What’s new for the 2023 Sand Spur?
This year, we will be offering 4 distances to choose from: the Waning Gibbous 30k night race, the half marathon, the original 50k, and the 7 Trials 102 Miler!
The 50k, the night 30k, and half marathon will be using the most excellent “2020” Sand Spur loop which includes every permissible trail in Jupiter Ridge! You’ll get 93% sugar sand, while the other 7% we’ll just call “other” (boardwalk, sidewalks, hard packed rooty flatwoods trail, gravel road, etc) This is THE most scenic loop we can muster! You’ll have stunning views of the Intracoastal Waterway on your run, go through tunnels of sand pines, traverse up and down some of Palm Beach County’s tallest sand dunes with multiple summits of the highest natural point in all of Palm Beach County at an eye-watering 49 feet above sea level!
This loop is right at 4.54 miles long with 2 aid stations: one at the start/finish, and one at the halfway point in the loop. We’ll have tons of aid and you’ll never go more than 2.25 miles without being able to get hydration/nutrition, and you’ll have drop bag access during every loop!
- Waning Gibbous 30k night runners will start on Friday night at 7 p.m. and will run four Sand Spur loops for a total of 18.16 miles and around 1,200 feet of elevation gain/loss with a 6 hour cutoff. 50k runners will complete 7 loops (31.78 miles) with approximately 2,000 feet of elevation gain/loss. 9 hour cutoff. The race begins at 7 a.m.
- Half Marathon runners will complete 3 loops (13.62 miles) with approximately 800 feet of elevation gain/loss. 5 hour cutoff for this one! The race starts at 9:00 a.m.
- The 7 Trials 102 Miler has its own info. See below for details!
Run the ancient dunes!
The story of this ultramarathon began during the last ice ages. On the Florida peninsula, sandy hilltop island and coastal dune ridges were the only lands peeking above sea level over 2 million years ago. Then the seas fell, leaving the flat, broad finger of land we now know as Florida. These ancient sand dunes are known as one of the rarest living communities: Florida Scrub.
Jupiter Ridge Natural Area is one of the last stands of Florida Scrub habitat in Palm Beach County. Only 2% of original Scrub in the county and less than one-third of the original Scrub in the state remain today. A gently rolling landscape of prickly, dense thickets spotted with bare patches of sparkling white sand, these 271 acres are protected by Palm Beach County as part of a countywide system of natural areas. Over 200 species of plants and animals call this home.
Lightheartedly called “ the Death Valley of Palm Beach County”, in fact, this natural area is full of life with an amazing variety of plant and animal species - some found to exist nowhere else in the state. The Scrub habitat of Jupiter Ridge Natural Area is among the harshest environments, and the slowest to regenerate if damaged. It’s also some of the oldest living stands of Florida landscape; you’ll be running on ancient sand dunes millions of years old.
It’s for this reason we have a runner cap of 80 runners this year. We are continually working with Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management to bring this race to fruition while preserving the integrity, and protection, of the natural area. Jupiter Ridge Sand Spur was the first and only outside entity to be permitted a running event in a Palm Beach County natural area with our 2017 inaugural race. We are tremendously proud of that, and will continue to work closely with them to ensure responsible execution and growth of this race.
These natural areas are managed by the Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management team, and we are tremendously fortunate to be working with them to make this race a reality.
What so special about this race?
Now in our 7th year, we’ve enjoyed sold out races from the beginning thanks in part to our small entrants cap and high demand for Winter ultras in Florida. We have been able to welcome folks from all over the US, Canada, and overseas to introduce them to one of Florida’s hidden treasures; the Florida Coastal Scrub.
Why is the entrants cap small? Why just 80 participants this year? From its inception, we’ve worked diligently with Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management to bring competitive trail running to the Natural Area setting. Our inaugural year was a “test” year of 20 lucky participants for our 50K. The process was closely monitored by the county before, during, and after the race to determine the effects of trail running impacts on environmentally sensitive grounds. We are proud to say we’ve been able to boost our numbers through the care of our runners who share our vision of appreciation and promotion of these amazing lands.
Jupiter Ridge Natural Area is a coastal scrub environment, one of the rarest and slowest to rebound if damaged. It is home to 31 plant species and 14 animal species considered to be threatened, rare, or of special concern. Though it looks like a bit like a piece of Death Valley dropped into Palm Beach, it is in fact teaming with life. This 270 acre site, wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, is also home to some of the oldest living sand dunes in Florida. These dunes, also the highest natural points in Palm Beach County, have remained largely unchanged for over 2 million years.
What makes this race so special is the both the rarity and beauty of it. Then add the challenge of the sand and the dunes, and it’s absolutely magical. Despite its challenge, it makes a great first ultra with a relatively small loop of just shy of approximately 4.5 miles!
Make no mistake; this is not an easy race. It’s a race to train specifically for and to respect the course. The sand can be deep and brutal at times, but the course has been designed carefully and thoughtfully to offer sections of respite. Just when you think you can’t possibly run in sand for one second longer, you’ll be treated to a firm area for a bit of rest.
We’d love to welcome you to sunny Jupiter Florida for our sixth installment of our flagship race! It fills up quickly, so don’t dilly-dally if you think you want to run it!
New, EZ Refund Policy!
Register with confidence! You are entitled to a FULL refund, minus the Ultrasignup fee, for any reason, through Saturday, September 30, 2023. Or a partial refund during October through November (to be determined based on when you cancel within the month of November) because we will then be spending your money on swag and supplies. Or a full race credit (rollover, deferral, etc) with no expiration date and totally transferable if you cancel on or after Friday, December 1st, 2023. You can also choose to submit your forfeited race fee as a donation to the Palm Beach County Natural Areas Program! We’ll work with you! *If the event is canceled or postponed due to natural disaster, pandemic, site closure, dogs and cats falling from the sky, etc, we will roll everyone over into the new date should that happen.
South Florida Elevation?
Florida is notoriously flat, and south Florida is about as flat as it gets. Runners have to resort to bridge repeats, landfills, and stairs to get any decent elevation training.
Jupiter Ridge Natural Area is home to some of the tallest natural sand dunes in Palm Beach County, and one “peak” in particular is the highest natural point in the county! Affectionately called Mount Ridge, a massive dune stands a jaw-dropping 54 feet above sea level! You’ll summit Mt. Ridge twice per loop from four different directions, and that combined with the other smaller dunes and rollers, you’ll get about 2,000 feet of gain for the 50K, 1,200 feet for the Waning Gibbous Night 30k, and 800 feet for the half marathon! 7 Trials runners will get 5,000+ feet! We are proud to be the only ultramarathon in south Florida to boast such “lofty” numbers!
7 Trials - 102 Mile Ultra
In addition to our usual 50K and Half Marathon, and our new night race - the Waning Gibbous 30k, we’ve cooked-up a new and devious challenge!
To celebrate the 7th year of the Sand Spur in 2023, we’ve added a race for the ages! The 7 Trials is a grueling three day, 102 mile beast of a challenge that will have you running: a 2 mile VK challenge, 5K, 10K, half marathon, 30k, full marathon, AND a 50K over two days!
You’ll have 29.5 hours total to complete all 7 trials to take your place among the select few who dare to even attempt such a ridiculous undertaking. The 7 Trials is 93% sugar sand. Yep, almost 95 miles of sparking white, fluffy, Florida sugar sand on the ancient sand dunes of southeast Florida that will have your legs screaming as you climb and descend 5,000 feet of elevation gain over the entire race!
Day 1 is your “EZ” day with a night 30k on Friday night with a fairly generous cutoff of 6 hours. Day 2 is still “relatively” easy with a simple 50k with enough time after to prepare for day 3. Day 3 is when sh!t gets real beginning with a pre-dawn homage to the “Vertical Kilometer” - a 2 mile segment known as Hell’s Half Acre (100% sugar sand), and you’ll then continue your day with a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and finally ending with a full marathon!
This race is structured to mess with your groove. How will you handle the cutoffs? Some are generous and some are not. How will you handle the breaks between trials? Keep your legs moving or rest? It’s not just a feat of physical prowess to complete this monster, but a true test of mental, methodical strategy.
The runner with the fastest combined times of all 7 Trials will be crowned the baddest of the bad, and will receive an award worthy of a king or queen!
This race is built on the same format of the 5 Trials 82 Miler from 2021 and 2022! For our 7th anniversary we wanted to do something really special!
Can you? Should you? Will you?
7 Trials - Schedule of Trials
Below is the final schedule of trials and their respective cutoffs, as well as average pace (not including aid station and potty breaks) to give you an idea of what to expect so you can plan accordingly. This is likely more info than you want to read, but we want everyone to finish and providing you with these distances and cutoffs will give you an idea of what to expect and how to approach it. If you’re on the fence about if you can/should do this, this might help.
Trial 1: Friday, December 29, 2023 - The Waning Gibbous 30K Night Run - 18.16 miles, 6 hour cutoff
Kick-off your 7 Trials journey with an EZ 18 miles through the entirety of Jupiter Ridge beginning at 7:00 p.m. as you’ll traverse 4 Sand Spur loops by the light of the waning gibbous (94% full) moon. You might not even need a headlamp. This race will be offered as a stand alone event, as well!
Trial 2: Saturday, December 30, 2023 - the Sand Spur 50K - 31.64 miles, 9 hour cutoff
We will use the now well-known and infamous “2020 loop” to round out your easy Saturday and have you back to your hotel or home by dinner to rest up for your final day.
NOTE: You are allowed to drop here with an unofficial 50 mile “finish”, but please note two things: you’ll receive a very basic and bland medal which I will personally write your 50 mile finishing time on, AND you will have to write a letter of resignation to be mailed to me no more than 2 weeks after the event. No emails, no texts, I want a pen and paper letter stating why you quit. No, I’m not joking. You will receive an unofficial finish on Ultrasignup and not be included in any results or rankings otherwise.
Trial 3: Sunday, December 31, 2023, 6:00 a.m. - Hell’s Half Acre, an ode to the “Vertical Kilometer” - 2.00 miles, 30 minute cutoff:
On “fresh legs” and under the cover of darkness, you’ll summit the highest natural point in Palm Beach County (twice) by traversing the Strava segment known as Hell’s Half Acre - but mercifully only the “hardest” 2 miles. You’ll have 30 minutes to complete this to move on to Trial 4. That’s a 15:00 min/mile. If you use all 30 minutes for this trial, you’ll have 0 minutes to prepare for Trial 4 and immediately begin.
Trial 4: Sunday, December 31, 2023, 6:30 a.m. - The Trident 5K - 3.29 miles, 50 minute cutoff
Trial 5: Sunday, December 31, 2023, 7:30 a.m. - The Scrub Lizard 10K - 6.48 miles, 1:45 hr/min cutoff
NOTE: You are allowed to drop here with an unofficial 100K “finish”, and yes, you guessed it; you’ll get a very bland medal on which I’ll write your 100k finishing time, AND I’ll expect a hand written letter of resignation mailed to me within 2 weeks of the event detailing what went wrong. This is required. It is not optional. If you start Trial 6, you are fully committed. Any subsequent drops will be considered and recorded as a DNF. You’ll have two points within the race to make a graceful exit. This is one of them. You’ll receive an unofficial finish on ultrasignup and not be listed in any results or rankings otherwise.
Trial 6: Sunday, December 31, 2023, 9:30 a.m. - The Sand Spur Half Marathon, 13.56 miles, 3:50 hr/min cutoff
Trial 7: Sunday, December 31, 2023, 1:30 p.m. - The “reverse” Sand Spur Marathon, 27.12 miles, 7:30 hr/min cutoff
102.25 miles total
5,000+ feet of elevation gain/loss and 29.5 hours of total racing time.
This is one of the swaggiest trail ultra around! Every finisher gets a badass finishers medal, and top overall winners receive our coveted custom-made hourglasses to pay homage to your battle against sand and time! You can expect the amazing Brie from Wicked Skins to, once again, raise the bar with the creativity and craftsmanship of our awards for both every finisher, and exclusive awards for top finishers and DFL’ers!
Drop downs: drop downs will not be allowed on race day, or during the race. If you wish to drop down, or drop up, you’ll need to join that distance’s waitlist, so essentially you either finish or DNF the distance you decide on, as distance changes are incredibly unlikely as the race draws near.
Event's current local time: 7:51 PM ET
Refunds: your registration fee goes toward putting on a remarkable race with tons of cool stuff. We begin this process early on. We also strive to make a considerable donation to Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management’s Natural Areas program which helps maintain these amazing places. Your registration fee is 100% refundable (minus the Ultrasignup fee) by September 30. After that, we will allow you to roll your registration over to next year’s event, or transfer it to one of our other races such as The Trident or the Run for the Natural Areas. Or, you can let us know you’d like it to be a donation to PBCERM and we’ll donate it to the Natural Areas program! By registering for this race, you agree to these terms. 100% of surplus and proceeds will go to PBCERM’s Natural Areas program.
Drop bags and aid stations: the start/finish area will have a drop bag zone. You’ll be permitted one small duffle or tote, or a small cooler, if you wish. It must be clearly labeled with your name and bib number. You’ll have access to your stuff each time you finish a loop. We’ll also have two aid stations on the course: one at the start/finish, and one around the 2.25 mile mark of the loop. It’s entirely possible to complete this ultra with simply a handheld bottle. You’ll never be more than 2.25 miles from aid.
This race will be professionally and accurately chip timed by the awesome team at A1/Trailhead Ultras!