Race Preview: Elkhorn Crest 50M & Marathon (Sumpter)

Every Alpine Running race is on my to-do list, and having done a couple already, I know they’re guaranteed to be great. The problem: they keep adding races to the lineup and my calendar can’t keep up!

They took over directing the Elkhorn Crest 50 (and marathon) from Crux Ridge Running but the details are nearly identical. If you’re not trained and ready for it this summer, put it on the list for 2020 (I know I will be). It looks incredible. It is a serious challenge in the Elkhorn Mountains outside of Sumpter, and though you’ll be working hard for them, the views will be worth it!

Neither an out-and-back nor a loop, each course has a unique profile, both featuring a mix of smooth single track as well as rocky, technical sections. The 50M+ (actual distance is ~53 miles), run at an average elevation of over 7,200 ft, features around 11,000 ft of climbing and about 11,700 ft of descending with panoramic views of Baker Valley, the Wallowas, and the Blue Mountains. The marathon packs in around 5,700 ft of climbing and 6,300 ft of descending.

This is proper mountain running so for safety, there are mandatory gear requirements. The 50 milers must have the ability to carry 1.5 liters of fluid, a jacket, emergency blanket, and a headlamp with extra batteries. Marathon racers need to have the ability to carry 1.5 liters of fluid and the rest is recommended, but not required.

The 50M will have 6 aid stations and the marathon will have 3. Drop bags for the 50 will be available at AS 4 (~mile 29). Sorry, no drop bags for the marathon. The aid stations will be well-stocked with runner favorites: PB & Js, tortillas, chips, Skout bars, gels, fruit Tailwind electrolyte drink, Coke, Ginger Ale, Sprite, etc. This event is also cupless, so plan accordingly!

The Baker City High School cross country team is the beneficiary of this event and points for the UTMB are on the table: the 50M will earn you 4 points and the marathon is 2.


Date: Saturday, July 27, 2019
Time: 5:30 AM (shuttle leaves at 4:45 AM sharp!)
Location: (Finish line) Sumpter Fairgrounds | Sumpter, OR
Price: 50M: $165 | Marathon: $105
Registration: Online at Ultra Signup

For more event info, including course maps + elevation profiles, drop bag details, shuttle info, lodging suggestions, etc. visit the race website or their Facebook page!

About Author

Bobi Jo has lived all over the midwest but moved to Portland in 2007 and now calls it home. She started casually running in 2012 and trained up for the "Run Like A Mother" 5k as her first proper event. She got a taste of the runner's high and is now a veteran ultrarunner. While running is her favorite sport, she is a "Jill of all trades, master of none" - her other hobbies include rock climbing, hiking, skiing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and traveling the world. On her elusive rest days, she is an avid bookworm and a Green Bay Packers fan.

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