Welcome to the North Fork 50 Mile/50K Trail Race! This page has about everything you need to know to run the race. Click the link above for a printable pdf copy of the 2018 race information. 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:
Pine Valley Ranch Park Start/Finish
The Park: The race starts and finishes in Pine Valley Ranch Park, which is located in Pine, Colorado, about 40 miles southwest of Denver (see directions below). The park is at the end of Crystal Lake Road, accessed from Pine Valley Road/Hwy 126 in Pine. The race start is on the Narrow Gauge Trail, behind the bathroom building at the end of the lower parking lot, near the large information sign. Note there is no drinking water in Pine Valley, so fill your pack/bottles before you head for the start. The finish line and post-race festivities will be at the large picnic shelter below the lower parking area (there will be bottled water available after the race).
Directions to Pine Valley: The street address for Google Maps or other navigation programs is 30400 Crystal Lake Road, Pine, 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 5.8 miles down the big hill toward the town of Pine and follow the brown signs to the park. It will be a right turn onto Crystal Lake Road from southbound Hwy 126, and the turn comes immediately after a sharp lefthand curve marked by a flashing warning light. It is about a mile into the park on Crystal Lake Road. If you are directed to the Fire Station to park, continue about a quarter mile past Crystal Lake Road on Pine Valley Road/126 to the Fire Station on your right at 6th street.
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 the park or Fire Station.
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 and Pine. It is about 42 miles from Woodland Park to Pine, but it could take an hour or more in the dark on race morning. At the far end (not really very far!) of historic downtown Pine Grove, the North Fork Fire Station is on your left at 6th St. Park here or go on about another quarter mile to Crystal Lake Road to see if parking is still available within the park. You will be directed to turn left into the park or to turn around and go back to park at the Fire Station. It is about a mile into the park on Crystal Lake Road.
The County limits our use of the parking lots in Pine Valley Ranch Park, as the park is open for other users all day. So many of our cars will have to park remotely. The first 60 arriving cars will be directed into the park. All remaining cars will be directed to park at the North Fork Fire Station in Pine, about 1-1/4 miles from the start/finish. Carpooling is encouraged to help us get as many runners into the park as possible. Someone will be directing you to parking from the intersection of Pine Valley Road/126 and Crystal Lake Road, either into the park or to the Fire Station just down the road.
If you are a volunteer, a 50 Mile early starter or have a crew that will be dropping you off and then leaving the park right after the start, let the parking staff know that and you will be directed into the park. Your crew must then leave after the start, as the ranger counts parked cars shortly after the start. By late morning as faster 50K runners and other early park users begin to leave the park, there will be no limitation on parking and crews can return to the park.
Shuttle Bus from Fire Station
A shuttle bus will run from the Fire Station into the park at about 6:00, 6:20 and 6:35 a.m. Keep in mind that if you are on the 6:35 shuttle, you might not have time for a bathroom stop. Allow plenty of time to park, shuttle to the park and check in at the race start. Bring a bag to the start with everything you’ll need at the finish so you won’t have to go back to your car until you are ready to go home.
There is NO return shuttle from the finish. (It is just cost prohibitive—sorry.) After the race, you can hitch a ride to the fire station with people leaving the Pine Valley lots (never a problem), or race staff will transport you if needed.
Check-in and Number Pickup
Check-in begins on race morning (no Friday check-in this year) at 5:30 a.m. for 50 Mile early starters and 5:45 a.m. for other runners in the lower parking area at Pine Valley Ranch Park. You will get your number and T-shirt when you check in. You will also leave your drop bags for the finish, Buffalo Creek and Meadows during this time.
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 should not be needed. If you have a medical condition that requires you to use poles for your safety, please email the race director.
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 Pine Valley and at aid stations.
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.
Note there is no drinking water in Pine Valley. Fill your pack/bottles with enough water to get you to the first aid station before you head to Pine Valley.
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. The Homestead aid station at 5.3 miles opens at 7:30 a.m. and will not likely be open yet for early starters. Carry enough water to get you to Homestead the second time at 10.1 miles. 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.
You can have drop bags at the finish and at Buffalo Creek and Meadows aid stations as follows:
The 50K and 50 Mile start together, and the course is the same for both races for 15.1 miles. At that point, the courses split, so watch the signs carefully. The 50 Mile runners will do an 18-mile segment and return to the split point, from which they will complete the same course as the 50K. The 50K is actually about 32 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 18 miles of the 50 Mile, miles 15.1-33.1, 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 carry the course map and/or turn sheet 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 Tramway Creek at mile 33.8 of the 50 Mile (which is self-service 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, saltines, 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 miles apart. It will likely be warm or even hot in the afternoon, so carry at least one water bottle. If it’s hot (as usual) and you’re moving slowly, it can be a long time between aid stations!
Crews and Spectators
Print out the crew instructions/directions and crew map at the top of this page for your crew and spectators.
The only aid station that can be accessed by vehicle for the 50K is Shinglemill at mile 20.2.
Crews for 50 Mile runners can drive to Meadows (miles 16.3, 22.1 and 31.9), Rolling Creek (mile 27) and Shinglemill (mile 38.2). It is a long, slow drive on a narrow dirt road to Rolling Creek.
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 the Pine Lake Loop as noted below). Runners in the 50 Mile may have one pacer at a time from the Meadows Aid Station at 31.9 miles or any time after that. Pacers can hitch a ride to Meadows from Pine Valley with aid station support vehicles at 8:00 or 10:30 a.m.
Runners in both races may have as many people as they like join them on any part of the Pine Lake Loop Trail in Pine Valley Ranch Park, the last .4 mile to the finish.
The following cutoff times will be strictly enforced:
We have to enforce these cutoffs as we are required to have everyone off the course by dark and out of Pine Valley Ranch by an hour after sunset. Any runner who refuses to leave the course after missing a cutoff may be refused entry to the race in future years.
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 in the large picnic shelter below the lower 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. You might want to bring a comfortable chair, as the only seating in the shelter is the picnic table benches. The post-race barbecue is free to all runners, families, friends and volunteers. If you park at the Fire Station, be sure to bring a bag to the start/finish area with everything you will want at the finish so you won’t have to go back to your car until you are ready to go home after the post-race festivities.
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 Pine 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 low 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.