|Avg Temps f.
|Gain/Loss in ft
Summary: A classic Pacific Northwest ultra that attracts lots of talent, both local and among ultrarunners around the country, White River 50 is a favorite for first time ultrarunners to perennial runners that keep coming back to this beautiful course and welcoming group of race directors, runners, and spectators. Over the 50-mile distance the race course rises 8,700 feet (total elevation change: 17,400 feet), featuring rolling terrain, ridge tops, northwest forest, several sections of technical trails, and several demanding climbs and challenging descents.
Detailed course description (Taken from the Race Website):
- Terrain (Start to Camp Sheppard, 0-3.9): This leg starts out with approximately 2 miles of open running around the airstrip, followed by a short section of wide trail. After crossing Hwy. 410, there are approximately 2 miles of rolling single-track trail.
- Terrain (Camp Sheppard to Ranger Creek, 3.9-11.7): This leg starts with 1.6 miles of flat single-track trail. Get ready for the first hill in the course. Once the trail starts to go up it will climb nearly 2900 feet over the next 6 miles.
- Terrain (Ranger Peak to Corral Pass, 11.7-16.9): This leg finishes off the last 2 miles of the first climb with 400 more feet of elevation gain, topping out at 5600 feet. The next 3.5 miles of beautiful ridgeline single-track trail borders the Norse Peak Wilderness area. This will be your chance to see how the competition is shaping up. Please yield to the faster traffic that is heading back to Ranger Creek.
- Terrain (Corral Pass to Ranger Creek, 16.9-22.1): This section rewards you with a return trip along the border of the Norse Peak Wilderness area. Although the oncoming traffic should yield to the returning runners, please be cautious of the runners on their way out to Corral Pass. You will finish this section off with the first 2 miles of a 6.8-mile descent on single-track trail.
- Terrain (Ranger Creek to Buck Creek, 22.1-27.2): Leave Ranger Creek heading down to the left. Do not head down the same trail you came up. This 4.8-mile section of switchback downhill running is a blast. Be careful not to burn all your downhill speed before the 2nd half of the course. There are lots of good falls on this section. Please pay attention to the crossing guard at Hwy. 410.
- Terrain (Buck Creek to Fawn Ridge, 27.2-31.7): After a nice flat 2-mile cruise through the woods, and a lap around the airstrip, you will start climbing up the Sun Top trail. Don’t worry, it’s the last hill on the course and it will only last 8.5 miles. Be patient on the first 2.7 miles of this climb because the sun can get hot on the switchbacks through the clear cut. After climbing nearly 1800 feet, you will be surprised to find ample food and drink when you pop out onto the Fawn Ridge road.
- Terrain (Fawn Ridge to Sun Top, 31.7-37): After crossing the Fawn Ridge Rd., the trail continues to climb another 1000 feet during the next 3 miles. The false summit provides a great view of Mt. Rainier on a clear day. After a brief downhill, you will cross the Sun Top Road. Get ready for the last mile of climb to Sun Top. It is steep and hot, but the view is worth the effort. Take a minute to look at the unobstructed view of Mt. Rainier. You will forget the agony of the climb, and rejoice over the next 6 miles of downhill running.
- Terrain (Sun Top to Skookum Flats, 37-43.4): If you have good leg speed, you will want to take advantage of it. Make sure you have plenty of drink for the exposure to the afternoon sun and dust that kicks up from the occasional car. Stay on Rd. #7315 until the right hand turn onto Road #73, approximately 0.8 mile before the aid station. Just before the bridge crossing the White River, turn right onto the Skookum Flats trail. The aid station is just inside the trees in the shade.
- Terrain (Skookum to Finish, 43.4-50): This 6.6-mile section of shaded trail meanders through a beautiful section of NW old growth forest. The footing can be quite challenging due to the abundance of rocks and roots. The terrain is particularly tough to get through if your legs are spent. If you’re feeling good, this section is more fun to run than any part of the course, due to the technical nature of the terrain. After the trail pops up onto the Buck Creek Road, the finish line will be approximately 1/4 mile to the right, near the start area.
Lessons Learned from Race Reports
- Don’t push the first big downhill too hard or your legs will be shot for the second half
- The climbs feel very, very long, thus it feels like a long time between aid station 1 and 2 on the first climb
- The race goes to single track fairly quickly, so if you want to be up front, be aware of that, but if you’re cool going a slower pace at first, know that it will feel bunched up until at least the first climb
- If it’s a sunny day, the second climb up to Suntop can feel very hot, as it’s fairly exposed
- The last 6 miles along Skookum Flats are anything but flat. The miles are rolling and are gradually going uphill all the way until you pop out on the gravel road into the finish.
- Practice lots of power hiking for the two big hills, but then also being able to have your legs under you for fast, long descents
- Take advantage of the course preview runs that the Balanced Athlete usually puts on in July, one weekend being the first half of the course and the other being the second half of the course.
Total gain/loss: 8700/8700
Total climbs: 2 big ones (2800 and 2900 feet) with false summits
Longest climb: 2800ft/8.5 miles
Steepest climb: 2900 feet in 6 miles
Total aid stations: 8
Furthest distance apart: 7.8 miles
AID STATION #1: CAMP SHEPPARD (MILE 3.9)
Aid: Full service, limited food selection, energy gel, electrolyte drink, electrolyte caplets, medical. Crew Access: Yes. Drop Bags: Yes.
AID STATION #2: RANGER CREEK (MILE 11.7)
Aid: Water only. Crew Access: No. Drop Bags: No.
AID STATION #3: CORRAL PASS (MILE 16.9)
Aid: Full service, food, energy gel, electrolyte drink, electrolyte caplets, medical. Crew Access: No. Drop Bags: Yes.
AID STATION #4: RANGER CREEK (MILE 22.1)
Aid: Water only. Crew Access: No. Drop Bags: No.
AID STATION #5: BUCK CREEK (MILE 27.2)
Aid: Full service, lunch, energy gel, electrolyte drink, electrolyte caplets, medical. Crew Access: Yes. Drop Bags: Yes.
AID STATION #6: FAWN RIDGE (MILE 31.7)
Aid: Full service, food, energy gel, electrolyte drink, electrolyte caplets. Crew Access: No. Drop Bags: Yes.
AID STATION #7: SUN TOP (MILE 37.0)
Aid: Full service, late lunch for the road, energy gel, electrolyte drink, electrolyte caplets, medical. Crew Access: No. Drop Bags: Yes.
AID STATION #8: SKOOKUM FLATS (MILE 43.4)
Aid: Full service, food, energy gel, electrolyte drink, electrolyte caplets. Crew Access: Yes. Drop Bags: Yes.
FINISH LINE (MILE 50)
Finish Line Amenities: Medical tent, massage tent, snack food and drink prior to BBQ.
Aid Station Access: Access at miles 3.9, 27.2, 43.4, and start/finish
Crew instructions/directions: See directions on website