Welcome to the North Fork 50 Mile/50K Trail Race! This page has about everything you need to know to run the race. You can also print out the pdf version of this page above. If you have any questions that are not answered here, please feel free to call or email the race director - firstname.lastname@example.org 303-903-3533
Saturday, race day:
Buffalo Creek "Bippy" Start/Finish
The race starts and finishes at the Buffalo Creek Improvement Association (BPIA or "Bippy") Community Hall in Buffalo Creek, Colorado, about 50 miles southwest of Denver (see directions below). Bippy is on Buffalo Creek Road/FS 543 just off County Road 126. For a map of the parking and start/finish area, click on the BPIA map button above.
Directions to Bippy: The street address for Google Maps or other navigation programs is 18050 South Buffalo Creek Road, Buffalo Creek, CO. There is a link to Google Maps on the Contact page. For those who like directions the old-fashioned way:
From the Denver Area: From CO-470 west of Denver take U.S. Hwy 285 south toward Fairplay about 30 miles to the stop light (the only stop light you will encounter on 285) in Pine Junction. At the stop light, turn left (SE) onto Pine Valley Road (County Road 126). Go 9.7 miles down the big hill, through the little towns of Pine Grove and Buffalo Creek to Buffalo Creek Road. Turn right onto Buffalo Creek Road and then immediately left onto the small dirt track to go down into the field for parking behind and below the Community Hall.
From Bailey, Fairplay or other places south of Pine Junction on U.S. 285: Take 285 to the stop light in Pine Junction and turn right (SE) onto Pine Valley Road (County Road 126). From there, follow the directions above to Bippy.
From the Colorado Springs Area: Take U.S. 24 west to Woodland Park. At Woodland Park, go north on CO-67 toward Westcreek and Deckers. At Deckers, 67 becomes Highway 126/Deckers Road. Continue on 126 (its name changes to Platte River Road and then Pine Valley Road) toward Buffalo Creek. It is about 37 miles from Woodland Park to Buffalo Creek, but it could take close to an hour in the dark on race morning. As you come down the hill on 126 toward Buffalo Creek, the speed limit reduces to 30 and you will start to see houses. Look for Buffalo Creek Road on the left. Turn left on Buffalo Creek Road and then turn left again immediately onto the small dirt track to go down into the field for parking behind and below the Community Hall.
Parking will be in the open field behind and below the Community Hall building (not in the gravel parking lot for the Buffalo Creek Recreation Area beyond the Community Hall with which some of you may be familiar). When you turn onto Buffalo Creek Road from 126, you will turn left immediately, before you get to the building, onto a small dirt track that leads down into the field. Staff will start directing parking at 5:15 a.m. Please do not arrive before then--there is no advantage to getting there earlier. If you do get there before the parking staff, stay in your car near the entrance so you can then park where you are directed by the staff. Parking will be tight, so it is important to park where the staff directs you. And please carpool!
Check-in and Number Pickup
Check-in begins on race morning at 5:30 a.m. for 50 Mile early starters and 5:45 a.m. for other runners inside the Community Hall. You will get your number and T-shirt when you check in. You will leave your drop bags for Meadows aid station at this time at the signed location in the parking lot next to the building.
The race will start promptly at 7:00 a.m. At 6:50 a.m. there is a mandatory briefing at the start line with essential information for all runners. Make your way to the start line by that time. The start line will be on Buffalo Creek Road at the edge of the trees at the far end of the Community Hall parking lot.
There will be a 6:00 a.m. start only for those 50 Mile runners who are not confident that they can finish the race within 14 hours (16.8 minutes per mile). Please do not abuse this if you know you can finish in under 14 hours. The Colorado Trail water only station at 5.1 miles opens at 7:35 a.m. and will not likely be open yet for early starters. Carry enough water to get you to Shinglemill at 8.2 miles. If you run faster than 14 minutes per mile, Shinglemill will not be open (and you should not be taking the early start).
Early starters must check in on race morning between 5:30 and 5:45 a.m. Early starters will not be eligible for age group awards unless there are no other finishers in your age group who started at the regular time. Please notify the race director of your intention to take the early start by email at email@example.com as far before race day as you can, but no later than 8:00 p.m. on Friday before the race. Sooner is better!
All runners (both distances) can have drop bags at the Meadows aid station at mile 14.7 (Meadows is also miles 20.7 and 32.5 for 50 Mile runners).
The 50K and 50 Mile start together, and the course is the same for both races until Meadows aid station at 14.7 miles. At that point, the courses split. The 50 Mile runners will do a 17.8-mile segment that returns to Meadows and then complete the 50K course. The 50K is actually about 32.2 miles long. See the Course page for a detailed narrative description of the course and for printable versions of the course directions/turn sheet, elevation profiles, aid station distances and course map.
The course will be marked with surveyor’s ribbon, small flags, and signs. The 50K course will be marked with yellow. The additional 17.8 miles of the 50 Mile, miles 14.7-32.5, will be marked with orange. In addition, red and white striped ribbons will be placed at trail junctions on the trails you do NOT take. Never take a trail marked with red and white striped ribbons! Samples will be shown at the pre-race briefing. Turns will be very well marked, and there will be occasional “confidence” markings in between. Don’t turn off the trail you are on unless the course markings clearly tell you to do so. At some trail junctions, there may be ribbons going more than one way, in which case you will see a sign that tells you which way to go. SIGNS ALWAYS GET PRECEDENCE OVER RIBBONS.
If you have doubts about whether you are on course, keep going until you get to the next trail junction. Almost all trail junctions have signs showing the names of the trails. If there are no course markings at a trail junction, you are off course. Turn around and go back the way you came until you see course markings. NOTE: In 2011, vandals removed markings from a key turn, causing runners to miss the turn. Most runners turned around at the next trail junction when they saw there were no markings, and they got back on course. But some kept going past unmarked trail junctions and did a lot of extra distance. You should print out the course map and turn sheet and carry them with you. You shouldn't need them, but it's good to have them just in case.
Click the link at the top of this page for a printable table of aid stations. All aid stations except Colorado Trail at mile 5.1 (which is water only) will have water, GU electrolyte drink, Coke, Sprite, Mountain Dew, GU gels, S!Caps, potato chips, chocolate chip cookies, fig bars, Payday bars, trail mix, Goldfish, gummy bears, pretzels, pickles, bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. By late morning, they will also have ice. Aid stations are 4 to 6.5 miles apart. It will likely be warm or even hot in the afternoon, so carry at least one water bottle or a hydration pack. If it’s hot (as usual) and you’re moving slowly, it can be a long time between aid stations!
Poles, Earphones, Dogs
Trekking poles are not permitted as they can be dangerous on the single track trails. The course is not technical, and poles are not needed. If you have a medical condition that requires you to use poles for your safety, please email or call the race director for permission.
Earbuds and earphones are discouraged. Please leave your ears free to hear the sounds of nature around you, as well as your fellow runners and aid station workers.
Dogs are not permitted on the trails for the race. Well-behaved dogs on leash are welcome at Bippy and at aid stations.
Crews and Spectators
Spectators and crews can drive to Shinglemill aid station at mile 8.2 and Meadows at mile 14.7 (also miles 20.7 and 32.5 for the 50 Mile race). 50 Mile crews may also drive to Rolling Creek at miles 25.6 and 27.6.
Crews and spectators may NOT drive to the Gashouse Gulch trailhead and may not stop anywhere along FS 550. If your friends or family violate this, you may be disqualified from the race. Runners are responsible for their crews and spectators.
Print out the crew instructions/directions and crew map at the top of this page for your crew and spectators. Observers are welcome to run or hike into any of the aid stations. No aid (other than encouraging words!) may be given outside of aid stations and their adjacent parking areas, and no one may accompany runners at any time other than allowed pacers as provided below.
No pacers are allowed in the 50K (except on Buffalo Creek Road to the finish as noted below). Runners in the 50 Mile may have one pacer at a time from the Meadows Aid Station at 32.5 miles or any time after that. Race staff will transport pacers to Meadows in the morning from Bippy (times to be announced closer to race day).
Runners in both races may have as many people as they like join them on Buffalo Creek Road in the last 0.6 mile from Sandy Wash Trail to the finish.
The following are the cutoff times on the course:
We have to enforce these cutoffs so that we will have everyone off the course by dark. For this reason, runners missing the first cutoff at Homestead at 6:20 p.m. will be directed to continue on to the finish (skipping the 3.9-mile loop) and will not be counted as finishers. (It is a one-hour drive from Homestead to the finish--you REALLY don't want to have to get a ride out.)
We keep track of all runners, so if something should happen that makes it necessary for you to drop out of the race, NOTIFY AN AID STATION CAPTAIN OR GO TO THE SCORING TABLE AT THE FINISH LINE to let us know you have dropped. If you are unaccounted for at the end of the race, search & rescue may have to search for you and you will likely get the bill.
You can switch from the 50 Mile to the 50K any time before the race starts. Please email the race director at firstname.lastname@example.org to switch. If you are registered for the 50 Mile and decide to drop down to the 50K on race day, you must exchange your number for a 50K number before the race starts. No part of your entry fee will be refunded. Runners may not switch from the 50 Mile to the 50K after the race starts. If you start the 50 Mile race, you will not be counted as a 50K finisher if you switch to the 50K course during the race (whether on purpose or by mistake). 32 miles of a 50-mile race is a DNF.
The post-race party and barbecue will take place at the finish line at the Bippy Community Hall building and adjacent parking lot. There will be great food and beverages (including Avery beer!) from about 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Plan on hanging around after the race to bask in the glow of your accomplishment, socialize and cheer for later finishers. Bring a comfortable chair so you can sit outside to watch finishers come in. There are tables and chairs inside the building where the barbecue is served. The post-race barbecue is free to all runners, families, friends and volunteers.
All finishers who have made all the cutoffs on the course and complete the distance they started will receive finishers’ awards.
North Fork is normally a warm to hot weather race, though just about anything can happen with the weather in the mountains in June. Keep an eye on the forecast. The average high temperature for Buffalo Creek in early June is around 75 (which can feel pretty hot when you are working hard out in the sun!), and the average low is in the mid 40s—so you will most likely have a cool start and warm or hot afternoon. Rain showers and even heavy thunderstorms are quite common. BE PREPARED!!
In Case of Cancellation
In the unlikely event the race gets cancelled by the Forest Service or the County due to fire danger, weather, trail conditions or other unforeseen events, we would try to give partial refunds with any entry fees that have not already been used for race expenses, but we cannot promise refunds.