The Baker Trail UltraChallenge is a 50-mile ultramarathon on the Baker Trail. The race starts at 6:30 AM; the deadline for finishing is fourteen hours later, 8:30 PM. Individuals as well as relay teams of up to 5 members may register. In 2023 we covered the North section. This year, we'll run the Central section. Each year, a piece of a unique three-piece medal will be awarded to all individual finishers. When you complete all three sections, you'll receive a handsome commemorative holder to display all three medals. You can run the series in any order -- once you've run all three, you'll receive the medal holder.
The Baker Trail
The 134-mile Baker Trail is marked as a typical hiking trail. Yellow blazes on trees, telephone poles, fence posts, guard rails, and so on indicate the path. Unlike many hiking trails, the Baker Trail is not always a footpath through the woods. In many areas, it follows dirt or paved country roads, some with narrow shoulders. As with road running everywhere, you must always be alert and cautious.
Because of the varying terrain, the UltraChallenge is more mentally demanding than similar ultras. You must always be watching for the blazes in order to stay on the course. In places, the Trail will be following a road only to abruptly turn off the road into the woods. Therefore, if you haven't seen a blaze in a few minutes, you may be off course and should backtrack to the last blaze and determine where you went wrong. Plenty of runners will go off-course at least once during the day. If you expect -- and accept -- that you will, too, it won't be quite as frustrating. The key to a successful race is to realize it quickly. Attending any or all of the three training runs (see section below) is a great strategy for learning the course prior to the race.
The iconic farmhouse, located in Smicksburg, PA, will serve as basecamp for the event, with the following activities taking place there:
1. Participant check-in
2. Pre-race dinner
3. Camping (porta-johns on site)
4. Shuttle service to the start line
5. Drop-bag collection
6. Parking for individuals arriving race morning
7. Race finish line
8. Post-race picnic
Participant check-in is mandatory and we offer two options:
1. Friday evening between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the farm.
2. Race morning, between 3:45 a.m. and 4:45 a.m. at the farm
Yes, you may have friends or family check in for you and retrieve your packet and chip. This option is useful for relay teams, with one person retrieving packets for the entire team.
Please visit our website for more details, including GPS links to all aid stations as well the farmhouse!
Last year, we traversed the North section of the 134-mile Baker Trail. In 2024, we cover the Central section, with a scenic, point-to-point, 50-mile course that begins in Summerville, PA, and ends at the farm in Smicksburg, PA. With 7,100 feet of climbing, runners will enjoy a mix of single-track trail, dirt roads, rail trail and paved roads that wind through Amish farmland.
Please visit our website for a detailed breakdown of the course, including relay-leg information, aid stations / drop bag details, elevation profile for the entire 50 miles as well as a full list of rules for the event.
Historically, the Baker Ultra has averaged a participation ratio of 80% men and 20% women, which is the case of most 50-milers. In recent years, we've made a concerted effort to listen to female runners and learn about the barriers they face. We have gone on to adjust our procedures and marketing strategies to better align with the needs and interests of women. These efforts have paid off. The 2023 Baker Ultra 50-miler was comprised of 52% women, an exceptionally rare metric for a race of this distance.
In 2024, we are taking equity a step further. Using the High Lonesome 100-miler as a role model, we have implemented policies to address the following:
1. Gender equity: 50% of the spots are reserved for women, 50% are reserved for men.
2. Transgender and nonbinary guidelines: we see you, we hear you. Join us!
3. Pregnancy and Adoption deferrals: it's about time!
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Guidelines can be found here.
For the third year in a row, we are offering training runs, free and open to the public. These guided group runs provide an opportunity to acclimate to the race course and fine-tune nutrition and hydration strategies.
Event's current local time: 9:45 AM ET
- Training Run #1 is Saturday, July 13. We will cover the first 16 miles of the course.
- Training Run #2 is Friday, July 19. We will cover the next 17 miles of the course.
- Training Run #3 is Sunday, July 21. We will cover the final 17 miles of the course.
All three runs are listed on our Facebook Page as events. Our website has information on the runs, including how to sign-up to attend. Email Amy.NLSN@yahoo.com if you have questions.