Cayuga Trails 50 Preview: The Fellas

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out my preview of the ladies that posted on Monday.

As I said the other day, Cayuga Trails is coming up on June 4th. Once again, it will serve as USATF 50-Mile Trail Championships.

Here is a brief preview. It includes twelve fellas who I expect to be competitive. It is not an exhaustive list, and if I left you out, I apologize! Go prove me wrong on the trails.

I’ve broken this preview down into two groups: guys who will compete for the win and guys who will compete for the podium/top ten.

For the win:

Jared Burdick: Jared was second last year in his first fifty-miler. He is the top returnee, and he obviously knows the course. He’s also in great shape, as demonstrated by his win at USATF 50km Championships about two months back (2:57:50). Last year, he crossed the halfway mark right near the lead, but several guys, including Jared, were reeled in by Mario Mendoza. Will that lead to a more conservative strategy for 2016?

Zach Ornelas: Jared and Zach already raced once this year at Caumsett. Zach went out hard with a record on his mind, and Jared caught him around 29ish miles. Zach has conceded that he is still figuring out the 50-mile distance – will this be his breakthrough race?

Matt Flaherty: Matt Flaherty and his moustache are returning once again. As far as I know, Matt is the best musician in the field. Check out some of his tunes here. He’s also pretty quick and he’s in good shape based on solid performances this year at Mountain Mist 50k, Chuckanut and Lake Sonoma. Matt was 2nd in 2013 and 3rd in 2014 – will this be his year?

Jorge Maravilla: This guy is going to be tough to beat. He ran 3:22 at Way Too Cool earlier this year, and I’d be amazed if he didn’t finish in the top three. With that being said, the terrain at Cayuga Trails is a tad different than the terrain in Mill Valley.

Tyler Sigl: Tyler has done incredibly well in fast 50-milers. He’s run as fast as 5:27, and Cayuga Trails is the only 50 he has ever done in more than six hours. Last year (correct me if I’m wrong), he was in first at the halfway mark. Will he go with a more conservative approach this year, or will he go hard again right from the start now that he is familiar with the course?

For the podium/top ten:

Ben Nephew: Ben was 7th in 2013, 5th in 2014 and 5th in 2015. I’d put money on another 5th place finish. Ben races a lot but it doesn’t seem to phase him. I can’t put him in the “win” category at a race this competitive, but he will definitely be at the front of the second tier, and he will pick off anyone that falls back.

Iain Ridgway: Iain was 10th in 2014 and wasn’t able to make it to the race last year. He is usually in Ben’s vicinity in races, and I think he will likely find himself in the top ten once again.

Cole Crosby: Cole’s year is off to a solid start. He ran 3:11:44 at Caumsett and then placed third at Hyner 50k (behind only Mike Daigeaun and Adam Russell). Cole finished 9th at Cayuga Trails in 2013 and 7th in 2014. He’ll be top ten, and I think he’ll probably hang with the Ben Nephew/Iain Ridgway group until things get sorted out late in the race.

Jan Wellford: To be completely honest, I’m not all that familiar with Jan Wellford. Based on Ultra Signup, he doesn’t race that often. In addition, his results are a little all over the place, but there could be lots of reasons for that. Anyhow, he has a few decent results in the last few years including a 2nd place at the Cat’s Tail Marathon in October 2015 (behind Ben Nephew). If he runs that well again, he might find himself in the top ten at Cayuga Trails.

Silas Carey: Silas was 13th in 2014 and 10th last year. He ran pretty well at the Bear Mountain 50km earlier this year, and there is a good chance he’ll finish top ten again.

Aaron Saft: Aaron finished just in front of me last year, but I’m guessing he is in great shape having already raced this year in January, February, March and April! Is that too much racing this early in the season? Time will tell.

Andy Vermilyea: Andy is my darkhorse and probably the best runner in the field that you’ve never heard of. He’s a great climber and he doesn’t have any issues with gnarly trails. I expect him to finish somewhere in the top ten.