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 and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' 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. James @RedDirtRunner

    I'm Jersey born and have family in the area of Ithaca but never get back east to visit. I think this race needs a little dose of my Arkansas Ozark love. Plus I could help push Krissy as she tends to slack off sometimes.

  2. maggie

    I'm already registered, so not trying to get in again…I just wanted to say how excited I am for this race and to be able to catch a glimpse of some of my running idols; including those behind the camera. I can't wait!!

  3. Tim

    Many of the elite runners have run the NFEC @ Bear Mt. in the past. Does conventional wisdom says it will be one race or the other? Or, do runners like McDougal, Schmitt, Kimball & Nephew run both . Jordon McDougal is the defending champ and a NF athlete.

    1. Tim

      thinking further, Jordon M, L. Schmitt & B. Nephew were 1,2,3 in the BM 50 miler last year – sounds like a potential blow the the NFEC

      1. Ben Nephew

        I'm actually the only one in your list who is not a NF athlete. If NF is covering transportation to Bear Mountain, I wouldn't be surprised to see the NF athletes at Bear. The four week gap between the races is pretty ideal, otherwise.

  4. Nathan Cockrell

    My wife is running this race and I grew up not far from Ithaca and it would be great to attempt to join her. She also said Ian puts together an amazing race (she participated in Virgil Crest last year).

  5. Michael Hughson

    I am looking forward to running this race for two reasons; first it will be not only my first ultra in NY, but the first race my family will have the opportunity to see me run for the first time in my running career. I grew up in Upstate NY, just down the road from Ithaca in Horseheads, however I did not start running until my 30's when I lived in Oklahoma. The second reason is my entire season is being dedicated to raise money for Wounded Warrior Project. I am a career Soldier in the US Army and this is a charity that is near and dear to my heart. It would be a blessing to be able to win entry into this event, that I will not have to take it out as an expense, which will enable more money to go this noble charity which helps wounded combat veterans get back on their feet.

    Plus, who doesnt want some apple pie in the middle of a 50 miler?

  6. J.Xander

    Running the Cayuga Trails 50 would give me a chance to return to a place that had a profoundly positive impact on the trajectory of my life. My wife would finally get to see what I have been talking up all these years.

  7. Kix

    I would like to run the Inaugaral Cayuga Trails 50 as it would be awesome to be a part of a race's beginning. There are so many Grand races that are already established with their hard to get into selection process but, also with their legends, with their status, with their stories set in stone, with their vibrance already seen and experienced by so many. I think that it would be great to be a part of something just starting – someday, we will be the 'legendary' just for having participated in this very first race. Our pictures and our experiences will be the lore of the legends of the future – and that is cool!

    1. Ian Golden


      Not sure I feel worthy and can only hope that in hindsight, years from now your vision may have come to fruition and be the case. I'll do what I can to get it there, would love to have you on board whether being selected in the promo, or outside of if not one of the winners. Thanks!

  8. Jake

    I want to run in the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50 because… somebody's got to bring up the rear of the field.

    You've already got a lot of the top men and women signed up, so why not balance that out with someone like me?

    There's a 14 hour cutoff for the race and I'd love to make the most of that time enjoying your local trails!

    1. Ian Golden


      I'm hoping you're in very good company. Some of the finest finishers we've had at Virgil have been those coming in just under the wire. Ultra spirit indeed. Maximizing the time for the dime and I really would rather not have aid station left overs so eat up!

  9. Adam S.

    Pie? I was told there would be cake…seriously though, winning a pie for burning up a climb would be way cooler than another medal! Time to reassess my June schedule!!

    And who isn't thinking about the scene from the navy movie (yeah that one) where the chubby dude has his pants around his ankles banging on a skillet saying "I stole pie" over and over.

  10. cheryl

    My boys will be off at Philmont for their adventure. I'd love to be here for a new adventure of my own. Nothing beats running on some gorgeous trails!

  11. Michael Vance

    I first met Ian and his staff when they graciously opened the store early so that we could stage my fraternity brother's 28 birthday miles from there back in 2009. Their dedication to the local running community, and their product knowledge, inspired me to do more with my regional running community.

    My introduction to running, and trail running, was while attending college in Ithaca. I didn't fully appreciate how special this area was until I moved down to the Carolinas, and couldn't find a similar trail network. Running this race would be a great chance to return to the Finger Lakes and rediscover where my passion for trail running began.


    Greensboro, NC

    1. Ian Golden


      Thanks for the praise and glad it inspired you to more activity in your community. For an eastern small city sandwiched by private lands Ithaca really does offer quite a bit of trail opportunity. Be good to have you back if it works out.

  12. Cale Colbert

    I'll be honest I just want to do it for the Pie! Also, it's always nice to escape the TN heat. Seriously though I just want the Pie!

  13. Gil Blank

    To a West coaster, New York is a another world. My training grounds are the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains with dry weather (almost year-round) and chaparral covered terrain. We are soft because we don't have to deal with the elements. New Yorkers deal with harsh elements. Snow, rain, hail, and humidity is the stuff that creates toughness. I would like to run the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50

    to test myself against the elements, which in this case will be high humidity. I think I have what it takes but who knows. Also, a change of environment like the rocky climbs, thick hardwood forests, and waterfalls will be a welcome change.

  14. Jim

    Why do I want to run the Cayuga Trails 50? I live in Western NY plus this is the year of 50's. I'm in my 50's, running Bear Mt. 50M, the Cayuga Trails 50M, and hopefully the Virgil Crest 50M.

  15. Matthew Toomla

    Why do you want to run the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50? To begin with I have never run a 50 mile race before. I actually had seen this inaugural ultra and thought about running it but decided to hold off for the Virgil Crest 50 Miler in September. But hey, if you pick me ill do both. Ill give it my all, dig deep, and do my free entry proud. On top of that its a beautiful area. I had friends and family that went to school in Cortland (Go Red Dragons). Figure i can also squeeze some rock climbing and hiking in. I'd love to be a part of the first running of this sure to be classic ultra!

  16. Craig

    I want to run the inaugural race because I've never done an ultra back east. And so I can meet Nikki Kimball. And because even a mountain course back east feels flat compared to Utah. Oh, how I long for east coast trails! Bring it!

  17. Matt Widzer

    I want to run the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50, to engage the wilderness, to challenge my mind and body and to share the joy of the experience with others.

  18. Em

    I want to run because while I'm "limited" to east coast events due to finances, this event makes it seem like maybe that's not such a bad thing! I would love to see a beautiful new wilderness and of course eat some pie :)

  19. Tim

    thanks Ben, great to know 4 weeks would probably be enough recovery time for you, and hopefully the others too. I wish you the best of luck in both runs!

  20. Grant Thain

    Because marathons are getting old and turning 50 that week my chance of 50 @ 50 just makes sense. May not be a (my usual run) stroll through the (Central) park or the Scottish mountains I grew up with – but some real air and a chance see some 'real' runners like Canaday and Mackey in action would be incredible.

  21. Chris Luck

    1) Ithaca and its' gorges are incredibly beautiful. 2) It would be one of the few times I would be shoulder to shoulder with the current greats of trail racing. 3) I have a free place to stay nearby….

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