my family and friends, my health, and the ability to race off road the way I do. Endurance racing has allowed me to discover more about myself than I ever knew I was capable of, and I get to do things in regular training that most people only dream of. It really is a privilege. I pushed myself out there, but I didn’t put myself in the hospital, so that‘s good. Sehgahunda isn’t going anywhere. It’ll be there next year for me to destroy. And destroy it I will!

“White Turtle” @badmanrunning

Sehgahunda has provided me the opportunity to write one of the most difficult race reports I’ve ever had. To say the race had it’s ups and downs would be a terrible pun, so I won’t say it… oops.

The course, the people, and the support at Letchworth was amazing. One of the great parts about trail racing is that you get a lot more  for a lot less than you would get at a road race. Sehgahunda was no exception. The cost is reasonable for a marathon, hell it is reasonable for a 10k! For the race fee you get a sweet sweatshirt, really great aid stations, awesome company of fellow trail runners, and hours on a gorgeous course that will test your physical and mental strength.

From a personal perspective, this was my “A” race. After running my first half marathon in the fall I desired more… more distance and more challenge. I came across Sehgahunda in my search for such a race in November of 2011 and knew it was perfect for me. I love running trails and pushing the limits of what I’m capable of.  Everything I read about Sehg told me that it would fit both of those criteria.  I spent 6 months focused on this race. 60-75% of my runs were on trails. By race day I knew I was ready for my first attempt at a full marathon.

Race morning we knew it was going to be hot. Likely in the low 80’s. This worried me a little since I had done little training in that type of weather.  I was still confident that I would run well though. I strapped on my Vibrams, threw on my #TrailsROC  shirt, filled my Camelbak with ice and a little Gatorade and joined my fellow founders of TrailsROC .  Ron and Ben were there to challenge the course and we’d be cheered by our forth founder Eric and his wife Sheila throughout the day. There were lots of other familiar faces at the start line, some friends and some rivals. I tried to focus on my plan, I wanted to go out fast and early, the first section of this course is by far the easiest and runs 6.2 miles before the first aid station. My goal was to get out of the gates in the top 10 and run 9 min miles to checkpoint 1. The problem was that my Garmin wasn’t getting satellite at the start line, therefore I had nothing to judge my pace. I settled into about 10th place anyway and hit cruise control. The first 5 miles flew by and I hit the first real challenge of the race feeling good. Each aid station is set up on River Rd. which happens to be usually about ¾ of a mile from the main course. These checkpoints are a requirement and count towards the race distance but are difficult because the are long climbs filled with knee to shoulder height grass and weeds. I was in and out of CP1 slowing only to grab a cup of water to dump over my head… it was already heating up on the course.

I held my position through to CP2 and was still feeling comfortable, although I knew that the race truly began when you left this point. It’s the longest stretch of the course without an aid station, 6.8 miles. I tossed my wife (she was driving between aid stations on the road to provide my support) my non-functioning  watch and  quickly dumped water over my head and struck back out. As soon as I left the checkpoint I felt a pang of fear as I worried that I hadn’t refilled my hydration pack. There was no going back however and I surged forward.

I hit the 13.1 mark of the race in right around 2 hours… a quick pace for the difficulty of the course. At this point I had crossed numerous streams and climbed over a ton of roots and rocks. I was taking GU’s every 45 minutes and felt like my hydration was right on schedule. I knew I had gone out too fast, but this was my plan and now I was going to have to hold on. Another 2 miles dropped by quickly when suddenly I felt my right calf seize up violently. I had similar spasms to this in the last quarter mile of the Flower City half marathon a month earlier but never experienced anything like it in my training. I pushed on despite the pain of this constant cramping and made it to the climb to CP3. I passed the leaders heading down from the checkpoints and said hi to Paul Glor who was running in about 6th at the time. He grinned and said “see you soon”, I was confused, we had a loooong way to go yet! I didn’t realize he was hurting badly. My calf loosened slightly as I made the climb but I knew I might be in trouble. CP 3 is just over 16 miles in and is notorious for having the most DNF’s. My wife handed me a couple of Advil and I washed them down with some Vita-Coco, clutch! The cramps diminished as I headed down to the trail. It didn’t last, soon after I was climbing a short hill when the calf seized again, followed in short order by my quad on my right leg. The pain was intense and forced me into hiking the next few rollers. I returned to jogging, almost dragging my right leg when the left calf joined the right one and completely cramped up. What the hell was happening! I started getting passed but hung tight and made it into the next aid station.

I told my wife and Dad that I was in trouble, but that I would finish. You could see the spasms in my right quad at this point, massive pulsating cramps that wracked my legs. Again I downed as much coconut water as my stomach could handle and headed back out. This point of the race became a blur as I crawled deep into my pain cave. I was passing a few people but getting passed by just as many. As much as I was hurting, mentally I was still in a really good place. I KNEW I would finish this race. Looking back to it now I don’t know why there was no self doubt, despite my increasingly desperate physical state. Somewhere in the next couple of aid stations the was a MASSIVE climb, I was alternating 2-1 jogging to hiking at this point when the worst hit. I tripped on a small root and my left groin felt like someone stabbed it. The calf cramps I was dealing with, the quads were trashed, but the groin was almost too much. Every step now was agony. Another competitor ran ahead of me into an aid station and begged for salt for me, he said he could see the spasms in my calves when he was behind me on the hill. The race director Boots appeared out of nowhere and gave me a handful of salt capsules. I downed them, shook myself off and doggedly set back into the woods.

At this point I got passed by Yoshi and Dan O. both of whom looked like they had just started the race, absolutely dominating the course. Normally this would have frustrated me, but on this day I was happy to just be moving forward. As I hit mile 20 I passed Paul Glor, he too was moving forward with great determination but I could tell he was hurting. He gave me some encouragement and said “only 10k left”.

The cramps finally subsided not long after  mile 22, but at this point I had been dealing with them for over 8 miles and there was no strength left. It was all I could do to push on. I felt as if I was walking as much of the course as running at this point. My miles had slipped to 13-15 mins a piece. As I passed the aid station with 5k to go Dan Ward flew by me. I cheered him on and couldn’t believe how strong he looked. A ¼ mile down the trail I came back alongside him walking and I fell in stride with him. We would spend the next 2.5 miles encouraging each other into jogging for a few minutes. One of us would surge a head only to fall back within moments. It was much needed company at this point in the race. We agreed that place in the race no longer mattered (although we were desperately closing the gap on a pair in front of us who were similarly struggling through a walk/run strategy). As we left the trail with 600 meters to go Dan pushed ahead up the final hill of the course. At the top of the hill he was stopped dead, I couldn’t offer any more encouragement, I was hurting, bad, I needed the finish line.

I found the strength to push myself down the final straightaway and through the finish line… I was a marathoner. It felt amazing. I did not have to run any further!

It didn’t take me long post-race to start analyzing what happened. In fact as I enjoyed a cheeseburger and a couple of stouts I started planning my assault on Sehg for next year. I went out WAY to fast in this race and should have been carrying (or had my support team) with salt. I hadn’t used any during training but the heat caught up with me this day. I don’t want to be too hard on myself but I ran a terrible race. The cramps were my own fault. I should’ve finished top 10 in this race (instead of 15th). That still would have put me in 2nd in age group, but my fitness level was good enough for a 4:15 at this race, on this course.   I failed in my nutrition and my race plan but I learned a lot. In the end I’m happy to finally call myself a marathoner but I know there is so much more for me! I can truly say that the distance of this race was not a factor, fitness wise I know I could’ve gone longer.

Next up? I’ll keep my eyes on an ultra, Sehgahunda showed me that I’m capable of putting my mind over my physical pain. Huge kudos to everyone that took on this course, it is truly a monster and can eat up the toughest of athletes on any given day. Proud of the way #TrailsROC represented and can’t wait to bring the community out onto the trails more this summer!

“Goat” @gfmedia

Just a scatter of thoughts about the day:

Went to bed at 8, finally fell asleep at 9:30. Slept pretty well till about 3:15 when I became wide awake. Got everything packed up and put into the jeep and headed out to grab some breakfast.

Apparently nobody except for Wegmans was serving breakfast and I ended up with a stale Cinnamon Raisin bagel and an Orange Mango Naked Juice. Not the best Pre race meal but it’s what I had to work with. Took of picked up fellow TrailsRoc founder Ben Murphy and headed out to Letchworth. Almost nailed a deer as we neared the start line. Pissed me off a bit and got my blood up a little.

Took my time getting ready then hopped on the bus shortly after my wife and family arrived. Back at the start I got the rest of my gear on then went for a quick loose up run. The ladies took off then it was our turn 15 minutes later. After meeting up with Ben, Sean and Eric (who was unfortunately not sharing in the pain today) I mosied on over to the Jeep, grabbed my gear, said my goodbyes and wandered to the start.

My adrenaline was pumping. My HR was at about 92 at this point, 40+ higher than my resting HR.I joked with someone about not giving up no matter what, and the EMT’s would have to chase me onto the course to pull me off of it.

Temperature…70 degrees.

I geared up with my Salamon pack which had PB M&M’s, PBJ wrap, GU, S-Caps, Gatorade and Ice cold water on board. I taped up my foot prior to the start to give some extra stability. Altra Lone Peaks have done me well, and I chose to stick to them. Jublo Sunglasses would play a huge part in my comfort today as well as my Northface hat and GVH jersey.

Had my bluetooth headphones working and phone in the pack. Queued up my Sehgahunda playlist that began with the full score from Gladiator, and away we went. (I also had a borrowed GoPro that I would use up till it ran out 3 hours later)

The start was very compact and took 2+ miles in before it was comfortable to actually run. Tucked in behind Doug DeWeaver and tried to keep the pace slow and steady. I actually ran longer than I wanted to and caught up to Ben at the first hill and began my walking. I would walk every hill and ant hill this day, that was my plan. I watched as others bounded up the hill, but stayed with my strategy of efficiency. It works, I know it does.

Before we knew it there was the access trail to the first CP, and away we went. The 2nd part of my strategy was walk up a majority of the CP, make quick CP stops and continue on. The CP are for the most part, all uphill (which means you also have a nice downhill to bank time) More efficiency.

Seeing the faster runners coming down from the checkpoint was pretty cool, never saw Sean as he booked out fast but saw several others I recognized (if I am nobody to them) and caught Dan O on his descent and he looked great.

Pulled into the first CP, yelled out my number told my wife Gatorade, made the swap and was out in 30 seconds. Then back down the hill.

I tried to make this as easy as possible for my wife as I really want her to crew me, I think it is good for our relationship and a way to bring her into what I was doing. I setup my aid kit and made a list of what would be needed each time. The distance between some checkpoints gave me time to revise this mentally or inform her of what I needed next time.

A short jaunt out of CP 1 and back onto the course, nothing special happened here except we started to pass a bunch of the ladies at this point. The access to CP2 was “annoying” to say the least. LOTS of shoulder high grass made it feel like the jungle. Or my backyard. It was also open so the sun started to be felt.

Pulling into CP2 I saw Dan about a 1/2 mile ahead, and figured I was doing pretty good. The next CP would be almost 7 miles and I decided it best to replace everything. Water, Gatorade, Gu. Having Ice cold aid stuff from my wife I believe was key to me having no hydration or heat issues. I kept my body really cool and stayed on top of pretty much everything.

I still felt pretty good, and grabbed a couple watermelon slices from the table and took off.

Somewhere after coming down from this CP I was passing some ladies and stumbled going down a hill. Stretched out my groin and right hamstring pretty bad and landed hard to where I felt how bad my knees were feeling. I also happened upon a rock in my shoe and pulled over to take care of it. Better to deal with it than the after effects from it. At about mile 12 my legs were evident that I was not back to shape and the past month of injury ravaged any hope I had of getting a decent time. It would be a mental over physical battle from here on out. Up to this point I was only walking the hills/climbs but made the decision to switch over to the 4:1 run/walk as much as I could. Something I should have done much earlier, and probably would’ve finished better.

Pulling into the CP, I wanted to keep them as short as possible. I allotted 5 minutes for this one as I knew I would have to do a full refill, but since I split most of that at the last `CP it was much shorter. I continually passed people in the CP who went past me a while back. Elyse told me later, some guys were in there for a very long time. With the heat I don’t blame them, I just kept doing what I was doing as it was working.

I think it was during this CP I actually saw Eric  & Sheila!  I was way too focused. Also the last time I saw Dan O, and watched Mike Ryan zoom down the course.

The distances between CP got smaller but my times got slower as well. Somewhere along the way I made the conscious decision to eat my PBJ wrap while I walked. Good decision. I started to feel a bit more knee pain at this time. Grabbed another watermelon, ice cold water and a tablet. Wiped the face down to get the salt off and out of my eyes. I saw lots of runners dropping at this point from heat exhaustion.

Ugh. Lazy feet strike again. During this stretch I had a mental battle with myself as I hit the point on the course where I tripped and hit hard 4 weeks ago. I walked the section almost 10 minutes of it. I just kept struggling with the fact that I was tired legs and THIS is where it happened. Nearing the CP I rolled my right ankle scaring the beejezzus out of some poor guy. Nothing serious. Longer stop on the CP for some more gatorade and tablets.

This section sucked, big time. long climb and lots of rocks. Got to see the girls as this would be the last CP anyone was allowed at. Watching the Relay runners on fresh legs come flying down was a bit disheartening. IT looked like I was walking through a battlefield at this point with people stopped and sitting. 22 miles done, I would finish, but how long. My time goal of 4:45 had passed and there was no way I could do 5:00 in the time that remained. Survive.

Just survive.

After slowly goign back down the long climb I was back on the last section of technical trail. Sehgahunda wasn’t finishd with me. She tripped me and rolled my left ankle, then 1/2 mile later she tripped me again causing me to barrel dive and land on my shoulder. Demoralized I picked myself up swore at her and told her I was still going to beat her no matter what sh did. Rolled in to the 2nd to last CP to find Barry handing out ICE COLD REDBULL.

I’ve had Red Bull once before on a run, and it was…um interesting. I packed the can in my pack and ascended the next hill. I ran walked the road , something everyone else was doing at this point too.

Last CP. I popped open the Redbull and drank about half,  grabbed a handful of Skittles and went on my way. MY family would be waiting for me at the next stop. The finish.

I continued the run walk, until I could see the FF sign on the road. It was about this time that the Redbull kicked in. I willed myself to a 8 min mile pace that turned into a sub 6 over the last 1/2 mile (which included …1 more hill) turning into the parade grounds I forgot about my knees and just sprinted. Sprinted with anything I had left. Crossed the finish line and grabbed my arrowhead.

Sehgahunda…I beat you.

All in all my immediate thoughts on the day and race were not positive, hence my delay in posting anything worthwhile. I’m glad I did. I took a walk Sunday afternoon and followed that with a talk with Coach Ian. So in the end the positives FAR out weigh the negatives coming out of this race

In the end, this wasn’t my race. I trained nearly 18-20 weeks for this, and still managed to run it despite losing a month of good training going into it due to injury. I’m proud I finished this course, on this day. It was a good training run. Next year, I’ll be back and I’ll shoot for my sub 5, and I’ll go another 26.3 rounds with Sehgahunda. It was great to have the support out there, between friends, volunteers but most importantly family. Could I have done this without them, yes, but it made it that much more of an enjoyable experience having them and especially my wife involved as much as they were.

To recap, we all had a blast, we all feel there is room for improvement (especially Eric who didn’t join this year). The race is for the most part extremely organized, very well run. It is runner friendly, and spectator friendly.

We will be back next year to tackle the course again, move up in the rankings and continue to share with the Rochester Running Community just how much TrailsROC!

Fleet Feet Dirt Cheap Trail Race Series

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Are you looking to run some trails races this year for a great price?

On April 18th we kick off the Fleet Fleet Dirt Cheap Trail Race Series for the 2012 trail season. Yellow Jacket Racing produces a series of 6 evening trail races on local area trails. The Dirt Cheap series offers a challenge to the most experienced trail runner while at the same time offering a course and atmosphere that even a novice will be able to appreciate.

The trails we will run are at Mendon Ponds, Webster Park and Lucien Morin Park (formerly known as the Ellison Wet lands). Each course will be run two times, the second time the course is run, event producers have you running in the opposite direction so no two races will ever be the same.
Each course will cover anywhere between 4 and 6 miles in which you will most assuredly climb some hills, run through some mud, jump over logs, and take in the beautiful scenery that the trails of Rochester, NY offer.
Boots, the President of Fleet Feet and Yellow Jacket Racing answered the following questions for us about the Fleet Feet Dirt Cheap Series (FFSDCTRS)

1. What motivation did you have to start the Dirt Cheap series? 

The FFSDCTRS was started for a few reasons

1. The Economy was starting to go bad and we wanted to be able to offer lower price options for races

2. We wanted to get more people to get out on the trails and give trail running a chance without having to do a long race

 2. What can someone expect when they run one of your courses?

For the FFSDCTRS courses each course will feel longer then it is as we like to throw in hills, single track, mud, turns and anything else that looks interesting. The idea is to challenge yourself in a fun way

 3. What if I am a newer runner and nervous about running on trails?

Start on some easy ones, even the greenway and gradually build up to tougher trails. And when in doubt about your ability to tackle a trail, walk it.

Great advice from Boots right there – They seem to be promoting the same “get out on the trails” attitude that we stand for.
All races are on Wednesday Evenings. All are run at 6:30pm with the exception of the final event which is run at 6:00pm.
The dates and locations are as follows;
  • April 18th Mendon 6:30 pm
  • May 16th Webster 6:30 pm
  • June 13th Lucien Morin Park 6:30 pm
  • July 18th Mendon 6:30 pm
  • August 15th Webster 6:30 pm
  • September 12th Lucien Morin Park 6:00 pm
The best part of this race series is right in the name though. Dirt Cheap. You get 6 races for 50 dollars or just 12 dollars per race for individual races. If you register for the series you will also earn a Dirt Cheap shirt.
Trail running offers a unique atmosphere. The Dirt Cheap series is a perfect example of this community and how inclusive trail runners are. Yellow Jacket Racing will provide snacks after each race for runners, but you will also be surrounded by folks covered in mud, laughing, joking, and enjoying a BYOB beverage while recapping the race.
Please join us for these events and explore and experience the trails of Rochester NY


MENDON PONDS PARK – Route 65 (Clover Street) south from Monroe Avenue. Go to 3rd entrance. Turn left onto the Pond Rd/Nature Center Entrance. At bottom of big hill turn left. The race starts at the top of Devil’s Bathtub. If you went past the big Mendon Pond you went too far. Look for signs.

WEBSTER PARK – Take Route 104 East to Holt Road exit; Turn L on Holt Road to Lake Rd.  Turn Left onto Lake Rd.  Drive approx. 1/2 mile to camp access road on left.  This will take you back to Onondaga Lodge. Starting point is Onondaga Lodge.

LUCIEN MORIN PARK (FORMERLY ELLISON WETLANDS)– 590 to Empire Blvd East. Park is at bottom of hill next to MacGregor’s.”

Source-Yellow Jacket Racing

***All photos courtesy of Barb Boutillier of Fleet Feet***
** Dirt Cheap Logo courtesy of Yellow Jacket Racing**