2023 Afton Trail Run 50KM Participant Guide
Saturday July 1, 2023
Afton State Park
Sunday January 1, 2023
About This Page:
The information on this page and associated links comprise the official Afton Trail Run 50KM 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
/ GENERAL EVENT INFO
Date, Time and Location:
Saturday July 1, 2023
Start / Finish Location –
Afton State Park
6959 Peller Ave S
Hastings, MN 55033
Google Maps Link HERE
Race Start Time: 6:30 AM
Race founded in 1994, Race takes place at Afton State Park near Hastings, Afton and Woodbury Minnesota, Race start is about 30 minutes east of the Minneapolis (MSP) International Airport, 50KM course consists of two 25K loops on double and single-track trail and gravel park service roads, Elevation Gain 4,670 FT, Elevation Loss 4,670 FT, NET Elevation Change 9,340 FT, 11 Aid Stations, 9 hour cutoff.
About The Afton Trail Run:
The Afton Trail Run is a challenging and scenic trail race featuring 25KM and 50KM distances. The race was established in 1994 and annually draws runners from several countries, 25+ states and hundreds of Minnesota cities. The race takes place entirely within the borders of Afton State Park just outside of Hastings Minnesota. The race consists of a hilly 25K loop (two loops for the 50K), winding through the state park’s trail system. The race is held 100% off road, primarily on very runnable and not overly technical minimum maintenance gravel service roads and double and single track trails. 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. 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 just over 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. The Afton Trail Run makes an annual financial donation to the state park ( in the neighborhood of $60,000.00 as of 2022 ) and its organizers, volunteers and runners volunteer in the park, maintaining trails and doing invasive species removal / restoration and more.
The Afton Trail Run 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.aftontrailrun.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.
/ REGISTRATION INFORMATION
Do not register until you have reviewed this page (Afton Trail Run 50KM Participant Guide) in its entirety. Registration details including entry fees, field limits, and the link to our registration page on UltraSignup (third party registration provider) can be found HERE https://www.aftontrailrun.com/registration-info/
There are No Refunds, Transfers or 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
A well marked course with plenty of aid and tons of friendly, experienced volunteers. Runners who register by May 20 will have their name custom printed on their race numbers. Chip timing. All finishers will receive a WOOD MEDAL. 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.aftontrailrun.com/category/shirts-swag/. Post race we will be providing complimentary canned beverages (Coke, Ginger Ale and Sparkling Water) and fresh baked Neapolitan style pizza. Knowledge that you are supporting Afton State Park, to date we have donated in excess of $60,000 and 1000’s of volunteer hours.
Race Start / Finish Location:
Afton State Park
6959 Peller Ave S
Hastings, MN 55033
Google Maps Link HERE
The Afton Trail Run is approximately 25 minutes East of St. Paul, MN and 40 minutes East of Minneapolis, MN. Minneapolis (MSP) is a world class international airport and traveling to the race is a breeze.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! ALLOW PLENTY OF EXTRA TIME TO PARK AND WALK TO CHECK-IN / START:
Parking for the Afton Trail Run is extremely limited. Please carpool if you are able.
If possible please carpool. There is no parking allowed on the side of the road within Afton State Park. Parking must be in designated spaces only. A significant block of spaces within the park will be saved for non-race-related park users. Parking within Afton State Park will be on a “first come, first served” basis for racers. Once all of the allotted parking spots for the trail run within Afton State Park have been filled, racers will be directed by a flagger posted near the entrance of the state park to enter Afton Alps Ski Area via Peller Ave South. Most, but not all 50K runners will be able to park at Afton State Park. All 25K runners should plan to park at Afton Alps. You will follow signage to park in the Afton Alps Meadow Chalet parking lot which is at the very end of the road. After you park, ADDITIONAL SIGNAGE AND YELLOW PIN FLAGS will direct you to walk between 1/4 and 1/3 of a mile up to Runner Check-In and the Start / Finish Area.
WARMUPS: There will be a warm-ups drop-off area where you can drop a bag of belongings so you do not have to return to your your vehicle before the start of the race. You supply the bag. Use a waterproof bag. No valuables. Allow at least 15 minutes to walk from overflow parking at Afton Alps to the race start.
A diagram showing parking options and how to get from the overflow parking to the start can be found HERE https://www.aftontrailrun.com/wp-content/uploads/Afton-Trail-Run-Parking-Plan.jpg
A Minnesota State Parks pass is required to park in the state park, but not at Afton Alps. Please support our great Minnesota State Park System by purchasing an annual State Park pass. You can purchase an annual permit in advance by phone by calling 1-888-MINNDNR (as the guard shack will not be open upon your arrival to the park race morning). You can also stop by the guard shack on your way out of the park and pay your day permit fee or even better purchase an annual pass. Follow this link for more details. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/permit.html By purchasing a park pass you not only support the entire state park system, you also increase the dollar amount that we are able to donate to the park as the Afton Trail Run is required to pay for every vehicle that does not have a state park permit (state park staff takes a count of all vehicles without a permit).
Possible Parking Changes Requiring Shuttling:
Afton Alps Ski Area has been kind enough to allow us to use their property for overflow parking in years past. There have however been years where we were unable to do so; one year due to construction on their property and another due to their policies around Covid-19. There is no guarantee that we will be able to use Afton Alps for our overflow parking every year. Should there be a year where we are unable to use Afton Alps for our overflow parking, racers will have to park off-site and will shuttle anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to and from the park, we may know if this is the case well in advance or we may not find out until closer to the event. Please be aware of this possibility when deciding to register for the race.
Afton State Park is located about 15 minutes from Woodbury, Hastings and Stillwater. About 30 minutes from St. Paul and about 45 Minutes from Minneapolis and Bloomington. Various lodging options are available in each city.
Camping is available at Afton State Park – there are camper cabins which fill up fast and there are hike in campsites. Afton State Park (866.857.2757). Additional camping can be found at the nearby Washington County St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park or a little further away at Lake Elmo Park Reserve.
Emergencies / Hospital Information:
Regina Hospital (Hastings)
175 Nininger Rd
Hastings, MN 55033
M Health Fairview Woodwinds Hospital (Woodbury)
1925 Woodwinds Drive
Woodbury, MN 55125
Packet Pick-Up & Race Start:
Packet pickup is held on race morning only. Packet pickup for the 50K starts at 5:00 AM. We will make some brief announcements 5 minutes prior to the 6:30AM race start. Please note that we do not offer early starts.
Course Maps and More:
Course maps, distance charts and more can be found HERE https://www.aftontrailrun.com/maps-and-data/
50K runners are allowed a drop bag at the 25KM aid station – you can deliver your own drop bag to aid station 6 (which is just adjacent to the start area) prior to the race start. Please keep your drop bags reasonable in size. Each drop bag must be clearly labeled with the race distance, runner’s name and race number. Race numbers will be assigned a few days before the race start and will be available on the website. Please do not put valuables into drop bags. Drop bags will not be protected from the elements so make sure that your drop bags are either waterproof OR that it is ok for the items inside to get wet. You will need to pick up your drop bags after completing the race. Any drop bags left behind will be discarded.
Weather and Clothing:
Early July in Minnesota can be quite hot and humid. We have had temperatures reach the high 90’s with high humidity and have also had days as cool as the low 70’s. In it’s history, the Afton trail run has never been canceled or modified due to weather – you should train for and plan for a hot day – adjusting your pacing and race plan accordingly, along with proper hydration and electrolyte balance is key. Be prepared, watch the forecast and plan accordingly. This is a hot weather race we strongly encourage you to carry a water bottle at all times.
The Afton Trail Run hosts two races simultaneously, the Afton 50KM Trail Race (starts at 6:30 AM Saturday) and the Afton 25KM Trail Race (starts at 7:30 AM Saturday). 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. More info and a graphic illustration can be found HERE https://www.aftontrailrun.com/category/race-numbers/
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.
The course will be marked with ORANGE FLAGS, which will always be on the left hand side of the trail along with some supplemental arrows. We will mark the trail you are supposed to be on and WILL NOT block off trails that you are not supposed to go down, since the park is open to the general public while the race is happening. In the one short section of “two-way traffic” course markers will be on both sides of the trail. 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 vandals – it is important that you study the course maps prior to running and have a baseline concept of where you are going.
You must visit every aid station / you may not skip any aid stations. You can review aid station locations and distances in between HERE https://www.aftontrailrun.com/maps-and-data/ – Our aid stations are manned by volunteers, many of them spending their entire day out there – please be sure to thank the volunteers!
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.
Aid Station Food:
Aid stations will have salty and sweet pre-packaged snacks. We will have Coke and Ginger Ale.
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.
Support Crew and Spectator Access to Aid Stations:
Runners make it a race… crew, friends, family and spectators make it an event. We love your people, and want them at the event, just like you do. Runners, we have an entire page for your crew, friends, family and spectators HERE https://www.aftontrailrun.com/spectator-info/ Runners, please review, then share the following link with your crew, friends, family and spectators, YOU are responsible for your people. Any failure on their part to follow the rules could lead to your disqualification – please make sure they are up to speed prior to coming to the event.
Pacers are not allowed.
We have established a 9 hour time limit for the 50KM race. We will start sweeping / taking down the course from the 25KM aid station (start/finish area) at 10:30 am. Any runners not out of the 25KM aid station by 10:30 AM will be pulled from the course.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. You are all incredible.
UTMB Qualifying Points:
Completion of the Afton 50KM Trail Run will earn you two (2) qualifying points towards the UTMB Mont-Blanc races in Chamonix France.
Post race we will be providing complimentary canned beverages (Coke, Ginger Ale and Sparkling Water) and fresh made Neapolitan style pizza. Beverages and pizza are free for runners. Crew, pacers, family and spectators may also enjoy for a cash donation.
Do you have friends and family coming but don’t really need them to follow you around to crew – see if they want to volunteer. Learn more by visiting the volunteer page.
A portion of the proceeds from the Afton Trail Run is donated to Afton State Park – to date the races have donated in excess of $60,000. Additionally, Afton organizers, volunteers and runners donate 100’s of volunteer hours within the park each season.
Mile in My Shoes (MiMS) Fundraising Opportunity:
Rocksteady Running is proud to have Mile in My Shoes as an official Afton Trail Run charity partner. Get a free entry to the Afton Trail Run, lots of great swag and support a great cause by becoming a Mile in My Shoes (MiMS) FundRacer! Learn more HERE https://www.aftontrailrun.com/mile-in-my-shoes/
Next years race date:
Historically the Afton Trail Run has been held the first Saturday in July. The 2023 race will be held on Saturday July 6, 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.