Each complete circuit is 20.7 miles and includes an eastern and western loop. To minimize any confusion, this year each leg of each loop will have a distinct ribbon color, with solid colors going out from Locust Grove (the start) and striped ribbons on the back leg, going south. These colors will be:
East Loop: Out-Solid Orange; Back-Blue/White Stripe
In addition, white spray-painted arrows on the ground will help at key turns, as well as Xs marking the path not to be taken. For short distances on each loop the out and back legs overlap, however the west and east loops are always completely separate. This year, the western loop route is slightly different around Mayapple Hill to take advantage of recent trails and diminish confusion some runners had. Download the PDF map of the entire course from the link below.
6:00 a.m. Start
East Loop - 10.5 miles
The outbound leg, northbound, will be marked in solid orange ribbon (orange on the map, markers 1-21) and is approximately 5.4 miles long. It crosses South Orange Avenue by a pedestrian bridge (where outgoing and returning legs overlap so there are two sets of colored ribbons), so there is no concern with traffic. The end of this leg is the Turtle Rock picnic area where there is an aid station.
The returning leg, southbound back to Locust Grove, will be marked in blue and white striped ribbon (blue dots on the attached map, markers 21-36). It is approximately 5.1 miles long. It crosses back over South Orange Avenue by the same bridge (again, the ribbon markers overlap here). This leg returns to the race start/finish area at Locust Grove where there is an aid station. NOTE: When emerging onto Crest Drive (no cars here) at map marker 33, the course makes a sharp right turn and does NOT go straight ahead; instead, it continues on the paved road for 250 yards and around the loop at Washington Rock.
West Loop – 10.2 miles
The outbound leg, northbound, is marked in solid purple ribbon (and purple on the map, markers 37-49) and is approximately 5.1 miles long. IMPORTANT NOTE: This leg makes a sharp left turn (to be marked by a large arrow sign this year) approximately 200 yards from the Locust Grove start. DO NOT GO STRAIGHT (as many did last year). This leg crosses three roads so watch for cars: at the start, Brookside Drive (there is a light); at the midpoint, busy South Orange Avenue; and, at the end, Cedar Lane. It also crosses over Northfield Avenue by a pedestrian footbridge (where the outbound and returning legs overlap for a bit). It ends at the Mayapple Hill picnic area where there is an aid station.
The returning leg, southbound back to Locust Grove, will be marked in yellow and black striped ribbon (yellow on the map, markers 49-65). Markers 50 and 51 indicate a new part of the route over the relatively recent Mayapple Loop Trail, It is approximately 5.1 miles long and crosses a busy intersection with South Orange Avenue and Brookdale Drive (you run along the side of the road for 100 yards)...so again, be careful. It returns to the race start/finish area at Locust Grove where there is an aid station.
A few people go off course each year and we're always trying to improve our trail marking, but we've generally received rave reviews about the clarity of our trail marking and this year we will have more distinctly colored ribbons. We have a great group of volunteers who mark the course with ribbon and paint. Just remember, there are two ridges running north/south with a valley in between and going out from Locust Grove, north, follow the solid ribbons; returning back, follow the striped ribbons. The In the attached map, north is pointing to the right.
Each 20.7-mile circuit includes around 1,500 feet of ascent and six hills, three on each loop (the course map has marker numbers cited below).
Six-Minute Hill on Sunset Trail which starts about a half mile into the course at marker #4.
Zoo Loop Hill, an extended rise starting from the side of the Orange Reservoir at around mile 4 at marker #15.
Openmouth beginning at the bottom of the grand stone steps on the Openwood Trail just after Hemlock Falls, around mile 7, marker #30.
Elmdale Hill, an extended rise starting about a half mile into the western loop mile at around mile 11 of the 20.7-mile circuit at marker #40.
Monster starting at around mile 12 at Hawk Hill and continuing onto the West Ridge Trail at marker #41.
Twilight starts around mile 18 (the base of an unnamed open field) just south of the intersection of South Orange Ave. and Brookside Dr. at marker #57.
Trail Surface and TerrainThis course has a little bit of everything: Long stretches of double-wide woods road; meandering single-wide trail; two sections of pavement (on the East Loop) around three-quarters of a mile in total (one crossing over the Orange Reservoir dam, the other around the Crest Drive circle); miles of soft dirt interlaced with ankle twisting rocks. If there is rain leading up to the day of the race or during the race, it will be almost impossible to avoid certain patches of mud. In short, a good combination of level paths, rolling hills, moderate climbs, and a few very steep ascents and descents. The East Loop has a bit more technical running going out from Locust Grove than coming back. The West Loop a bit more of a climb in elevation.