“A challenging run on technical trails and rough roads through the primitive Elkhorn Mountains.
— Steve Engebrecht
Race - Aug 4, 2018
River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Enjoy the spectacular Montana backcountry, with 29.5 miles (48K) on technical singletrack trails and 3 miles (5K) of primitive/doubletrack jeep road. No pavement, just Elkhorn Mountains dirt, rocks, forest, meadows and cold, clear creeks to splash through.
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. Much of the course is through an area that burned in 1988, and a portion of the course 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. If thunderstorms are forecast, and you don't expect to be finished by 2 pm, you'd be wise to have a rain jacket in your drop bag.
This is primarily a remote, backcountry run. All trail sections are closed to motorized vehicles, and vehicle access to the primitive road sections is difficult. Add in approximately 7,900 feet of elevation gain and maximum elevation of 8,000’ and this is one of the most scenic and challenging 50K runs you'll find anywhere.
You may see deer, elk, moose, bear, coyote, mountain goat, and other wild critters on race day. You'll encounter bovines. There are 6 well stocked aid stations on the course, and the longest distance between aid stations is 8 miles.
A very detailed course description can be found on our race website at: hurlelkhorn.com
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, and leave civilization behind.