The 50 Mile Course
Section 1: For 2017 The 50 Mile run will begin at Ski Santa Fe. Runners will leave the parking area and start a steady climb up the Windsor trail and continue along the national forest/wilderness boundary to the top of Deception Peak for a gain of approximately 2300ft in the first 3 miles. The route will traverse toward Tesuque Peak and Summit aid station at mile 3.6 before a continuous 5.7 mile descent along Aspen Vista forest service road toward Big Tesuque campground and aid station. The Big Tesuque trail continues across hwy. 475 (Ski Basin Rd.) and intersects with the lower Windsor trail. The first leg of the 50 mile run will trace the Windsor back to the Norski parking area and continue up beside Hwy. 475 before closing the loop at the lower edge of the Ski Santa Fe parking area and the first transition area for relay teams.
Section 2: When the course leaves the ski area for a second time it descends steeply down the upper Rio en Medio trail . There is very mixed running here with steep, rocky sections, rolling single track, stream crossings, and acequia paths all within the first few miles before reaching forest service rd. 412. The course detours around Aspen Ranch leaving FR 412, crossing the Rio en Medio and then returning to FR 412 toward the Borrego trail. Here the Borrego is more or less primitive single track all the way down to the Rio Nambe. Once runners cross the creek the course follows downstream with several possible crossings over the next couple miles before reaching the confluence with the Rio Capulin. The course then crosses over the Capulin, continuing downstream, before jumping back across what is now the Rio Nambe. This is the beginning of the Viejo trail. Several long climbs, lead to narrow rolling and pleasant single track and a 2 mile descent to the Rio en Medio aid station. The distance between Ski Santa Fe and Rio en Medio aid station is 9.6 miles and there is nearly 4,000 ft of elevation loss and 1,300 ft. of gain. This is one of the more remote areas of the course. Runners should expect wet feet. Plan accordingly. Trail from the Rio en Medio aid station to the Pacheco Canyon aid station is seldom used single track through lower elevation ponderosa pine forests. Be careful of ankle twisting pine cones in the narrow dry washes and canyon. Once the course reaches and crosses over the small Rio Chupadero it merges onto an old jeep road that bring runners out of the mountains and into the desert. There is a stark contrast at this point in scenery with sweeping vistas of the Jemez and Sandias to the West and South. Once reaching Pacheco Canyon road, the route tilts upward and travels roughly a mile along dirt road before arriving at Pacheco Canyon aid station and transition #2 for relay teams.
Section 3: Directly out of the aid station runners will scramble up a short ridge parallel to the road for a ¼ mile before connecting with the Discount trail. The course cuts across the grain of the lower juniper studded foothills above the village of Tesuque. There are countless short ascents and descents. At times it is very rocky but runnable, and runners will notice distinct differences in vegetation with every change in elevation and aspect. With over 8 miles of distance, 2800 ft. of elevation gain and 1500ft of elevation loss there is very little flat terrain here. There is one particularly long, continuous climb through a drywash that will take runners to the top of Jawbone trail and another several miles downhill to the lower Windsor trail. The course braids its way up valley with Big Tesuque creek until it reaches the Bear Wallow trail. Solo runners climb away from Big T and tag the hwy at Borrego aid station while relay teams transition to their final runner.
Section 4: 13.6 miles separate Borrego aid station from the finish line. That and over 4000 ft of elevation gain and 3,000 ft. of elevation loss. There is some very nice smooth single track between Borrego and Big Tesuque aid station some of which may be familiar to runners from earlier in the day as the bulk of the section was essentially run in reverse. It is a long and steady climb to the top heading up from Big T. Runners will summit and trace their steps backwards to the finish line descending nearly 2300ft in the final few miles over single track that was too dark to see and too steep to run. Hopefully it is better the second time going down.