Ultramarathon 50-mile, 50-kilometer races start early Saturday morning

Sada Crawford of Driggs, Idaho, approaches the staging area at the Forestville trailhead in Marquette Township during the Marquette Trails 50 ultramarathons held in August 2014. Crawford won the women’s 50-mile race in 9 hours, 50 minutes and 17.4 seconds. (Photo courtesy Marquette Trails 50)

MARQUETTE — The 10th annual Marquette Trail 50 Ultramarathon begins with kids events tonight, while the adults’ 50-kilometer and 50-mile runs commence before sunrise on Saturday morning.

Foot races expected to draw more than 600 runners of all ages start at the Forestville Trailhead of the Noquemanon Trail Network.

Five races will be held — kids’ one-mile and 5K runs and adult races of 5K, 50K and 50 miles. The kids’ events and adult 5K begin at about 7 p.m. today with the 50K and 50-mile to start at 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

Due to the increasing popularity of ultrarunning, organizers said the 50K and 50-mile runs sold out in less than 12 hours when registration opened on the day after Thanksgiving in 2017.

The stated goal by Marquette Trail 50 organizers is to create a “challenging well-marked course with great aid stations” and “connect communities and support healthy lifestyles,” partnering with the NTN to help achieve this.

Runners reach summits at four spots around Marquette — Sugarloaf, Hogback, Bareback and Top of the World — and will have incredible views of Lake Superior on the mostly single-track course at these peaks and along the lakeshore.

Marquette Trail 50 staff, avid runners themselves, were pleased to report that the trails were “in great shape” and “ran quite well” on an early-morning reconnaissance run they took on Tuesday.

The course is rated 3 out of 5 for terrain and 4 out of 5 for surface by Ultrarunning Magazine.

Temperatures may be higher than normal on race day, not something that scares off most ultrarunners, according to the race director.

“We do this race to make people better people!” Andrew Grosvenor said in response to a comment on the group’s Facebook page about Saturday’s expected weather. “Suffering is necessary!”

Organizers announced earlier this week that a free spectator shuttle will be offered for family and friends on Saturday to support racers and is offered by the Veridea Group of Marquette.

The shuttle will use the MAPS bus service, returning to Northern Michigan University Lot 20 after race start to be dropped off at the Wooden Bridge aid station. The first shuttle will leave Forestville just after 7 a.m. to pick up spectators at the Wooden Bridge.

Starting at 7:45 a.m., the shuttle leave Forestville each hour, stopping at Lot 20, Sugarloaf Mountain parking lot, Harlow Lake first bridge and Harlow Lake railroad grade.

More information on the shuttle and the event in general is available on the Marquette Trail 50 website at www.marquettetrail50.com.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.