How it all started

Mind The Ducks has a colorful history that starts with a vivid dream, an urban park, and some very feisty waterfowl. The story begins in July of 2009 when ultrarunner, Shelley Viggiano had an all too real dream about a 12 hour race in a small park favored more by colorful duck feeding locals and their children, than by runners. Later that day, armed with a loaf of stale bread and her kids, she headed to Seneca Park and walked the 1/2 mile loop, dodging 1 legged geese and aggressive ducks. There she saw it was true: an absolutely perfect place for a timed race, snappy and ill-mannered birds not withstanding.
After some thought, she determined twelve hours to be the magic distance – long enough that one can’t phone-in a good performance, short enough that locals could sleep in their own beds that night. Enough time for budding marathoners to beat a cutoff, or for beginning ultrarunners to make the 50k or 50 mile distance without fear of being lost, lonely, hungry, thirsty, or uncomfortable. Everyone would be together all day – it would be one big running party! A little bit of digging through the archives showed that a timed race hadn’t been done in Rochester in decades – further reason, it had to be done! Viggiano brought her idea to the board of her running club, Ultrarunning Matters, who unanimously approved and appointed her race director of the newly christened Mind The Ducks 12 Hour.

From it’s inception MTD has been by, for, and all about the runner’s experience. If each racer didn’t have the fastest time, best eats, greatest prizes, and most fun – the RD took it personally. The idea was to present an event with over the top support that costs less than an average big city marathon. Mind The Ducks has never been a for-profit venture, and each year, a local charity was chosen to receive the proceeds. Wonderful things happened at the 2010-2012 races: lasting friendships were made, new ultrarunners were christened running around Trout Lake, and a national record was broken. While the race had rave reviews under Viggiano’s direction, in 2013 she decided to take a hiatus year and then search for her replacement. It would have to be someone enthusiastic about running, dependable, detail oriented, and with big vision. She found that in Gil Robs who takes over for 2014, bringing big changes with him – a new venue that will expand the field cap, offer better amenities, and a 1 mile course. Some things will never change at Mind The Ducks, however –  great support, low cost and a party like atmosphere. And of course, it wouldn’t be the same without those snappy ducks. After all, you can’t have a race with NO hardships!

Meet the Team

Shelley Viggiano

Shelley Viggiano


Founder and Race Director 2010, 2011, 2012

Volunteer 2014

Participant 2015

Terrible Twos and Running Shoes

Egils Robs Alkatraz 2016

Egils Robs

Race Director

Aka Gil or Gil Robs

Participant 2011, 2012

Race Director since 2014

Race Director of CanLake50 Ultras

Race Director of CandleLight 12 Hour – Overnight Ultra and Relays

The Greater Rochester Track Club / GRTC

The Greater Rochester Track Club (GRTC) is Mind The Ducks 12 Hour organizing organization. GRTC is non-profit organization that traces its origins back to July 1, 1958 when the old Rochester Track Club was founded. Read more about GRTC by clicking here.

GRTC members pay $5 less in registration fees when signing up for Mind The Ducks and other races organized by GRTC

Other Ultras organized by GRTC

CandleLight 12 Hour – Overnight Ultra and Relays

Similar to Mind The Ducks 12 Hour except it’s overnight ultra – starts at 7PM and finishes at 7AM

Race course is mix of cross country, paved and unpaved surfaces but mostly cross country type of surface with rolling hills. Expect occasional horse-shoe made and tire track divots.

CanLake50 Ultras

Looking for a well-supported run in a spectacular setting with attractions for the whole family?  Whether your goal is to run a first ultra, conquer a challenging 50-miler, or set a personal record, the Can Lake 50 is the race for you.

50 Mile – Run one big road loop around the most beautiful Finger Lake in Western New York.  The course is mostly flat to rolling roads with several major climbs, including locally-famous Bopple Hill.

MapMyRun 50M CanLake50 Race Course

50K – Run point-to-point over the final 31 miles of the 50 Mile route.  With significantly less climbing and descending than the first 19 miles of the 50 Mile route, the 50K is more friendly for first-time ultra runners and a logical step up from the marathon.

MapMyRun 50Km CanLake50 Race Course