Results for the 2019 IMTR can be found at 2019 Results/Reports.
(Updated June 26)  

   Due to the spread of COVID 19 in 2020, and the potential for additional long term impacts on social interactions, the 
2020 IMTR is cancelled.  I hope we can hold the 2021 IMTR as normal.

(Race website not updated yet for 2021)

Date & Time
       The date for the 2020 IMTR is Cancelled, (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.  
       Future IMTRs are tentatively scheduled for the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, as long as the USFS continues to approve our permit (2020-Sept 5, 2021- Sept 4, 2022- Sept 3, 2023-Sept 2 . . .).  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.  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.  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.

New in 2019- 40 miles
        In 2019 we added a 40 mile event on a provisional basis.  We will keep the 40 mile route in 2021. 
        The 40 mile runners will run the same course as the 50 milers except they will leave out the Barton Gap trail, FS 643, and the Rowland Creek Trail loop.  The overall time limit for the 40 milers will be 12 hours.

       The IMTR is a trail race sanctioned 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. (Not 2020 due to COVID-19)
2021 (not fully updated yet)
     Registration should open on June 1, 2020.  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 17, 12:01 AM.
        To register, click on: 'Registration'.  This will take you to an outside website ( to register.  Please ensure when you register that you are registering for the event distance you intend to run.
        Again, there are no refunds!

2020- Cancelled
      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.  

Field Limit
2020- Cancelled
(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 limits us to 400 runners.  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 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!  
        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.
Packet Pick-up
          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
        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
        Some prior years' races shirt designs are located here: Race Shirts.
Pre-Race Meal
       There is no 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.
Post-Race Meal
         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  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.  Runners 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, 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.
Course Markings
         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!

         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.
Radio Communications
        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.

Training Runs
    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).

(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 25, 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 8, 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 29, 0900 (tentative), 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 ( 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.
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 (, please put IMTR in the subject line).

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.

IMTR History
        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).
       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!"