Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Race Preview : Sybil Ludington 50K

The 30th annual Sybil Ludington 50K race takes place on Saturday, April 26 in Carmel, New York, and actually falls on the 231st anniversary of Sybil Ludington’s historic ride. The race follows much of the route ridden by Sybil on the night of April 26, 1777 and consists of rolling, narrow country roads. Three hills on the course reach about 500 feet in elevation gain. The race has a 7 hour time limit and no maximum entry limit. The race also boasts an inexpensive entry fee - $20 prior to April 16, $25 thereafter. There is also a relay option.

Known as the female Paul Revere, Sybil Ludington was the eldest of 12 children (Rebecca, Mary, Abigail, Archibald, Henry, Derick, Tertullus, Anna, Fredrick, Sophia, and Lewis) and the daughter of a colonel in the local militia. She was born and raised in what was then part of Dutchess County, New York, near the Hudson river. On the night of April 26, 1777, at the age of 16, Sybil was putting her siblings to bed when word reached her house that the British were burning the town of Danbury, Connecticut. With her father’s men scattered over a wide area around the Ludington house in Fredericksburg, New York (now Ludington), Sybil convinced her father to let her ride and summon his men. Sybil would ride on horseback over 40 miles on dark, unmarked roads to spread the alert of the British attach. Her course took her down through Carmel, on to Mahopac, and around to Kent Cliffs and Farmers Mills and back home. She rode alone with only a stick to prod her horse and to knock on the doors spreading the alert in time. The men whom she helped to gather arrived just in time to help drive the British, under the command of General William Tyron, back to their ships in Long Island Sound.

In 2007, both 3-time defending Men’s (Bob Sweeney) and Women’s (Ellen McCurtin) champions did not participate in the race (although both were at the race supporting fellow runners). Jim Sweeney took top honors for the men in 3:17:01, with Emmy Stocker outrunning the women’s field in 4:29:22. Emmy’s victory was particularly impressive considering that she had run the Boston Marathon just 6 days earlier in 3:39.

The Course: The race course is particularly challenging, due mostly to its rolling pavement terrain, and its lack of road shoulder (or very little road shoulder) on much of the course. I ran this race in the pouring rain in 2006 and at times feared that oncoming and passing cars would run me over. The first 6 miles or so on Route 6 are particularly dangerous, before the course turns onto the less vehicular trafficked Route 32. Overall, there is about 3,000 feet of elevation gain/loss.

View Larger Map

Elevation Profile (click for larger view):

Weather: The weather in New York in late April can vary. In 2006 runners at the race dealt with rain (heavy at times) and cold. Last year, it was about 45 degrees at the start, but reached into the low 70’s by early afternoon. The current weather forecast for Saturday is calling for a cloudy and cool day, with highs around 62 and lows in the low 40’s.

Shoes: Almost entirely roads…no trail shoes necessary. I recall one runner last year who came to the race thinking it was a trail race, only to find out just how much his ankles would suffer on the roads in trail shoes.

Aid Stations: Fairly well spread out starting at mile 5, in 3-4 mile intervals. Water and Gatorade only. I actually run the aid station located at Route 301 and Farmers Mills Road (have to get my service requirement in for GTR 100), and will be joined this year by Meredith and her husband Eddie.

Race Directors: Anthony Galfano and David Farquhar.

Website: http://runner.org/sybil.htm


  1. That's an interesting story! Didn't know about her. Good for you doing to service requirements, it's always too tempting for me to run in the race. I saw the requirements for your next run so your smart to get them done.

  2. Anthony --this Sybil preview is great! Love the map. Ellen McCurtin told me that she is coming back to defend her title for the 11th time!
    I am not even going to think about how tough the course is.

  3. Emmy - wait a minute...aren't you defending YOUR title this year !!! See you there !

  4. I'm so sad that I'll miss it :( BUT, I'll see you kids for the LI Greenbelt :)