Camp Ondessonk's Trail Races
The vision for the Ondessonk Trail Race event came to trail runner and Camp Ondessonk alumnus Tim Slape on a Labor Day morning in 2010. He was not at Camp for the annual Labor Day Friends Weekend, but on his home running route in St. Louis with Ondessonk on his mind. In the spirit of promoting healthy and active lifestyles, Tim thought about how he could bring his joy for trail running together with the place he and so many others loved. Tim envisioned introducing people to the beauty of Ondessonk’s natural wonders by inviting them to run its trails. Tim envisioned creating an event that would not only promote wellness in celebrating a connection with the great outdoors, but would also bring outdoor enthusiasts together to support Camp Ondessonk. Out of this vision, the Ondessonk Trail Races were born.
Tim contacted Dan King, Camp Ondessonk’s executive director, who was intrigued by the idea of a trail run among Ondessonk’s sandstone bluffs, lakes, waterfalls, and tree-house cabins. Dan suggested combining the race with Camp Ondessonk’s annual Fall Festival so that runners could bring the whole family along to enjoy a weekend of community and fun in the woods. Tim contacted fellow trail runners -and friends of Ondessonk- Evan Coulson, Beth Beazley, Caroline English, Kate Albrecht, and Jennifer Rheinecker, who jumped at the idea to help get the first race underway.
Tim utilized Ondessonk’s Moccasin Gap Trail as the route for the first trail race. A 10-mile historic trail used by horseback riders and hikers to explore the beauty of the surrounding Shawnee National Forest, the Moccasin Gap challenged and delighted runners. In the years that followed, a 3-mile section was added to the route to grow the race into a half marathon.
To celebrate the 5th anniversary of this trail race event, Evan Coulson designed a 50K that would take runners deep into the hills and creek-lined canyons of the surrounding Shawnee National Forest. A 5K that winds along the trails and through the cabins of Camp Ondessonk is also offered each year to bring people together to enjoy the crisp fall air and the excitement of connecting with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts actively exploring Ondessonk's natural wonders.
Runners who register by Thursday, October 6th are guaranteed a race t-shirt!
The Shawnee Hills 50K
Enjoy the rhythm of your feet along quiet single track and old forest service roads as you wind your way through oak-hickory, maple-beech, and pine forests and deep into the sandstone canyon systems of Southern Illinois' Shawnee Hills Natural Division.
Runners will explore several backcountry destinations along their route that are considered highlights of Southernmost Illinois, including Jackson Hollow, Belle Smith Springs, and the Bay Creek Reservoir. The energy of Jackson Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Cedar Falls will ease the miles, and the views from Salomon's Ridge will inspire.
6 aid stations. 31 plus miles of creek crossings, mud bogs, and numerous ridge climbs will challenge, fall colors and waterfalls will delight. The Shawnee Hills 50K is sure to become a Midwest fall classic!
The Moccasin Gap Trail Half Marathon
The Moccasin Gap Trail Half Marathon explores a series of scenic and challenging single-track trails within -and surrounding- Camp Ondessonk. This rugged 13.1-mile route will take runners past some of the outdoor highlights of Camp Ondessonk, such as Cedar Falls (the highest free-falling waterfall in the state) and past one of the 11 known Native American Stone Fort sites in Southern Illinois.
The trail departs Ondessonk to wind up the ridges and through the sandstone canyons and creek valleys of the surrounding Shawnee National Forest eventually joining up with the River to River Trail. Runners will cross rock-bottom creeks, traverse ridge lines on old Forest Service roads, and climb a series of switchbacks -including a stretch of trail boasting over a mile of sustained climbing- to a historic U.S. Forest Service fire observation tower. There will be three water/snack aid stations along the route.
Half Marathon Course
The Heepwah 5K
The 5K course will take advantage of dirt trails and the gravel roads around Camp Ondessonk’s Lake Echon. It will travel up a section of single track trail shared with the Moccasin Gap Trail Half Marathon before turning toward the finish on a scenic Camp service road. A rewarding challenge for runners or walkers of any skill level!
(These unpaved trails contain rocks, roots, and other potential hazards, increasing the likelihood of possible injury. All participants must sign the Acknowledgement of Risk and Waiver of Claim form before being allowed to participate.)
Race Day Info
Packet pick-up will be from 3 until 7pm on Friday, October 14th at the Camp Ondessonk Trading Post, and on race day from 6:45 until 10:00am.
The 50K will start promptly at 7:00am, the Trail Half Marathon will start promptly at 9:00am, and the 5K will start at 9:15am.
Parking available in the main Camp Parking Lot.
Award ceremony following the 5K and 13.1 Mile. 50K awards will be given out as they finishas they finish:
5k and 13.1 Mile
15 and under top male and female finishers
16-29 top female and male finishers
30-39 top male and female finishers
40-49 top female and male finishers
50 and above top male and female finishers
Top 5 Male and Female
Optional Onsite Weekend Lodging
Long drive? Make it a weekend and enjoy the fall colors with the whole family. Add-on lodging options available:
Stay in one of Camp Ondessonk’s signature rustic cabins! Each lodging choice is a grouping of 3-8 rustic cabins (cabins house 6-8 people on average), tree houses, or lodges. Tree houses and cabins are three-sided, traditional Adirondack-style structures -many of which are elevated off the ground and surrounded by incredible sandstone cliffs, boulders, and waterfalls; lodges are four- sided, screened in structures. In keeping with the true camping spirit, units are primitive, without electricity or running water. Modern shower houses are located near units.
Make it a weekend with the whole family- Runners are invited to take advantage of Camp Ondessonk's Free Fall Festival on Sunday after the run. Fun for all members of the family, including pony rides, hay ride, bonfire, apple cider, and more.
Hotel lodging available in nearby towns of Marion and Harrisburg, IL. Additionally, U.S. Forest Service and State Park camping within a short drive.
So iLL Racing
Local time: 3:41 AM