“These beautiful backcountry trails will challenge you to find a tougher 50 mile run anywhere.
— Steve Engebrecht
Race - Aug 4, 2018
Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
We dare you to find a tougher 50 mile run. These trails and primitive roads are very technical with lots of rocks. The uphills are tough and you don't make up time on the downhill sections. There isn't much flat running.
Need to Know
The trails disappear in meadows and other highly vegetated areas. Elk and cattle trails are prominent and can easily be mistaken for the official trail. Half of the course is through an area that burned in 1988, the other half has recently experienced significant pine beetle kill. Look for cut logs as they are frequent along the forested sections of trail. There are rock cairns in most, but not all meadows. On race day the course is extremely well marked with colored duct tape and signs.
Be prepared for changing weather conditions. If an afternoon thunderstorms hit the mountains, which is not unusual, temperatures can drop from the 90's to the 60's in a matter of minutes. We've pulled hypothermic runners off the course in past years. We allow drop bags at the Town of Elkhorn Aid Station. If thunderstorms are forecast you'd be wise to have a rain jacket in your drop bag.
This year's race route features spectacular Montana backcountry with 39 miles of technical singletrack trails, 13 miles of primitive/doubletrack jeep road and 1 mile of maintained dirt Forest Service road.
Racers will gain approximately 13,400 feet of elevation and reach a maximum elevation of just under 9,000’. While we can't promise that the route will be easy on your joints, there is no pavement, just Elkhorn Mountain dirt, rock, forest, meadows, a historic ghost town and cemetery, a mountain lake, and cold, clear creeks to splash through. We have yet to have a finisher tell us they've run a tougher 50 mile course.
This is primarily a remote, back country run. All trail sections are closed to motorized vehicles, and vehicle access to the primitive road sections is very difficult. You may see Deer, Elk, Moose, Bear, Coyote, Mountain Goat, and other wild critters on race day. You'll encounter bovines. There are 9 well stocked aid stations on the course, the longest distance between aid stations is 8 miles.
Flora & Fauna
Generally lots of vegetation in meadows, including lots of wildflowers, but it depends on weather. Most years we have reports of deer, elk, and bear on the course. Moose and Mountain Goats have also been spotted. We had a badger chase a runner down the trail one year. In the Elkhorn Mountains, you are no longer on top of the food chain. Experience Real Montana, Leave Civilization Behind.
History & Background
The 50 mile course takes runners past several abandoned gold mines, and through the ghost town of Elkhorn.