By John Storkamp RD

USATF MN Association Championship Banner

In 2016 the Afton Trail Run was fortunate enough to win the bid for both the USATF Minnesota Trail and Ultra Championship races.  While both the 25KM and 50KM have been the respective championships in the past, this was the first time we had the opportunity to host both on the same year and the competition did not disappoint.  While the Afton Trail Run and Rocksteady Running’s primary goal is to foster participation and community we also seek to foster competition and support elite level performers and performances.  If the “West is the best” and the “East is a beast” then what is Minnesota?  Too often overlooked in far too many areas; technology, arts, entertainment and so on – one thing that Minnesota is well known for is competitive running, the concentration and opportunities for high level running in our area is second to very, very few.  The community in general is strong, there are tons of quality events, we have outstanding access to great running roads, paths and trails and the caliber of high level training and racing is supported through the USATF-Minnesota Team Circuit and elite development squads like Team USA Minnesota – both of which are beacons on the national running scene.  For years the Afton 25KM has been where the local elite would go to exercise their trail demons – attracting top talent throughout the years who sneak away from hammering the competition on the road circuit just long enough to dish out some pain at one of the most iconic and challenging trail races in the country.  This year was no exception for high level competition in both the 25KM and the 50KM but more overtly than ever, the “fasties” are signing up and shouting it from the rooftops if not making the switch to being bonafied “trail-runners”.  Generally speaking the thing that makes Trail and Ultraurnning great is the community while everyone from he elites to the recreational compete side by side and participation in general is celebrated – we would see nothing changed but taking a step back to recognize and celebrate a smaller segment of the sport – the elite level racers that take the top 10 spots or so should certainly be done from time to time.  We encourage you to follow the results links below and check out who participated and placed in this years competition – for those in the know, you will see names that are dominate in the local and national scene – for those of you that are not take the time to Google any of the top few names and it will start to come clear.  Last Saturday we were in the presence of some the most gifted athletes in the nation and you may not have realized because as a bonus most carry themselves with the laid back and humble trail / ultra mentality that the rest of us not quite as speedy mortals have.  We celebrate all performances, that is why we love this sport but the USATF Minnesota Trail and Ultra Championship serves to recognize another facet of our sport and the Afton Trail Run is honored to be a part of that.  For those aspiring “fasties” we encourage you to train hard in the coming year, JOIN USATF and participate in next years trail and ultra championship races wherever they are held!

2016 USATF Minnesota Tail Championship Results – Afton 25KM
2016 USATF Minnesota Ultra Championship Results – Afton 50KM
2016 Overall Results

+ Click HERE for Quick Info

Afton Trail Run
50KM & 25KM Trail Races
Afton State Park – Hastings, Minnesota
July 1st, 2017
50KM 6:30AM
25KM 7:30AM

Registration:
Opens Sunday January 1st 2017 at 12:01AM CST
Closes Friday June 23rd 2017 at 11:59PM CST
*Or once the field limit has been met
Complete Registration Details HERE

Directions to Race Start:
Afton State Park
6959 Peller Avenue South
Hastings, MN 55033
Hastings, Minnesota
Google Maps Directions HERE
Approx 25 minutes East of St. Paul, MN and 40 minutes East of Minneapolis, MN

Terrain / Course Description:
The Afton Trail Run consists of a hilly 25K loop (two loops for the 50K), winding through Afton State Park’s trail system. The race is held 100% off road, primarily on very runnable / not very technical single double and single track. There are 7 long climbs per loop, rising from the river valley and down again with a good mix of rolling and flat terrain between the hills.  Be sure to see maps, elevation charts and stats provided on this website HERE.

50KM:
2 x 15.5 mile loops =  31 miles
Elevation Gain 4,670 FT
Elevation Loss 4,670 FT
NET Elevation Change 9,340 FT
11 Aid Stations
9 hour time limit
Complete 50KM Info HERE

25KM:
1 x 15.5 mile loop = 15.5 miles
Elevation Gain 2,335 FT
Elevation Loss 2,335 FT
NET Elevation Change 4,670 FT
5 Aid Stations
8 hour time limit
Complete 25KM Info HERE

More About the Race / Area:
The Afton Trail Run is one of the most challenging and beautiful trail races around.  The race was established in 1994 and is now one of the oldest, largest and most competitive trail races in the country and routinely draws runners from all 50 states and beyond.  The race takes place entirely within the borders of Afton State Park.  Afton State Park lies on a glacial moraine, scribed with deep ravines running down to the St. Croix River.  The 169 mile St. Croix River was one of the original eight United States rivers to have significant portions placed under protection by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.  Within the park sandstone outcrops have been exposed in some of the ravines. The vertical drop from the blufftop to the water is 300 feet.  A few patches of remnant prairie survived the decades of farming that took place on the blufftop. Today the former fields are being restored to prairie and oak savanna. The ravines leading down to the riverbank are thickly wooded with oak, aspen, birch, and cherry.