Inaugural Cayuga Trails 50: Race and Giveaway

Cayuga Trails 50The Cayuga Trails 50 is a spankin’-new 50-mile ultramarathon scheduled for June 8, 2013. The race takes place on the trails surrounding Ithaca, New York and offers up rocky climbs, digger descents, 6,500 feet of vertical gain, thick hardwood forests, waterfalls, views of the Finger Lakes region, a whopping 11 aid stations, and…

[Keep reading, there’s a sweet contest below!]

Prize Money

…prize money totaling $12,000 plus gear from sponsors. Check it:

  • The first male and female will claim $2,500.
  • 2nd male and female: $1,500
  • 3rd male and female: $500
  • 4th male and female: $250
  • male/female age-division winners: sponsor awards
  • $500 to the first top 10 finishing male or female who can also return to finish in the top 5 at either the Finger Lakes Fifties 50 mile or the Virgil Crest 50/100 mile.
  • Elite prem* prizes: $1000
  • Non-elite prem* prizes: $1,000 worth of gear, food, cash, and more

*Race officials will be planted on the course in certain spots. Entrants approaching will be notified of a given performance incentive (like ‘$250 to the first racer to the top of this climb’ or ‘an apple pie to the first of your group to make it across the creek’). Prems are designed to encourage entrants to push their pace/effort and to just plain make the race fun.

Elite Field

Some top trail and ultrarunners have already entered the Cayuga Trails 50. Here’s the current high-level who’s who:

  • Sage Canaday
  • Yassine Diboun
  • Matt Flaherty
  • Dave James
  • Nikki Kimball
  • Dave Mackey
  • Jordan McDougal
  • Krissy Moehl
  • Ben Nephew
  • Jacqueline Palmer
  • Ragan Petrie
  • Leigh Schmidt

Any other speedsters out there jonesing for a June 50-miler in upstate New York? I mean, the RD is offering on-course apple pie!

Sponsors and More

All of this is coming together under the race directorship of Ian Golden, a long-time upstate New York trail runner and owner of the Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company, a brick-and-mortar Ithaca running store; a grant from the Tompkins County Tourism Program; and the following sponsors:


We’re hosting a contest to celebrate this new, competitive, and well-prized race’s arrival onto the ultrarunning scene. We’re giving away three prize packs containing the following:

  • Entry into the 2013 Cayuga Trails 50
  • Your choice of an UltrAspire Spry, Surge, or Revolution pack
  • A pair of Scott Kinabalus, and
  • An shirt from Atayne.

To enter the contest, post your answer to the following question as a comment to this post by March 2, noon MST: Why do you want to run the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50? [Editor’s Note, March 17: The contest is now closed; winners have been chosen and will be/have been contacted. See RD Ian Golden’s comment below for details on who’s taking away this contest’s schwag. Thanks for your enthusiasm!]

Meghan Hicks

is's Managing Editor, the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running,' and a Contributing Editor at Trail Runner magazine. The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.

There are 163 comments

  1. Timothy Mesyanzhinov

    I'd love to run Cayuga, because there are some schools (universities) in upstate New York I'd like to have a look at when I start applying to university next year. Plus, it'd be the perfect way to start summer break!

  2. Jim Grove

    I want to run the Cayuga Trails 50 because my son goes to Ithaca College and I fell in love with the area when we came to visit. I ran some of the trails in Buttermilk Falls and Robert Treman State Parks and they are some of the most beautiful trails I have ever been on. This will be my first 50 mile race and I can't wait!!!! Thanks, Ian, for putting this race on and attracting elite runners. I really hope I get a chance to meet them.

  3. Josh Stratton

    I want to run this race because its close to rochester. It will also be my first ultra. Some of the elites that are going to be there is also very cool. It is also a great reason to go hangout in Ithaca for 3 or 4 days!

  4. Dan Lopata

    I want to run (and will run) the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50 because Robert Treman State Park and Buttermilk Falls State Park host the most beautiful trails I have ever experienced. I also like pie.

  5. Brian Sorrells

    I want to run Cayuga Trails 50 because: I hear the trails are beautiful in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes area; the course looks challenging but runnable, not ultra-technical; I have heard Ian is a great, fun RD and runs excellent races; the race is only 4 hours from home in Connecticut; my family can make a vacation of the trip in Ithaca and the area; and because I want to complete a 50 miler in case I want to switch from Virgil Crest 50 to the VC 100. ;-)

    p.s. Now also because I want to win one of those packs!

  6. Nathan

    I have only recently gotten into ultra and trail running. This sounds like an awesome event on a great trail system. I have never gotten close to 50 before so this would be an awesome challenge. Check daily and love their support of events such as this.

  7. Swampy

    Ithaca is one of those transcendent places that defies label or designation. Incredibly natural trails cutting through well-established city. Gorgeous waterfalls and challenging single track, Ithaca has it all.

  8. Brian Macpherson

    Would love to return to Ithaca where I spent my college years at Cornell. I fell in love with trail running doing Monkey Run, repeats up Cascadilla gorge, or going down to 6 mile creek and jumping in far too early in the Spring. Have since moved to Boulder, CO and gotten into ultrarunning, but need an excuse to visit family back in Upstate NY!

  9. Moe Bsat

    I'd love to run the Cayuga Trails 50 because I'd love an opportunity to run side by side with Sage Canaday and some other top trail runners! I've always wanted to see first hand what their pacing is like. It would be such an amazing experience for me as a new and young ultrarunner. In Canada, we don't get a lot of big name runners in our trail races and Ithaca is just close enough to drive to!

  10. Tom

    Very impressed with the response and detailed explanation Ian gave regarding the concept of the race. Someone who puts their time and effort into organizing and directing an ultra deserves respect. I would like to run his race and visit the area. I like pie…

  11. Dan

    My friend has a cottage on Cayuga Lake. I could run 50 and then spend the remainder of that day and the next cooling off my legs in the refreshing water.

  12. Sarah

    The trails there look beautiful. Unfortunately the looped course looks fairly convoluted. That being said if I won entry I would run it seeing as the womens field is only 3 deep right now. If this goes like other races where money is offered, I could be that no name female runner that goes home with money. Why not me?

  13. Dawn Lisenby

    I would like to run this race because the trails look beautiful and fun; the atmosphere will be exciting with top runners being there and prize purse being offered; and it will be a lot cooler than running a 50k in Florida at that time which is where I will be at:)

  14. Graham

    I would love to run this race in the company of such a talented field. And particularly in the Scott T2 which sounds awesome (hunted high and low to find a shop with a pair near 92782 :-().

    My New Years resolution this year was at the age of 45 to run an ultra in every state over the coming years but unfortunately so far I've only managed my home state of CA. An entry for this race at the far side of the country would defineitly get the ball rolling!

  15. Nancy

    The FL50s is my backyard course, and I help maintain a slice of that race's trail, but I'll be away on business for this year's race, making the Cayuga Trails 50 a wonderfully attractive alternative, in part because Ian — along with Sherry and their two little cuties — is one of my favorite people and knows how to put on a high-quality, high-integrity event, and in part because of the sweet trip down the Finger Lakes Trail heading back to race central in Lower Treman State Park. I just wish he included a bit more of the FLT and a little less road in his course design. If I don't end up racing the CT50 myself, I'll be enthusiastically working the aid station sponsored by the Finger Lakes Runners Club.

  16. Gerrit

    I want to run the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50 to be a "Beacon of Hope" for all the injured trail runners of the world. But seriously, I propose to run three 50 mile trail races in New York, in four weeks – Cayuga Trails 50, Manitou's Revenge, and Finger Lakes 50s. Pulling this off as a very sub-elite runner may exemplify that utilizing a more efficient, less injurious running form makes a difference.

    I have practiced Chi Running for the past 2 1/2 years, (and helped at several Chi Running workshops), and "while mine is not the only way, it is a good way". I plan as well to "give back" by being involved with the Finger Lakes Runners Club's effort to establish weekly (trail) runs, and by being available to make comment/give feedback as concerns running form.

    Thank you for your support.

  17. Erik

    For the past few months I had been on the fence. Do I run the Cayuga Trails 50 or the TNF Endurance Challenge in Bear Mountain as my first 50? Living in upstate NY, both were relatively close and having gone to college near Ithaca, I knew the Cayuga Trails 50 course would be “gorges”. Just 2 days ago I finally hit the submit button and registered for TNF Endurance Challenge. Being sooner (May 4) and having in-laws near the course insured I’d do it. The idea of doing both had been on my mind but I knew it would not be “financially responsible“ unless…

    I cannot think of a better way to bring in my big four-O this year than being able to do 2 sweet 50’s in some super sweet new gear (UltrAspire, Scott, Atayne…drool!). To toe the line with the likes of Sage Canaday, Yassine Diboun, Nikki Kimball, Dave Mackey, Krissy Moehl, and others…whoa! Help a mid-life crisis, upstate NY, trail running dad live a dream. Send me to the Cayuga Lakes 50!

  18. Andrew

    Running the Cayuga Lakes 50 would be a great homecoming. I went to a small high school 1/2 mile from Cayuga Lake. This is where my running first got started. It would be like going back home if I were to run this race.

  19. Peter

    This looks fun. But god forbid anyone just runs for health or fitness and never enters real races. Then, regardless of whether they are fully prepared for such a race they wouldn't be able to register due to ridiculous pre-requisites. At least lotteries shut people out with equality. Such a shame because NYS and especially Ithaca area are so beautiful year round.

    1. Ian Golden


      That's a pretty confusing entry. If you aren't inclined to participate in formal races what's the issue here? Vast majority of the course runs on NYS land. Park policy is to be off the trails by dark, hence a cutoff policy and pre-requ's to evidence someone's ability to complete the distance within our time caps. Offer up a less "ridiculous" policy and I'll consider using it next year. Surely is a beautiful place to run in all seasons and I encourage you to do so. Trails are open June through the first snow and for nothing other then fun and fitness I'd be happy to join you for a run over some amazing sections anytime.

      1. Peter

        Simply remove all prerequisites to registration! The point is that you have people who run for pleasure and may want to join this so-called ultra running community sometime by trying an actual race. But when they find one that looks interesting it says "sorry you can't run because you've never run before so keep looking elsewhere". There is absolutely no point to prerequisites and if you're concerned about participation hold a lottery.

        1. Ian Golden

          Pete, vast majority of ultras don't have pre requesites. I intentionally inserted marathon distances into the qualifying set for those who may not have entered an ultra race prior and I feel the time of 5 hours is a good indicator of an individual's ability to potentially complete this course in 14 hours or under. I am considering of exceptions so contact me off this list if you feel you, or another, may qualify as an exception. If the event gets to the point of needing a lottery, I will consider implementing one. I'm open to other pre-requ considerations but for the considerations of not only other entrants, but volunteers and medical/safety crews, I will stand by them where I feel they are warranted. One of the events I also direct is the Virgil Crest 50k in September. Wonderful trails, tougher course, no pomp or hype, and no pre-requ's. We'd love to have you.

  20. Claude

    It would be nice to run those rocky NY trails again, after moving to Houston TX, there's not much of that around here and everything's flat as a pancake!

    1. Jason C

      Come out to San Antonio and I'll show you some nice rocky hill running. Nueces is hosting the USATF 50 mile trail championships and has a lot of good technical running. Check out a little race Cactus Rose and the Bandera 100k.

  21. Jim Kavanagh

    Ian probably doesn't remember me, but I ran in last year's Virgil Crest 100 (another one of his races). After the race, I literally left the hotel in a wheelchair. Maybe that was little dramatic or unnecessary, but I did the last 30 miles on a badly swollen ankle (it's weird what ultrarunners are proud of).

    Anyway, I survived Ian's course, which included a maze of ski slopes (which I had to loop around 4 times) and 20k or so climbing. Somehow he made it rain, which made the slopes nearly impossible to climb and too way easy to descend, if you know what I mean. It took me a week before I wasn't shivering cold and taking half hour long showers.

    The crazy thing is, I thought it was one the greatest things I've ever done, I loved it. I'm thinking the Cayuga race is nowhere near as twisted and would love to see what he's come up with. I'm proud that upstate NY is showing up on the Ultra-Map now, thanks Ian!

  22. Greg Abrams

    I would love to run this race because I would like to run a 50 miler. Also, I would like to meet Sage Canaday, my favorite runner.

  23. Ben Nephew

    I think Ian addressed all the relevant concerns, but to elaborate on the percentage of similar races that cater to elites to the level of any other major road race, I can only think of TNF Bear Mountain. That would be two races in New England and New York, possibly including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but maybe I am missing some races? It is quite common for the faster New England and New York runners to go south and/or west for opportunities to race in competitive fields, and it is nice to have another closer option.

    In terms of expense, ultras are costly to organize relative to shorter events. I think if people want to be able to afford to race more often they should consider shorter trail events and/or FKT's. By "people" I am referring to all runners.

  24. Alexander Nunn

    The reasons I would like to run the Cayuga 50 miler in Ithaca:

    -I find I am way too biased over West Coast versus East Coast as far as natural beauty goes. Yet "East-Coasters" would strongly argue the hidden gems all across the board not known to West-coast zealots.
    This would be a chance to see for myself.
    -I have a friend that I have been promising to visit for the last 5 years that lives in the North-East region, this would make such a promise fulfillable.
    -Andy Jones Wilkens lives in the East-Coast and has raced all over, we wouldlike to think it is because of his job but conspiracy-theories would say otherwise.
    -I hear New York rivals the beautiful landscape to here in Hawaii.
    -I would love to keep up with elite runners even if it is only a mile and to slog through the next 49 miles.
    I vow to run with lead pack until no longer possible, which would come all to soon. Come on there would be wagers that would be – legendary.
    -And finally the honest to god truth I was looking for a race right about that time that I could get excited about.

    Alexander Nunn

    1. Ian Golden


      I do relate. I grew up in PA, attended college here in Ithaca, but lived afterward for a year and half on Oahu, a short stint in Seattle, and in central Oregon for 4 years. The feel of running the razor spins of the Ko'olau's, criss crossing the root jungles of the Banyan's, even the city lights exploding on a totally black horizon in topping out on the Tantalus trails on night runs. Really magnificent. The moss covered canopy, soft ground, and mild temps paired with big climbs outside of Seattle. In central Oregon running for hours into the Cascades where the time passes a whole lot quicker…the barren runs in the high desert, back to moss covered trails and so much water as you move west toward the coast, and the feel of looking down the line of peaks well into the horizon in summiting and prior to hopping back down a mountainside scree field. No doubt there western U.S. and island running is difficult to compare to and part of me wants to be back there now. With all that said it doesn't diminish the different but comparable beauty of so many areas in the east. Not saying to leave Hawaii anytime soon but yeah, gotta experience other places to shake the prejudice and glad you chimed in and are considering doing so.

  25. Kai McBride

    "Why do you want to run the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50?" I live in Brooklyn and love it here, but my feet and soul are dying to get out into the dirt and hills and away from concrete. The beauty of the course is off the charts!! Waterfalls, trees, mixed terrain and a perfect setting for my first ultra! I am obsessed with ultra running and after seven marathons, it's time to take the plunge. I'll run my heart out. Thank you.

  26. Karen

    whenever i run trails in the finger lakes, i think about the Iroquois. did they run these trails? did they see what i am seeing? could they believe the beauty? are their ghosts among the trees and fields and falls? that's why.

    1. Ian Golden


      The local History Center will be adding that rich history and context before race weekend with text and images added to the course map and website. Pretty wild indeed. Stay tuned.

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