Thursday, October 18, 2012

Course Description and Directions to Start


IMPORTANT COURSE CHANGE FOR 2018 - 25K WILL REMAIN THE SAME BUT 50K WILL BE AN OUT AND BACK

This is a very tough and arduous course.  Of course we do not wish to scare any one away and want as many people to participate as possible but also want runners and hikers to know what to expect.

25K COURSE DESCRIPTION
The course is very technical single track with substantial elevation gain.  The 25K has 2982 feet of elevation gain.  Here is a link to Stuart Johnson's Garmin information which is really great - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/263936156    (Again, the 50k course has changed so use this only for that part of the course, I'll post a Garmin for new 50k course soon.)  Thanks Stuart!  The course record is well over 5 hours for the 50K.  Mid-pack runner can expect to take 6-7 hours.  Back of the pack may take 8 - 10 hours.

The entire course follows the Ouachita Trail which is clearly marked by blue blazes.  A few critical junctions will be marked with flour but otherwise the course should be really easy to follow.  If you do not see blue blazes and thus are not on the Ouachita Trail, you have gone off course.  But there are no trail intersections of any significance and so as long as you stay on the trail and follow the blue blazes.  You should be good to go.

The race begins at Pushubee Trailhead.  To get to Pashubee Trailhead, travel north of Big Cedar, Oklahoma on Hwy 259 for approximately 1 - 2 miles.  You will see a sign that says Pashubee Trailhead and will proceed East for approximately 4 miles on a forest road and that road will take you to the Trailhead.  Signs will be posted to direct you from Hwy 259. 

Coming from the North, you will go approximately 4 miles South of junction 259 and hwy 1 (Talimena Scenic Drive) until you come to the sign that directs you to the Pashubee Trailhead which is approximately 4 miles East on a Forest Road.

The course starts at Pashubee Trailhead and heads west.  The course follows the Ouachita Trail the entire route which is marked by blue blazes.  Runners will go 3.7 miles on the trail over and down one significant climb back to hwy 259 and another trailhead and parking area.  Runners will cross the hwy to the first aid station.

Immediately after the aid station, runners will cross a creek which if there has been rain, there may be ankle deep water.

Water crossing is ankle to shin deep.

After the water crossing, runners proceed on a steady climb.  You are beginning to climb the Winding Stair Mountain.  At mile 5 is a cool rock glacier which is very scenic and around mile 6 is the Red Cedar Spring.  You could even refill water here if you need to though it is not an aid station.

Continue climbing past a hiker campground at a steady climb and around mile 7, the trail begins to descend to a small saddle.  At this saddle is where the real climbing begins.  The Ouachita Trail has 33 switchbacks (hence the name of the race) to the top of Winding Stair Mountain!  The views will be incredible and unlike anything you would ever expect in Oklahoma.

Aid Station at mile 8.8 (turnaround on top of Winding Stair Mtn)

The climb ends at an old fire tower at the top of the mountain which is mile 8.8.  In 2013, a new hiker shelter was built here and the aid station will be at the shelter.  It is really nice.  There will be a limited aid station here because we will have to hike in supplies but it should be plenty to fit your needs.  All runners will turnaround here and descend the mountain and follow the course back to where they started.

Aid will come again at the Hwy 259 Trailhead which is mile 14 on the course. 

25K runners will then finish there out and back run back at the Pashubee Trailhead which will actually give then a total distance of 17.7 miles.

50K COURSE DESCRIPTION

The course is very technical single track with substantial elevation gain.  The 25K has 2982 feet of elevation gain.  Here is a link to Stuart Johnson's Garmin information which is really great - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/263936156    (Again, the 50k course has changed so use this only for that part of the course, I'll post a Garmin for new 50k course soon.)  Thanks Stuart!  The course record is well over 5 hours for the 50K.  Mid-pack runner can expect to take 6-7 hours.  Back of the pack may take 8 - 10 hours.

The entire course follows the Ouachita Trail which is clearly marked by blue blazes.  A few critical junctions will be marked with flour but otherwise the course should be really easy to follow.  If you do not see blue blazes and thus are not on the Ouachita Trail, you have gone off course.  But there are no trail intersections of any significance and so as long as you stay on the trail and follow the blue blazes.  You should be good to go.

The race begins at Pushubee Trailhead.  To get to Pashubee Trailhead, travel north of Big Cedar, Oklahoma on Hwy 259 for approximately 1 - 2 miles.  You will see a sign that says Pashubee Trailhead and will proceed East for approximately 4 miles on a forest road and that road will take you to the Trailhead.  Signs will be posted to direct you from Hwy 259.

Coming from the North, you will go approximately 4 miles South of junction 259 and hwy 1 (Talimena Scenic Drive) until you come to the sign that directs you to the Pashubee Trailhead which is approximately 4 miles East on a Forest Road.

The course starts at Pashubee Trailhead and heads west.  The course follows the Ouachita Trail the entire route which is marked by blue blazes.  Runners will go 3.7 miles on the trail over and down one significant climb back to hwy 259 and another trailhead and parking area.  Runners will cross the hwy to the first aid station.

Immediately after the aid station, runners will cross a creek which if there has been rain, there may be ankle deep water.

Water crossing is ankle to shin deep.

After the water crossing, runners proceed on a steady climb.  You are beginning to climb the Winding Stair Mountain.  At mile 5 is a cool rock glacier which is very scenic and around mile 6 is the Red Cedar Spring.  You could even refill water here if you need to though it is not an aid station.

Continue climbing past a hiker campground at a steady climb and around mile 7, the trail begins to descend to a small saddle.  At this saddle is where the real climbing begins.  The Ouachita Trail has 33 switchbacks (hence the name of the race) to the top of Winding Stair Mountain!  The views will be incredible and unlike anything you would ever expect in Oklahoma.

Aid Station at mile 8.8 (turnaround on top of Winding Stair Mtn)

The climb ends at an old fire tower at the top of the mountain which is mile 8.8.  In 2013, a new hiker shelter was built here and the aid station will be at the shelter.  It is really nice.  There will be a limited aid station here because we will have to hike in supplies but it should be plenty to fit your needs.

From here, 50k runners will continue West on the Ouachita Trail.  Approximately 1.4 miles is very smooth on an old roadbed with a lot of descent as you come off the mountain.  Here you cross the Talimena Scenic Drive and continue West (do not take the Mountain top trail).  From here you have 3.3 miles to the Horsethief Springs Picnic Area Aid Station.  There are two intersecting trails.  The Billy Creek Trail and then the Horsethief Springs Trail.  Both of these trail are blazed with white blazes.  OT is blue blazes.  ONLY FOLLOW THE BLUE BLAZES.  We will have additional ribbons marking these intersections so hopefully you will not be tempted to take them.

Horsethief Springs will have a full service aid station.  You will then go West for approximately 1.7 miles to the turnaround.  We will have self-service aid there and a book.  You will need to tear a page out from the book and bring it back to the Horsethief Springs aid station.  Of course from there, you simply return the way that you came.

I will have a Garmin update posted over Thanksgiving break so that you can actually see the course.  In the meantime, here is a great reference and map so you can get a better idea of the course.

http://www.ouachitamaps.com/picture_library/OT/OT%20Map%2003%20Horsethief%20Spring.jpg

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