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50km Race Information 

Tussey Mountainback 50K Ultramarathon Course Description


Welcome to the Tussey Mountainback 50K Ultramarathon, a thrilling and picturesque journey through the heart of Rothrock State Forest. This course offers a mix of challenging terrain and stunning natural beauty, perfect for ultrarunners seeking a memorable and rewarding experience. For the first 22 miles, the 50k follows the 50 Mile course, using the same aid stations. From mile 22 to mile 26.8, runners follow a new course. Along here, the course follows a former road that is no longer used. This portion may be best described as something between a gravel road and a very wide double track trail. At mile 26.8, runners will rejoin the 50 mile course and return to the start along the outbound legs. Finally, the first and last 0.75 miles of the road course are paved, near the ski slopes. Stocked and staffed aid stations are available to all ultra participants at predetermined locations every three to four miles along the course. Terrain includes uphill, level and downhill grades, with shaded and open segments and some overlook vistas. The course takes in Whipple Dam State Park and the Bear Meadows Natural Area. Total Elevation gain: 3,200 ft.


Course Overview:

 - Start and Finish: The race begins and ends at the Tussey Mountain Ski Area, providing a convenient and accessible location for runners and spectators. The start line sets the stage for an adventure through diverse and rugged landscapes.


 - Distance: Covering a total distance of 50 kilometers (31 miles), the course is designed to challenge your endurance while showcasing the scenic beauty of Central Pennsylvania.


 - Terrain: Runners will navigate a mix of gravel roads, forest trails, and rolling hills. The varied terrain demands agility and strength, making it an exciting and dynamic race.


 - Elevation Profile: The course features a total elevation gain of approximately 3,200 feet, with several significant climbs and descents. The elevation changes offer both challenges and opportunities for strategic pacing.


 - Scenic Highlights: Throughout the race, you'll pass through lush forests, along serene streams, and over panoramic ridges. The course highlights the natural splendor of Rothrock State Forest, providing a visually stunning backdrop for your ultramarathon journey.


 - Aid Stations: Well-stocked aid stations are strategically placed approximately every 4-6 miles, ensuring you have access to hydration, nutrition, and medical support as needed. These stations are manned by enthusiastic volunteers ready to assist you.


 - Course Markings: Clear and frequent course markings guide you along the route, minimizing the risk of getting off course and helping you stay focused on your run.


 - Safety and Support: Our race staff and volunteers are dedicated to your safety and support throughout the event. Emergency access points and contact numbers are provided to ensure prompt assistance if needed.

The Tussey Mountainback 50K Ultramarathon promises an unforgettable experience for all participants, combining challenging terrain with breathtaking scenery. Whether you're aiming for a personal best or simply looking to enjoy the day, this race offers a perfect blend of adventure and natural beauty. Lace up your shoes, embrace the challenge, and immerse yourself in the spirit of ultrarunning at its finest.

Course Map Overview:

- Route Outline: The map clearly shows the full 50K loop, starting and finishing at the Tussey Mountain Ski Area. The route takes you through a variety of terrains, including gravel roads and rolling hills.

- Elevation Profile: Integrated into the map is the elevation profile, highlighting the total elevation gain of approximately 3,000 feet. This visual aid helps you anticipate the climbs and descents throughout the course.

- Aid Stations: Aid stations are marked along the route, spaced approximately every 4-6 miles. These stations provide essential hydration, nutrition, and medical support to help you stay strong and healthy during the race.

- Mile Markers: Each mile is indicated on the map, allowing you to track your progress and plan your pacing strategy effectively.

- Key Landmarks: Significant landmarks and trail junctions are highlighted, helping you navigate the course with confidence.

- Safety Information: The map includes emergency access points and contact numbers, ensuring that safety remains a top priority throughout the race.

Study the course map carefully to familiarize yourself with the route, elevation changes, and aid station locations. This preparation will be invaluable as you tackle the challenging and beautiful Tussey Mountainback 50K Ultramarathon. Enjoy the journey through Central Pennsylvania's stunning landscapes!

Course Details:

Leg 1: Start to Ridge Top: 3.2 miles (Running Total 3.2)


Topography:Mostly gently climbing, with some steep ascents.


Leg 1 breaks from the Start Line on a slight downhill, on paved Bear Meadows Road. At bridge #1, the uphill begins. As you pass the stream along the right-hand side, you will traverse bridge #2, continue uphill and turn right onto Laurel Run Road (at 0.7 mi.), crossing bridge #3. At this point the road becomes packed gravel. Continue climbing to switchback #1. Switchback #2 occurs at 3.1 miles; only 0.2 miles to aid station one, at the crest of Laurel Run Road and the intersection of Mid-State Trail.



Leg 2 . Mid-State Trail to Pine Swamp Road: 4.0 miles (Running Total 7.2)


Topography:Downhill to level; gravel.


Beginning at the crest of the hill, Leg 2 rolls downhill past the Fleet Foot Hunting Club (.45 mi.) and Laurel Run Camp (1.1 mi.), both on the right. At the bottom of the hill (1.2 mi.) you will pass Bear Gap Road on the left. Pass Sand Spring Camp and a meandering brook on the right, and go through fern fields as you pass Wildcat Gap Trail. Continue past Bard Gun Club on the left (3.45 mi.) and several cabins to the right and left (3.8 mi.) before coming to the intersection of Laurel Run Road and Pine Swamp Road (on right) where you will find aid station two.



Leg 3: Pine Swamp Rd to Whipple Dam: 3.8 miles (Running Total 10.7)

Difficulty: Easy

Topography:Gentle down hill the whole way.


Continue along Laurel Run Rd, straight to the aid station at Whipple Dam. This leg is a gentle descent without mild rolling in the later portions. There is one small rise just before the aid station. Enjoy the calm run but be mindful of any traffic. This is one of the only stretches that could see significant (but still little) traffic. The aid station will be at the entrance to Whipple Dam park. DO NOT GO INTO THE PARK. The 50 milers and relay runners will be entering, the 50k runners DO NOT GO IN.



Leg 4. : Whipple Dam to Gettis Ridge Rd.: 5.6 miles (Running Total 16.3)

Difficulty:Moderate to hard

Topography:Mostly up with some flatter spots.


DO NOT FOLLOW THE 50 MILE RUNNERS TO THE BEACH ROAD. This aid station is the first point at which the 50 km course differs from the 50 mile course. Your aid station is on Laurel Run Rd. Leave the aid station and continue along bearing left and up the hill with all the runners. This section has a lot of rolling in the beginning and end, with a big climb in the middle. Take it easy and you'll get through it.



Leg 5: Gettis Ridge Rd to North Meadows: 5.9 miles (Running Total 22.2)

Difficulty:Very Difficult

Topography: Descents and Climbs


This leg starts off with a descent of almost 300 feet in 2.2 miles along Beidleheimer Road. You will be on mostly shaded gravel, and pass vistas on the right. You will pass by the Gettis Ridge Camp on the right, meeting up with Bear Meadows Road coming from the left at 2.2 miles.

This is where you will separate from those running 50 miles and begin your own adventure.

Turn left on Bear Meadows Road and begin the 2.2 mile climb to the summit. You will earn 900 feet of elevation experience in the process. From the summit, you will descend about 200 feet in less than a mile and continue to aid station 11. Passing Treaster Kettle Road, you may encounter 50 mile runners until the aid station.



The climb up Bear Meadows Road (left and right) at the intersection with Wampler Rd. to rear.


The new location of aid station 11 at North Meadows Road (gated to the left) and Bear Meadows (from rear and continuing). Parking is about 25 meters to the rear.


Leg 6:  North Meadows to Aid Station 50k, Oh What a View: 3.0 miles (Running Total 25.2)


Topography:Steady climb


Leg six begins at the North Meadows aid station. Enter the gate to North Meadows Road and continue until it meets Gettis Ridge Road at the top. Turn to the right and follow the road through the gate onto Bear Gap Road. The aid station is at the gate. Note that North Meadows Road is closed to all traffic. It is almost a ten mile drive between the ends of the road, but only a three mile run.

Note that North Meadows Road is closed to all traffic. It is almost a ten mile drive between the ends of the road, but only a three mile run.

Aid Station 50k: Welcome to the only aid station dedicated to the 50k runners. Have a mini celebration for almost having completed a marathon.

The location for aid station 50k, at the Gettis Ridge Road gate on the left. Bear Gap Road comes from the left, continuing as Greenlee Road to the right. There is a parking lot about 100 meters to the left of this intersectionk on Bear Gap Road.



Leg 7:  50k aid station to aid station one - What goes down must come up: 2.7 miles (Running Total 27.9)


Topography:Steep descent and a climb


Leaving aid station 50k, continue along Bear Gap Road. You might enjoy the steep descent, or your quads might complain a wee bit. In any event, turn right at the bottom and join Laurel Run Road. Your sense of déjà vu is justified, you have been here before, just running in the opposite direction. From this point on, you will be running the reverse of your starting legs. Fear not, you are nearly at aid station one. You need only climb the 1.1 mile and 200 feet to get there.

Aid Station One (redux): Well, you have been here before, only now your legs are beat. Enjoy a breather for a moment before you begin the descent to the finish line. This station offers very little parking, and support crew should avoid it. Be sure to thank the crew at the aid station.



Leg H - Aid station one to the finish - It’s just a 5k-ish: 3.2 miles (Running Total 31.1)


Topography:Steady descent


This is your last leg. From the top of the hill at the aid station, simply follow Laurel Run Road downhill on the well trodden track. At the stream crossing, turn left onto paved Bear Meadows Road and follow it back to the finish line. As you approach the ski slopes, you will turn hard left through the field to the finish line.

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