The Baker Trail UltraChallenge is a 50-mile ultramarathon on the Baker Trail. The race starts at 6:30 AM; the deadline for finishing is fourteen hours later, 8:30 PM. Individuals as well as relay teams of up to 5 members may register. In 2022 the race traversed the South section of the trail, the third leg in the three-leg series. In 2023 we cover the North section. Each year, a piece of a unique three-piece medal will be awarded to all individual finishers. When you complete all three sections, you'll receive a handsome commemorative holder to display all three medals. You can run the series in any order -- once you've run all three, you'll receive the medal holder.
The Baker Trail is marked as a typical hiking trail. Yellow blazes on trees, telephone poles, fence posts, guard rails, and so on indicate the path. Unlike many hiking trails, the Baker Trail is not always a footpath through the woods. In many areas, it follows dirt or paved country roads, some with narrow shoulders. As with road running everywhere, you must always be alert and cautious.
Because of the varying terrain, the UltraChallenge is more mentally demanding than similar ultras. You must always be watching for the blazes in order to stay on the course. In places, the Trail will be following a road only to abruptly turn off the road into the woods. Therefore, if you haven't seen a blaze in a few minutes, you may be off course and should backtrack to the last blaze and determine where you went wrong. Plenty of runners will go off-course at least once during the day. If you expect -- and accept -- that you will, too, it won't be quite as frustrating. The key to a successful race is to realize it quickly.
The 2023 race check-in and finish line is located at the United Methodist Church in Brookville, PA. You may tent or car camp at the church on Friday and/or post-race on Saturday. Buses will take runners to the start on race morning.
Local hotel options include:
Super 8 by Wyndham Brookville (2-stars, no frills!)
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Clarion (3-stars, not bad!)
The Pittsburgh International airport is 1 hour and 45 minutes away from the race finish line.
The 2023 race is on the gorgeous northern section of the Baker Trail, starting in the Allegheny National Forest and giving runners a total of 6,320 feet of elevation gain. Overall, it's mostly single-track trails which can include rocks, roots, sticks, humps, and holes. There are a number of unbridged creek or drainage crossings along the course and loads of unique foot bridges that make excellent photo ops. The wire-cable bridge, featured in the banner photo, is a favorite. Unless there is significant rain, all can be jumped across or crossed on rocks.
- The first 12 miles is 97% trail, 3% dirt road
- The next 10 miles is 90% trail, 10% paved or dirt road
- The next 10 miles is 80% trail, 20% paved or dirt road
- The next 10 miles is 30% trail, 70% paved or dirt road
- The final 8 miles is 95% rail-trail (a crushed limestone surface) including five bridges over or along the Redbank Creek
For the second year in a row, we are offering training runs, free and open to the public. These guided group runs provide an opportunity to acclimate to the race course and fine-tune nutrition and hydration strategies. In particular, three runs taking place in July will cover the entire, point-to-point, 50-mile course. The dates are: Saturday, July 15, Sunday, July 23, and Friday, July 28. All registrants will receive an email with training run information. Additionally, the training runs will be on our website and Facebook page. If you have questions about the training runs, contact Amy Nelson at Amy.NLSN@yahoo.com
Historically, the Baker Ultra has averaged a participation ratio of 80% men and 20% women, which is the case of most 50-milers. In 2022, we made a concerted effort to recruit more women with an eye on gender parity. These efforts paid off and resulted in a marked uptick in women's registration. (35% women in 2022) In 2023, we will continue to cultivate female registration. Leading up to the August race, we will host at least three raffles open to women. Winners receive a free entry. If you would like to participate in one of the raffles, please contact Amy Nelson at Amy.NLSN@yahoo.com
There are nine aid stations along the course (most are 5 miles apart, which means you may not need to carry a ton of supplies!) providing water, Gatorade, sport gels, sandwiches, and fruit. Candy such as M&Ms; and other snacks will be available at some stations. Four of these stations are also relay transfer spots and checkpoints where your tag will be scanned and your split time recorded.
Please adhere to these rules or risk disqualification:
Local time: 2:02 PM
- Runners must ensure their tag is scanned at the start line, at each of the checkpoints, and the finish line.
- Relay runners finishing a leg must scan before the departing teammate scans.
- Runners must depart the checkpoint by the designated cutoff time. However, runners will be permitted to miss one of the first three cutoff times, provided it is by less than 30 minutes. Exceptions to this rule may be granted during the race and are solely at the discretion of the Race Director.
- Runners are not permitted to obtain any outside assistance. If a runner leaves the course for any reason (including getting lost), they must return to the course by their own power at the point they left it.
- Pacers are not permitted for relay runners.
- Pacers are permitted for individual runners beginning at Checkpoints after mile 30. Pacers may not carry food, drink, or gear for the runner or provide any other assistance. Pacers are permitted to consume aid station food and drink. Runners are permitted one pacer at a time, and pacers must be at least 18.
- Support crews may meet their runner anywhere along the course, but must not impede traffic. Crews must not park or operate (a) on private property without permission from the property owner, nor (b) in an unsafe manner or location. Runners are responsible for the conduct of their support crew.