The Finger Lakes Trail 50
Last modified: 02/08/02 04:45:05 PM
July 5, 1997
Finger Lakes National Forest, on the "ridge" between Cayuga Lake and
Senaca Lake in central NY.
Both a 50 miler, and 50K. I did the 50 miler.
Nancy and Hannah were at her folks for 10 days. Work kept me in NY.
But I decided to take July 4 off; looked at the Ultrarunning calendar,
and there was a race nearby...
The Finger Lakes Runners Club puts on an annual trail series, and
have got things down pretty well.
Start/Finish was at a fairly remote campground... no running water or
electricity; nearest phone was six miles away, and nearest place to
leave the car was 1/4 mile away. (I camped out Friday and Saturday
nights, although most folks had left by Saturday evening.)
The club tried a new trail this year, so no one knew what to expect.
The races started at the same time. The 50K course did two slightly
different 15+ mile loops. The 50M then did a third loop that was a
repeat of the second, followed by a short 3+ mile fourth loop.
- no paved roads, and very little roads of any other kind.
Even compared to the Groundhog. Lots and lots of single track,
mud, muddy single-track, muddy single-track uphill through
waste-high weeds, muddy wide paths through open forest
- lots of pasture gates to open/close, or climb, or go under
(I ended up doing all three approaches)
- Varying surroundings: woods, cleared rights-of-way, pastures
- Beautiful vistas in both directions: east across Cayuga,
west across Senaca
- The legendary Art Moore showed up (and wondered where
you've disappered to, Jerry)
- For the 50 mile, you cross the finish line four times
before you finally get to stop.
- Some 50 milers (including me) had the pleasure of crossing the
finish line together with a 50K runner who's actually finishing.
(Apparently, more than one runner signed up for the 50 miles,
but dropped out at 50K).
- No significant climbs... which meant one ended up running
more continually, using the same muscles. (Trail races on
hills and mountains let you vary muscle groups)
- food and fluids at some of the more remote aid stations
were a bit sparse. I was glad I'd prepared some maltodextrine
(a trick I learned from Blake Wood) with a pinch of rock salt
(trick I learned from Rich Gillespie)
- Finished in a disappointing 9:40, about 80 minutes slower
than what I expected. (But if I'd run what I expected, I would
7th out of the 15 finishers in the 50 miler. If I'd dropped
out at 50K, I would have been 10th out of 40 finishers there.
- But I felt really good. No real trouble spots. Hydration
and eating and muscles were good; had a real strong sprint
at the end; no problems walking the next day.
- For extra panache: I was an FRB at the Ridgefield Hash
the Thursday before, and at the NY Hash the Monday after.
Why so slow? I don't know---especially when I'd never
gone that slow on a 50 miler before unless there was major
climbing, or I was really suffering.
Probably a combination of several factors:
- the mud
- the difficult footing
- aid stations every 3+ miles (which could easily add 40-60 seconds
to your mile pace)
- the fact that, although I've had enough experience to run
a smart race and I've been keeping up trail skills, I hadn't
gone over 12 miles since December.
Would I go back? Probably. The great organization, trails, and campground
probably makes up for the Too Damn Many Loops, and the utter lack
of interesting climbing.