What can we say about the 30th running of the 2017 FL50s, other than that it was a race for the ages! The loop in the Finger Lakes National Forest is know for its mud, but this year was a whole different ballgame. Heavy storms hit the forest a day before the race, and again intermittently throughout race day beginning at 5:00 a.m. Long stretches of trail became more like a muddy Crocodile Mile water slide, some areas were completely submerged in knee-deep water, and there were even reports of cows wandering onto the trail within the confines of the pastures. Congratulations to everyone who gutted it out for one, two, or three loops around the forest. We hope you’ve finally dried off and got the mud out of your toenails by the time you’re reading this. Full results on our website.
We have tons of amateur race photos on our Facebook page. We encourage you to share your own pictures to social media and tag us on Facebook, Twitter (@FLRCIthaca) and/or Instagram (@FLRCIthaca). You can also use #FingerLakes50s.
We had 89 total finishers for the single-loop 25K. Despite the slippery, sloppy trails, Adam Engst broke Jim Chely’s five-year-old record in the men’s masters division. Adam out-hustled Timm Philips by 14 seconds to take the overall win in 2:08:50. Heather Horth ran 2:39:22 for the women’s overall win, a few minutes ahead of second place Lauren Stroger. Sarah Strunk, who traveled all the way from Durham, NC, was the women’s masters winner in 3:03:55. At 72 years young, Joe Reynolds was our oldest finisher of the day across all three distances.
In the two-loop 50K, Rich Heffron took things out fast, finishing his first loop just ahead of course record pace in 2:08:54. He flirted with the Sean Andrish’s record from 2011 until the final few miles, ultimately taking the win in 4:23:05—less than three minutes off the record. Devang Patel of North Bergen, NJ, ran a strong 4:53:15 for second place. Brian Burke took the men’s masters title in 6:02:30. Kudos to David Keifer, a veteran road runner who—at the age of 70—completed his first ultramarathon, winning the 70+ age group.
For the ladies, Michelle Pratt won convincingly in 5:23:26. Cindy Batzel of Honesdale , PA, was the women’s masters winner in 7:00:40. Also of note, FLRC’s Lorrie Tily pushed through and finished the 50K, making it her twentieth finish in the 50K or longer at the FL50s. Congrats Lorrie!
The treacherous conditions and heavy downpours caused many 50-mile registrants to drop down to the 50K, giving us only 19 50-mile finishers this year. In the men’s race, Lyman Hawbaker battled Zandy Mangold for the win. Hawbaker won in 8:19:48, with Mangold close behind in 8:24:17. Mangold was also the men’s masters winner. Uncharacteristically, no other runner finished in less than nine hours—a testament to how difficult the course was this year.
Lisa Camillaci was the women’s overall and masters winner in 10:20:06, while Lori Johnson took second in 10:40:49. A big congratulations to the few first-time 50-mile finishers! Trust us—it can only get easier from here.
All told, we have runners from 16 states and a few from Canada. Our volunteers and the Wilderness Search and Rescue team ensured that, even with adverse trail conditions, no one got lost or seriously injured.
All of the 50K and 50-mile overall and masters winners took home a carved wooden cow for their efforts, and the winners from three distances also received a growler of beer from race sponsor Rooster Fish Brewing. Thank you Rooster Fish for donating the growlers, and thank you Hammer Nutrition for providing the Hammer Gels, Endurolytes Fizz, and Heed Sports Drink for all the participants.
The FL50s is a large scale production for the FLRC, and would not have been possible without the 60+ people who volunteered their time and energy for the event. There are way too many volunteers to list here—you know who you are! The following is from race director Steve Shaum:
This year’s volunteers had to work through this mess, many for half a day and others for a full day, and some for 3 or 4 days. All associated with this race went far and beyond what was called for this year. I want to thank all of you for volunteering and helping all the runners with food, encouragement, and safety. I can’t count how many runners who came up to me and said “Your volunteers are awesome – some of the best there are at races. This race is great!!” Despite the conditions of the trails this year, this is a huge compliment to all of you who helped with the race. There are lots of ultras out there and to get compliments like this is a big deal. Here’s what one runner sent to me via email: ” Thanks so much for putting on the race! You can’t control the weather, but you and your volunteers did the best with what you had. Everyone was so nice and chipper to be standing in rivers of mud!”
As many of you may know, Steve has directed the race for the past four years, and during that time, has taken the race to the next level. He is now stepping down as RD. Words cannot express how grateful we are to Steve for all his hard work over the past four years, not just on race weekend, but for all the year-round planning that goes into the most minute details of organizing an ultra. We wish Steve the best, as he will hopefully have the chance to run in the race next year!