2023 Superior 50 Mile Trail Race Participant Guide
Saturday September 9, 2023
Superior Hiking Trail
Cramer Rd. to Lutsen
Lottery Registration Period:
January 1st – 15th, 2023
About This Page:
The information on this page and associated links comprise the official Superior 50 Mile Trail Race Participant Guide. It contains all of the information and links you will need in order to research, register for and run the race. Runners are required to review this page, along with the registration info page in their entirety prior to registering for the race. This information should then be referenced as needed in the months and weeks leading up to the race. Keep in mind that information may be updated and changed right up until the race, so a final review of the information about a week out is encouraged. Registered runners can expect a welcome email from us with any new / additional information about one week out from the race. This page contains the following sections:
GENERAL EVENT INFO
SETTING EXPECTATIONS FOR 2023
DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & EQUALITY
LOTTERY REGISTRATION INFORMATION
/ GENERAL EVENT INFO
Date, Time and Location:
Saturday September 9, 2023
Finland Community Center
6866 Cramer Rd
Finland, MN 55603
Google Maps directions HERE
Shuttle bus for 50 mile start departs Caribou Highlands at 4:00AM
Race starts at 5:15AM
Course Maps and Aid Station Charts can be found HERE
Race Headquarters and Race Finish:
Caribou Highlands Lodge
371 Ski Hill Rd
Lutsen, MN 55612
Google Maps directions HERE
52 mile point-to-point trail ultramarathon 95% on technical single-track, Race starts at the Finland Community Center 3.75 hours north of the Minneapolis Minnesota International Airport (MSP), Race finish is at Caribou Highlands Lodge 4 hours north of MSP, Elevation Gain 12,500 FT, Elevation Loss 12,500 FT, NET Elevation Change 25,000 FT, 7 Aid Stations, 16H 45M cutoff.
Superior Fall Trail Race Description:
The Superior Fall Trail Race 100MI, 50MI & 26.2MI are extremely hilly, rugged and technical trail-races that traverse the Sawtooth Mountain Range via the Superior Hiking Trail in far Northern Minnesota. All three distances are run point-to-point, finishing at Caribou Highlands Lodge on Lutsen Mountain. The race is approximately 4.5 hours North of Minneapolis. The course parallels Lake Superior, the largest lake in the world by surface area, climbs to near 2000′ peaks with breath-taking vistas of the lake and inland forests, and crosses whitewater rivers and serene streams while traversing through boreal forests.
The Superior Fall Trail Race is organized by Rocksteady Running and directed by John Storkamp. Rocksteady Running produces several trail and ultrarunning races in the state of Minnesota. Our races are put on by longtime trail and ultrarunners. Our focus is on sustainability, runner safety, runner experience and giving back to the trail, parks and communities where our events are held. Our mission is to create experiences that facilitate connection. All credit is due to our army of volunteers and our wonderful Minnesota trail running community.
/ SETTING EXPECTATIONS FOR 2023
In November of 2021, after hosting a season of Covid-modified races, I was updating our race website(s) for what we hoped would be (and thankfully was) a mostly “normal” 2022. While doing so, I decided to include a preface to our Participant Guide(s) titled “Setting Expectations for 2022”. It was a great way for Cheri and I to pull back the curtain and share our experience of the pandemic as race directors. It was a way for us to temper expectations for an upcoming season with many lingering unknowns. It also ended up being a valuable touchpoint for connection with you; our participants, volunteers and partners. I am taking the opportunity to do something similar again this year. In the interest of real-estate, it will not be front and center in the participant guide, instead it will reside in THIS blog post https://www.superiorfalltrailrace.com/setting-expectations-for-2023 – we would appreciate it if you took the time to read it.
/ DIVERSITY, INCLUSION AND EQUALITY
Rocksteady Running welcomes everyone to our events and into our broader trail running community. You are welcome and valued regardless of your race, gender, sexual identity, orientation, or preference, religious, spiritual, or political beliefs, socioeconomic status, age, how quickly or slowly you run. We love and respect all beings. We ask all of our participants to be kind, compassionate and open minded, and to help lift up their fellow runners.
/ LOTTERY REGISTRATION INFORMATION
Registration for Superior is conducted via lottery. Please do not enter the lottery until you have reviewed both the Superior 50 Mile Trail Race Participant Guide and the entire Registration Info page in their entirety. Complete details including lottery protocol, qualifying requirements, entry fees, field limits, etc., and the link to our registration page on UltraSignup (third party registration provider) can be found HERE https://www.superiorfalltrailrace.com/registration-info/
Refunds, Transfers & Switches:
Entry fees are not refundable under any circumstance. Race registrations are not transferable to other participants, to future years races or to other Rocksteady Running events. We do do not allow transfers between race distances. Please consider these factors carefully before registering.
Once a race distance sells out, we do not keep a waiting list – instead we accept extra runners up front so that everyone has the same opportunity to train, make reservations, get a babysitter, etc. This means that a withdrawal from a sold out race prior to race day does not create an opening in the race field – it just brings us down to our predetermined field limit which is set in agreement with our permitor(s). We have found that a percentage of those who register will not make it to the starting line due to injury, illness, or other real life interventions and adjust the number of allocated spots accordingly year to year based on historical averages.
The Race Director reserves the right to modify or cancel the race or course for safety concerns, trail condition concerns, natural disaster or pandemic. In such cases there will be no refunds of race entry fees. Each athlete must accept any such risk of their entry fee paid. There is no complimentary race entry to a future race. Entry fees collected are used to develop and produce the event, starting well in advance of the race date – including course preparation, race supplies, permits and administration. We will make every effort to produce a fair and safe event for all participants. Any decision we make that impacts the race date or potential cancellation is carefully considered and based on the overall event safety, sustainability and manageability.
/ RACE SPECIFICS
Transportation from the race finish at Caribou Highlands Lodge on Lutsen Mountain to the race start at the Finland Community Center. A well-marked course with plenty of aid and tons of friendly, experienced volunteers. Your name custom printed on your bib. Chip timing. For 2023 we will either do a a t-shirt or a hat (TBD). If it is a t-shirt it will be the same awesome Rocksteady Running Tri-Blend ( non-technical / casual cotton blend ) t-shirt with a super cool design. Shirts are unisex but fit both genders really well – you can see past years race shirts and hats HERE https://www.superiorfalltrailrace.com/category/shirts-swag/ All runners who finish the race within the 16H 45M cutoff will receive a WOOD FINISHERS MEDAL. Post race refreshments and chili. Knowledge that you are supporting the Superior Hiking Trail; to date we have donated 10’s of thousands of dollars and 1000’s of volunteer hours.
The race start at the Finland Community Center is approximately 3.75 hours north of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The race headquarters and race finish at Caribou Highlands on Lutsen Mountain is about 4 hours. Minneapolis (MSP) has a world-class international airport. You may also try to fly into the much smaller Duluth airport (DLH) which is only about 1 hours from the race start.
Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, MN is the race host hotel – the race finishes at Caribou Highlands and the finish-line will be just a short walk to your room. We recommend that you stay here and support Caribou Highlands as they do a great job supporting us! Call 1-800-642-6036 or visit their Website at http://www.caribouhighlands.com. Caribou Highlands address is 371 Ski Hill Road, P.O. Box 99 in Lutsen, MN 55612.
Finally, there is no shortage of lodging and camping options throughout Cook County https://www.visitcookcounty.com/stay/
There are many camping options in the area including many Minnesota State Parks. Below is a DNR Map showing all of the state parks on the North Shore. Gooseberry and Split Rock are very close to the race start – Tettegouche is more in the middle between the start and finish, and Temperance and Cascade are closer to the finish (although Cascade is on the far-side / past the finish in Lutsen). Crosby-Manitou is in the middle as well but the camping is not very close to Highway 61 & you have to take a lot of back roads to get there. Here is a complete list of Minnesota State Parks http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/
Medical & Emergencies:
Emergencies dial 911. While the Superior Trail Race does have its own communications and medical support team, the event covers a lot of miles / area and our team cannot be everywhere at once. Additionally our teams primary goal is to provide communications and help with minor issues – we will rely on local emergency services for any major medical incident.
Two Harbors / Lake County
*For use from Two Harbors, Gooseberry Falls (Race Start) to Cramer Road Aid Station
Lakeview Memorial Hospital
325 11th Avenue
Two Harbors, MN 55616-1360
(218) 834-7300 Lake County Sheriffs Office
Lake County Law Enforcement Center
613 Third Avenue
Two Harbors, MN 55616
Grand Marais / Cook County
*For use from Temperance River Aid Station to Lutsen / Caribou Highlands (Race Finish)
Cook County North Shore Hospital and Care Center
515 5th Ave West
Grand Marais MN 55604
218-387-3040 Cook County Sheriffs Office
Cook County Law Enforcement Center
143 Gunflint Trl
Grand Marais, MN 55604
The Superior Trail Race takes place on a very rugged, single-track hiking trail, running on such a trail comes with inherit risks that runners accept upon entering the event. In addition to trail conditions other potential dangers include but are not limited to of note to; Wet / slippery trail conditions (mud, roots and rocks), wet / slippery boardwalks and bridges, road crossings (use caution when crossing just as you would if you were a regular hiker on the trail or like you do on your training runs) and steep drops / cliffs. Hydration, all runners should have sufficient water carrying capacity to make it from aid station to aid station (water bottle or hydration pack / system). The bees / ground hornets and / or wasps are always bad this time of year on the Superior Hiking Trail, if you are allergic you need to be carrying your medication, ointment, EPI-Pen or whatever it is that has been prescribed to you, there are sections of trail that are 10 miles without aid (so you could be 5 miles / well over 1.5 hours from help) and if you get stung and have a reaction you need to be able to self medicate. * Do not consider starting this race if you have known life-threatening allergies to bees, hornets or wasps if you do not have, are unable or unwilling to carry your potentially life-saving medicine.
Packet Pick-Up & Drop Bag Drop-Off
Friday September 8 2023, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM at the Caribou Highlands Lodge rec area as illustrated HERE https://www.superiorfalltrailrace.com/wp-content/uploads/superior-fall-trail-race-finish-area-diagram-rev-4-30-22.jpg
Drop bags are only accepted on Friday night between 5:00 PM and 8:00 PM.
You can also pick up your packet on Saturday 4:30 – 5:00 am at the race start / Finland Rec Center but keep in mind you will receive your t-shirt (or hat) at this time as well – you can send your t-shirt back to the race finish via the “warmups to finish”. We do not accept drop bags on race morning.
Bus Transportation to Start Line:
Runners should plan to be on board the shuttle buses at 3:45 am, for a 4:00 am departure. It is about a 45 minute ride to the race start. Runners will give us their bib numbers as they exit the buses at the start location, thus effectively checking back in. Toilets will be available at the start of the race. Drinking water is available at this race start. Runners will have the opportunity to send “warmups / warmup clothes” back to the finish of the race. If runners had not checked-in / picked up their bib at Friday nights packet pickup they can get their bib at the start of the race – they will get their t-shirt at this time as well and can send their shirt back to the finish with the “warmups“. Runners wait inside the Finland Rec Center for the start of this race. New for 2021, shuttle bus pickup will be in the gravel parking lot across Ski Hill Road from Caribou Highlands – exact shuttle pickup location can be viewed https://www.superiorfalltrailrace.com/wp-content/uploads/superior-fall-trail-race-finish-area-diagram-rev-4-30-22.jpg
Race Morning Check-in and Race Start:
Check-in will take place at the start-line starting at 4:45 AM Even if you attended packet pickup on Friday Night, you still must check-in on race morning, this is a safety precaution so we can track exactly who started the race. The race starts at 5:15AM.
You will have the option of sending “warmups” / clothing that you wore on the shuttle, from the race start back to the finish – please place in a plastic bag (these bags will not be protected from the elements) and label as “Warmups” with your name, race distance and race number. Do not put valuables in bags as these bags will get placed outside, near the finish line and will unattended and unmonitored.
We only accept drop bags at packet pickup, we DO NOT accept drop bags on race morning. You may have one drop bag at each aid station that accepts drop bags (not all do). Your drop bags may be no larger than 15″ L x 10″ W x 7.5″ H. Do not put liquids in your drop bag (Red Bull, Coke, Etc.) as they have the tendency to break open. Drop bags will not be protected from the elements, so use waterproof bags if the contents inside cannot get wet. Do not put valuables in drop bags. Drop bags need to be clearly marked with your name, bib number and the aid station for which it is intended. Once aid stations close, drop bags will be delivered to the finish line and likely will not be available until after 8:30PM Saturday night. Drop bags will remain outside, unattended and unmonitored near the finish line until approximately 9:00AM on Sunday. Unclaimed drop bags will not be mailed to you and will be donated to charity.
You will need a headlamp for the first hour of this race. If you want to dump your light later you will need to have a drop bag at one of the aid stations to put your light into (drop bag must be labeled per the information in the drop bag section.) Lights are also required after 5 pm in order to leave the Oberg aid station. Know your pace and your approximate finishing time – if you are a slower 50 mile runner you will need lights to navigate the course and finish the race, plan accordingly. Look at past finishing times, this is not a fast 50 miler!
Weather and Clothing:
Early Sept. in Northern Minnesota – we can have highs in the mid 80’s and lows in the mid 30’s or a combination of both. Rain is not uncommon. Be prepared, watch the forecast and plan accordingly. The official average high is 65F and the average low is 47F. Records are 81F and 37F. One item that we highly recommend for runners is a plastic bag, poncho or rain jacket that you can carry with you for a cold overnight or a down-pour – don’t succumb to a DNF because you did not have the proper clothing.
Race numbers will be assigned prior to the race and made available on the website. You must wear your race number and it must be clearly visible at all times. If you are registered by August 1 you will have your first and last name custom printed on your race number, if you register after this date, you will not. The Superior “Fall” Trail Races host three races simultaneously, the Superior 100 Mile, the Superior 50 and the Superior / Moose Mountain Marathon. Each distance will have its own unique race number (unique color and number series) so runners can be easily identified by race officials, volunteers, spectators and other runners. We ask that all competitors wear their number on the front of their body on their outer-most layer at all times. Runners will be tracked coming into and out of each aid station. If we cannot see your number, we cannot track you or take your finishing time and if we cannot do that, you will be disqualified and will not earn an official finish. There is space provided on the back of your bibs for your to write your emergency contact information – we ask that you fill this out (fine tip Sharpies will be provided at packet pickup). More info on and a picture of the bib numbers can be found HERE https://www.superiorfalltrailrace.com/category/race-numbers/
Blue Ribbon In Lieu of Back Bib:
Because the 50 mile race is not the only race happening during race weekend we have often thought about implementing a “back bib” / race number for 50 mile runners, rather than do that and make it mandatory we came up with the idea of a piece of blue ribbon. You are welcome to take the piece of blue ribbon and tie it to the back of your hydration pack, waist belt etc. so you can easily be identified by runners doing the other distances and you will get tons of encouragement! It is NOT mandatory that you participate in this but those who have in the past have nothing but good things to say about it. 100 milers will similarly be issued a pink ribbon.
Your timing chip will be affixed to the back of your race number. Do not remove your timing chip. Do not bend or fold your timing chip or crumple your race number – this may break your timing chip. Your race number and your timing chip must be pinned on your outer-most layer at all times. Above guidelines must be followed in order ensure that split times and finish times are recorded. This chip is disposable and does not need to be returned. More info can be found HERE https://www.superiorfalltrailrace.com/chip-timing/
A map of the race course and other logistical charts and documents can be found HERE https://www.superiorfalltrailrace.com/maps-and-data/
A comprehensive section on course markings with photos can be found HERE
The course will be marked with Orange flags, which will always be on the left hand side of the trail. For sections encountered at night, the flags will also have reflective strips tied to them. Danger areas such as cliffs or drop offs will be marked with reflective X’s. The Superior Trail 50 Mile primarily follows the Superior Hiking Trail – you can also look for the official Superior Hiking Trail signs for assurance that you are on the right trail. Throughout the race you will encounter intersecting trails and Superior Hiking Trail “Spur-Trails” – in the 50 miler the only time you will ever take a “Spur-Trail” or a trail that is not the superior hiking trail is at the Sonju Lake Road Aid Station – follow the Spur trail to the Superior Hiking Trail parking lot / Sonju Lake Road aid station, (check-in and get aid) then return to the Superior Hiking Trail on the same trail you came in on. The other instance is at the race finish shortly after crossing the Poplar River you will get off of the Superior Hiking trail and will follow orange / reflective flagging into Caribou Highlands / the finish line at the pool behind the building.
*It is unfortunate but is not unheard of at many of the major trail races that course vandalism has occurred and flagging has been intentionally moved or removed by small minded individuals – it is important that you study the course maps prior to running and have a concept of where you are going – also, always remember, you are supposed to be on the Superior Hiking Trail only – except in those specific instances listed above.
You must visit (and be recorded) at every aid station / you may not skip any aid stations. You can help by showing the HAM Radio Operators your bib number. Our aid stations are manned by volunteers, many of them spending a good part of their weekend out on the race course – please be sure to thank the volunteers! A complete list of the aid stations can be found https://www.superiorfalltrailrace.com/maps-and-data/
We are a cupless race, if you want to drink water or soda out of a cup, you have to have your own (each aid station will have a small stash of paper cups should you lose your reusable cup along the way.) If you are not familiar with these reusable cups they are easy to find and procure, HERE https://hydrapak.com/products/speed-cup-200-ml is an example. Note that we WILL provide disposable cups for things like coffee and soup.
Aid Station Food:
Aid stations will have salty and sweet pre-packaged snacks. We will have Coke and Ginger Ale. Runners can expect aid stations to have chicken noodle and vegan soup and aid station captains / crews will also be providing their own unique hot food item or two (usually simple things like grilled cheese, mashed potatoes, etc.)
Special Nutrition Items:
We will NOT have any gels, electrolyte tabs or sports drink – procure your own, carry what you need, and make use of your drop bag. With the proliferation of products on the market over the last number of years, everyone seems to have their own preferred brand and we spend more time reading expiration dates and throwing things out than you do ingesting them, and we can no longer justify the waste.
Pacers are not allowed in the 50 mile race.
Some runners choose to have support crew, however it is not required. Our aid stations are well staffed and well stocked and runners complete the race each year without a support crew. Crew may only administer aid to runners at the aid stations, not at other points on the course.
Specific Info For Crews, Pacers, Spectators and Family (runners are required to share this with your crews):
Runners make it a race – spectators, family and friends make it an event. We love and appreciate your people, just like you do. That said, it is unlikely that anything a runner does will ever put another participant, crew, pacer, spectator or the Superior Trail Race as a whole in jeopardy – more likely it would be a runners crew or a spectator inadvertently doing something in a vehicle near or at an aid station that could negatively impact the race – thankfully, to date, we have had very few problems, please help keep it that way. Please review the following link and forward this link on to your crew, pacers, family members and spectators. They are responsible for reviewing, knowing and printing the needed information. https://www.superiorfalltrailrace.com/crew-pacer-family-member-spectators-information/
The Superior 50 has cutoffs at all but one aid station. The finish line cutoff for an official finish is 16H 45M (Saturday, 10:00 pm). Intermediate cutoff times are listed in the table below. All cutoffs will be strictly enforced – we do however reserve the right to pull (or allow to continue) any racer as we see fit. Please keep in mind that these cutoffs are meant to give runners the benefit of the doubt that they can speed up after a tough section but we find that those that are pushing any of these cutoffs within as much of a half hour will struggle to finish – please do your own analysis of the course to determine proper pacing. For those that aspire to any of the other more challenging 50 mile, or 100 mile trail races in the country, please note that the cutoffs at Superior 50 are in some cases much more generous compared to other comparably difficult races.
Intermediate Cutoffs – SUBJECT TO CHANGE
If You DNF:
Should you need to drop out of the race you need to report this (providing your bib number) to the HAM radio operators at the aid station you are dropping at – if you are not sure who that is ask around until you find them. If you leave the course and fail to notify race officials, you will be asked not to come back to our race in the future. If once you leave the race you are unsure if your DNF was recorded, please email us ASAP to let us know.
Headphones are allowed. Please keep the volume low, or one earbud out so you can hear what is going on around you. Full awareness of one’s surroundings, and the ability to communicate with other participants, race volunteers, and trail users not associated with the event are critical to everyone’s safety.
Playing music out-loud from your phone or other speakers is not allowed.
Trekking poles are allowed, please be cognizant of those around you when using your poles.
Please help to keep the trail clean. Try not to drop anything, and if you see something that someone else has accidently dropped, please pick it up.
You may not run the race with your dog. That said, on-leash dogs are welcome at the race, with your crew, family and spectators at the race starts, at crew-accessible aid stations and at the finish.
Results will be available on our website.
We do not do specific overall winner or age group awards. Every finisher will be handed a medal as they finish.
Caribou Highlands Lodge will furnish shower facilities and towels for runners who are not staying at the lodge. Please be sure not to track any mud into the lodge, we will have hoses and brushes to scrub bodies and shoes outside prior to going into the building.
A huge thank you to Caribou Highlands / Moguls Grill and Taproom for doing a wonderful job catering Chili for our event and generally being a great host. We will have meat and vegetarian chili for participants after they finish the race. For crew, pacers, family members or runners that need something more, Caribou Highlands / Moguls will be doing a cookout, selling burgers and other items near the finish line as well.
For those interested in volunteering, more information can be found HERE https://www.superiorfalltrailrace.com/read-first/
Superior Hiking Trail Association
The Superior Trail Races (both Spring and Fall) take place on the Superior Hiking Trail. The Superior Hiking Trail Association is the non-profit organization that builds and maintains the Superior Hiking Trail. The Superior Trail Races / Rocksteady Running make an annual donation to the trail association, organize volunteer efforts, promote membership and generally advocate for the trail. If you are not already a Superior Hiking Trail Association member, we encourage you to join, you can do so HERE https://superiorhiking.org/joisuperior/ – if you are already a member and would like to make an additional donation, you can do so HERE https://superiorhiking.org/donatesuperior/ – we thank you for your support of the Superior Hiking Trail!
UTMB Qualifying Points:
Completion of the Superior 50 Mile Trail Race will earn you three (3) qualifying points towards the UTMB Mont-Blanc races in Chamonix France.
Next Years Race:
Historically the Superior Fall Trail Race has been held the weekend after Labor Day weekend. The 2024 race will be held on Friday September 6 and Saturday September 7, 2024.
/ COVID CONSIDERATIONS
It is important for registrants / runners to understand that should county, state or federal mandates surrounding Covid change, be modified or reinstated, that certain aspects of our events may need to change. This could happen at any time, without warning and could change the character of an event; i.e. take what is planned for a single day event and make it a multi-day event, take what is planned for a mass start race and change it to wave starts, change how our aid stations are set up / aid is provided, etc. Worse case we could see the cancellation of a race. Listed below are the current considerations dealing with Covid.
• Runners, spectators, volunteers and staff are required to stay home if they are Covid positive, have been exposed to someone that is Covid positive in the past 14 days, are not feeling well or are experiencing any of the symptoms listed HERE https://www.cdc.gov/
• All event activities will be outdoors.
• Proper and frequent hand hygiene will be encouraged and numerous hand sanitizing stations will be available.
• Touchpoints and surface areas will be routinely cleansed.