Main image for FLRC Challenge 2022 Time to Read: ~5 min

This was the second year of the FLRC Challenge, and I’d love for you to read about last year’s challenge — it does a great job explaining what it’s all about. This year brought all-new courses, including my favorite trails of all at Taughannock Falls State Park. Also new was a social aspect, where you could rack up points for running with others and patronizing local businesses after running. The social aspect was all captured on the leaderboard and the forum, which was a great way to see and read about other runner’s experiences. Many thanks to Adam Engst for all of his hard work creating and managing the challenge, and to Steve Desmond for coding the leaderboard (I did some CSS work here, but really, the magic of the leaderboard is all him).

Amy, Teressa, and me with our ultra completion signs

Amy, Teressa, and me with our ultra completion signs

So how did we fare in 2022? As a team of 40-49, we fared really well. We came in first! It was a dramatic finish, neck and neck with 50-59. Amy and I were proud to be first and second in our team’s categories, no doubt lifted by our Taughannock tally. I ranked 12th in the points race (age-grade based) with 585.54 points. I covered 553.5 miles (3rd) over 114 efforts. AND … I still can’t believe I did the ultra challenge (all courses in 24 hours), but I did. Whew! That’s a lot. So, here’s a roundup of the courses, from shortest to longest, with some fun pictures to help tell the tale.

Sweet 1600

Fastest Time: 6:05 (20th)
Average (Top 8): 8:30 (11th)
No. of Runs: 9 (20th)

Track 1 mile: Ah, the 1600. This was a really cool aspect of this year’s challenge, where you could grind out a mile on any track of your choosing. I did 9 track efforts, hitting the Trumansburg track for 2, Lansing for 1, but most of our efforts came from our track crawl in NYC. It was really fun to explore all of the tracks Manhattan has to offer!

Sweet 1600

Sweet 1600

Lansing Center Trail

Fastest Time: 23:17 (9th)
Average (Top 2): 24:02 (5th)
No. of Runs: 5 (7th)

XC 3.4 miles: It seems like the shorter distances can be the hardest, and this was no exception. This cross-country course has some awkward footing in places on the mown track, and offers little shade depending on the time of day. I enjoyed running with others on this trail, especially the group run near the end of the challenge where we enjoyed socializing at Salt Point Brewing afterward.

Lansing Center Trail

Lansing Center Trail

Beebe Lake

Fastest Time: 28:46 (13th)
Average (Top 4): 38:19 (10th)
No. of Runs: 5 (18th)

Mixed 3.9 miles: It was really fun to explore new configurations of routes around Cornell’s Botanic Garden and Beebe Lake! As a Cornell student, I never ventured to this side of campus, and I wish I had. Walking around Beebe, you might confuse your location with somewhere in NYC’s Central Park. It’s so beautiful, hiking or running, and the varied trail surface is a welcome respite from the roads that dominate the Botanic Gardens. The picture is from the very last run of the challenge: a group run followed by fun fellowship at the Loehr’s home.

Beebe Lake

Beebe Lake

Taughannock Rim & Falls

Fastest Time: 35:20 (4th)
Average (Top 4): 36:14 (1st)
No. of Runs: 76 (1st)

Amy and me with our Taughannock sign

Amy and me with our Taughannock sign

Trail 4.6 miles: Our home course! We live just 3 miles from Taughannock’s top trailhead, so of course we ran the HECK out of this course. The course involves the rim and base trails and is a genuine challenge. The picture is from one of the challenge’s first group runs, after which we hosted a large group in our backyard for breakfast and coffee. I preferred the overlook start and running clockwise. I think that’s the direction that can give you the fastest time, but after some of the speedier challengers hit the course, I gave that up. The prize for most runs on a course yields the sign, and Amy and I set our sights on that one. Teressa proved to be a formidable challenger, though, and for months we jockeyed for most runs. We hammered some efforts in a bid to get ahead: I did a few doubles on weekends, we racked up some hikes together, and even spent our anniversary banging out 5 efforts for 24 miles! In the end, I stopped my insane cadence at 76 efforts, and Amy caught up with me for a tie. So, we both walked away with the sign, and an intimate knowledge of every rock, root, and vista on the trail.

Taughannock Rim & Falls

Taughannock Rim & Falls

Long Loomis

Fastest Time: 48:10 (15th)
Average (Top 2): 49:10 (3rd)
No. of Runs: 4 (5th)

Trail 5.7 miles: Hammond Hill is such a beautiful, well-maintained complex of trails. Not a ton of runs here, but I really enjoyed the group run effort mid-season. I took Xander here late in the season for his very last run of the challenge! I was on tired legs from running the ultra challenge, but it was incredibly fun to run it out with Xander.

Long Loomis

Long Loomis

Inlet Shore Trail

Fastest Time: 46:13 (21st)
Average (Top 3): 49:28 (9th)
No. of Runs: 3 (16th)

Mixed 6.2 miles: I gotta be honest: I really didn’t like this one. Too much pavement and not enough shade! I did enjoy the northern reaches of the course, offering really great lake views. My most favorite run on this was during the ultra challenge, running as the sun started to come up.

Inlet Shore Trail

Inlet Shore Trail

East Hill Dryden Rail Trail

Fastest Time: 54:32 (18th)
Average (Top 2): 54:45 (6th)
No. of Runs: 3 (12th)

Mixed 7.5 miles: Ah, another tough course! This was was also made more fun with friends. I ran this just once on my own, once on a group run, and once more for the ultra challenge.

East Hill Dryden Rail Trail

East Hill Dryden Rail Trail

Jim Schug Trail

Fastest Time: 58:35 (14th)
Average (Top 2): 59:01 (7th)
No. of Runs: 3 (8th)

Mixed 8 miles: Folks in Dryden must really enjoy this trail! It picks up right in town, and in seconds, you’re whisked away to a wonderful natural world flanked by a beautiful lake. Amy and I enjoyed this together first, and I had a solo effort. The most memorable, though, was the ultra challenge, fast-hiking it with Amy and Teressa in the dark. I’ve never been so startled by bullfrogs jumping into the bogs that flank the western edge of the trail!

Jim Schug Trail

Jim Schug Trail

Brookton Hill & Dale

Fastest Time: 1:17:24 (13th)
Average (Top 2): 1:18:42 (4th)
No. of Runs: 3 (3rd)

Road 10.4 miles: This is a genuinely difficult road course. In my head I always reasoned, “It’s only ten miles!” But, that extra .4 is a bear mentally, and this course has so many ups and downs it’s a mental game to keep the pace up. The market was a nice touch at the end, with coffee and breakfast foods on offer. Just 3 runs on this one, but my most memorable was having Xander come and run it with me for the ultra challenge. We stashed a cooler of water halfway through the course and kept up a decent pace throughout. It’s too bad that Lick Brook & Treman came right after, though — my legs were wasted by that point!

Brookton Hill & Dale

Brookton Hill & Dale

Lick Brook & Treman FLT

Fastest Time: 2:22:20 (10th)
Average (Top 2): 2:34:56 (6th)
No. of Runs: 3 (5th)

Trail 13.1 miles: Ah, my nemesis (and many challengers likely felt this way). I love this park, and have special memories of having run two 50-milers here. How hard can 13.1 miles be? Well, REALLY hard. The first effort was really early in the season, when foliage and ground cover had barely begun to emerge from winter slumber. Really fantastic, but really difficult. The second effort was a genuine race effort for me, and I was happy to grind out a fast performance. The last effort was during the ultra challenge, where it was difficult to run at all. I did run some stretches, but it was mostly a hike that I was immensely grateful to complete.

Lick Brook & Treman FLT

Lick Brook & Treman FLT

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