Meet the Race Director

At Alcatraz - scouting new looped course venue.


My name is Gil Robs and I am the race director (RD) and founder of CandleLight 12 Hour (CL12). I ran my first ultra marathon in 2007. It was Bull Run Run 50 miler. It was supposed to be one and done, bucket list item. For few month after I had no desire to run another insanely long distance race. As memories of pain and agony faded away I started to realize that I enjoyed entire journey, not just the race. I enjoyed training, preparing, planning, traveling, pre-race insecurities, starting too fast, swearing never ever do something this stupid again, hitting the wall (more than once), seeing finish line, crossing finish line, achy muscles for about week or so. I signed up for my next 50 miler but I did not finish - my first of many ultra DNFs - but I fell in love with the sport.

After few years of being active ultra runner I started to increase how often I would volunteer at the races, particularly ultras. Experience at 2012 Virgil Crest 50M/100M was a turning point for me. Since I was ultra veteran I had a better understanding of what race participants might be feeling, I could relate, I felt I could guess when they will ask for even before them saying a word, I felt what I to tell a runner in distress to get him/her going again. Somewhere around that time I thought eventually I would not minding directing an ultra.

Two now former race directors approached me and asked if I am interested taking over the races they managed and I agreed. I felt I was ready. I used to be elite runner about 26+ years and 60+ lbs ago. Then there many were extended periods when I did not run at all, when I resumed running I was back of the pack runner, eventually I became slightly faster and moved up to middle-of-the-pack group. I still had big enough ego and with persistent training I managed to become fast enough to challenge for top spots at handful ultras placing at three of them. I had accumulated enough experience volunteering and for a year I was co-race director for CanLake50. Since I worked as IT project manager I thought that even my professional experience will be helpful. I agreed to take over Mind The Ducks 12 Hour and CanLake 50.

However I never started a race from scratch and I knew that I would like to do so one day. Idea to organize CL12 was pitched to me at the end of the 2015 Mind The Ducks 12 Hour (MTD12) by one of the runners asking if we could do similar race but overnight. MTD12 is has almost exact format as CL12 except it's daytime ultra.  I thought - why not.

So I have an idea for the race but I needed to come up with the catchy name and race venue.

The Name - CandleLight 12 Hour

Once I had an idea for the race I needed a catchy name. I pretty much was mulling in my head different ideas since May of 2015 but none of the names I came up with, none of the names suggested by my friends had catchy sound, the "it" factor, something I was happy with.

Name was pitched to me by hairdresser at Supercuts. It was the day before 2015 CanLake50 and I stopped by Supercuts to get a haircut. Like most hairdressers she felt a need to engage into small talk and I am pretty sure that most typical question asked by hairdresser to client in the morning hours is - what are your plans for the today. I was telling that I am organizing this ultra race next day in Canandaigua. She asked me what is the name of the race. I said - CanLake50. Was it my accent or her hearing aids but somehow she heard "Candlelight 50". I corrected her that it was not Candlelight but CanLake however I thanked her since at that moment I was 99.9% sure that the new race will include "Candlelight" in the title.

The Venue - EquiCenter

Based my personal experiences at timed ultras - old MTD12 Course at Seneca Park in Rochester, BPAC6 at Amherts, NY, North Coast 24 Hour Endurance Race in Cleveland OH - I felt that one mile course is just about right for timed ultras. One mile is long enough not to feel too boring over and over and over again, but short enough that aid station is just around the corner. I was on the quest to find a venue that can contained interesting looped one mile course, has ample parking, and would allow activity at night.

I scouted many locations that met first two conditions however finding location allowing any activity at night was more challenging that I anticipated. With few exceptions most municipal parks close at dusk, those who don't ether would not fit the criteria or are already over-raced.

Once driving by property owned by EquiCenter I recalled Thursday night trail run I attended couple years ago, hosted by Medved trail team. I checked online maps of EquiCenter - thank you Google Maps - and I knew there is potential to host a race at the EquiCenter. I contacted EquiCenter staff, scheduled couple meetings and the rest is history.

Overnight Ultra and Relays