Cayuga Trails 50 – The Gentlemen


The Cayuga Trails 50 is less than two weeks away and I’m taking this opportunity to preview the men’s elite field (there will also be a women’s preview – stay tuned). This is a great race because there are a few A-listers and a slew of B-listers. I am basing this preview on the registration list, which is available here. It is obviously not a guarantee that all of these athletes will start.

I have linked the athletes to their blogs, if applicable.

Matt Flaherty (2:1)

Matt has been busy in 2014! He won a 50k in February, won the Napa Valley Marathon in March (2:26:15), set a 5k PR in April (14:59), set a marathon PR at Boston (2:21:20) and placed 2nd at Ice Age 50 Miler in 5:49:13. He came in 2nd last year at Cayuga Trails 50 and he is obviously one of the favorites.

Jordan McDougal (3:1)

Jordan recently came in 2nd at the North Face Endurance Challenge (NY) 50-Miler in 7:04:26. He was 3rd last year at the Cayuga Trails 50, only a minute behind Matt Flaherty. I certainly expect Jordan to be in the mix.

Brian Rusiecki (5:1)

Brian ran some of the most consistent splits in 2013 and he placed 4th in 7:09. He might not outrun Matt or Jordan but he will certainly be there if they slip up. He is one of the most consistent ultra runners out there – look for him to find his way onto the podium by running a smart race.

Yassine Diboun (8:1)

Yassine was 5th last year in 7:14. He ran near the front for much of the race and it will be interesting to see if he goes with the same tactics this year.

Chris Vargo (5:1)

This guy is the real deal. Earlier this year, he dropped out of Lake Sonoma with knee/IT Band issues; however, he came back and won the Whoos in El Moro 50k last weekend in 3:24:13. I didn’t give him better odds because 1) I don’t know the status of the Lake Sonoma injury; and 2) the roots, rocks, creeks, logs, etc. are different than the terrain he runs most of his races on. With that being said, he will finish top three if he’s healthy.

Michael Daigeaun (6:1)

This is the best guy in the field that nobody has heard of. I had the pleasure of getting my ass kicked by Michael at the Green Lakes 50k last year. According to Ultra Signup, he has won 12/13 ultras that he has been in (and according to his blog, he won another one a couple of weeks ago). He also dropped a 2:24:55 road marathon earlier this year. Don’t be surprised if this guy pulls a Zach Miller on everyone!

Dave James (6:1)

Dave James has decided to make the trip to Ithaca. 2013 was not a successful racing year for Dave (his words, not mine) but he is back! If his reputation holds true, Dave will take it out fast (with Denis?) and see what happens. I don’t think this is his ideal course, but I certainly wouldn’t bet against the guy!

Iain Ridgway (10:1)

Iain recently finished 7th at Ice Age in 6:36. Last year, he was 4th at JFK in 5:57:26. If he runs well, he could certainly be in contention for a podium spot.

Denis Mikhaylov (10:1)

Denis went out hard last year but took a DNF after making a wrong turn. I suspect he will go out with the leaders again. This is his type of course – he’s won the Escarpment Trail Run and Manitou’s Revenge. If nothing else, he’ll force some of the favorites into an early decision: go or stay back.

Cole Crosby (15:1)

Cole is the local favorite – he is a grad student at SUNY Cortland – just down the street from Ithaca. He came in 9th last year in this race and he has put up some impressive times since then. I expect him to be near the front once again.

Ben Nephew (15:1)

Ben finished 7th at Cayuga Trails 50 last year in 7:37. He has been running well and recently won the Rock The Ridge 50 Miler in an extremely quick 5:58:29 (he also won in 2013, but he was about 20 minutes quicker this year).

Zach Ornelas (15:1)

This guy is a huge wild card. He had a solid running career at Michigan and won his first ever marathon last fall in 2:20:11. I believe that makes him the fastest marathoner in the race. However, this is a very different distance on very different terrain. It will be interesting to see how he performs!

Michael Selig (20:1)

As I was combing through Ultra Signup, I noticed that Michael has broken 2:30 on the Pikes Peak Ascent – twice. That is no joke. It looks like he has very limited experience trail racing in the Northeast but I stuck him on the list because it seems like he enjoys a good climb!

Adolfo Munguia (22:1)

Adolfo was 8th last year, just in front of Cole. He has a decent resume that includes an 8:15 win at the Green Lakes 100k and a 4:11:14 (road) win at the Knickerbocker 60k in NYC.

Tristan Williams (28:1)

Tristan doesn’t have a ton of ultra experience but he won his first 100k in 8:23:27 and he went on to finish 14th at UROC in 12:05:17.

Matthew Hammersmith (30:1)

Matthew is a 2:31 marathoner and he has run 3:23 for 50k. I am not familiar with him, but those times could certainly make him competitive in the race.

Jim Mollosky (30:1)

Jim has run a few ultras and he has a win under his belt from the Sehgahunda Trail Marathon. He is currently living in Ithaca and is familiar with the course – a big advantage. If all goes well, he may sneak into the top five.

Alister Gardner (30:1)

Alister placed 9th at UROC in 2013, 5th in the North Face Endurance Challenge (NY) in 2013 and 8th in the North Face Endurance Challenge (NY) in 2014. He is certainly capable of running up near the front.

If I left anyone out, I apologize. Best of luck with the race and have a great time in Ithaca!

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12 Responses to Cayuga Trails 50 – The Gentlemen

  1. Nice preview! Must admit I hadn’t heard of Mike Daigeaun either, but he’s got an impressive record and some speed it sounds like. Should be a fun race!

  2. I’ve never seen a post putting odds on runners. Interesting.

  3. I can’t wait to read about the race, will you be taking pics?

  4. iain says:

    Mike Daigeaun holds the FKT on the Batona trail down here in NJ where I do a lot of my training, be good to meet him, the 2:24 shows he’s in good shape. Ben Nephew said he was running a few weeks back so he will be in the mix..

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the comment – I did see Ben on the registration list. He placed well last year so he could definitely be a factor again.

  5. Ben will be a factor – just won the Rock the Ridge 50M, and scored an FKT for an out/back on the technical Narragansett Trail in CT…plus a 7th OA last year!

  6. Jason, you ran a terrific race and totally held your own! And was that not your first ultra as well? Also, it is flattering to be regarded so highly. I’m just honored to have the opportunity to compete along side some terrific talent and look forward to seeing everyone up in Ithaca in a little over a week.

  7. Pingback: Odds and Ends | Must Love Jogs

  8. Pingback: Cayuga Trails 50 (After) | Must Love Jogs

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