Located in Morehead, Big Turtle 50 is a quick drive from home and travels the most northern sections of Kentucky’s longest trail - the Sheltowee Trace. The 50-miler takes runners from the campus of Morehead State University up to the Northern Terminus and back. The 50K cuts it short a little more than halfway.
The race begins with a nice series of switchbacks after leaving the pavement of Morehead State University. From there, it’s a little single track that eventually moves to Forest Service roads. Once the opening climb is out of the way, elevation change is minimal with lots of modest grades that are great for running.
Nearing the turnaround for the 50K, there are a couple nice ups and downs with a creek crossing that uses an unstable, but fun foot bridge (pictured below). There’s also a decent stretch along and in a creek bed that was mostly dry on race day.
With limited training coming off a long series of injuries and gout attacks, I managed to finish, but would have benefited from shoes with more cushioning than my Brooks Cascadias. With such a large portion of the race on gravel roads, my feet felt brutalized by the finish.
Overall, this is a great Spring race with plenty of miles to run and only a few sections of fast hiking. It’s also a great course for anyone moving from roads to trails or looking for a first ultramarathon finish.