Sunday, Mar 1, 2020
This Event Took Place Sun. Mar 1, 2020

Merck Forest Ultra 25k/50k

***Presented by DION Snowshoes***

Do you have what it takes to finish the toughest sanctioned snowshoe race in the world?

THIS IS A SERIOUSLY BAD LIFE CHOICE. The Merck Ultra can do ugly things to you. We don't want to hype this and we're not trying to scare you, but all due caution should be taken. With over 8,500' of climb and some very steep sections, this is NOT a good first-time snowshoe event or an "easy ultra." Finishing should be the goal as much as racing.

Dropdowns WILL be permitted during the 50k, HOWEVER, dropdown times will be listed separately and are not eligible for overall standings, points, or awards.

25k or 50k options offered, with a very walker-friendly cutoff in the shorter distance - all you have to be is stubborn enough! The 50k starts at 8 AM and the 25k starts at 10 AM. Hard 6 PM cutoff for both distances is in effect.

Dropdowns WILL be permitted mid-race in the 50k, HOWEVER, dropdown times will be listed separately and are not eligible for overall standings, points, prizes, or awards.


The Merck Forest Ultra will NOT be included in Nor'easter Series pricing for 2020. You must register here à la carte. Series schedule and registration available HERE!!! Sign up for the rest of the series through January 10 and save!!


Mt. Antone watches over the start/finish like a stoic taconic sentinel. From the summit, you can spot the nearby Adirondacks and Greens, but you'll have to earn it. Adding insult to injury, the Stone Lot out-and-back will take you down even lower in the valley before climbing back up the long slog (x4!!!)

Mandatory gear

All runners will be issued a very small mandatory gear kit. If you can fit everything in a belt or the pockets of a jacket you tie around your waist, we'll take it, otherwise a pack is a good idea. All runners beginning their last loop after 3 PM will be required to carry a headlamp or flashlight for the remainder of the race WITH a working backup WITH batteries in it. (No, we're still not joking. No, a cell phone is not a backup.) Bring with you everything you think you will need for a loop of roughly 12.5k, including layers you may want. We suggest you carry a minimum of 12 ounces of water that won't freeze.

There will be a fully stocked central aid station at the Saphouse where the start/finish is located, and you're free to set up a personal aid area inside or outside, but we ask you not bring anything that could scratch the floor. Hot drinks, real food, and all the classics will all be available. 50K runners will pass the AS twice each lap, so no need to worry about where you'll get your calories. Feel free to bring a dish to share!

Series/USSSA info

This race is part of DION Nor'easter Snowshoe Series. Series points & prizes will be awarded*. More info at

Register for the rest of the series at special discounted series pricing through January 10 HERE

**NEW this year - the 25k is points eligible!**

There WILL NOT be Nor'easter Snowshoe Series pricing for the Merck Ultra! This event WILL be a Nor'easter Series race both distances will be points-eligible for 2020, however you must sign up a la carte!!!

Day-of registration and DION racing snowshoe demos available. Day-of fee applies when registering in person. DION demos are fist come, first served, please bring $5 cash.

USSSA Sanctioned event - members enjoy a $5 discount when you sign up day of and bring your current membership card. More info on our website.

All snowshoes must meet USSSA legal size requirements (at least 120 square inches and no smaller than 7"x20"). Poles are not allowed. Accommodation can be made for blind/visually impaired & mobility challenged athletes -- email

Swag & Photos

Your choice of swag item (water bottles, mugs, hats, etc.) at check in! We'll have some fueling samples and coffee when you arrive. Lots of options to keep it interesting. All runners will take home a special gift or two from Nor'east and our friends!

***New for 2020*** The Merck Ultra will be photographed by Joe Viger Photography, and all participants will take home free downloads of all your photos! High res downloads, prints, and other cool stuff will also be available to purchase. Support your amazing race photographers who spend all day out in the snow, too!!!

Race reports: 2019

Laura Clark - 25k

Ben Kimball - 25k

Erik Hamilton - 50k

Fun family activities

All-age activities and outings will be available during the race with expert staff from Merck to help guide your visit! Animals of all sorts, cool demos and limitless outdoor play options abound!

On-site cabins

Backcountry cabin accommodations available FREE for racers and volunteers! Have a +1? Enlist them to help mark the course and crash feet from the start line!

The cabins are gorgeous and boast incredible views and cozy woodstoves with firewood included!!
However, that's all they've got. You'll need a sleeping mat, bag, gear, potable water or something to boil in and whatever else you need to be comfy. They're nice and warm and outhouse adjacent and will be available from Saturday afternoon through Monday afternoon! Please check the box during registration if planning to stay and message us for more info!

No snow policy

The Merck Ultra will be run rain or shine (snow or no snow). In the event that there is no snow, notice will be made at least 24 hours before the race. The course may be subject to change without notice. Traction devices may well be necessary; we will give you a report on the trail conditions ahead of time, but anything can happen in the mountains so come prepared.

You won't be getting off easy if there's no snow. Expect a tougher alternate course. Poles will be allowed if this is not a snowshoe race.

Event's current local time: 6:13 AM ET


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