Greetings Runners,

I would like to welcome you to the 27th Annual Afton Trail Run! We look forward to seeing you all on Friday July 2 and Saturday July 3, 2021. Thank you so much for signing up for this year’s race, keeping a great Summer tradition alive, and allowing us to continue our mission of giving back to Afton State Park through our annual financial donations and ongoing volunteer trail work within the park.

State Park / Government Shutdown Update:

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the agency responsible for administering Minnesota State Parks (including Afton State Park, where the Afton Trail Run is held) has released the following statement:

” We are happy to report that the DNR operating budget has been approved by the Minnesota Legislature and is on the way to Governor Tim Walz for signature. This means that DNR operations will continue without interruption after June 30, 2021. We look forward to serving you!  We apologize for any inconvenience this uncertainty has caused, and we appreciate your support of Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.”

This means that the race is on! We will be charging your credit / debit cards tomorrow, Tuesday June 29.

Other Updates and Reminders:

• First and foremost, if you have not already, or as a refresher, please take the time to read THIS – it is a long read (about 9 minutes) but it is VERY IMPORTANT that you read it.

• If between now and the event you contract Covid-19, are exposed to someone that is Covid-19 positive, begin not feeling well or have any symptoms, DO NOT come to the race.

• A race roster / bib-number assignments can be found HERE

• A diagram of the check-in area, start / finish area, Aid Station 6, 50K drop bag location, toilets, parking and overflow parking locations can be found HERE

• Please carpool with those already in your bubble. Parking is very limited at Afton State Park and the park has been busier than ever the past 18 months. 50K runners, since you will be at the park the earliest, and will be there the longest, we are going to direct you to park in the overflow, grass parking area when you arrive (depicted in the previous link). It is only a three or four minute walk to the start.

• Check in will take place adjacent to the start-line (not in the Visitors Center as in years past). You can check in up to 15 minutes before your start time / window, no sooner. Then, starting at the time you signed up for, you have up to 15 minutes to start your run. Example: if you are signed up for 8:00AM, you can start anytime between 8:00AM and 8:15AM. We will not call or gather runners together on the start line, we will not yell “go”, you will just walk up to the start line / flag, make sure the timers see your bib number, cross over the timing mat and you will start your run.

• We are a cup-free race – carry your own water bottle(s) or hydration pack.

• To date, at our other races this year, we have only provided water at our aid stations. For Afton we are adding some pre-packaged snacks and will have ice. HERE is a list of the items we will be providing, while you should do your own research if you have allergies etc; we believe all are vegetarian, all but the Goldfish are vegan, and the trail-mix and fruit snacks are gluten-free.

So everyone is on the same page, below is the guidance we have given to our aid station volunteers, please communicate clearly with the volunteers as to whether or not you would like help with anything:

We want runners to have the ability to, and be given the option to fill their own water bottles and bladders via our hands-free jug filler (we only have enough for one per aid station), but we will also communicate to them in advance that they can ask the aid station workers to fill their bottles / bladders from pitchers (these are the same things you can ask them when they come into your aid station, “can I help you with anything or would you like to do it yourself?”). Afton is a hot weather event and for safety, we will have ice as in years past. We ask that runners NOT self-serve ice, that volunteers give it out to runners using the provided ladles (used as scoops) in order to fill bladders, bottles, put in hats, shorts, sports bras etc (if specifically asked to do so of course). Note, there will be no sports drinks, salt pills, soda or cups at the aid stations. We are going to be providing 3 or 4 types / varieties of pre-packaged snacks (probably Goldfish Crackers, Teddy Grahams, Nut/Vegan Trail Mix & fruit snacks). We are thinking that there should be one table where a small number of each snack can be placed directly on the table so runners can grab a package and not contaminate other packages by reaching in with sweaty hands / arms / bodies (we will try to mock up a table in advance and send you a picture of what we are thinking). Generally we want to be more hands-off than in the past and ask runners if they want assistance rather than just helping them without asking as everyone has different proximity / “germ” tolerance as a result of Covid.

• Afton is a hot weather race – it is July in Minnesota afterall. We have never modified or cancelled Afton due to the heat. It is easy to take for granted (or become complacent) that we are distance runners and we train to run in the heat. That said, when we pin a number on, we run harder than we normally would, and race day nerves can mess with how well we handle the heat too. Please, if it is hot, hold something back, run smart and do not put yourself at risk of heat illness, the potential of running a few minutes faster is not worth it (you know this if you have ever had heat illness), and in fact a sound pacing strategy on a hot day will likely net a better overall time (and experience).

• When you finish, make sure that the timers can see your bib number, rotate your shirt or shorts or your body so they can clearly see it. Timing will be more challenging this year than normal as everyone will have a unique start time and a unique finish time, even though we are chip timing like normal, for our backup we want your help in making sure that your number is manually recorded.

• As a reminder, in order to not charge anyone far in advance, shirts and medals will not be available on race day. We will be producing them after the race and mailing them to you – this will take up to a few weeks. Note that the medals are a new design that allow us to ship them more easily than the old design – I am stoked about them. You can check out this year’s shirt design HERE

• There will be no post race picnic this year, but we will have full size cans of Coke and Ginger Ale (and if everything works out with our dry-ice plan) freezies at the finish!

• Results will be available on our website shortly after you finish.

That is all I have for you today. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. I am grateful for your support of the Afton Trail Run. We will see you soon!

Thank You,

John Storkamp
Race Director
[email protected]