Fun New Running | FLRC Challenge | New York

In 2021 the Finger Lakes Running Club created the FLRC Challenge. During this time in the COVID Pandemic in person racing was still a challenge to do safely. This essentially virtual challenge was a really fun option. It looked really interesting. However, I decided not to sign up for it because I already had a lot of running on my plate planned to 2021 pandemic permitting.

After seeing this challenge pop up in 2021 I was really excited to see it return in 2022. I had a much more low key plan for my running this year and I was really interested in this challenge. So I committed and signed up for the 2022 FLRC Challenge.

FLRC Challenge 2022

The basic principle of the FLRC Challenge is that there are 10 different courses to run and the goal is to run each one of the FLRC Challenge Courses at least once during the course of spring and summer. There are so many other fun ways to be involved in this challenge too, click one of the links in this post to check it out. There is even the option to run the challenge all in one day as a 100k Ultra Challenge. This option seemed so tempting to me, but I was not planning to run any ultras this year so I don’t think I will be doing this. Maybe in 2023 if the FLRC Challenge is back.

One reason I wanted to sign up for the FLRC Challenge was to continue to find new things to do in my running and continue to push myself outside my comfort zone. There were so many fun things about this challenge for me. Each course was a different distance. This is really cool, because it is so easy to get stuck in the rut of always running the same distance whatever your preference is.

Each course was at a different location. Four of the ten courses were at places I had never even been nor even knew existed. It was so cool to discover new places and routes to run. Five other courses were at places I have been to but have not really run at or on different routes that I have never run before. I have hiked at Taughannock Falls many times but I have never run a full circuit of the trails up and over the gorge and down to the falls. And the last course was so cool because you could literally run it anywhere there is a track. Just find a local track wherever you are and run 1 mile on the track and you are good to go. So many  different aspects of this challenge that made it fun and unique.

Taughannock Falls

The biggest part of getting out of my comfort zone for this challenge was showing up to group runs with people I mostly don’t know. When I joined my local running club I quickly got to know the people who came to group runs so it has been a while since I have gone to a group run where I didn’t at least know who most of the people were. And to top it off the FLRC group runs often had a lot more people than I was used to meeting at a group run. Quite intimidating for this introvert.

Running the courses

After I registered for the challenge I started off with my first challenge course being the Inlet Shore Trail which is 6.1 miles. I met up with the FLRC for a group run to check this one off the list on April 24.

After telling my friends about the FLRC Challenge several of them decided to sign up for the challenge. Our number of runners from our group continued to swell as we worked on completing the challenge into the summer.

Next, on 5/1/22, I tackled the Taughannock Rim & Falls challenge course. Some friends and I met up with the FLRC for a group run. Then I stayed around to run a second lap of the course. This one might be my favorite course of the group.

FLRC Challenge Toughannock course

Our local running club, Southern Tier Running Club, often holds group track workouts. And on 5/4/22 This was the perfect time to complete my FLRC Challenge Sweet 16 course of 1 mile minimum on the track. I ended up running 4 miles. I really thought I would rack up a lot of course completions on this one because my goal in spring was to continue to attending weekly track workouts but an Achilles issue really derailed this plan along with others.

On May 8th several of us got together and ran the Long Loomis Course. This was a really fun romp through the woods on trails at least half of which were completely new to me. This is also the sight of the FLRC snow shoe race. And I definitely enjoyed running these trails better without the necessity of snow shoes.

FLRC Long Loomis Course

Next up was the Lansing Center Trail course. I did not even know this spot existed. It made for a cool run. Mostly open fields. A much more cross country atmosphere, a sport I had never taken part in.  A friend and I went up to join the FLRC to complete this course during their 5/15/22 group run. This course was 3.4 miles long so we decided to run it twice. So many trails and lots of loops. Easy to get off course but an enjoyable run. This would be a fun place to return to just to explore.

Race season was beginning to start up and I was nursing an Achilles injury so we went nearly a month before we completed another Challenge course. But on 6/11/22 a bunch of us went out and ran the Lick Brook & Treman FLT course. This was the longest of the courses. 13.1 miles of trails. I really enjoyed this especially the section on the FLT in Robert Treman State Park. The climb up Lick Brook was tough though.

FLRC Long Loomis course

On 7/9/22 several of us planned to meet up and take on the FLRC Challenge course, Jim Schug Trail. This run felt hard. I don’t know why this one felt so hard to me but it was a struggle to get through at times. I ran the last mile or so at a harder pace to get it done with and that part felt the best. Ran this with a few friends which always helps. Our crew of FLRC Challengers was great motivation to keep going. This turned out to be one of those spots I never even knew existed. I have been around the Dryden area plenty but no I have a place that I will have to check out and explore more. The rail trail through the nice wetland area is just begging me to come back and photograph at another time.

The next plan was to meet up with a friend on 7/11/22 and run the FLRC Challenge East Hill Dryden Rail Trail course. This was a nice run with a friend. The day was going to be hot. We planned to go up and run in the evening after work and it was hot. Much warmer than I would normally choose to run it, but we stuck with our commitment to run this course on this day. When we first set out it was really hot. But after we started going in the other direction it started to feel a bit nicer. It got a little bit cloudy out, so the sun wasn’t beating on us as intensely. The area was a little more shaded. And there was a little bit of a breeze. Just enough to periodically cool you off. It turned out to be a pretty nice run. Except for the part where I managed to trip on a rock and fall hard. No major injuries or anything occurred. I just got a bit scrapped up.

FLRC: Lick Brook & Treman FLT course

7/16/22 I took on two courses on this day to try and finish things off before I went on vacation in August and make sure I completed the challenge. I started off with the Brookton Hill & Dale course. The plan was to get up as early as I could and get an early start in the morning. I ended up getting up later than I wanted and then obviously started my run later than I wanted to. This resulted in warmer temps than I would have liked. It felt like a slow boil on this run. The route itself wasn’t bad. I made sure to pay attention to the directions and the maps to make sure I didn’t get lost. There was a surprising amount of construction vehicles on the road with me especially early on  during my run. It was cool that part of this route passed by a section of the Finger Lakes Trail that I have run and then continued on at a later date on a nice long trail run with some friends. This was a cool area to run in because I have never run on these roads before. I am not sure I have even driven on these roads before. The only time that I know I have been on this route was driving to the FLT trail heads I mentioned for runs or hikes.

Finishing the challenge

After this 10+ mile run I drove to Cornell. My original thought was to run the 10 mile Brookton Hill & Dale course then drive to the Botanic Gardens and take a break from running and just relax at the gardens for a while and walk around and take photos for a while. Then I would run the Challenge course. The weather for the day was looking to be pretty hot, so I decided it was better to get both of the runs completed as early in the day as possible before it got too hot. So, as soon as I arrived I set out to complete my final FLRC Challenge Course, the Cornell Botanic Gardens and Beebe Lake. The course starts of in the Cornell Botanic Gardens arboretum area and circles around the roads up there. Then you run down to a spot I never realized was so close, Beebe Lake. Beebe Lake is right near the Cornell Botanic Gardens visitor center. I have never been on the trails around the lake and now I want to go back and explore them when I can take my time and photograph them. I thought I had never even been to the lake before, but when I reached the far end of the lake I realized I had been there before. I recognized the dam and falls from a previous exploration of local waterfalls. I really need to explore this whole area more.

This was a slow shuffling run. I was more tired than I expected. The slowest 4 mile run I have done in quite some time. Of course I realize I had also just run 10 miles and I was trying to follow a route I was unfamiliar with. Going so slow helped with that. But I tried to enjoy the slow shuffle as much as I could. It felt good to complete this final course.

Then I walked around and enjoyed the Cornell Botanic Gardens for a while. I took a bunch of photographs. I wanted to stay longer but I was pretty hot from running all morning and called it quits after about a half an hour of walking around. The Cornell Botanic Gardens is one of my favorite places to visit. If you haven’t been there I highly recommend it and I recommend going multiple times during the year as there are a wide variety of plants there and they are all in bloom different times of the year so you can’t see all the beauty in just one visit.

This was such a fun and different running event. I have never participated in anything like this. I loved that this challenge had predetermined courses that kept you moving and thinking and was really great for keeping runners from getting stuck in a rut. Every course had something different. Roads, bike paths, rail trials, cross country, and conventional trail running. And all the different distances. 1 miles, 3.4 miles, 4 miles, 4.6 miles, 5.7 miles, 6.1 miles, 7.5 miles, 8 miles, 10.4 miles, and capping it off with 13.1 miles. And all of these distances and courses took runners to a different location to explore and discover if they have never been there before. 

I know for me I have a tendency to get in the run of just walking out my door and running the same 3+ mile route most of the time. It is the easiest thing to do. Follow the path of least resistance. This challenge forced me to stretch and grow a little as a runner. I had to commit to going to different location to run. And that commitment helped make my running through this period, especially while dealing with an injury more fun. An taking on this challenge with a great crew of friends made it all the more enjoyable. I am certainly looking forward to this challenge coming back again next year.

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