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Results for the 2021 IMTR can be found at 2021 Results/Reports. The 2020 IMTR was cancelled due to COVID-19.
(Updated May 17, 2021)
Based on the current changes in CDC and VDH guidelines (with respect to masks, etc) I hope that the 2021 IMTR can be held similarly as in past years. With that said, many people are still not vaccinated and new strains are emerging. While I hope that we can race as normal, there is still the possibility that federal or state COVID recommendations may become more stringent again. I plan to follow all CDC and VDH (Virginia Department of Health) guidelines/recommendations.
I'm planning on organizing the race as if life is closer to normal by September. The smaller sized font section below lists some actions that may need to be taken, but I'm optimistic they'll not be necessary. But if you sign up for the IMTR, please be ready to have these more stringent requirements implemeted (hopefully not, but it's possible).
The race director and volunteers hope to host the 2021 Iron Mountain Trail Run. However, given COVID-19, that is not guaranteed. While there is a possibility that the race will be cancelled, the more likely result is it will be different.
Possible changes for 2021 (Due to COVID-19):
1) Reduced field sizes (fewer runners)
2) Wave starts within each distance (spread out runners)
3) No distance swapping allowed
4) Reduced aid at the aid stations (not the buffet we like to provide)
a. Possibly limited prepackaged food?
b. Definitely fewer options
c. Possibly gloved volunteers get the aid for runners (no self serve)
5) Limited or no post race cookout
6) Runners required to wear masks at the start/finish & in aid stations
7) No crew allowed at aid stations?
8) Other changes . . . .
The race director intends to see what other races are doing, what seems to be working, and of course, what changes allow the race to be held while still following CDC & VDH guidelines & recommendations.
If you sign up for the 2021 IMTR, please be aware it may be different from past races. Your understanding is appreciated. If you aren't willing to run in an IMTR that is significantly different from previous years, please don't sign up until COVID is behind us.
The goal with most changes would be to limit runners grouping together (crowds). That is part of what makes races fun. However, if we can't get buy-in from runners with regard to minimizing COVID transmission risks, we'd rather those runners not compete this year.
Additional race information on this website is based on 'normal' years. Many changes required for racing with COVID may not be spelled out.
Date & Time
The date for the 2021 IMTR is Saturday, Sept 4, (Labor Day Weekend), start: 7 AM. The start time is actually a staggered start: the 50 & 40 mile events start at 7 AM, the 30 mile event at 7:30, and the 16 mile event at 8 AM. This will reduce some of the congestion on the first part of the trail. Due to COVID, each race distance may have staggered starts within the group to space competitors.
Future IMTRs are tentatively scheduled for the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, as long as the USFS continues to approve our permit (Sept 3, 2022; Sept 2, 2023; Aug 31, 2024; Aug 30, 2025 . . .). Registration for future races will hopefully open on June 1 of that year.
Before you register, please understand this is a trail race with sections that are very challenging and potentially dangerous. There are roads that have to be crossed- and runners are responsible for noting when there is a gap in traffic safe enough (long enough) to cross. Some runners may feel that the course, especially the steep technical downhill near the end, is too dangerous. Please understand that the course is what it is. You will need to adjust your pace to stay safe. You alone are responsible for your safety on the trail. In case of an emergency, medical care may be MANY HOURS away. Even at aid stations, medical care may be hours away. If you enjoy a challenge, sign up. If you feel that steep, rocky, muddy, and potentially dangerous trails do not make for a good race course, good luck at a different race with terrain that suits your preferences.
The IMTR is a trail race sanctioned (most, but not all years) by the USATF starting and finishing in Damascus, VA. Four distance options are available- 16, 30, 40, & 50 miles. The footing varies from open easy running along the VA creeper trail (and forest service roads) to technical single track. The majority of the run follows the Iron Mountain ridgeline through the Jefferson National Forest along what used to be the Appalachian Trail. The total climb for the 50 mile course is around 8000 feet. The time limit for official completion for the 50 mile distance is 12 hours (8 hours for the 16 mile distance, 10 hours for the 30 mile distance, & 12 hours for the 40 mile distance).
The four different distances will have a staggered start (50 & 40 mile- 7 AM, 30 mile- 7:30 AM, 16 mile- 8 AM start).
Registration for future races should open on June 1 of that year.
2022 (not yet updated)
Registration should open on June 1, 2022. However, before you register, please understand, there are NO REFUNDS, for any reason, and no transfer of entries to other runners (and no deferring an entry for the following year). The field for all four distances combined (16, 30, 40 & 50 milers) is limited to 400 runners. I anticipate that it will fill up quickly. Registration will close on Aug 16, 12:01 AM.
If due to COVID I have to reduce the field size (or cancel the race entirely) I will roll over the cancelled entrants to next year- again, no refunds.
To register, click on: 'Registration'. This will take you to an outside website (Ultrasignup.com) to register. Please ensure when you register that you are registering for the event distance you intend to run.
Again, there are no refunds!
Registration fees are $25 for all race distances if registering the first week registration is open. After the first week of registration, registration fees will increase to $50 for all distances. Registration fees only include aid during the race and a post race meal. Race shirts (poly/cotton blend) are an additional $20. Order your race shirt when you register!
There is an additional ~$4 handling fee charged by the registration website. All registrations will be online.
(This may change due to CDC & VDH recommendations due to COVID-19)
This race was started as a 50 mile race and that is still our primary focus. Our permit limites the total number of runners to 400. Initially, the 16 mile event will be limited to 100 entrants, the 30 mile event will be limited to 100 entrants, the 40 mile event will be limited to 60 entrants, and the 50 mile event will be limited to 140 entrants. After the first week of registration there will no longer be limits on any individual distance, just an overall limit of 400 entrants.
Also, we will be using a waiting list (handled by Ultrasignup); in 2017 & 2019 EVERYONE on the waiting list was offered a spot. So even if the race is full, you can still sign up. However, please remember, there are no refunds for any reason! Wait list runners are offered spots in the race as runners cancel their registration (say they can't come). Wait list runners are charged for their registrations when they are offered a spot and they confirm they intend to run.
The moral of the story is: register early!! Register while there is space available and before the fee goes up. I do anticipate that we will fill up (we did the last few years) and the 16 mile event will probably fill up first.
Wait list runners: once a spot opens up you should receive an email asking if you'd still like to run in the event. If you click yes, your credit card will then be charged.
There will be limited awards for the top finisher in each distance (the M/F winner for each distance will probably receive a locally made pottery piece). Usually we have a locally baked bread, bag of cookies, or a locally made jam/jelly for all official finishers. Official finishers (runners who complete the entire course in the allotted time) must select their award (bread, cookies, or jam) at the finish line after finishing. If you don't get it at the finish line, I assume you don't want it. Given the low registration fee, awards are NOT guaranteed!
The following (dropping distance) may not be allowed in 2021 due to COVID:
We allow people to drop down in distance during the race. Anyone opting for a different distance during the race is not eligible for placement awards. This is a logistics headache for race volunteers, and changing distances during the race is allowed primarily as a safety option so runners don't try to push past their abilities.
Another award will be offered in each distance- the Iron Mountain Man/Woman Award. This award will go to the runner who does the most push-ups, sit-ups & pull-ups (pull-ups count for 3) within 5 minutes of finishing his/her distance within the required time limit. The award is usually some fitness related device.
Friday night packet pick-up is scheduled to be 5-8 PM (the day before race day) at the Damascus town park gazebo (race start/finish). Packets can also be picked up 5:30-6:30 AM on race morning. If possible, please plan to pick up your packet on Friday evening.
Race shirts (poly/cotton blend) are an additional $20. The RD will try to order shirts that are made in the USA and that are made from recycled material. Therefore the shirts will probably not be 100% polypropylene (but a poly/cotton blend). Runners may also buy a shirt on race day (after the race) as supplies last. If you register for the race, order a shirt, and can not come to the race, I will NOT mail it to you. If you have a friend attending the event, he/she can pick it up for you if you email me ahead of time (again, NO REFUNDS, for any reason). Regardless, pre-ordered shirts have to be picked up prior to race start. After the race starts I assume anyone who did not pick up a pre-ordered shirt does not want it and it will be offered up for sale.
There is one other way to get a race shirt (for free!). Volunteers (who volunteer for the whole race) will get a free race shirt. You can sweet-talk a friend or relative into volunteering and then swipe the shirt from him or her. Just make sure they get your size. Since the shirt order is placed weeks before the race, we have to have the volunteers lined up early to make sure a shirt is ordered for them. Have possible volunteers contact the Race Director, Kevin Townsend, at email@example.com.
Some prior years' races shirt designs are located here: Race Shirts.
There is NOT a race provided pre-race meal. There are a few small restaurants in Damascus. There are several restaurants in Abingdon, VA.
A pre-race breakfast is not provided by the race. There are very limited options in Damascus before 7 AM (no restaurants are open). Either bring your breakfast, eat before you get to race start, or do without.
This may not apply in 2021 due to COVID-19
The post race meal will consist of a cook out at the finish line. Burgers, hotdogs, and veggie burgers will be served. The post-race meal will start around 11:30 AM and continue through 7 PM (50/40 mile cut-off).
If anyone is interested in volunteering with the race, please email the race director, Kevin Townsend, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can always use a few more people to help at the aid stations or the finish!
Detailed Route Description
The race starts at the Damascus Town Park gazebo. The course sets out east along the VA Creeper Trail to Straight Branch (mile 5), where it turns left (north) to climb Iron Mountain via the Beech Grove Trail. At the top of the big climb, the course turns NE onto the Iron Mountain Trail. Briefly the course turns onto the Bushwacker Trail before returning to the Iron Mountain Trail. The course crosses FS 90 (mile 10; turn around for the 16 mile option) and Rt 600 (mile 16; turn around for the 30 mile option). The 50 mile course veers off onto FSR 84 (continuing east), then Old 84, then back to FSR 84 (mile 22) toward Dickey Gap. At Hurricane Gap, 40 mile runners will skip the Barton Gap, FS 643, Rowland Creek loop. 50 mile runners continue east on FS 84, cut across to Barton Gap (turning north onto the Barton Gap Trail), and then head back west on FS 643. The course turns south climbing back up the mountain on the Rowland Creek Falls Trail (mile 29). Back on FS 84 at Hurricane Gap (mile 32), the course proceeds west, merging with the Iron Mountain Trail. Runners eventually split from FSR 84 following the Iron Mountain trail all the way back to Damascus crossing Rt 600 at mile 37 and FS 90 at mile 43 (with a brief period on the Bushwacker Trail after crossing FS 90).
When the Iron Mountain trail empties onto the paved road (Rebel Circle, in Damascus) runners continue running down hill on the paved road, crossing Douglas Dr (Hw 58), and continue until the road ends at a T-junction. There runners turn left (south) onto S Railroad Ave and continue until the road ends and the runners see the Virginia Creeper Trail. Runners turn right (west) onto the Creeper Trail and continue to the town park (at the caboose), turning left (south) for the final sprint, ending at the Town Park gazebo.
For a course map, click on the Course Map page.
The course will be marked with streamers and/or cones. The streamers will be used on the trails and cones will be used in town. The race typically uses pink streamers with black polka-dots. The US Forest Service uses pink streamers to mark insect traps. Make sure the streamers you are following have black polka-dots!
Signs will be posted in some locations (see Course Markings page).
Possibly no pacers allowed in 2021 due to COVID-19.
Pacers will be allowed for 30, 40, and 50 mile runners from the Skulls Gap aid station only on the last 13 miles. However, any runner using a pacer will not be eligible for one of the placement awards. Pacers are mainly allowed so runners can introduce friends to trail running and just have a fun time running with friends.
You and your pacer are responsible for pacer transportation. Race staff or volunteers will not help you in going to get the pacer's car, etc.
Stuff left at the race- thrown out
Please do not leave anything on the race course or at the start/finish area after 7 PM. At 7 PM, we start cleanup. ANYTHING left will be assumed to be trash. It will be thrown away (or given away). If you finish the race, and leave to shower, take EVERYTHING with you.
The IMTR wants to thank the Russell County Amateur Radio Club for their help in keeping track of runners! They provide communications between remote aid stations and the race start/finish, allowing race staff to know which runners have dropped as well as any other problems on the trail.
How I do my training runs: Usually we have a few faster runners who know the course. I give them a roll of ribbon and ask them to put up ribbons (flagging) at the turns (ONLY at the turns). I run with the slowest runner who is running the entire distance. My rational- if you get to a turn and you're unsure of the way to go, you can wait and eventually I'll catch up with you. Also, as long as you're on the course, I'll eventually catch up with you (if you have a problem). You always have the option of running slower and running with me (and any other slower runners).
Please be aware, the course will NOT be marked. ONLY turns will have ribbons (and very limited at that). If you are unfamiliar with the course, it would probably be best to try to run with someone who is familiar with the course (again, you can always run slower and run with me).
2021- This may change due to COVID-19 . . .
I plan to have at least 2 organized training runs on the course, tentative dates and times are below.
On Saturday, July 31, 9 AM, we will meet at the Skulls Gap Overlook Parking Lot to run the east end of the race course (about 24 miles). This section is only run by the 50 milers (and half of it by the 40 milers), although others are welcome to come train. It is easy to shorten this to about 14 miles for those interested in a shorter distance. Route: Garmin Connect.
On Saturday, August 14, at 9 AM we will meet in the Damascus Town Park, (race start/finish). We will plan on running up to 30 miles. It is very easy to shorten this to 9 miles (or anything from 9-30 miles). This will cover the start and finish for all race distances, and depending on the distance you run, possibly the entire course for the 16 or 30 mile options. Full route: Garmin Connect (30 mile race event) or shorter route: Garmin Connect (16 mile route).
On Saturday, August 28, 8 AM , we will meet at Skulls Gap Overlook Parking Lot to mark the course. This would be a good time to see certain sections of the course (16, 30, & 40 mile runners, this is a great chance to see the waterfall).
For all of these dates, please email me (email@example.com) to let me know if you plan to come. I intend to set out water in a couple of spots for some of these runs. You will need to plan on a hydration system for the longer runs, probably a hydration pack. For training runs, you may have sections of ~12 miles with no water.
Directions to Skulls Gap Overlook Parking Lot. Take I-81 to exit 35 (exit sign says '107'). Turn east onto 762 south. Drive 8.0 miles and turn right into the overlook parking lot. The Skulls Gap Overlook parking lot is located near the top of the mountain, across from a trucker emergency pull off (for failed brakes).
The Iron Mountain Trail Run has no official Facebook page. However, there is a local running club (the Iron Mountain Trail Runners) who greatly support the race (by volunteering &/or running in the race). You may find information about training runs in the Damascus area on their Facebook page as well as some IMTR race announcements.
Incidentally, please do not contact the RD (Kevin Townsend) via Facebook Messenger. He does not use Facebook much. Please email him directly if you need to contact him (firstname.lastname@example.org, please put IMTR in the subject line). But first please read through this website to see if your question has already been answered.
Multiple Trail Users
Most of the course is open to other trail users. These include horseback riders, mountain bikers, dirt bikers (motorized), and hikers. Given that it will be Labor Day weekend, I expect many of you to run into horseback riders. Everyone I have met on the trail has been friendly; please ensure that you are friendly as well, especially since you are an entrant in an organized event. If we get many complaints we could be denied a permit in the future.
Horses have right of way (over all other users); foot travel has right of way over all except horses. Please be courteous to all users! If you do encounter a horseback rider, understand that you should not run past them (as this can spook the horse). Call out to the rider, and he/she will probably try to move over and allow you to pass as soon as there is room on the trail.
It may be a while before the horse reaches a suitable place for the runner to pass. Please be patient and follow the directions of the horseback rider.
The Iron Mountain Trail Run was started in 2006 by Eric Grossman. In the first year there were 37 starters with 32 finishers; local runner Nick Whited won in 8:01 (Bethany Patterson won the ladies' race in 9:15). After three years of directing the IMTR, Eric decided to move on to other projects so he handed off the position of race director to Kevin Townsend for the 2009 IMTR. To increase participation and provide opportunities for those unable (or uninterested) in a 50 mile race, Kevin added two other distance options (16 & 30 miles). In 2019 Kevin added the 40 mile option.
The design of the race course and much of the information on this website is due to Eric's work. "Thanks for all your hard work, Eric!"