Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica: The Story of Cayuga Trails 50

Cayuga Trails 50 was on Saturday. It was my fourth time running the 50-miler, and it’s been one of my favorite races over the years. Once again, it was serving as U.S. 50-Mile Trail Championships.

For purposes of this recap, I’m going to break the race down into four parts:

The Start to Mile 13

My plan for the first 13 miles was simple – find a group to run with and do not go out too fast. Mission accomplished. I found myself running with Daven Oskvig, Zach Bennett, Colin Sauter, Jim Mollosky and a few others. The pace was smooth but not particularly fast. I fell on my face at mile 10 but no harm no foul.

Mile 13 through Mile 26

The earlier group thinned out a bit. I ended up with Colin and Daven, and I heard I was in 13th place. It was warming up a bit, and I was taking in lots of fluids and gels. My strategy was to make up for my lack of training with a smart approach, and it was working.

Mile 26 through Mile 38

I headed back out for the second half with Sabrina Little who was in the process of crushing the course record (Sabrina finished 5th overall).

I was running alone for most of this stretch, but I was moving well. At mile 36 or so, I ran into my friend Rich Heffron. He was directing traffic on the course, and he got me fired up for the descent into Buttermilk. As I cruised by, he let me know I was in 8th place.

Unfortunately, this was my low point of the day. My stomach was turning against me, and I had to walk for a little bit and regroup. I was able to run the descent, and the good folks from #TrailsRoc got me excited to bring it home!

Mile 38 to the finish

The climb out of Buttermilk was relentless. Steps, steps and more steps. Also, people, people and more people. The parks in Ithaca are gorgeous/gorges and there was lots of trail traffic to contend with.

I was still in eighth at this point, and I felt like I could probably hold that spot. I stopped for a minute at the water crossing and cooled off as best I could. By this point in the race, it was pretty warm. I was overheating on the climbs, and I had one decent one to go.

I made it to the Underpass Aid Station with about 7 miles to go and I saw Jim Mollosky catching his breath. I grabbed my bottles and took off, temporarily moving into 7th place. I held that spot for several miles until I finally ran out of steam on the crowded trails leading to the finish. Jim passed me back with a mile or two to go and I held on for 8th place (6th place USATF and 9th place overall).

My official time was 8:29:06. I’m happy with both my time and place. My training this year has been light (48 miles/week and 3000ft of climbing per week). When “they” say this sport is 90% mental, they aren’t kidding.

My next race is either the Jug End 6-Hour on Saturday or Twisted Branch 100k in August. To be determined.

Thank you to Ian for once again putting on a great race. Thank you to Rich, Kelley, Eric, Laura, Ron, Shannon, Dan, Nancy, Norah, Susie and Megan (and all of the many other people I’m forgetting) for providing support out on the course. You’re amazing and your efforts don’t go unnoticed.

Top Three Women

1) Sabrina Little

2) Sarah Keyes

3) Ellie Pell

Top Three Men

1) Seth Marcaccio

2) Tyler Sigl

3) Patrick Caron

Full results of the Cayuga Trails 50 (and marathon) are available here.

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Cayuga Trails 50: Elite Preview

Cayuga Trails 50 is rapidly approaching. This year, the race will be held on July 21st. Once again, the race will play host to USATF 50-Mile Trail Championships.

Past years have included Sage, Magda, Vargo, Matt Flaherty, Tyler Sigl, Mario Mendoza, Jared Burdick, Amanda Basham, Corrine Malcolm, Sabrina Little, Laura Kline, Krissy Moehl and many others. This year, the field is shaping up a bit differently. The date change coupled with a plethora of other races has thinned things out a bit at the top. With that being said, there are many fantastic runners (including the male course record holder and the fifth fastest female), and it should be another great race. Here are a few names to watch in the field:

The Women’s Elite Field

Sabrina Little

Sabrina is a Cayuga veteran. She was 2nd in 2016 and 3rd in 2017. This year, she won Rocky Raccoon with an impressive time of 15:23. If she’s still that fit, she will be tough to beat on a course that she knows well.

Ellie Pell

Ellie is a local speedster. Last year, she took 2nd at the Cayuga Marathon. This year, she has won the Naked Prussian 50 and Many on the Genny (40 miles). If she races well, she will certainly be near the front.

Sarah Keyes

Sarah is a bit of a wildcard. I don’t think Cayuga necessarily plays into her strengths. With that being said, she’s having a great year. Sarah was 2nd at UROC in May and she finished 8th at the Broken Arrow Skyrace in June. I’d be surprised if she didn’t finish top 3.

Kelsey Allen

Kelsey was 4th at Cayuga last year. Since that time, she has racked up some legit results including 5th at Hellgate and 2nd at Massanutten. She’s definitely top 5 material if she still has something left in her legs.

Shandra Moore

Shandra is coming to Ithaca all the way from Texas (as is Sabrina). She had some solid results in 2017 including 7th at Bandera and 2nd at Rocky Raccoon. She’s run under 8 hours for 50 miles, and she will likely find herself in the top 10.

Jonnah Perkins

Jonnah is coming from Wisconsin to represent the Midwest. She has only raced one ultra this year, second place at Ice Age. Jonnah has also run under 8 hours for 50 miles, and she should also find herself somewhere in the top 10.

Anna Piskorska

Anna was 13th at Cayuga in 2015 and 8th at Cayuga in 2017. Her results are consistent and solid. I think she can improve on that 8th place finish from last year.

The Men’s Elite Field

Tyler Sigl

Tyler won Cayuga in 2016 in an unbelievable course record time of 6:44. He was also 3rd in 2015 in 7:08. Earlier this year, he won UROC. If he is healthy, he will be nearly impossible to beat.

Michael Bailey

As far as I can tell, Michael has only run two ultras. However, he put up a quick 50k and a quick 50-miler so I suspect he has top-10 potential.

Kyle O’Brien

Kyle is interesting – he has some really impressive results at the Pikes Peak Marathon including a 4:24 just last year. However, it hasn’t quite translated to Cayuga where he has run 9:28 and 9:24, respectively. If he can bring some of that Pikes Peak magic to Cayuga, he’ll improve his time considerably.

Josh Finger

Josh is a speedy northeast guy that you’re just as likely to bump into on the track as the trail. This year, he was second at Naked Prussian. I think he’ll probably crack the top ten, and he may be the top Master’s finisher.

Jason Mintz (that’s me!)

It’s my blog, I can do whatever I want! I’ve run the 50-miler at Cayuga three times, placing 16th, 13th and 15th amongst the fellas. In this year’s field, I can probably crack the top 10 with a decent race. After a rocky start to the year, my last two races have been solid.

Zach Bennett

Zach is fairly new to ultrarunning but he’s quick. This is his first 50-miler, but I think he’s probably top-10 material.

Predictions

I’m going to boldly pick the top three women and men – because who needs enemies when you’ve got friends like me?!

1) Sabrina Little

2) Sarah Keyes

3) Ellie Pell

————————–

1) Tyler Sigl

2) Josh Finger

3) Me 🙂

The full entrant list is available here.

Keep your eye out for late entrants – looking at you Brian Rusiecki and Ben Nephew.

The weather could be a factor. It’s going to be sunny and in the 80s. That could be good or it could be bad depending upon the humidity.

Finally, here is a quick shoutout to Robert Seltzer – he has run (and finished) the race every single year, and he will be going for another finish this year.

Who did I miss in the preview?

Any predictions of your own?

————————————-

Update

The men’s field has added a couple of studs:

Patrick Caron

Patrick is only 21 years old, but don’t be fooled, he’s got some fantastic experience. Last fall, he went 13:50 for 100 miles. Patrick will give Tyler Sigl some company up front, and he adds a bit of depth to the men’s field that was previously lacking. Last fall, Patrick was on URP, and you can check it out here.

Daven Oskvig

What can you really say about Daven? Mr. Consistent. About a month ago, Daven was third at the Mohican 100. Will his legs be 100%? Maybe. If they are, I think he’ll find his way onto the podium. If not, he’s still a likely top-ten finisher.

Clock is ticking – anyone else want to throw down on Saturday?

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Vegan Power 50k Race Report: The Fastest Loser

The Vegan Power 50k was yesterday (check out my preview here). It was a great day for a race! At the start, the temp was in the high 40s, and it climbed into the 70s later in the day. The trail conditions were dry and fast.

The race started promptly at 7:00am, and a new-to-me runner took off up the first climb. I let him go pretty quickly, as his pace was a bit uncomfortable for me. Within minutes, he was out of sight.

I dropped into a comfortable pace and cruised through the first few miles. Around mile 4, my toe caught a little stump, and before I knew it, I was on the ground. Ouch! I got back on my feet and finished the first loop (out of six) in about forty minutes.

Long story short(er), I ran the second, third and fourth loops in about 40 minutes each as well. First place was out of sight, but I was still on pace to run right around four hours. I started to run out of steam on my fifth loop, and it took me about 43 minutes. I was toast on my final loop, and it took me about 47 minutes.

My final time was 4:10:29, which was good for second overall. It was the third fastest time ever on the course, and it was the fastest losing time ever 🤷🏻‍♂️

Tyler Wolfe took the win for the fellas in an incredible 3:58:29.

Michelle Pratt took the win for the ladies in 5:12:57 (second fastest time ever on the course).

Full results are available here.

For coming in second, I received a cow. The winners got pigs!

The SHVP crew was out in force!

My next race is Cayuga Trails 50 on July 21st.

When is your next race?

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Race Preview: Vegan Power 50k

The Vegan Power 50k is Saturday. This is one of my all-time favorite races. Great people. Great course.

Let me set the stage – the course is a 5ish-mile loop in the Berkshires (Massachusetts) that you repeat six times (there is a 25k running concurrently that is three loops). There is roughly one hill per loop so it looks like a fast course – but it’s not! The course is riddled with twists, turns, roots and more roots! Everybody falls – it’s like a rite of passage on this course.

I’ve run the race twice before – 4:19:41 in 2015 and a sizzling (if I do say so myself) 4:08:49 in 2016. The latter was nearly a perfect race for me, and I’m pretty convinced that I can’t break four hours on this course…

But that doesn’t mean I won’t try! I have much less mileage in the bank than in other years. My high week for the year is only 60 miles. I’m also super light on long runs – I’ve only run more than 15 miles twice this year. And I’m slowly getting over bronchitis. Enough with the Debbie Downer! In general, I’m pretty fit. I’ve gotten some decent speedwork in this year, and I had a pretty respectable run at the Mountain Goat 10-Miler.

So my plan is to do my best! I’m using this as a building block for Cayuga Trails in July and Eastern States in August. I’ll be running in the Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra – one of my all-time favorite trail shoes, and it is perfect for this course. It’s going to be sunny with a high around 80 degrees. I’ll be throwing back Tailwind and Huma Gels every now and again. I’m looking forward to catching up with the awesome BURCS crew, as well as my friends with Strong Hearts Vegan Power.

Check back next week for a full report!

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Race Recap: Mountain Goat 10-Miler

The Mountain Goat 10-Miler was yesterday. My main goal was to break an hour. I was under an hour in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and I haven’t run the race since then. However, I’ve run it enough times over the years to know where I need to be on the course in a given time if I’m going to make it under the one-hour mark.

In short, the course has two big hills. They are about 250 feet of vertical each, which is pretty decent for a short road race.

I settled in over the first mile running near many familiar faces. The first climb was pretty brutal for me. I was more tired than I should have been, and my lack of fitness really frustrated me. My friend Laurel (she finished first) went by and offered some encouragement – it was just what I needed, and I had a really good reset.

I ran the downhill hard and hit the halfway mark in 29:44. I was on pace to run under an hour – unfortunately, almost everyone positive splits the Mountain Goat.

The second climb felt a little better, but the clock doesn’t lie, and my splits were actually a little slower. I dropped a 5:23 mile at mile 9, but it was too little, too late. I ran hard to the finish in 1:00:18. That is my fourth best Mountain Goat. With that being said, I’ll take it. I really think I left it all out there yesterday (and the soreness in my legs confirms that fact).

The race is a great experience. The course is challenging, and much of the course is lined with crowds and/or bands.

My splits were:

  1. 5:33
  2. 6:13
  3. 6:21
  4. 5:45
  5. 5:40
  6. 6:02
  7. 6:38
  8. 6:19
  9. 5:23
  10. 5:45

Don’t read too much into them, as they were largely dictated by the hills on the course.

Full results from the race are available here.

My next race is the Vegan Power 50k in June. When’s your next race?

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Training/Racing Update

Training

My training has been okay. I just wrapped up a 57-mile week, which is my high mark for the year. I haven’t been doing nearly as much mileage as the last few years. I’ve been eating about the same though, and you know how that goes. Still, I’ve been doing some decent speed workouts, and I’m determined to shed that winter weight, preferably sooner rather than later.

On April 18th, I ran 3 x 1-mile (on the road in my trainers) in 6:12, 5:52, 5:36… meh. On April 20th, I ran 2 x 1-mile (road and trainers) in 5:27, 5:33… better! Most recently, I ran 1 x 2-mile (road and trainers) and my splits were 5:53, 5:42.

Long story short, I’m running okay. Not great, but not terrible. This sets up an interesting scenario for my next race.

Racing

I’m running the Mountain Goat on Sunday. It’s a local, 10-mile road race that encompasses two of the bigger hills in town. My Mountain Goat personal best is 57:21 (2014), but this year I would be pleased with anything under an hour. I don’t run a ton of road races anymore, but I still think they are an excellent way to gauge your speed and overall conditioning. Check back next week to find out how it went!

When is your next race?

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Race Report: Ridge Rumble 50k

On Saturday, I ran the inaugural Ridge Rumble 50k. It was my first trail race of the year. In fact, it was my first trail race in about six months. However, it was on my home course, and the race director is a good guy, so I couldn’t say no.

I’ve been averaging about 45 miles/week this year – a bit less than in the past. I’ve done some speed work, which is great, but going into the Ridge Rumble, I hadn’t done a run over 15 miles since October.

The truth is, I just haven’t felt like it. My motivation has been low, I gained some weight, the weather has been crap and life has been happening.

Race morning was cold for mid-April. I believe the temperature at the start was 26 degrees and it was windy. It did not warm up much throughout the day. Oh, and it snowed on and off throughout the race. I ran in pants and a coat and mittens – pretty much full winter gear.

Basically, the course is 3 loops – 10.4 miles each – and the race director tried to incorporate as many hills as possible in Green Lakes State Park.

I ran the first loop with Laura Kline and Chris Compson. We finished the loop in about one hour and twenty-five minutes. Chris started to pull away from me right around the 10-mile mark, and Laura got away a few miles later. My lack of long runs was looming large. Around mile 13 or so, I started to walk. It wasn’t much of a power hike – more like a head down, feeling-sorry-for-myself stumble. I decided I would probably drop down in distance to the 20-miler.

After plodding along for a couple of miles, I started to feel better. My stomach settled and I got some energy back. I started running again and I was moving along well. At one point, I was moving really well – so well that I blew by a turn and ran an extra half mile (see below) – oops!

I was frustrated because I thought I might still be close enough to get back into the race, but it was my own fault. I kept moving and I finished the second loop in about one hour and forty minutes.

I was running again so I decided not to drop. Long story short, my third lap was also one hour and forty minutes. My final time was four hours and forty-five minutes. I was the 3rd fella and 4th runner overall. My friend Laura took the OVERALL win! Full results are available here (with some minor glitches).

My next race is the Mountain Goat (10 miles) on May 6th. At some point, I need to get healthy (physically and mentally). I need to shed a few pounds. I need to get more sleep. I need to figure out a way to do long runs on a somewhat regular basis.

When’s your next race? Anyone doing Boston?

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