I agree about doing Lick Brook first – I am going to do that next time. There will be a next time!
The FLRC Challenge is aptly named. This course is tough! I ran it last week, but missed a couple of turns and did some backtracking, so I came back again to try for faster time. Last week I opted for trail shoes, and hiked most of the steep parts. This week I wore XC spikes and tried to run the whole thing. Spikes are obviously not ideal over the rocky parts of the trail, but they were very nice on dirt, especially on the tight turns going downhill. I shaved 5 minutes off last week’s time, so mission accomplished. Strava.
I swung by South Hill Cider on the way home to pick up some sparkling cider.
Any Strava posts from this Challenge course available to look at? My husband and I are planning to run/hike it in a few weeks. Thanks!
@jennifer.woltjen the post above your has a link to his Strava activity.
Thanks! Just saved your Strava route.
This was the HARDEST run I have done in years. We did Lick Brook first and I ran that well but then lost all my energy going up Treman. I was hoping to finish in under 3 hours and did 3:10 but there was lots of walking in there - and not only on the uphills.
Personally, I plan to do Treman first the next time; I think it will vastly improve my time. I think having fresh legs will help with the long uphills and winding woods and then the downhills. Then I am sure I will walk up Lick Brook but that is only one mile of walking versus several miles of walking up hills after getting so tired on Lick Brook.
A few notes
It was very dry today and not muddy - Yay!
It was very hot today. We had hoped to start running early but after several false starts we didn’t get going until 9am. I would strongly recommend starting earlier.
The trail is extremely well marked on the Treman side.
On the Lick Brook side, you have to cross a creek at about 200 yards from the parking lot. I suspect the actually FLT goes across the creek but I also suspect that everybody goes across the railroad trestle (although this really confused us because it says No Trespassing!) However, you need to be safe because we had a train cross the trestle just in front of us! Check out the picture.
The trail is generally well marked on the Lick Brook side. As DG Rossiter said, when you get to Town Line Road you go straight across the street and start on the Orange blazed trail (but I agree with Melissa Wallace that they look Red to me).
While on the Orange blazed trail, after a small uphill, you will get to a fork in the trail where you have a meadow on your left and clearly marked Blue blazed trail goes to the right. The trail also goes straight but there is no Orange blaze to be seen. However, you still need to go straight and you will see another Orange blaze in about 100 yards.
Another point - when you are at the turnaround of the Lick Brook section you will be running about 100 yards in a mowed section next to a house on your left as you run towards King Road. There are about 20 post hole sized holes in the grass! Be careful where you put your feet; I almost tripped several times. You might want to run five yards closer to the house to avoid them.
Finally, I want to suggest that there might need to be warnings about this run. As Scott said, 13.1 miles on a very hilly trail is NOT like 13.1 miles on the road. I consider myself reasonably fit and I was exhausted at the end of this run. I suspect endurance trail runners find this a reasonable run but for the average FLRC challenge runner, this is likely a stretch. After all, it is around 3 hours of running.
Caitlin suggested that maybe people should be allowed to break it into two separate days so they can finish all 10 courses in the Challenge without risking their health on this run. Just a thought. Jamie
Oh my goodness, this is quite a run! I am ready for a nap. Jamie and I were hoping to get an early start as we knew it was going to be the hottest day of the year, so far. Unfortunately we had several delays/false starts. First we decided we really should wait to see our daughter out the door for her 3rd and almost final (last one is tomorrow) AP exam of the year (and of her career!). Then we got three quarters of the way there when Jamie realized he had forgotten his phone…so back home we go. Then we scanned the start code and headed off in the Lick Brook direction only to get immediately confused. We really missed the RunGo directions. We had no idea how we were supposed to cross the creek and were loath to get our feet completely soaked right from the get-go. Finally, we realized the only rational option was to look both ways and do as the trains do (despite the ominous looking sign telling us not to). We headed across and scouted the trail a bit before returning to the start for a redo. Finally we were off.
Without RunGo supporting me I was super glad to have Jamie with me as he is really good with directions. The trail changes color several times but we made it to the top and back without incident. I was glad we did Lick Brook first as I can’t imagine running down that hill on super tired legs. The falls was beautiful. As we were heading out from the falls we heard the ominous sound of a train whistle in the distance. Sure enough at 9:51 am a long train came zipping along the tracks. We had to wait a few moments for it to cross but at least I felt pretty safe when we did hop across the trestle AFTER the train.
We made a quick stop at the car to load up on water, we didn’t carry any for the Lick Brook leg but I’m sure glad I had some for the Treman side. It was hot, sunny and dry. At least most of the muddy areas were pretty well dried up. At this point I had more stamina than Jamie and he told me all I had to do was follow the white blazes all the way to the end and back. I was a little timid to go off on my own but thought I should put in the effort for a good time so that I wouldn’t necessarily have to come do this one again. You never know what the future will hold and I know our summer is already pretty busy. There definitely were a few tricky turns but I kept my head up and my eyes searching for white blazes, when they weren’t trying to guide me over the roots and rock. I did take one tumble, jarring but not serious.
I was so happy when I saw the beautiful yellow and blue challenge sign at the top of Treman…it’s a long climb. I felt like my Fairly Godmother had just tapped my shoulder and told me it was okay to turn around now. The return trip went much faster, though still some significant up hills, and down hills.
For the record, my watch clocked the run at 13.2 miles, my phone gave it 13.9.
On the way home we stopped at Eddydale Farm and I picked up some parsley for my garden.
That’s so cool that you two got to see the train on the bridge. Thanks Jamie for the warning about the holes in that clearing. Sounds like I lucked out that I didn’t step in one when I did my night run there, but I will be back out there soon will be definitely on the lookout for them. I got a little bit confused on the transition from getting from the parking lot to across the creek as well, so it’s not just you.
Yes, the FLT officially goes right through the creek (as do @Ian’s races) but I always take the train bridge to keep dry. If there’s a train blocking the path, you can usually skirt around to the left and under the bridge, assuming the water isn’t too high.
Based on the previous stories, I knew I was in for a wild ride. With marathon training, fieldwork, and other summer travels I also knew that this was my chance to finish up the challenge (at least for a while). I headed out slightly later than I hoped, but still started running before 8 to try and beat the heat. I started with the Lick Brook side and easily found my way to the switch backs. I kept looking up to see how much there was to go and it felt never ending for a short while, but I made it up. I took a slight detour when the orange blaze trail hops out onto the first field, but thanks to other helpful hints here, I quickly realized my error and found the trail. Soon enough I reached the turnaround sign and headed back down. The view right before descending was so pretty, but I wanted to keep moving (at this point I was still feeling good). I am very thankful for the kind man that I found where you rejoin the finger lakes trail at the bottom. I couldn’t remember which direction I came from and he saved me from a long detour. I ran back to the parking lot and went straight under the bridge. I took a little slide in the mud on the concrete under the bridge but was able to stay upright. This was my first good save of the day. I quickly realized that this part of the trail was no less challenging and questioned what I was doing on just about every steep uphill climb. The run became more of a run walk as my legs were getting tired and I was getting hot. I decided complete in one piece was the goal, and gave up any idea of putting in a really fast time. This course really is a challenge. Just past 7 I was a bit confused about where the trail went as I didn’t think the white blazes up front were really the direction I should be going. At this point I lost any sense of what direction I was heading but looking at the map I figured it must be right. Eventually, I reached the turnaround sign much to my relief. I slowly made my way back to my car taking one other big tumble with another save to prevent a complete faceplant. My legs are dead but we made it.
Began the morning picking up Jesse Koennecke in Ithaca on the way to Lansing. We had met last year but this was the first time I really got to talk with him. Then it was simply trying to keep up with Adam, Aaron, and Dave as they breezed around the track without ever needing to shorten a sentence to take a breath. Met a lot of cool people and got to enjoy some of Adam’s Rhubarb bread, which was better than I could put words to.
After dropping Jesse back off in Ithaca I continued on to sacrifice myself again to the Lickbrook Treman gods. Had the fortune of running into the always super nice Amanda King, Liz Hartman, and (I think Jilene? It happed so fast) in the parking lot, who were just finishing their runs. I decided to take the Lickbrook path first this time, no poles, and a hand bottle instead of the hyrdopack. This was a good choice in hindsight as it was just too hot to be lugging around a pack. The trek up and down Lickbrook went super smooth this time without any navigational gaffs. I had made a point to get a count of the stairs in the “blue blaze” stretch and thought for certain I would remember it to the end, but now I am questioning my memory. It think it was 157 or 158, but it might have been 175? Anyhow, might be nice for those planning to do that climb in the future to be able to count the progress on the way up. Made a quick stop at the mobile aid station to refill the bottle and then headed off quickly west. After my first jaunt here, everything seemed to be in fast forward and it wasn’t anywhere near as arduous as I had remembered. Soon enough though, the heat, this mornings run, and yesterdays race finally began to bring me down to earth and I eventually started to do more hiking up the hills than running. There was lots of thunder but not a lot of actual rain. Passed someone about 2/3 of the way through listening to runGo directions and I suspected he was a Challenge person. Once I made it to the second turnaround there was a slight drizzle. At this stage, rain would have been a welcome event as it was hot even under cover of trees. Regardless, the trip back went relatively smooth and without incident. The rain never really materialized. Upon returning to the parking lot, the guy I passed had just returned as well from having done Lickbrook. So… I ended up meeting Mikhail Kern and chatting with him for a bit as I cooled down. It was his first shot at the course and he laid down a super quick time for how hot it was.
I was able to “shave” 3.75 hours off my previous escapade here, and although it wasn’t as quick as I would have liked it was still an enjoyable run none the less. Satisfied with putting this behind me, I headed up the road for some food and refreshment at Ithaca Beer Company. A nice IPA and burger hit the spot. Then it was all the way home with one quick detour to try the ice cream at Cayuga Creamery. All in all a pleasant trip.
Well, today was my first time running this trail, and it kicked my butt. I took a few wrong turns and had to double back a couple of times, and my watch decided to spazz out and end my work out after 3 miles.
That aside, this was a super fun trail. Well, at least the Treman side was super fun. The Lick Brook side was brutal. Great views along the way and I couldn’t pass up stoping for pictures. 100% doing this one again (after recovering).
Now off to Ithaca Beer Co. for some much needed post run nourishment.
First time running this trail for me too, and I agree with Bill—it definitely kicks your butt. I felt a bit like Indiana Jones! I’m not a trail runner so I restate everyone’s warning: this is not a regular (road) half marathon. It takes almost twice as much time. Remember to carry water and nutrition.
Regardless of whether you choose to do Lick Brook or Treman first, both start with a lot of uphill. I chose to preserve my energy and walk the uphill parts, so I was pretty slow, but I truly enjoyed the view. Most of the course is under the shade so it’s a good one to run when it’s hot. I was alone and I found the RunGo instructions pretty good. I made a stupid mistake on Lick Brook, turning left on a crazy uphill with a big tree before the river (while the left turn is actually after the river and then the uphill part starts)… as if I needed more uphill
I see people have different opinions on this, but I am happy to have run the Treman side first. Lick Brook is a crazy hike but Treman is the longest part, so I was happy to have completed that when I returned to the parking lot the first time.
FYI the turnaround of the Lick Brook section is now almost invisible because of the tall grass.
After the adventure, I went shopping at Wegmans and ate vegetable lo mein with sesame chicken… yummy!
Yikes! Sounds like we’ll have to weed by the King Road turnaround sign soon. Great run.
Kris and I (and Dior) chose this morning for this run as it looked like the coolest morning of the week. We got an early start so it was 51 degrees to start and 61 degrees at the end, delightful running weather. This is definitely a hard run… at least we humans thought so. Dior ran circles around us and still wanted to play when we got home. The trail was in good shape, even the wet area beyond Woodard Rd wasn’t too muddy. Warning however…there was a lot of poison ivy in that stretch between Woodard and the turn around. Watch where you step or wear long socks! Kris also had a tiny deer tick on her calf when we got back to the car. It was embedded, but hopefully hadn’t been hitching a ride for too long. All in all, a great outing. Gorgeous course, beautiful day!
Gill and I and our amazing trail running pooch ran this course this morning. Beautiful morning and a lovely course. Lots of birds identified through sound and the Merlin app, a few ticks, long wet grass near East King, the hoot of a barred owl as we made our way down Lick Brook. Glad we did the Treman side first. Challenging and fun.
Having now run this trail twice, I found that running Treman first was best for me.
My first time we ran Lick Brook first and I did well on that half of the course but fell apart on the Treman part. I was so tired and walked for many parts of the Treman ups and downs.
This time, I was fresh for the 4.5 miles mostly uphill on the Treman side and got to rest on the downhill back to the parking lot. Then I just walked the one mile up Lick Brook for a 20 min mile and then was able to keep running up to the turn around even though I was tired. So I basically had to walk one mile when tired instead several miles.
In the end I shaved over 20 mins off my time and was not as tired when I finished compared to the first time.
And I strongly encourage bringing water. I drank on the Treman side and then refilled at my car and still finished my water pouch before I got to the Lick Brook turn around. But then it was all downhill and I could wait for the water…
This is me next to the sign I did not see before embarking on the lick brook Tremain run. Afraid I must have confused many a runner as I was going against the current. I saw Gerrit van Loon and Margaret Frank. And I think Amelia Kaufman. But lots of others too. And Klaas van Wijk, but he might have been in the same boat as me, running rogue with no bib on the wrong day.
I had tried to do this run Memorial day too, but I got lost. Still haven’t managed to get Rungo on my phone. Yada yada.
In a word, though, gnarly (dude)! By the time you hit mile 9 or 10, it’s just you and your runner’s high, nothing civilized about it. Up and down and up and down and in and out and in and out. Gerrit told me once, when he runs these long races, all he thinks about is form. And I get that. Running past Charlie Fey, who was volunteering at the Skunk back in April, he called out “Smooth into the finish”. Best advice ever.
I did the lick brook side first because I did not want to be running down that hill with exhausted legs. The last stretch coming back from the Treman side does allow for some smooth running too. So, good fun was had by both my legs and my little pea brain.
Robert H. Treman State Park is one of my favorite places in the world. This is not an exaggeration. The trails are a perfect combination of well-maintained and just wild enough, and there’s something about the feeling of running along the forest floor surrounded by grass and ferns and tall trees that just can’t be beat. Not to mention the rest of the park: swimming, camping, etc. But today I was here for the running.
I was planning on the forecasted rain to help keep me cool this morning.
Ron Howard narrator voice: there was no rain.
07:57am, 00.0 miles
I actually got up early this morning! I guess I was pretty excited to do this?
I had stashed a drop bag at Woodard Road, which I crossed at 3.5 and 6 miles, downed some Gatorade on the way out and scarfed a banana on the way back down. I was better about slowing down for a couple minutes and not just blowing through, and that definitely helped me regain some energy.
On the way back down I crossed a hiker and an ultra runner with poles at the same time – a little crowded for single-track – but other than that it was a quiet morning.
09:43am, 09.3 miles
I came into the Yaris aid station feeling good. I chose the Treman side first because that long flowing downhill at the end would have been wasted after 12 miles. Chugged half a liter of water and headed out towards the tracks.
The inlet looked like it was only about a foot deep, so I just took the water crossing. It was more like 2 feet, but still nice and refreshing, and my socks and shoes got rid of most of the wetness fairly quickly.
I knew what to expect for Lick Brook: even if it has been 9 years since I did CT50, you don’t forget that sort of thing. Maybe it’s just because I was already pretty spent by that point, but it actually didn’t feel too bad, hiking up. By the time I made it to Town Line, I was back to a shuffle, which shortly turned back into a proper jog. The way back down felt smooth and quick, though my legs were definitely solidifying by this point.
I crossed the tracks via the bridge on the way back, apparently with good timing, as a train came by within 5 minutes. Once I heard the 13 mile alert, I hammered it in pretty hard --6:49 pace, according to my watch.
10:27am, 13.2 miles
This was my longest run in 9 years (since CT50 in 2013), but overall I’m quite happy with my current endurance level. I’m definitely looking forward to doing this a few more times as I continue to consider giving Virgil Crest another go.
Challenge completion celebratory chocolate bar in the woods!
These race reports are so much fun. Thanks for sharing!!