The 50 mile run begins in the finish area. To calibrate the distance to exactly 50 miles, Tom Bunk and Craig Swartwout (Trail Marking and Race Course Management), measure and re-measure distances each year, as subtle changes are continuously made to the 50 mile race course. The 50 mile course will be marked with WHITE ground arrows. While the course tops numerous hills, none of them are extremely long or overly steep in nature, but they are incessant. The terrain consists of mostly single track dirt, rocky and tree rooted trail that runs through pinewoods, hardwood forests, and rolling prairie lands, a little bit of everything. We hope you enjoy our little bit of heaven.
For simplicity, the 50 mile race course can be broken into three basic sections:
Section 1 is the Nordic Ski Trail to Confusion Corner. Designed as a cross country ski trail, this 9.08 mile section is one loop of the outer trail (Blue Loop — See Section 1 Description on next page). Referring to the race map, you are running in a clockwise direction starting from AS 2 passing AS 3 (offset to your left in the pines) and proceeding to AS 1 and returning to AS 2 for the 9.08 miles. Then, you continue in a clockwise direction to AS 3 again (1.6 miles) and cross Bluff road running up the horse trails for .5 miles until you reach Confusion Corner. The total distance on the Nordic Trail is 10.68 miles. Only 39.3 to go!
The Nordic trails are very wide and scenic. This 9.0 mile loop is very representative of the glacial topography and natural diversity that you can expect in the Kettle Moraine. As a cross country ski trail, it provides every type of terrain imaginable for skiing.
The trail or tread on the Nordic is very runnable. There will be sections in the pines and meadows that you will want to develop some speed. Easy on the feet, joints and with towering trees all around and with less than 40 miles to go; you are preparing yourself for a great race. Many areas that were rocky have been wood chipped over to help skiers save their equipment.
Section 2 is the out to Rice Lake and back to Confusion Corner. Once you take the hard hair pin left at Confusion Corner, you are on the Ice Age Trail. Look for the yellow rectangular blazes on trees during your run. You will be running single track from now on until you return to Confusion Corner and head back northeast to the Emma Carlin trailhead.
For those of you who like a change in the scenery, trail direction, elevation and grade along with vegetation, the Ice Age Trail delivers. Expect rocks and roots on steep climbs and descents as you scramble up and over eskers. Enjoy very runnable stretches through pine forested areas, meadows and by wetlands.
As you cross Highway H, you will be running through several miles of pine forest until you approach AS 4 at Duffin Road. From there, the terrain changes to twisting and turning trails up and over hills until you close in on La Grange Lake. Running around La Grange Lake is enjoyable with longer vistas available and good footing until you leave the lake and climb to AS 5.
AS 5 to AS 6 is mostly hills until you reach the high meadow about a mile from AS 6. Moving out AS 6 you encounter a nice stretch of open meadow with good footing. But, this does not last for long. Most of AS 6 to AS 7 is punctuated by twisting and turning on great single track trail. Respect the steep hills as you approach the Rice and Whitewater Lake areas. From AS 7 you return to Confusion Corner and begin your journey to the northeast.
Section 3 is the out to the Emma Carlin Trails and back to Confusion Corner and into the finish on the Nordic Trail. Once you reach Confusion Corner you continue on the Ice Age Trail by going straight across the horse trail. You are on a high esker with nice views to your left and on your way to AS 8. You now have run 33.9 miles and must reach AS 8 by 2:00 PM (cutoff time).
From AS 8 you begin your climb of Indian Signal Hill (Bald Bluff on the map) to the highest point on the course. At the top, take a second to enjoy the view and the significance of this Native American spiritual site that (according to settler accounts in the mid-1800′s) attracted Native American peoples from as far away as Illinois and other Wisconsin areas. The very trails you run are the trails used by earlier peoples traveling to this site for centuries.
The terrain from AS 8 to AS 9 is constantly changing. Like the area approaching Rice and Whitewater Lake, expect narrow, single track winding up and over hill after hill until you finally reach AS 9. There are some flats; but, they are few and far between.
AS 9 to the AS 10 at the Emma Carlin Trail (turnaround) is also packed with hills; but, they tend to be less steep and there are more moderate shifts in the terrain as you pass by several wetland areas.
From AS 10 you run to the southwest until you reach Confusion Corner. Once at Confusion Corner, you run onto the horse trail and follow it up to your left until you reach AS 3. Once here, you run back to the Finish on the Nordic from AS 3 to AS 2 in a counter clock wise direction to your right.
A Few Words About Confusion Corner
Refer to the Trail Map on the Section 2 Description. Locate AS 3 and AS 8. Note the point where the trail moves to the southwest and to the northeast. Understanding this cross over point is critical to keep you on the correct race course. As you leave the Nordic Ski Trail from AS 3 you are running on horse trails for approximately ½ mile. The horse trail bisects the Ice Age Trail to the southwest (hard, hairpin left for 50 milers out). Look for a yellow marker (painted rectangle on trees or rocks). This is the identifying marker for the Ice Age Trail along the entire course. There will be sentries there to help guide you through this intersection.
50 Mile Elevation Chart