The Shawnee 50 Mile course will feature some of the most rugged terrain in Ohio and put runners in the most secluded wilderness areas in the region. Runners will start the race by running the 7 mile "Opening Loop" but then head out on a continuous 47 mile loop before finishing in the same location as the start.
The course will cover the majority of the 40 mile Shawnee State Forest Backpack Trail in a clockwise direction. The main deviation from the Backpack Trail will be when runners reach "Campsite 6" at mile 36 and turn left onto the Wilderness Area Side Trail. The Wilderness Area is a unique 8,000 acre area of land that has limited forest activity, including no motorized tools or equipment being allowed; that means all trail maintenance is done by hand in this area. This 9 mile portion of the course is known as "The Dark Side" because not only is it miles 36-46 but you will also be in the most remote area of the forest seeing very little sign of civilization.
A quick glance at the elevation profile and you'll notice the frequency of the uphills. What this course is lacking in long sustained climbs of mountainous races will make up in the the frequency and steepness of the hills. There are very few flat sections along the course so you'll either be going up or down the entire 50 miles. Some say this frequency of ascents and descents can be harder than big mountain races because you'll never be able to get into a rhythm. This will eventually take a toll on your physical and mental capacity. The runners that perform the best at the Shawnee 50 will be the ones that hold it together mentally the longest.
While this course "could" be completed in under 17 hours by a first time 50 miler, we consider this an "advanced" ultra marathon course. You'll need to check yourself at the start line that you're ready physically and mentally, and to be able to run in potential adverse weather. Though it's nice to get the finishers medal and race swag, this race will be more about the experience of completing this challenging course, and every runner that enters the Shawnee 50 needs to know how important it is to take that seriously and prepare themselves for that challenge.
Distance: 54 miles (87 km)
Elevation Gain: 12,000 feet
Forest Trail Miles: 50 miles
Gravel Road Miles: 3 miles
Pavement Miles: 1 mile