Big Elk Marathon
Starting from the fairgrounds, the course will travel north on road for approximately ¾ mile before turning right onto the Orange trail. The orange trail consists of mostly double-track with some single track sections and enough rock gardens to make you thankful you chose to wear your trail specific racing shoes. This segment will feature some light rolling hills for about 1.5 miles before turning onto some unnamed single track. After a quick downhill and easy stream crossing, the course will zigzag up and down a series of hairpin turns before letting out on a short, steep rocky downhill that will serve as a great separation point for the mountain goats from the trail sprouts. At the bottom of this trail, runners will follow some grassy double-track along the Big Elk Creek before crossing over on a bridge and reaching the first aid station (~mile 3.5).
From the first aid station, runners will proceed briefly on some double-track/service road before jumping on uphill single track bringing you to the Route 273 crossing. After going over the bridge, you will have a brief flat gravel road to stretch your legs out before turning right on some more single track. This single track is mostly non-technical but will bring you through a series of sharp turns before letting you out back onto the gravel road surrounding the creek. Water and aid will be waiting for you at the end of this trail (~mile 5).
After another brief (.25 mile) on gravel road along the water, you will again cross the Big Elk creek onto the Yellow trail. You will follow this single-track rolling trail on the west side of the creek for slightly over a mile before crossing over the gravel road (possible self serve water-refill spot) and through a field to get to the 7 Bridges trail. This single-track section will feature some significantly technical sections from roots, with a few steep changes in grade as you wind through the woods in this area of the park. This trail will let you back out onto the gravel road which you will follow up to Gallaher Rd, and crossing into the parking lot for the red trail where full aid will be waiting (~mile 8.5).
The race will then travel through the inner red-loop featuring some rooted sections and small stream crossings for 1.5 miles, before traveling uphill towards Big Elk Chapel Road. Water will be waiting at the road crossing (~mile 10.5). You will then continue through a field before entering trails surrounding the training grounds. This trail will wind around and gently roll, as well as featuring some small stream crossings. The course will then continue along the edge of the field travelling east with a quick aid station available (~mile 11.5).
In the final segment of the course you will travel briefly uphill on some moderately rooted single-track trail, continue across a training field before joining the last 1.5 mile segment of rooted single track bringing you back to the fairgrounds.
Overall, the course features rolling hills with no significant “climbs”. Depending on the rainfall leading up to race day, keeping your feet dry may be an option, although it may require a bit of extra effort! The course has some technical elements with rocks along the first several miles of the course, leaving way for significant roots waiting to trip you up over the last half of each loop.
6/14/2013 10:06:28 am
Sounds like a blast! I can't wait to do it.
5/14/2014 04:33:47 am
How much time do we have to complete the marathon?
5/14/2014 04:42:33 am
No cut off time. Do you plan to take longer than 8hrs?
5/28/2014 05:12:53 am
I have read the course description. Would you say that information is enough detail to allow someone to walk/run the course ahead of time or else how soon will the course be marked out ahead of the race (if at all)? Thank you :).
5/28/2014 05:34:59 am
The course will not be marked until Friday before the race. With the course description and the trail map on the courses page you could probably navigate the trails on your own. I'd suggest breaking it up into sections.
6/3/2014 02:44:29 am
Thank you Jefferson. I hope to visit there in my travels this week. Take good care. Looking forward to the event.
6/6/2014 01:39:16 am
Hi Jefferson - I visited the course site last night and tried to navigate it start to finish. Interesting for sure for a road guy like me :). I figured out about 2/3 of the course, unclear about the other 1/3. FYI, the bridge after mile 5 connecting the east site of Big Elk Crk with the yellow trail on the west side is damaged and closed. The natural resource office staff noted this to me as they tried to help me get oriented on their map. Alternatively, an option for your consideration might be the trail/road that ran down the east side of the creek to get to the next bridge which connects back to the course and the next leg of single track starting in the field. It is more road perhaps than you would like but something to check out.
6/11/2014 08:03:57 am
We've been working on a reroute for a couple weeks now and will have a final course layout by this weekend. When in doubt follow the flags and arrows on raceday. It'll be marked well enough that you wont have to navigate or memorize the course.
6/13/2014 06:31:28 am
Thanks so much Jefferson. Sounds good :). If this rain keeps up each day I might pack flippers instead of running shoes. Take good care. See you soon.
6/11/2014 07:36:43 am
is race day registration cash only? thanks!
6/11/2014 07:45:37 am
No. We can take checks made payable to Adventure Geek Productions and/or credit cards.
4/8/2015 01:48:32 am
I am thinking to run this trail because it sounds interesting and challenging. Is any part of the trail not considered a clear open path? This is going to be my first time on trail. Please forgive me for being cautious. Thank you.
Jefferson Nicholson RD
4/8/2015 02:30:48 am
This course will look and feel like a different course every 1/4mi in my opinion. There are sections of wide open field and sections of twisty single track in the middle of the woods. First timers have completed the course but veterans definitely excel on this diverse course.
4/20/2015 02:17:48 pm
Not a course question but not sure where else to ask... do finishers receive a finishers medal? Is a t shirt included in registration? All about the stuff!
6/15/2015 10:31:15 am
Will the aid stations have energy bars/ gels also or are we expected to bring our own? Just trying to see whether I should be bringing a running bag or not.
6/1/2018 08:24:20 pm
Hello! I have never run a trail half before, but have run several road marathons. Do you think the course is friendly to first time trail runners?
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