Where to run far this fall

fallultras-1Maybe you thought about signing up for the Vermont 50 but put it off, thinking you had plenty of time, and now it’s too late. Or maybe you entered the lottery for the Stone Cat ultramarathon but didn’t have your name chosen. Those races–two of the better known ultras in the Northeast—tend to fill every year. But there are plenty of other options for running long on trails amid the splendor of fall foliage. Here are a few possibilities.

September 15

Pisgah Mountain Trail Races
Okay, so technically these races are in late summer. Still, it could feel like fall by then in southwestern New Hampshire. These races are held at Pisgah State Park in Chesterfield, N.H., and cover some beautiful trails for running.
Distances: 23k and 50k
2012 median times
23k: 2:25
50k: 6:31
Entry fee: $40 until 8/17; $50 from 8/17 to 8/31; $60 after 8/31
Race report

September 21 and 22

Virgil Crest Ultras
On the first weekend of fall, Virgil, N.Y., is home to the notoriously tough Virgil Crest Ultras. For the 50-mile option, you run 25 miles (including spending some time going up and down ski trails) and then turn around and go back. For the 100-mile race, run the same course, rest, and repeat. About 90 percent of the course is on singletrack, with the rest on a combination of dirt and paved roads. This is not an easy course. Last year, only 32 of 65 starters finished the 100-mile race. There were 104 finishers (out of 120 starters) in the 50 mile race.
Distances: 50k (on 9/22), 50 mile, 100 mile, and 100-mile relay (all held on 9/21)
2012 median times
50k: 6:26
50 mile: 12:39
100 mile: 32:48
Entry fee: $75 for the 50k; $95 for the 50 mile; $190 for the 100 mile; $250 for the 100-mile relay
Race reports for the 100 mile and 50 mile races

Hancock Shaker Village Marathon and 50
These races begin and end at the Shaker Village in Hancock, Mass. In between, they head into Pittsfield State Forest and run along a section of the Taconic Crest Trail. Bonus: there will be beer from Big Elm Brewing at the finish line. Beware: you have to find the finish line first. According to one race report, that was difficult at times last year. But that was the inaugural race, so hopefully those kinks will be worked out this year.
Distances: marathon and 50 mile
2012 median time, 50 mile: 11:45 (out of seven finishers)
Entry fee: $60 for the marathon; $100 for the 50-mile

October 6

Nipmuck Trail Marathon
This year will be the 29th running of the Nipmuck Trail Marathon, a classic low-key event  in eastern Connecticut organized by the Shenipsit Striders.
2012 median time: 5:22:51
Entry fee: $40
Race reports

Pinnacle Ultra Challenge and Relay Race
This is the inaugural year for this race. The 50k consists of an out and back on rail trails followed by two loops of a nine-mile stretch of great trails in Newport Town Forest in Newport, N.H.
Distances: 13.1 miles and 50k
Entry fee: $40 for the half marathon; $60 for the half marathon relay; $60 for the 50k; $80 for the 50k relay

October 19

TARC Fall Classic
This race, organized by the Trail Animals Running Club, covers a 10k loop at Great Brook Farm in Carlisle, Mass. The course website notes that it is “relatively flat” and totally runnable. Bonus: one of the aid station tables will be completely gluten free. Bummer: does that mean no chocolate chip cookies?*
Distances: 10k, half marathon, marathon, 50k
2012 median times
10k: 1:10:24
half marathon: 2:09:45
marathon: 4:58:37
50k: 5:48:33
Entry fee: $22 regardless of distance

October 20

Big Brad Ultras
These races, nicknamed the Pounder (50k) and the Punisher (50 mile) cover multiple laps of a 15.5-mile course that travels through Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, Maine. Runners in the 50k will have to climb about 4,500 feet altogether. Those in the 50-mile race can look forward to 7,500 feet of ascent.
Distances: 50k and 50 mile
2012 median times
50k: 6:45:56
50 mile: 11:14:00
Entry fee: $65 for the 50k ($75 after 10/5); $75 for the 50 mile ($85 after 10/5)

Bimbler’s Bluff 50k
Mr. Bimble himself directs this race, which covers a rocky mix of singletrack and forest roads in southern Connecticut.
Distance: 50k
2012 median time: 6:53:16
Entry fee: $55
Race reports

For a few more possibilities, as well as many shorter races, check out the full race calendar.

*This article has been updated to reflect corrected information provided in the comments below. Only one of the aid stations tables at the TARC Fall Classic will be gluten-free, not all the aid station tables.


  1. Jill Puleo says

    Hi, as a member of TARC and the person who organized the Gluten Free aid station table idea, I just wanted to tell you that the info above is incorrect. ONE of the tables will be gluten free, the rest are totally normal. And if you think that we GF-types don’t eat chocolate chip cookies, you are sadly mistaken. In fact, Gluten Free cookies are, in many cases, BETTER than conventional. As are the brownies…and the pretzels…and the potato chips…and M&Ms… :)

    • Far North says

      Thanks Jill! We updated the info. We have also reprimanded our “Aid Station Editor” who clearly let his love of cookies blind him to the facts of this story. And we also promise to make him try gluten free cookies soon.

      Happy Running.

      • Jill Puleo says

        Hee hee, ok we forgive you this time… Come run with us Animals sometime so we can show you some delicious hospitality…GF or otherwise!!!