Triennial Finger Lakes Trail Relay

Triennial XVI
Looking forward to 2026

Satterly Hill


The Race | The Awards | The History | FAQ | In Memoriam
1981 | 1984 | 1987 | 1990 | 1993 | 1996 | 1999 | 2002 | 2005 | 2008 | 2011 | 2014 | 2017 | 2021 | 2023


"History is written by the victors". Whoever said that certainly had the Atrocious FLT Relay Team in mind... here we are trying to re-create the history of this unique event, before we all succumb to Reaganitis. This is an attempt to get everything in one place.


The Race

Every three years, since in 1981 the Finger Lakes Trail in central New York State is the site of a unique running event: the Triennial FL Trail Relay originated and perpetuated by a permanent unelected Triennial Central Committee which meets in an iron bathtub somewhere in the Finger Lakes region.

After Tri XII (2014) the race committee will retire, leaving the field to the next generation.

The format has changed a bit over the years, but the essential feature has always been teams of six (Tri I -- VIII) or seven (Tri IX and X) and now eight (Tri XI and XII) runners covering 80 to 90 miles of the Finger Lakes trail in Tompkins and Schuyler counties (also Cortland in Tri III), in stages ranging from 9 to 16 miles. The team with the lowest place-score (x-country system) or the fastest combined time, or some combination determined by the race organizers according to their mood, wins.

The race is to the prepared: entrants should have pre-run their section of the trail if at all possible, certainly all Finger Lakes-area runners should have done so. The trail on the ground must be followed in its entirety. Maps and GPS waypoints may be ordered from the Finger Lakes Trail Conference


The Awards

Among the awards are:


The Legend

Back in 1981 when Caleb "Death Squad" Rossiter still roamed the hills of Caroline, he blacked out during his tenth repetition of Shindagin Hollow and rolled down a cliff, fortunately ending right-side up in a beaver pond. While avoiding rabid beavers and sipping the Ghardia-laden waters he had a revelation: an entire day of this madness... but it had to be a real competition, fast running and head-to-head battles on a worthy ground... not an endurance march, but something that could be enjoyed by well-conditioned distance runners. The organizers had for years hiked and camped on the FL Trail, and the idea came to do the entire trail as described in the local trail guide (Cayuga Trails Club). Every three years the race committee, meeting in Dump Truck's bathtub, comes up with a few new wrinkles to keep everyone on their toes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Question: Why such strict qualifying standards?

    Answer: We want to know that you know what you're getting into. The only way to ensure that is to know that you've actually been out on the trail and been able to run on it at a reasonable speed. The best way to qualify is to pre-run your stage! You can do this right up to the week before the event.

  2. Question:Why can't I run the whole thing?

    Answer: You can, just not in this event. You can enter for more than one stage if you can keep up the pace that long. Only two people have ever been able to do that (John Walsh, Triennial I; Liz Brundige, Triennial XI). Give it all you've got on your stage; after a few brutal uphills and rocky trails you will be ready to stop. And for Tri XII, since you have to run the same stage in the reverse direction the next day, I think you will rather head for the hot tub than another stage

  3. Question: Is there really a "redhead advantage"? What about "naughty schoolgirls"?

    Answer: Whatever turns you on, organizers are impervious to temptation.

  4. Question: Has anyone been seriously injured during a Triennial?

    Answer: Yes, Joe Dabes got permanent apoplexy by slipping on the rules.

  5. Question: Can I do this for charity?

    Answer: No

  6. Question: Is Jeff Juran really banned for life?

    Answer: No, you are confusing him with Reinhold Wotawa.

  7. Question: Can I wear headphones? earbuds?

    Answer: Sing to yourself, we know you have voices talking in your head anyway

  8. Question: Why can't I organise the Triennial myself?

    Answer: Because.

  9. Question: Who are you guys, anyway?

    Answer: See you on race day!


In Memoriam

A few Triennial veterans and good friends have been taken from us. Although they had many memorable moments in their lives, I like to think that the Triennial was one of the best.

Tom Bugliosi (1991); Joel Zucker (1997); Rich Lawrence (1998); Joe Streeter (1999); Henry Theisen (2001); Hubert Morgan (2002), Terry Goodenough (2010)

Author: Dump Truck, ldw (at)

This page is

Last modified: 1 July 2021