The 50K runs begin in the finish area. To calibrate the distance to exactly 50K, Deb Vomhof and her team (Trail Marking and Race Course Management), measures and re-measures distances and subtle changes are continuously made to the 50K race course to adjust for trail rerouting that takes place during the year. The 50K course is marked with ORANGE ground flags. For simplicity, the 50K race course can be broken into two basic sections.
Section 1 is an out to AS 9 (Horserider’s Camp) and back to the finish area at the Nordic. Your run to the first aid station is short at only 1.6 miles to AS 3. From AS 3 you cross Bluff road running up the horse trails for .5 miles until you reach Confusion Corner. Once you reach Confusion Corner you continue on the Ice Age Trail by going straight across the horse trail. Look for the Ice Age Trail markers (yellow painted rectangles on trees). You are on a high esker with nice views to your left and on your way to AS 8 and a visit with Jeff Weiss and his crew.
From AS 8 you begin your climb of Indian Signal Hill (Bald Bluff on the map) to the highest point on the course. Once at the top 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. 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. At AS 9, appreciate the hard work by Franny Keyes and other seasoned Ice Age veterans who man this critical aid station. This is your turnaround and you begin your trek back to the finish line at the Nordic Trail for a total of 13 miles.
Section 2 is two laps of the Nordic Trail. Designed as a cross country ski trail, this 18 mile section is two loops of the outer trail (Blue Loop – highlighted in green below). Referring to the race map, you are running in a counterclockwise direction from AS 2 passing by AS 1 just off Tamarack Road and running by AS 3 and returning to AS 2 at the Finish for the 9.0 miles. Enjoy Daya Pillay and his team at AS 3, Michele Loehner at AS 2 and her aid station volunteers and new Ice Age captain Kevin Clark and gang at AS 1.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE IN THE START/FINISH AREA AT MILES 13 & 22, BEAR LEFT. DO NOT ENTER THE FINISH CHUTE ON THE RIGHT! PASS THE AID STATION, THEN BEAR RIGHT AND FOLLOW THE 50K SIGNS (AND ORANGE FLAGS). DO NOT CROSS THE FINISH LINE UNTIL YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE SECOND LOOP.
The Nordic trail is 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, you are preparing yourself for a great race. Many areas that were rocky have been wood chipped over to help skiers save their equipment.
A Few Words About Confusion Corner
Refer to the Trail Map on the Section 1 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 northeast (straight and slight right for 50Kers). 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.