Inaugural Cayuga Trails 50: Race and Giveaway

The 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:

Contest

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 iRunFar.com-branded 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 the Managing Editor of iRunFar 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.

View Comments (163)

  • 140 bucks for a first year race that caters to the elites, and not to other 90% of runners. I guess this is the new world of ultrarunning we live in. Sad.

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    • Or, awesome.

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    • It's just one race. I don't think we need to worry about ultrarunning being inaccessible to the masses anytime soon.

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    • Tim,
      I'm guessing the entry fee is directly related to the cost of putting on this particular race. The same RD puts on a 100 miler you can get into for $160... with a 50 mile that costs all of $60! :-)

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      • well this Stinks, same weekend as Laurel Highlands 70. I think you know a good amount about that gnarly little race Bryon ;)

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    • Tim (and to those sharing this viewpoint),

      Thanks for weighing in.

      The issue at hand no doubt with somewhat of a polarized audience. To be accurate, baseline entry is $100. A rough outline of expenses: 3k park fees, 2k potential for tent rentals if inclament weather, 2k supplies, 1k food/nutrition, $250 insurance, $5k advert, 2.5k contribution to local history center to work on historical relavance of trails we'll use, 1.5k donation to local land trust whose land we'll use,$500 to give something back to volunteers. If 200 entrants, total would need to be $90 to break-even. Hopefully we'll go over that toward 300 and hopefully expense-wise we'll be just fine, but I can't bank on that, especially year 1.

      Amount dedicated to elites: $13,000, to non-elite $1,500. Grant amount from Tompkins County: $15,000. Intention of grant: to promote Ithaca to a national audience, bring people into town preferably for a couple day stay, and to patronize local lodging, restaurants, artisans, stores, etc... Covered the elite focus. Without the elite focus and national draw/press angle, we could put on a lower-key event but that wouldn't use the tourism grant dollars as they're really intended, it wouldn't change our expenses that much as advertising dollars spent would be offset by less worth/funding from sponsors. Take the prize money and reaching-out-to-elites away and you pretty much still have the same race. Maybe though, as Jim S. commented below...potentially, a little less awesome!

      Desire for elites? A combination of inherant genetic inclination paired with exceptional devotion to logging miles, inspiring individuals, and running amazingly hard. Most have full times jobs, are parents and end up devoting all of their remaining time and energy to the sport. Some have set careers aside to have a go at training and racing as the focus, not unlike Olympians, trying to make enough to get by. If adding an additional purse race to the calendar may help at least a couple of them make it work financially, well, I'm all for it as an RD, and not opposed to it as an entrant. I am inspired by them.

      Are they unlike the rest of us in those regards? No, not really. If you knew me, or most directors who stage events with prize purses, you'd know that we care just as much about the last finisher, and everybody in between. I think finishers in other races that I've put on could back that up. But, like most, I'm also inspired by those that run the fastest, raise the bar, show us what's possible, and live/breath being ambasadors to the sport. A reality is that they also receive more attention, coverage, and followings than a non-elite runner.

      State of the sport...no, as Brad was quick to point out below, Cayuga Trails, for better or worse, is a very small percentage of the sport. It's one that many appreciate and are into. Some, sharing your perspective are not. That's great, good thing there are events catering to both. The Finger Lakes Fifties is a wonderful long-established event in our backyard. Entry fee, I think around $50-$60? Camping night before, good foot after, grass roots, great RD's, a good number of return entrants. Sold out this year in 9 days and in my opinion, it should have. Maybe in 8 days. The sport is plenty healthy. Alternatively, I also direct the Virgil Crest Ultras in September. Cost isn't much different but not elite focused by any means, uses some great trails, is one of the more challenging courses in the country, gives back to the community, and hasn't sought any sponsors. Grass roots. Haven't seen your registration come through yet. $100 for a 50 I don't believe is off the norm for ultra, road, or trail if you consider the length and production costs.

      If you're upset because you really want to run the amazingly beautiful trails that I've chosen for the course and can't afford it, send me an email off the list and I'll see what I can do. If you just aren't in to supporting an event seemingly catering to elites, no worries, come visit anytime outside of the event. I've got room for you to crash in my house free of charge and I'd be happy to take you for a run on the course as it's just down the street from me. That would be free as well, it would be great to meet you and head out for a run.

      If you're not really wanting to make a trip or run the trails in Ithaca and are merely highlighting what you feel is a true threat to the sport, I think you can reassess, relax, and rest easy that the sport as you see it is doing just fine. I'll be sure to look for your name on the Finger Lakes Fifties entrants list for next year, just be sure to get your registration in in the first 5 days as it's an excellent event and sells out quickly.

      Thanks,

      Ian

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      • awesome, Ian... would be great to come out and see you and Sheri and the littles someday! this race sounds fabulous! thanks for all you (and your fam) do!

        Kristin Z (former bendite)

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      • Ian, I think it is a testament to the sport that you took the time to address the replies so quickly! While I have been drawn to ultra running and in particular trail running in part because of the low cost of races, I understand your reasons for having the entry fee at the price point you set. I do think you may be in a bit of a catch 21 however, as a higher fee will discourage some from running, especially if travel is involved which will further increase the cost. A lower race fee would entice more runners to sign up so you would be looking at a higher number of entries, thus more money. Tough call, but thank you for addressing the concerns.

        Jay

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      • *like button*

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      • Very classy, Ian, thanks.

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      • Ian, you do care about all of your runners! When i first ran Virgil several years ago and i was impressed by how well you put on the race! Being a new race director this year i am amazed at the cost and effort that goes into a race and i hope i do as well as you do with . making every runner have fun and feel special

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  • Too early in the year for me. I'm training for my first 50 miler and have had to change my plan to an early fall event. What are your favorite sources for finding ultras? Thanks so much!

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    • Jay,

      Agreed.

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  • I would make this a part of a trip to visit my daughter who will be stationed at the Air Force Base in NJ at that time.

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    • I should note I live in Omaha, NE so even though the AFB is a tad south of Ithaca, it's a lot closer than where I'm at now.

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  • I want to run it because this race because supporting new and local races is the best possible way to make this sport grow.

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  • I don't want to run the Cayuga Trails 50, since I don't have to. I want to fly over it with a hot air balloon and watch what appears to be ants marching through sinuous trails of gold amongst the green. I'll be smiling and than..... damn, wishing I was an ant.

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  • I'd run all the way from Rochester to Ithaca for a delicious apple pie.

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    • Mort, I'll race you for that pie!

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  • So i can blow myself up trying to hang with Ben nephew and then push him in the stream and get the apple pie. :) just kidding ben! Virgil crest is one of my favorites and i will miss it this year so it would be fun to do this one!

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  • That actually works with my summer schedule. And it'd give me a chance to visit my cousin.

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  • Sounds like a fun race that's not too far away from NYC. Thanks for the article.

    Jim

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  • Shoot, I already registered the day it opened online since I have been injured a wee bit of time. It has been a year and a half since I raced and I miss that community involved. I love that it is 3 hrs from me and some great runners of all levels will be there. It's also great to show some of that east coast love. The atmosphere of ultras itself is enough for the registration. And since I already registered, the swag is plenty:)

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  • What??? No airfare included? ;)

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  • I LOVE NY!!!

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  • I would love to return to the area. I was stationed at Seneca Army Base in the 1990's what a awesome way to show my family the beauty than with a race.

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  • I would like to look down on the Finger Lakes from the highest part of the course and I will take a picture (or draw) of my own fingers in the exact configuration of the lakes below me. And by the end of the race my whole body will be contorted in the same configuration.

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  • I'd love to run Cayuga because I've never run a trail ultra, it's in my neck of the woods, and I was among those who didn't realize the Finger Lakes Fifties was going to sell out in a week six months before the race, as Ian mentioned.

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  • I would like to run this race because it has it all. It has some elites, some swag, it has scenery, is challenging, it is in a state where I've never ran and if I win the entry I can afford do it.

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  • I would like to run this ultra because I have never ran a first time ultra.

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  • Gonna be a challenge to beat the pumpkin pie offered up at the Arkansas 100.

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  • I want to run this race to support the incredible trails and finger lake community! AND because I love apple pie and waterfalls (that's the real reason)! May need more apple pie perms ....

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  • Would love to try but can't afford!

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