Little and Sigl win 2018 USATF 50 Mile Trail Championships

Written by USATF Championship liaison Lin Gentling.

Under almost ideal conditions for a summer race, the USATF 50 Mile Trail Championship held in conjunction with the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile was contested in Robert Treman State Park, NY. The partially overcast morning was cool with a gentle breeze. Just outside of Ithaca, New York in the beautiful Finger Lakes region, the course has approximately 9000 feet elevation gain and loss with a blend of technical and wide, flat trails (not many).

Tyler Sigl, a 32-year-old mechanical engineer from Seymour,WI, took home the men’s USATF 50 Mile Trail Championship at the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile race on Saturday, July 21. This was Sigl’s 3rd time running the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile (with a win in 2016 setting the course record) and his most difficult attempt. This time he said he fought demons the entire race. Sigl, a two-time member of the US Trail Team, certainly has run difficult races with lots of elevation change over the years. There were minor changes to the race course and according to Sigl’s, it made for a somewhat easier run. However, at mile 20, his body began to tighten up and he continued to battle that tightness throughout the race, but “keeping going” became his battle cry.

The race was challenged in the front by four runners, Sigl, Seth Marcacci (Canada), Patrick Caron (Needham, MA), and Steven Lange (Stanhope, NH). That group of four split into pairs with Sigl and 23-year-old Marcaccio taking the lead and staying together through 37 miles. Marcacci was fresh off a 12th place showing at Loon Mountain Race where he represented Team Canada at the NACAC Mountain Running Championships on July 8.

At the Buttermilk Falls aid station with 13 miles to go, Sigl and Marcaccio came in within seconds of one another. Sigl wasted no time while Marcaccio stopped to refuel. However, by the Old Mill aid station with just 4 miles to go, Marcaccio had built well over a 10 minute lead on Sigl. Sigl stopped at Old Mill to cool off, but the race was already determined, as Marcaccio looked incredibly strong the last 10 miles and finished as the winner of the Cayuga Trail 50 Mile. With Marcaccio being Canadian, the USATF 50 Mile Trail Championship win went to Sigl.

Men’s top results were:

  1. Seth Marcaccio (London, Ontario CAN) 6:56:07
  2. Tyler Sigl (Seymour, WI) 7:05:36 – 2018 USATF 50 Mile Trail Champion.
  3. Patrick Caron (Needham, MA) 7:16:31
  4. Steven Lange (Stanhope, NJ) 7:35:22

2018 USATF 50 Mile Trail Champion Sabrina Little. Photo by Lin Gentling.

On the women’s side, the race went according to pre-race predictions with a new course record added into the mix. Earlier in the week, Jason Mintz wrote an article capturing the elite runners entered in the USATF 50 Mile Trail Championships. He predicted Sabrina Little (Robinson, TX), Sarah Keyes (Saranac Lake, NY), and Ellie Pell (Interlaken, NY) would be contesting for the top honors. This was exactly how the race evolved from the start with Little taking the lead and never looking back. Closer together were Keyes and Pell, however that gap between the two began to widen ever so slightly with each aid station check in. Nevertheless, the sequence in order remained the same with Little gaining more time over Keyes and Pell with each aid station check in. She looked incredibly strong, seemed to be having a “blast,” and ran her game plan from start to finish.

Like Sigl, this was Little’s 3rd time racing the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile. She placed 2nd in the prior two versions, but this was her year to take home the win and she was so ready! She is such an affable and humble woman, and so popular with her fellow athletes. There was tremendous support for her along the course and she responded with smiles and determination.

With Little’s academic background in philosophy (PhD in philosophy at Baylor University with intentions to teach), she is definitely a thinking-type woman describing her race simply as she felt strong and grateful. In the past, she has prioritized the race that has created nervousness in the anticipation. At the start line, thoughts of self-doubt and, “what am I doing here?” would enter into her thought process.

Photo by Sabrina Little.

This year, however at the start line, her mantra was, “you are strong.” Little entered the race only 3 weeks ago so there was hardly any time to create that heightened anxiety. However, the training she had done for the May IAU/ITRA Trail World Championships in Spain competing for Team USA had served her well and she was continuing to feel the strength resulting from that training. Although he was anticipating that weak moment(s) to rear its ugly head, it never happened. She ran the first loop of the two-loop course in control, not thinking about the competition, rather running her own strategy and race. The last 10 miles her legs felt great. It is a faster section and Little pushed her pace. She said familiarity with the course was an asset, but regardless, there are still those, “chin scrape type climbs,” that must be contended with.

This was Sabrina’s second national championship win in 2018. She won the USATF 100 Mile Trail Championships held in Huntsville, Texas this past February.

Women’s top results were:

  1. Sabrina Little (Robinson, TX) 8:06:33) 5th overall and breaking the course record set by Amanda Basham in 2015.  8:11:20, 2018 USATF 50 Mile Trail Champion.
  2. Sarah Keyes (Saranac Lake, NY) 11th overall in 8:44:50.
  3. Ellie Pell (Interlaken, NY) 14th overall in 9:10:29

There were 121 runners finishing the race. Results can be found at https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=53495.

Here are the official results from the USATF 50 Mile Trail Championships. Only USATF members who are U.S. citizens score in the national championship. (Results by Andy Martin).

 

For another perspective on the event you can read Jason Mintz’s race report.

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