Palisades Ultra Trail Series: P.U.T.S.
“To every (runner) there comes…that special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a special thing uniquely fitted to their talent. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for the race which would be their finest hour” (Winston Churchill, paraphrased)
When a group of trail running buddies decided to host a race in their favorite local mountains, they knew it would have to be as unique as it is challenging. And from our first official ‘scouting visit’ right up until the securing our final sponsor, the process has exceeded all our expectations! Our objectives have been clear from the start:
1. Offer a top-notch event that would attract both elites and beginners alike.
2. Promote healthy relationships within the community and with nature.
3. Reward participants with tremendous organization, unparalleled scenery, and an unforgettable adventure!
- 100+ Miles
- 25,000+ Vertical Ft. Elevation Gain
- 25,000+ Vertical Ft. Elevation Loss
- (50,000+ Vertical Ft. Change)
- *Prerequisites: Completed a verifiable 100k race in the previous 2 years or sub 11 hour 50 mile race and a healthy appetite for beauty and a whole lot of pain
- 1 GIANT Loop Course that is so big it covers 2 states, Start & Finish At Big Elk Creek
- 95+% Single Track (zero asphalt, only a few miles of dirt road to connect you to Indian Cr.)
- 100% Awesomeness
This will most likely be the most difficult event you ever undertake. It is unlikely that you will run into a mean moose on the trail but you will definitely find the terrain mean and relentlessly unforgiving. With over a 100 miles (we use “100” loosely) and 25,000 ft of vertical gain, you will find this a pleasantly peaceful and yet painful experience. In the Palisades Wilderness, you will see some of the most majestic sights in the world, yet you will find that the insurmountable terrain will test you to the very core. You will see creeks in almost every canyon (crossing several), waterfalls in many and the ridge running will take your breath away. With over 20 miles of high Rocky Mountain ridge running, you will be overshadowed by the fearsome Mt. Baird for most of the course.
With a very short warm up, you will climb out of Big Elk Creek and up to Quaker Flats. Early on at Quaker Flats, you will catch your first glimpse of Mt. Baird through the trees. Throughout the course, you will have majestic views of the Palisades Reservoir, Swan Valley, Grand Tetons and other seemingly innocent sounding names. Into deep canyons you will go, chasing creeks to lakes, breezing past waterfalls and playing in the supple wildflowers.
Always looming will be Mt. Baird, until you begin your approach at mile 85. What follows after the final major aid station at Little Elk Creek trailhead is what may appear to be a cruel and twisted joke. Over the next 4 miles, you will climb over 4,000 ft. as you crawl to the high point of the race at over 10,000 ft. You will have a unique opportunity at this point to look out over several of the canyons you previously trotted in, many of the ridges you gently floated over and the expanse that lays beyond in all directions. The final descent through Austin Canyon and then Big Elk Creek will be a gentle buttery experience, a reward for battling the previous 90 miles.
We cannot stress the term “wilderness” enough. This is remote backcountry and handhelds will not cut it. Drop bags are few unless we have someone donate a helicopter to fly in your gear to most aid stations. If you want a true wilderness race experience that will tear you down to the core of who you are and what you are made of, the Moose 100 is for you.
- 50+ Miles
- 13,000+ Vertical Ft. Elevation Gain
- 13,000+ Vertical Ft. Elevation Loss
- (26,000+ Vertical Ft. Change)
- *Prerequisites: A healthy appetite for beauty and pain
- Point to Point Course, Start at N. Indian Cr. Aid Station, Finish At Big Elk Creek.
- 100% Single Track
- 100% Awesomeness
Not your ordinary 50 miler! You will not need to worry about grizzly’s for the most part but you will need to be warned of the grisly terrain waiting to tear you down and beat you into submission. You will begin at mile 30 of the Moose 100 course and share in a majority of their terrain until you split off above Upper Palisades Lake, cutting down into Waterfall Canyon. Truly a dream of a start on gentle wide single track that weaves up North Indian Cr. for over 4 miles until you break off north into Garden Canyon (there will be no need to explain this canyon’s name once you get there). The work really begins in the back of Garden Canyon when the climbing begins in full force. You may barely notice the strenuous climb as you pass multiple waterfalls, flowing with fresh snow fueled torrents. Up onto Garden Ridge, you will glimpse the Grand Tetons, Mt. Baird, and other Rocky Mountain landmarks as you traverse over 20 miles of ridge running. Waterfall canyon will not disappoint (once again, aptly named) and finally the descent into Austin Canyon and Big Elk Creek will come as a rewarding smooth finish. The vertical gain/loss is that of many 100 mile races so train hard, pack well and plan on a true wilderness trail race experience.
Big Elk Marathon:
- 26.2+ Miles
- 8,000+ Vertical Ft. Elevation Gain
- 8,000+ Vertical Ft. Elevation Loss
- (16,000+ Vertical Ft. Change)
- *Prerequisites: A healthy appetite for beauty and some pain.
- 1 Loop course that starts & finishes at Big Elk Creek.
- 98% Single Track
- 100% Awesomeness
Not a BQ, not likely to be a ‘PR’… But you’re never gonna find as beautiful a trail marathon! With a very short warm up, you will follow the start of the Moose 100. You will climb out of Big Elk Creek and up to Quaker Flats. Early on at Quaker Flats, you will catch your first glimpse of Mt. Baird through the trees. Throughout the course, you will have majestic views of the Palisades Reservoir, Swan Valley, Grand Tetons and other seemingly innocent sounding names. Into deep canyons you will go, chasing creeks, breezing past waterfalls and playing in the supple wildflowers. Past Garden Ridge you will break off of the 50 & 100 mile courses and make your way back down into Big Elk Creek (don’t worry, you can always sign up next year to see what you missed). Finding yourself on the other side of Big Elk Creek, you will get the pleasure of either running, stumbling or lazily floating across the creek. Then with less than 3 miles of gentle downhill, you will be back to where you started and a well-deserved rest!
Big Elk Half Marathon:
- 13.1 Miles
- 1,400+ Vertical Ft. Elevation Gain
- 1,400+ Vertical Ft. Elevation Loss
- (2,800+ Vertical Ft. Change)
- *Prerequisites: A healthy appetite for beauty and minor discomfort some might call pain
- 1 Out & Back that starts & finishes at Big Elk Creek
- 100% Single Track
- 100% Awesomeness
The ‘gateway drug’ into longer and harder trail races! With a gentle grade (1,400 feet of elevation climb), this buttery single-track course begins at the YMCA Big Elk Lodge, heading up the Big Elk Creek trail to reach one well-stocked aid station, allowing runners to refuel before cruising back to the finish line. This is the perfect ‘first race’ for road runners looking to expand their repertoire.
Start Time: 9:00am on Saturday
Cut-Off: 3:00pm (6 hours)
Required Gear: All 13.1 runners are required to bring a hydration system comprised of either hand-held water bottles or a backpack water pack.
Critter Kids 1-Mile Run:
Fun, free, with great prizes for those adventurous kiddos who wanna be ‘just like’ their older heroes participating in the longer P.U.T.S distances!
Starting at 7:30pm on Friday (Just after the ‘pre-race meeting’), runners will tackle a 1-mile course beginning at the YMCA Big Elk Lodge. The well-marked course will include several ‘surprise’ obstacles and volunteers to guide tomorrow’s ultra-trail runners through their first taste of trail-running. All finishers receive a custom award!
Schedule of Events:
June & July: Stay tuned for info regarding course previews exclusively for registered racers. Take the opportunity to review key sections before you race.
Thursday, July 26 @6:00pm: 100-mile pre-race meeting & dinner for racers/volunteers.
Friday, July 27 @ 5 am: 100-mile race start (40 hour cut-off)
Friday, July 27 @6:00pm: 50-mile, 26.2, 13.1, 1 mile pre-race meeting & dinner for racers.
Friday, July 27 @7:30pm: 1 mile ‘kids run’
Saturday, July 28 @4:00am: 50-mile race start (19 hour cut-off)
Saturday, July 28 @7:00am: 26.2 race start (11 hour cut-off)
Saturday, July 28 @9:00am: 13.1 race start (6 hour cut-off)
Due to the extreme terrain covered in the P.U.T.S, pre-race meetings are not optional. Important safety issues will be reviewed as well as a pre-race dinner that is free for all racers and volunteers. All pre-race meetings will be held at the YMCA Big Elk Lodge in Irwin, ID.
100-mile pre-race meeting: Thursday, July 26 at 6pm.
50-mile, 26.2 mile, 13.1 mile, 1-mile kids run pre-race meetings: Friday, July 27 at 6pm.
Camping/RV options near Irwin, ID
Safety Issues (weather/animals/injuries)
100 mile: Male & Female Winner: $$$$ All finishers receive a custom P.U.T.S. Belt Buckle
50 mile: Male & Female Winner: $$$ All finishers receive a custom finisher (???)
26.2 mile: Male & Female Winner: $$$ All finishers receive a custom finisher (???)
13.1 mile: Male & Female Winner: $$$ All finishers receive a custom finisher (???)
1-mile ‘kids run’: All finishers receive a custom finisher award.
Volunteer Work Opportunities:
Race Crews are only allowed at the following locations. Please adhere to all race management requests concerning parking and staging areas.