We really hope you’ve had a chance to cool down a little since race day. Now in the Fifties’ thirty-first year, the Finger Lakes National Forest dished out what we believe is the hottest race day on record. With temperatures reaching close to 100°F by mid-afternoon, we also doled out a record tonnage of ice. A times, our volunteers struggled to keep up with the demand for ice and ice water! If 2017 was the year of the flood, then this was the year of fire — like last year, the 50-mile finishing rate was low, but for a different reason. Many 50-mile runners opted to drop down to the two-loop 50K instead of trudging back out for another lap through the inferno. Overall, times were generally slower than usual (with one notable exception we’ll get to later), yet the three distances totaled 228 finishers out of 250 registrants.
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In additional to the photos on this page, visit our Facebook page for more. We didn’t have a professional photographer and tried to get as many runners as we could. Feel free to copy or share these photos however you want.
On the ladies’ side, Katherine Edwards traveled up from Brooklyn to represent her team The Dashing Whippets. Katherine made good on the name, dashing past the competition to take the win in 2:30:27. We always see a large Brooklyn contingent at the 50s and a handful of Brooklynites on the podiums, so this year was no different. A few minutes later the race for second was close, as Rokhsanna Sadeghi edged out Elinore Loch by just under a minute. Our top masters (40+) woman was Christine Antonini in 3:11:35.
For the men, Patrick Loftus of Washington, D.C., broke the tape first in 2:19:02. The next three guys finished close together. Second place Tyler Barker ran a 2:25:48, with John Kolh and Nery Trigueros Gonza both less than a minute back. Kohl was third overall and also the men’s masters winner.
A couple of local runners, Tommy Hayward and Brett Donaldson, trashed talked their way through the race in a friendly rivalry. Hayward won the contest, but Donaldson could argue he was saving something in the tank as he was the only FL50s finisher to show up at our Black Diamond Group Run the next morning. Also in the 25K mix was Steve Shaum, whom you know as the FL50s’ Race Director for the past four years. This year Steve passed along the RD torch and was happy to be out running the trails.
Laura Webber proved that masters athletes can compete with the best of them. At age 40, she took the overall win in 6:12:45. Keeping with race tradition, she took home a chainsaw-carved wooden cow for her stellar effort.
Did any of you Pebbleheads run the Tortoise & Hare this year? Then you’d recognize second place woman Emily Funk who is co-RD of Tortoise and ran a 6:18:17 50K. Our third female in the two-lapper was Denise Knight, who came all the way from Chapin, SC. Denise ran a smart race to manage the most even split (+8:21) and fastest second loop (3:15:14) of any woman on the day.
Now on to the men. We already mentioned the uncharacteristically hot and humid weekend, right? That makes Michael Heimes 50K all that more impressive. Heimes ran a 2:06:06 first loop and 2:13:14 second loop, both of which would have won the 25K race. His final time of 4:19:20 is the new 50K course record, besting Jeff Powers’ 4:20:37 from 2012. (Jeff still holds the 25K CR though.) Heimes had a pretty reasonable shot at the 50-mile record too, but we couldn’t convince him to continue for a third loop!
Iain Ridgway and Gonzalo Reviriego came in tied for second after the first loop, with Jon Boser in hot pursuit less than two minutes later. Ridgway ran a faster Loop 2 to take second place in 5:12:53. Reviriego held on to third, while Boser continued on to a 50-mile finish. The men’s masters race was close too, with Jon Wade of Hamilton, ON, taking the top spot by less than four minutes.
The 50K had many other notable performances. Lorrie Tily, former FLRC President, completed the 50K for the twentieth time. Add to that her one 50-mile finish, and that’s 21 ultra-distance finishes in the event’s 31 editions. Due to course changes over the years we’re not 100 percent sure of her total lifetime mileage at this race, but it’s somewhere around 700 miles.
Harland Bigelow’s been in the sport for over half a century, and at 71 years young he nabbed his sixth straight 50K finish. Emily Seltzer earned her first ultra finish while running the entire 33 miles with her father and brother, ensuring that Team Seltzer all finished together. (She sure picks the tough ones — her first marathon was a few years ago at the notorious Monster.) We had numerous other first-time ultra finishers, plus a handful who doubled back after running 40 miles around Letchworth State Park at Many on the Genny a week earlier.
* We recognize that some 50K and 50-mile runners missed a turn mid-way through their first loop, in some cases adding extra mileage. We remarked that turn with extra flags ASAP and apologize for any confusion and aggravation it may have caused. We appreciate that participants were largely understanding, and at the finish line feedback from runners was overwhelmingly positive. We’ll learn from that mistake and be sure to correct it going forward.
The 50-mile race was a display of guts and sheer determination. Every 50-miler knew he or she had the chance to make an early exit after two loops and walk away with a 50K finish. 23 runners persevered through three loops as the thermometer continued rising.
Alanna Moss has a pile of 50K and mountain race finishes to her name, but this was her 50-mile debut. After a rough go in the National Forest last year, she came back to take the woman’s title this time. Moss kept a steady effort over the closing miles and held off the fourth and fifth place men to take fourth overall in 9:49:24. (The two men chasing her finished only 2-3 minutes later.) At 41, she was also the women’s masters winner (and second master overall.) Rounding out the top three were Julia Plourde in 10:23:32 and Melinda Bautista in 11:14:06. In a display of smart pacing, Plourde managed to run her third loop only 4:39 slower than her second.
Men’s winner Dillon Shaffer came through Loop 1 trailing only 50K leader Michael Heimes. Like women’s winner Moss, he’d never raced longer than 50K before today. Shaffer ran the second fastest Loop 2 on the day — again, only Heimes’ was faster. Shaffer’s 8:25:28 won the race by over 30 minutes. John Boser hung with the 50K chase pack early on and ultimately took second in the 50-mile in 8:57:55. Boser said prior to the race that he was originally hoping for a sub 8-hour finish, but he wisely adjusted his expectations to match the weather and in the end was happy with a sub-9 and second place. Paul Italiano took the masters win and third overall to earn his cow in 9:35:53.
Elsewhere in the 50-mile: Lucas Lemanski came out from Chicago and threw down hard on the “Baby Loop” — the final half-mile around the finish area — tying for the fastest Baby Loop with winner Shaffer. Allan Co completed his first and only ultra and at the finish swore it would be his last. Odds are 20 to 1 that he’s on Ultrasignup right now looking for his next :) Vinny Cappadora won the just-created Broken Wrist Division, completing 50 miles with his forearm in a hard-shell cast. An ultrarunning veteran, this was also Cappadora’s comeback after two years away from racing due to injury.
Did anyone catch those sweet Michael Jackson dance moves on video? That was Guillermo Ayala, only minutes after a sixth place finish in the 50-mile, declaring “This is for all the volunteers!” Talk about boundless energy — Ayala just ran the steep, rocky, and rugged Manitou’s Revenge a week earlier. And yes, he showed off his MJ prowess at that race too!
Every race has tons of moving parts behind the scenes, and this race couldn’t have happened without the support of many individuals and organizations: Wilderness Search and Rescue provided a communication network that helped track runners, keep people on course, and administer medical treatment where needed. Jeff and Kathy Sikora have volunteered their services to us as WSAR crew chiefs for the past 18 years, and have decided to retire. They will surely be missed at our races!
The National Forest Service’s team of rangers helped us with trail maintenance and allowed us to hold our race on their land. Albany Running Exchange provided timing services, finish line DJ-ing, and all the corny puns and (occasionally) funny jokes that kept spectators, crews, and volunteers entertained at home base. Fittnell Farms continues to cater our event year after year and dished out all that tasty, post-race real food.
Our sponsors: Rooster Fish Brewing, for the finish line kegs and growler awards; Wegmans (Ithaca) for their generous coffee donation; NBS Nutrition for the electrolyte drink provided at all the aid station. (NBS is a new nutrition product company — if you liked their sports drink or want to try more, check out their website on how to order some.)
There are too many individuals to thank by name in this post, but we certainly didn’t forget you. We’ll give you all a big shout out and virtual high-five soon. But we do want to recognize first year Race Director Alexandra Kleinerman, who took over the helm from Steve Shaum. Alex is RD at four of Ithaca’s biggest events, including FLRC’s Skunk Cabbage Road Race, the Gorges Ithaca Half, and the Cayuga Lake Triathlon. This was her first time directing a trail or ultra race, and, along with her husband John Hohm, did a bang-up job in a large-production event. So thank you for keeping the Fifties going strong into its fourth decade.
The Finger Lakes 50s is part of our annual Trail Circuit, with rankings based on performance and total mileage completed. Next on the docket is the Forest Frolic on July 14. This is a low-key, singletrack race out in Kennedy State Forest. Check out our event calendar for the rest of our Trail Circuit, including Forge the Gorgeous, The Monster Marathon & Half, and Danby Down & Dirty. We’ve also got a summer track series and plenty of road racing on tap.
As for the Fifties, registration will again open on January 1 for the 2019 race, with a waitlist to follow. So until next time, keep on moooooving and remember — “Don’t let the cows out!”
Finger Lakes Runners Club