Finger Lakes 50-Miler: A Muddy Mess

photo credit: Pete Kresock This was the easy part.

photo credit: Pete Kresock
This was the easy part.

The Finger Lakes 50-Miler was on Saturday. Let me preface this post by saying it did not go well. The course was “underwater” earlier in the week, and it did not get a chance to dry out. On race morning, there was a chance of rain – but it ended up pouring buckets.

The race started a few minutes late but it wasn’t a big deal. After a short road section, the race turned onto trails. They were muddy, but pretty much what I expected. It was the kind of mud that we have all run in at one point or another. You watch your step, you get a little dirty and life goes on. A little over a mile into the race, we turned into a pasture. The mud got deeper, a lot deeper.

A short while later, the mud nearly sucked my left shoe off. I had to stop and slip my heel back in, which was no easy task considering I was standing in ankle deep mud in the middle of a race (during a downpour). I took a deep breath and tried to regroup. I started running again and – F*CK – there goes my shoe. It got sucked completely off my foot and was buried in the mud. There you have it – I was 1.6 miles into a 50-mile race and I was NOT having fun. There wasn’t any solid ground to put my shoe back on so I ran about ten yards in the mud in my sock. I tried to undo the laces but they were soaking wet and caked in mud. It was hopeless. I managed to jam my foot back into the shoe and I started running again. By this point, I had fallen back to 10th place or so. I was trying to stay calm – I knew the front group went out too fast.

Since I was unable to adjust my shoe, I made a slight modification to the way my foot was hitting the ground. I found that toe-striking in the deep mud was much more effective at keeping my shoes on. This was a much-needed modification since the mud got much, much deeper. The sections of the course that were shared with cows and horses had parts where the mud nearly reached your knees. Sadly, I’m not exaggerating.

As the race went on, I was slowly but surely picking people off. The 50k and 50-mile races started together – and you had the option of going up or down in distance – so there was no way to know for certain what place you were in. With that being said, in retrospect, I was in 1st place in the 50-mile race somewhere around mile 15 or so. Around that time, I was passed by Jack Bailey – he went on to win the race in 7:53:47.

I completed the first loop in approximately 2:18 (the race consists of three large loops and one baby loop). I switched out my bottles and started on the second loop. I felt terrible. My legs hurt and I smelled like shit (more on that later). Right around 17 miles, at a road crossing, I spotted Megan and Norah who were looking for a (dry) spot to spectate. I stopped in the middle of the road and did a quick assessment:

1) I smelled like shit. This was the inevitable result of running through cow pastures and horse trails in a downpour. I smelled like shit because I was covered in shit – or as my friend Michele called it, “cow and horse poop mush”

2) My legs hurt – they didn’t hurt from running. They hurt from getting twisted and turned in the mud at strange angles.

3) I wasn’t having fun. I like to run. I like to run challenging races. I do not like to run in cow and horse poop mush.

I said “fuck it” and got in the car – I was done. I was sad – and I still am. I really wanted this race. I had registered on New Year’s Day and I had been looking forward to it for months. With that being said, I don’t want to get hurt and I don’t want to run when it’s not fun. What can I say? Shit happens.

Twenty-one people battled through the mud for 50 miles. Full results are available here.

Results of the 50k are available here.

My Coach

My Coach

The following day, we went to Watkins Glen, New York. Megan is from there and we decided to swing by the gorge on the way to the Farm Sanctuary.

Watkins Glen, New York

Watkins Glen, New York

The Farm Sanctuary is pretty awesome:

Nestled in the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York, the rolling green pastures of Farm Sanctuary’s 175-acre New York shelter are home to more than 500 rescued farm animals.


How was your weekend? Hopefully, you didn’t encounter any cow and horse poop mush!

Have you ever dropped from a race?


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19 Responses to Finger Lakes 50-Miler: A Muddy Mess

  1. songbird128 says:

    Jason, I’m sorry about your race. :((
    I was 76 miles into a 100 miler when I had to make the decision to drop, so I definitely feel your pain. There are times when “not” continuing on is the best decision you can make. Your body comes first: “Live to race another day”
    You are Most Awesome! And, I really have been enjoying following your blog!

  2. Jane Likes to Run says:

    Oh man, poop is the worst. it’s just not worth it if you’re not enjoying yourself. It’s supposed to be tough, but not miserable. You made the right choice, even though I’m sure it sucks to make it at the time. Plus now you don’t have as long of a recovery period from a crappy, literally, race.

  3. So sorry to hear about your race….Sending big hugs.

  4. runsonsyrup says:

    Sorry about your DNF. I know a few folks who ran it and were complaining about the mud, too. Sometimes, it’s just not worth it. That “sometimes” is usually when it stops being fun. There will be more races, and more chances to kick ass in some drier conditions 🙂

  5. Jessica @ VEGGIE RUNNING MOMMA says:

    oh wow.! I think you made the right call, I don’t think 50 miles of running on your toes to try to keep your shoes on right would have been good for you or your calf muscles.!! that’s really a bummer though. your coach probably agrees that you made the right call also 🙂

  6. hmetz20 says:

    Sorry about your race, but I think you made the right decision. Two years ago, I dropped out of a 60k. It was the Central Park 60k in Nov. I just don’t think I was mentally ready for it. The year after, ran it again and finished 🙂 There will be many other races for you to run… and you will not have to run thru cow sh*t 🙂

  7. That definitely did not sound fun. At. All.
    I pulled out of my last marathon due to sickness and I was bummed for a good long while. Like you said, it happens… 🙂

  8. Ugh, what is with these rainy races this year!!!! And rainy trail racing is ROUGH! I would have quit as soon as I lost my shoe – you are a freaking ROCK STAR for continuing at all!! Sucks so badly when you wait for a race for it to not go the way you wanted – trust me when I say that I truly understand that. So sorry it didn’t go your way, but you are a badass in my book.

  9. Ellie says:

    Tough break about the race…but a wonderful way to cheer yourself up with a visit to Farm Sanctuary! You’ll get the next one 🙂

  10. Maria Mintz says:

    I think you made a wise move in dropping out. You’re a serious runner and you weren’t able to run at all in those conditions. The risk of getting hurt was very real, and not worth it.

  11. So sorry to hear the run didn’t go as you had hoped! Sounds pretty dangerous with all that mud though- I’ve sprained my ankle numerous times with no mud in sight so I’m sure a run like that would destroy me! And running in my sock… Noooo 😳 bring on the next one I say! 😊

  12. piratebobcat says:

    Bummer about that. At least you gave it a go. And sounds like a smart choice. We got so much rain down here this spring that I haven’t been on a trail in months. Several races were cancelled due to flooding….and not just wood trails, but paved ones as well! At least you got to enjoy the Finger Lakes, some good wineries up there!

  13. Ugh, what a nightmare. I had pretty much the exact same experience a few weeks ago at a Ragnar Relay trail race. I was battling the mud to keep my shoes on and just couldn’t get into a running groove because I was going so slow (it took me nearly 3 hours to do 10 miles on one of my legs.) Just MISERABLE. I quit too.
    It sucks to have a DNF, but like you, I signed up to race and have fun. Trudging through miles of mud at a slow jog or a walk just plain sucks-not worth it. Onward to our next race 🙂

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