Frequently Asked Questions-IMTR


Is it a good first 50 miler?

            That depends.  It is not a particularly easy race; it is probably a typical mountain trail 50 mile race.  If you like a tough course with a lot of single track, this could be a good race for you.  If you want only single track, you will be disappointed.  There are significant sections on gravel forest service roads.

            Cut-offs: The 12 hour cut-off for the overall distance can be a challenge to slower runners.  If you make it as an official finisher (sub 12 hours) you will have earned it!!  There are usually several training runs so you can get an idea of your pace on the course.

            One runner in 2011 thought the final few miles were dangerous (steep and technical).  The course is what it is.  Runners have to adjust their pace to match their abilities to the terrain.

            If you want lots of cheering crowds, check out the JFK 50 miler.  If you want a large group of runners, look into JFK or Mountain Masochist 50 miler.  

I got injured, I lost my job, . . . can I get a refund?

            I am sorry, but there are no refunds for any reason.

Pre-race meal?

            There is no race supplied pre-race meal.  There are limited eating establishments in Damascus, and many of them may not be opened late in the evening.  There are many eating establishments in Abingdon, VA, about 15-20 minutes away.


Why didn’t I get a race shirt?

            A race shirt was an additional $20.  The $25 (or $50 for late registration) only covers permits, aid during the race, and a post race meal.


I forgot to order the race shirt, can I still order one?

            Email me ASAP at kkirkt@yahoo.com with "IMTR shirt" in the subject line.  I will probably tell you to mail me a check and I’ll order one for you if I haven’t placed my shirt order yet.  If it is after the race, I will sell shirts as supplies last.

Can I swap distances?

           Before the race you can swap distances, just email the race director (kkirkt@yahoo.com) asking him to change your distance.  Include the name you registered under (Pat or Patricia . . . ) and the distance you were in and the distance you want to switch to.  This is a slight hassle, so please sign up for your intended distance and think carefully before you ask to swap distances.

           PLEASE decide by the Monday of race week and let the RD know by then.  We assign bibs before packet pickup and swapping at the last minute is a pain!

Can I swap distances during the race?

           For safety reasons, we allow runners to drop down in distance during the race (but not up to the longer distance).  Please ensure that the aid station captain knows that you are dropping to a shorter distance.

           This is a big hassle during the race and we only allow it for safety reasons (so a runner doesn't keep going long after they should have stopped).  Please unsure you are capable of finishing the distance you are registered before starting!  I know things happen during the race, and that's why we allow this safety option, but you should not be planning on using this option!! 

Course Questions:


Is the course well marked?

            I think so.  In 2009 we had two 50 mile runners go off course.  They missed a turn off of a gravel road onto singletrack.  Since then we have painted a line across the road at a few critical turns.

            In 2010 we had one runner run the wrong direction (counter-clockwise vs clockwise on the first part of the figure 8 section for the 50 milers).  Unfortunately, I had to disqualify him.  There was a sign at the place he went the wrong direction.

            In 2013 one runner missed a turn off of a gravel road onto single track.  When he back tracked he realized that he had been distracted by some horses that were standing at the turn (and then he noticed the paint on the road marking the turn).

            In 2016 three 16 mile runners turned left at the top of the Beech Grove trail.  They had just past a sign that said "All runners" and an arrow pointing right.

            In 2017 one 50 mile runner made a wrong turn.  He said he just kept trying to convince himself he was going the right way even though he didn't see course markings.

            The course is primarily marked with ribbons/flagging.  Certain turns are marked with signs.  In town cones may be used.  As turns are approached, ribbons are used more heavily.  If you read the signs and follow the directions, you should not have a problem.

            Experienced trail runners should have no problems with course markings.  Those that are new to trail running, keep your eyes open, keep looking for your next turn, and you shouldn’t have a problem.


Would you please describe the course/terrain?

            The first 5 miles are on a smooth gravel dirt road (the Virginia Creeper Trail) with a slight uphill grade.  At the first aid station runners turn onto a steep uphill single track (Beech Grove Trail) for about 1 mile.  This section is often wet and muddy.  Then runners run along the Iron Mountain Trail, which has moderate ups and downs.  It is runnable if you are fit.  There are several short steep climbs.  At FS 90, the 16 milers turn around and others continue east on the Iron Mountain Trail. Again, it is generally runnable on technical single track with several short steep climbs. 

            At Skulls Gap aid station, the 30 milers turn around and the 50 milers continue.  The 50 milers continue onto FSR 84 for a ~1 mile climb on a gravel road before turning onto old 84 which is very runnable (somewhat grassy dirt road).  Then runners hit the Hurricane Gap aid station and turn back onto FSR 84 for a ~1 mile run downhill on a gravel road.  Turning left onto Barton Gap Trail runners have several miles on runnable single track before turning onto FS 643 for several miles of primarily down hill running on gravel road.  At the Rowland Creek aid station runners turn left onto the Rowland Creek trail for several miles of climbing on technical single track with a few creek crossings and likely some deep mud.  Back at Hurricane Gap aid station, runners head west on FSR 84 for several miles of climbing on a sunny (hot & exposed) gravel road.  Eventually the road crests, runners get some down hill running before turning left onto the Iron Mountain Trail as it splits off from FSR 84.  Runners stay on the IMT (primarily single track) all the way back to Damascus, hitting the Skulls Gap and FS 90 aid stations.

  (All Runners)           The final trail descent into town is steep with lots of loose rock on a washed out trail.  If it has been wet, it will be muddy.  If it is raining it will be a stream.  This can be dangerous so run within your limits.  When you hit the pavement continue down hill.  You have about 1 mile to the finish.  Cross Hw 58 and where your road ends turn left (onto S Railroad Ave).  Go to the end of the road and turn right  (west) onto the Virginia Creeper Trail (gravel).  Follow for about 1/2 mile until you see the town park on the left. Turn left towards the Gazebo and "sprint" to the finish!

Do I need a support crew?

            This is a personal preference issue.  I definitely don’t think one is needed; 50 mile runners have 2 opportunities to use their drop bags and 30 milers have 1.  If you are trying to race it, a crew may speed you up a little (swapping out water bottles); however, some runners slow down with a crew- they end up talking with their crew too much.

            I personally don’t hesitate to run a 50 without crews or drop bags.  I think drop bags are most useful if you have dietary concerns (you need specific foods).

            Also, please be aware that the gravel roads to aid stations FS 90 (on road FS 90) and Hurricane Gap (on road FSR 84) are very rough gravel roads with some washouts (deep ruts). If your crew has a vehicle with low clearance, I'd recommend not driving on these roads. Also, on these 2 gravel roads the parking is very tight.


Any interesting wildlife or scenery on the course?

            In 2008 I saw a bear while running the race (on FS 84, past the Skulls Gap aid station).  I have also seen a bear while staging water for an IMTR training run (2010 & 2011).  It is not uncommon to see deer, wild turkey, and ruffed grouse in the area.  In 2010 the FS 90 aid station volunteers enjoyed watching a rattlesnake that was about 5 feet from the trail and about 10 feet from the aid station.  However, most wildlife will probably be scared from the race course by other runners.

            There are no grand vistas on the run.  Most of the course is wooded so most views are limited to forested views.  All runners will run beside a beautiful mountain river for the first few miles.  The 50 mile runners will run by Rowland Creek Falls.  While Rowland Falls is a pretty set of small cascades, it is not a grand waterfall that you may envision.





Should I carry water bottles or a hydration pack?

            Yes, you should carry some sort of hydration equipment.  There are some sections where many runners will take more than 2 hours between aid stations.


Which one- bottles or hydration pack?

            This is purely a personal preference.  If you use bottles you have to stop more frequently to fill them (at most aid stations), but it is easier to judge your fluid intake (and easier to fill).  A hydration pack can usually carry more, allowing you to fly through the aid stations.  However, it is harder to judge fluid intake and they can be hotter sitting on the back.  Also, with a pack, you may not realize how low on water you are so you may run out on a section since you thought you didn't need a refill at the last aid station.

            Personally I use hand-held water bottles on almost all races except night races and possibly really cold races where I want to carry extra clothing.


Aid stations:


What foods/supplies do the aid stations have?

            The first aid station (Straight Branch, ~ 5 miles) will have fluids only (water and sports drink).  There is an unmanned aid station ~ 4 miles from the finish that should have a limited amount of fluids (water & sports drink).  The unmanned aid station is primarily for 50 milers- others please try to avoid using this water.

            All other aid stations should have water, sport drink, various sodas, chips, some type of candy (M&Ms, etc), some type of fruit (grapes, bananas, or oranges), and some miscellaneous items (boiled potatoes, donuts, PB&J, turkey sandwiches, probably S! Caps, etc).

            Most manned aid stations should have hand sanitizer, duct tape, toilet paper, & petroleum jelly.  The race will NOT provide pain killers or medication at any aid stations.

            Some items may run out, so run faster and get there early while supplies last!


What sports drink do the aid stations have?

            Gatorade has been used in the recent past and will probably be used in the future if we do not have a sponsor that provides sports drink.

Course Rules 

Are hiking (trekking) poles allowed?

           Yes, but I ask that anyone using poles be extremely considerate of others (especially when passing or potentially being passed).  If I get many complaints from other competitors this policy will be reconsidered.  Poles should not be used in the beginning when the course is congested and runners using poles should probably not use headphones so they can clearly hear runners behind them and be considerate when another runner passes.

Are headphones (earbuds) allowed?

           Yes, but please set the volume so you can still hear fellow runners and other trail users. 

Any other Rules?

           Be considerate of the volunteers!!  If you are rude or inconsiderate to the volunteers I reserve the right to disqualify you from the race. (Fortunately, I have not had to do this yet).

            Be considerate of other trail users (other hikers, runners, bikers, dirt bikers, and horseback riders).  Horses have right of way.  If you run past one it might kick a runner or buck off its rider.  Therefore, talk with the rider and ask if it's OK to pass.  If the USFS gets complaints from other trail users our future race permits may not be approved.

            Don't litter!!  If you drop some trash, pick it up and throw it away at an aid station.

            Don't cut switchbacks!  Basically, stay on the official trail at all times (unless departing briefly for a call of nature).

            The faster runner (at that point in the race) has the right of way.  So if someone wants to pass, give them room to pass, even if that means stopping briefly.  For much of the race the trail is wide enough so another runner should be able to pass easily without much difficulty.

            Runners must complete the race under their own power.  While minor assistance is allowed during the race (helping a fallen runner up, sharing food, etc), forward progress must be made under the runner's own power without assistance.  (An injured/tired runner can't lean on another runner while making forward progress.)  If runners make forward progress while receiving physical assistance they may be disqualified.

            Don't pester the RD after the race asking for the results.  They'll be posted when they're ready.  An email will be sent out to the race participants after the results are posted.  There are other things that he needs to do before he can organize the results (sweep the course, reports to the USFS & to USATF, etc).

Iron Mountain Man/Woman Award


Could you explain those rules some?

            The Iron Mountain Man/Woman Award is based on the runner who completes the race distance within the time limit and then does the most push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups (which count for 3) within 5 minutes of finishing the race.

Score = (# push-ups) + (# sit-ups) + 3 x (# pull-ups)

            Push-ups must be from arms bent at least 90 degrees to locked out with only the hands and feet on the ground.  There is no such thing as girl push-ups; a push-up is a push-up, knees can’t touch the ground!

            Pull-ups will be done on playground equipment (a swing with a thick bar) and with palms facing away from the body.  Start with the arm fully extended and have the chin touch the bar. You must lock out your arms (a dead hang) each rep.

            Sit-ups will be with the hands locked behind the head or neck, the knees bent 45-90 degrees, feet on the ground, and sit-up until the elbows touch the knees or thighs.  Someone may hold the feet down.

            Please see Iron Mountain Man/Woman Award for more information.


When do the 5 minutes start?

            Your 5 minutes start as soon as you cross the finish line (finish the race).  You may opt to delay finishing the race while you rest, and then step across the finish line when you’re ready to start the exercises.  This will of course hurt your finish time.


What order do I have to do the exercises?

            You may rotate between exercises as many times as you want, in any order you want.  You can rest between exercises or sets, as much as you want.  Once the 5 minute mark is reached, your time is up, and you are done.

May I do the sit-ups & push-ups on a mat (like a yoga mat)?

            If you have access to a mat (you or a friend brings one) you may use it for push-ups and sit-ups as long as race officials do not feel that it is giving you an unfair advantage.

May I have someone hold my feet down while I do my sit-ups?

            Yes, you may have someone hold your feet down.  Often, a race volunteer is willing to stand on your feet while you do your sit-ups and s/he records your results.

Accuracy of the count . . .

           Please be aware there is a lot going on and the official recorder may miscount (or count differently from you).  Feel free to suggest that you counted differently, but make sure you are polite and non-confrontational about it.  In the end, for fairness, the official recorder has the final say.  This is intended to be a fun way to recognize upper body fitness.  If a runner is confrontational (rude, etc) to a volunteer, they may be disqualified (please see the first rule above in the "Any other rules" section of Course Rules).

Waiting List 

How do I know where I am on the waitlist?

           The waitlist can be accessed by going to UltraSignup (the registration website for IMTR, so click on the registration link on the IMTR homepage).  Once on the IMTR page at UltraSignup click on the "Coffee Cup" or "Hourglass " icon on the left of the screen, just under the banner photograph.

I'm on the waiting list, will I get in?  When will I find out?

            Waitlist runners are invited to confirm that they want to run as spots open.  This happens when registered runners let me know that they can't run.  This usually happens about 2-3 weeks out from the run.  So most waitlist runners will find out 2-3 weeks before the race.  Usually about 30 runners will drop out in the last few weeks.  But I don't truly know until the runners let me know.