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2024 Palisades Ultra Handbook

Updated: Jul 9

**DEAR RUNNERS ON THE WAITLIST: 

Please check your email daily -- The deadline to add wait-listers to the race is Sunday, July 14th, at 11:59pm so be sure to respond quickly if you get chosen to participate! 

In case you are chosen... Here is the race info you'll need to have!

 

Dear Participants of the 2024 Palisades Ultra Trail Series:


IT'S ALMOST HERE!!!

To say that a lot of work has gone into the preparation for the upcoming PALISADES ULTRA would be a vast understatement. Trails have been improved, cleared of logs and branches and nettle (we even removed some pesky rocks!) Hundreds of hours have been put in by the PUTS Race Board, the Caribou-Targhee Forest service, the Snake River Trails Alliance, as well as countless volunteers who opted to spend precious weekends hoisting a brushcutter, machete, or rake instead of cruising on a speedboat.

The final marking/clearing is taking place in the coming days– And even though the preparations are not quite complete, we can confidently say that as a whole, THESE TRAILS HAVE NEVER LOOKED BETTER!! Bear in mind we can never get everything so there will be some brushy spots.

Are they rugged? (yup) Are they tough? (Double-yup!) Will the rigor and the beauty leave you gasping for air at every climb and around every turn? (yup, yup, and YUP!)


We cannot promise you a glorious finish– That will be up to you! But what we can promise is a course that is well marked, volunteers who will do everything they can to make your day as fun as possible, and trained medical staff who are ready to assist a number of ailments to keep you safe.

Please remember that the best resource you have for safety and success is YOU– Your training, your grit, and making SMART decisions along the way.

Please take a moment to review the following items about the race–  The website will also be a great resource for all runners to answer any last minute questions that you may have!!

While we will attempt to get back to  your questions during these next few chaotic days, please understand that we might be unable to answer all questions via email, due to a lack of internet service and a high volume of work to be done. So please review your race distance page, the Schedule/Policies page, and Lodging and Travel page on our website at: PalisadesUltra.com


IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY TAKEN OUR QUICK SURVEY TO HELP US ANNOUNCE YOUR TRIUMPHANT FINISH… PLEASE CLICK THE LINK AND ANSWER A FEW QUESTIONS!! DEADLINE TO COMPLETE THIS SURVEY IS MONDAY, JULY 15th, AT 6PM.


POINT OF EMPHASIS for 2024:

**We ask that 100 milers do not arrive before 1pm on Thursday– And everyone else is welcome to arrive to set up camp after 1pm on Friday. We LOVE our runners, however, we cannot effectively manage this event without sticking to this schedule!

THE EXCEPTION to this would be: If a few participants are interested in lending a hand with some camp-tasks, we would invite them to come spend Wednesday night with us as well– HOWEVER: For this privilege, we do ask that you commit to this via email in advance (ie, please do not just show up early without first notifying us!)


CURRENT COURSE CONDITIONS:

**The wildflowers are breathtaking, they seem to be peaking down low, up high... EVERYONE will see AMAZING COLORS!!!

**The snow has GREATLY receded, meaning that 50k/50mile/100milers will have a great chance for more runnable terrain. HOWEVER some snow has remained on some of the mountain passes, in addition to our customary creek crossings…PREPARE FOR WET FEET! Below is a satellite image from July 5th, before we hit a scorcher of a week.

**Creek crossings are very manageable, with the Dry-Canyon AS creek (Big Elk Creek) swiftly running at just over knee/mid-thigh height



 

PRE-RACE NOTES TO BE AWARE OF:

  1. RACE WEEK COMMUNICATION: We will be extremely busy on the week of the race, with limited email/phone service. PLEASE make sure you ask your questions in advance of race weekend. Feel free to email questions the week of the race-- Just understand you might not get a prompt reply! palisadesultra@gmail.com

  2. QUESTIONS FROM CREW/PACERS will be directed back to racers: We put the responsibility of educating crew/pacers on each racer. THERE IS NO LIVE TRACKING. In the comments on our social media posts, bots will sometimes throw in fake "live" event links. We try to block/delete those but a few get through and we get hit up all the time about live tracking from spectators.

  3. RACE PHOTOS: We are thrilled to announce that CHADWICK Photography will be back to offer super-high quality photos-- Free to download for each runner! These can sometimes take several weeks to process so please be patient with us. They are worth the wait! Here is the link to our photo album with previous years' races.

  4. WILD ANIMALS: We are 100% sure that there are bears, mountain lions, moose, snakes, mosquitoes, ticks, and many other potentially scary critters on the course. We do not require bear spray-- But if you feel more comfortable carrying it, please do! This is wild backcountry. The bugs do get fierce, especially around dusk/dawn-- Aid stations will have bug spray available, but it might be a good idea to bring a small bottle of repellent especially if you are easily bugged by bugs.

  5. STINGING NETTLE: We have cleared, and will continue to cut down, tons of stinging nettle. If you’ve never had the joy of brushing up against this lovely plant, you’ve probably never run the Palisades Ultra! The PUTS race-board recommends wearing tights and/or calf sleeves or long socks. Arm sleeves might also be effective-- Nettle can grow pretty tall! No matter what-- Try to avoid touching this plant. IF you happen to experience the stinging/itching reaction during the race-- The best first aid is washing with dish soap. All aid stations will have a nettle washing station-- Feel free to help yourself to the soap and water to relieve the stinging! Mud is also a good last resort.

  6. General Safety: Check out this PUTS 'safety video' to learn about all the possible dangers you could encounter during the race! Link: https://youtu.be/GeEDoN13_FI 

  7. DNFs: Unlike many races, in which you can drop at just about any aid station-- You really don’t have many options to drop at the PUTS! You are responsible to make smart decisions about whether or not you should continue deep into the backcountry after leaving a drive-up aid station. Please perform frequent ‘self-checks’ and make good decisions about whether or not to continue.

  8. HEADLAMPS: ½ marathoners and 50k runners will not need a headlamp… 50 milers will definitely need one to start the race! All 100-mile runners will be required to have a head-lamp after leaving North Indian Creek aid station heading to Big Elk Cr. Recommended that you have a light in your drop-bag.

  9. Dry Canyon aid station: Please note that runners are NOT required to stop at Dry Canyon when you have only 3 miles left on the course. If you need to stop for water or to grab a snack, please do-- But do not take food that you will not need to get you to the finish line!

 

Pre Race:

**This info serves as the 'pre-race meeting' for half marathon and 50k runners- 100 & 50 Milers are asked to attend a pre-race meeting the night before your race!

 

Pre Race Details:

**The deadline for 'dropping' and for wait-listers to add is Sunday at 11:59pm. If you don’t show up or try to cancel after Sunday you will be marked a DNS (did not start).

Remember to pick up your swag bag and race number! 100 milers packet pickup begins at 6pm on Thursday, and Friday packet pickup for 50 milers/50k/ 13.1 milers begins at 5pm. 

The 100-mile pre-race meeting is on Thursday night at 7pm-- 50 mile racers will have a pre-race meeting on Friday at 7pm, both at the lodge.

Before receiving a bib number, runners will sign a race waiver.  

On Saturday morning: Packet pickup starts at 5:00am for the 50k and 6:01am for the ½ marathon.

 

Race Day:


RACE MORNING

All racers must check in on race morning at least 30 minutes prior to your race so that we know you have started the race. If you do not check in on race morning, you will be marked as a DNS (Did not start).

Race morning Packet-Pickup:  Plan to arrive at least 1 hour early to pick up your packet

100 Mile Start: 6am on Friday

50 Mile Start: 2am on Saturday

50k Start: 6am on Saturday

½ marathon Start: 7am on Saturday

 

DIRECTIONS TO BIG ELK YMCA CAMP/NORTH INDIAN CREEK

From Alpine, WY: Head west on US-26 W, with the Palisades Reservoir on your left. Travel roughly 13 miles from Alpine, YW… The Big Elk Creek YMCA Camp is a couple miles down a dirt-road on your RIGHT (North) side of the highway. WATCH FOR THE BRIGHT ORANGE & WHITE FLAGGING ALONG THE HIGHWAY!! 

From Swan Valley/Idaho Falls: Head EAST on US-26, (the Palisades reservoir will be on your right). Big Elk Creek YMCA Camp is a few miles past the Palisades Reservoir dam, on the LEFT (North) side of the highway.

 

North Indian Creek AS: This aid station is located about 7 miles EAST from the Big Elk Creek YMCA camp. Its on the North side of the reservoir, down a dirt road. Follow clearly posted PUTS signs and the GIANT ORANGE/WHITE FLAGGING ALONG THE HIGHWAY!!



 

PARKING

The forest service has asked that NOBODY parks at the Big Elk Trailhead. That includes racers, pacers, and PUTS spectators.

*The 2-mile dirt road to the start/finish is narrow, windy, and borders a steep dropoff. Please drive under 15 mph and be aware of other drivers. Carpool if at all possible!

**All runners are expected to park at the YMCA. Please line the perimeter of the parking area 1st (mostly 100 milers will park here) and then starting on the south end will make two rows of cars pointing south until the south lot is full. Then will work our way towards the road into the camp lining both sides of the driveway into the parking area.

*** 50k/13.1 mile RACERS arriving on SATURDAY: A traffic attendant will direct you to park at the start/finish line. PLEASE ALLOW FOR A FEW EXTRA MINUTES IF YOU ARE ARRIVING ON SATURDAY MORNING… And CARPOOL if at all possible!!!

 

LODGING: 

All participants have free tent camping south of the start/finish in the purple areas in the map below. There are bathrooms and washing stations with multiple dispersed camping sites. Please be respectful of other racers-- No generators, campfires or partying (at least not until after the race is over!) NO TENTS in the mowed parking area between/next to cars or in the middle of the parking area. You can back your car up to the edge of the grass/camping areas. Thursday and even Friday night will be pretty empty but come Saturday morning we will be packing cars in like sardines.

Remember to be respectful and try to maintain quiet hours after 9pm on Friday night (since some CRAZY folks are starting a 50-mile race at the insane time of 2:00am!!)

There is limited space. RVs/campers or anything larger than a van are not going to fit, but there are dispersed camping and RV parks within 5-10 miles offsite or even across the creek at the Forest Service fee campground (first come first served).

We have a limited number of bunks still available--You need to supply your own bedding, but these cabins are a great option for those wanting to get off the ground and have a little more space and privacy away from ‘tent city.’ Reserve your bunkhouse spot for $10 on ultrasignup in the store here! You can see the “Bunks” on the map below.


 DROP BAGS

All drop bags must be clearly marked with runner's name and bib number. Drop bags will be returned to the finish line by 3pm on Saturday (but mostly likely sooner). Drop bags will only be used at North Indian Creek, except 100 milers can also leave a drop bag at the Big Elk Aid Station located at the start/finish).  All runners in the 100M & 50M are allowed ONE DROP BAG at North Indian Creek. Drop bags will be taken there immediately following the start of each race.


50k drop bags location: No drop bags for 50k runners

50 mile drop bags location: Mile 9, 29

100 mile drop bags location : Mile 21, 41, 59, 79 (**Drop bag at mile 50, Big Elk Creek, as well)


**Drop bags will be returned to the finish line by 3pm on Saturday-- Runners who need their bag earlier in the day are welcome to go pick it up at North Indian Creek

 

Course Information:


CUTOFFS

Since your ability to DNF is limited when you are 5-15 miles from any vehicles, it is not practical for us to have a ton of cutoffs. Racers: You need to be aware of your limitations and pace yourselves appropriately! The following cutoffs are very generous and will be strictly enforced.

½ marathon: Your cut-off to finish the race is 1:00pm (6 hours) 

50k, 50 mile, 100 mile: Your finish-line cutoff is 6:00pm on Saturday

North Indian Creek Cutoff is 11am on Saturday for the following mileage points: 

50k (mile 9), 50 mile (mile 29), 100 mile (mile 79).

Please note: ANYBODY leaving North Indian Creek AS and heading up Garden Canyon toward the finish line (about 20 miles total), MUST be committed and healthy enough to do so! Obviously accidents happen, but nobody should leave N. Indian Creek the final time intending to ‘turn around’ if the going gets too tough. The confusion that this creates, presents an extremely dangerous situation for volunteers, sweepers, etc. PLEASE do not depart N. Indian Creek AS unless you are PREPARED to go the distance! Same for Garden Gnome Aid Station. Garden Canyon will be the most difficult and hottest climb of the entire race for most runners. If you leave N. Indian just before 11 on Saturday and take a long time getting up Garden Canyon, and then decide to turn back, the Garden Gnome Aid Station may be packed up and out of there. The sweeper will not return with you to Garden Gnome or N. Indian AS’s.

*We do not have a scheduled shuttle coming back from N. Indian so if you drop there please have a way to communicate that to your crew and make arrangements for getting back to Big Elk.

**100 milers also have a 11pm Friday cutoff at N. Indian at mile 41 and a halfway cutoff of 2am on Saturday at Big Elk (mile 50)


**New in 2023, continuing in 2024: The Dry Canyon cut-off (for heading up to the Cabin Creek turn-around point) is 3pm on Saturday. So to be clear: If you leave the Dry Canyon AS at 3:01pm, you will be required to head DIRECTLY to the finish and will be listed as a DNF.

 

REQUIRED RACE GEAR

No matter your distance, this is a WILDERNESS RACE! All racers will be expected to take care of themselves and also to help other racers in need. Carry adequate water and food and a personal first-aid kit. 50/100 milers are highly encouraged to carry a hand-held water filtration system to use on Paradise Loop. Due to the volume of 50k runners you will most likely want one as well. GPX map files are available on our website and we HIGHLY RECOMMEND that all racers download their race course onto a GPS watch or a phone. Weather can change quickly-- Carry proper clothing for all conditions. Headlamps are required if there is a chance of nighttime running (50 milers and 100 milers will use headlamps)

 

ADDITIONAL RACE RULES

All runners must check in and out of every aid station. Runners may not accept aid outside of aid stations (crew may help at North Indian Creek Aid Station and at Big Elk mile 50). Runners must stay on marked trails at all times, following our highly reflective trail markers and posted directional signs. The only bathroom facilities are located at Big Elk and North Indian Creek Aid Stations-- All other potty stops should be dispersed OFF-TRAIL (not at wilderness aid stations). If you get lost or make a wrong turn you can continue the race if you return to the point where you got off track and still make the cutoffs to the finish. Some poor 50 miler every year goes up Garden Canyon instead of continuing on Paradise Loop the first time leaving Garden Gnome AS it seems. They are shocked to be down at the Dry Canyon AS a couple hours before anyone from the 50 mile should be. There is no way you will want to go back up and over to return to where you got off track at that point. So pay attention!


DOGS: We love dogs! However, due to the amount of runners on the trails, dogs are not allowed to run with racers or pacers. We prefer that you leave canine friends at home-- But if spectators must bring them to the finish area, dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and please clean up after them. Also, keep them away from the finish-line area. We reserve the right to send troublesome dogs to the far end of the campground, away from other spectators. Additional rules can be found on our website.

 

MEDICAL/EMERGENCY INFO

Aid Stations will be equipped with basic medical supplies and emergency personnel. Also, our aid stations are not equipped to give fluid IV’s. so please BE WISE!!  The finish line is manned by PICK PT Physical Therapy and NP Brandi Smith (the wife of RD Jeremy Smith) in addition to several other medical staff. Be nice to all medical personnel and help them do their job by staying hydrated and staying within your capabilities at all times! Cell phone service is very limited, even at race HQ. No service at N. Indian AS.

 

AID STATIONS

A variety of food and drink items including medical supplies and miscellaneous items like bug spray, etc, will be available at all aid stations. Honey Stinger Gels and Tailwind are available at every aid station. Standard race fare such as ginger ale, coke, chips, candy, fruit, and additional, more substantial foods will also be available. Aid stations are run by VOLUNTEERS who are doing their best to help you finish your race. Please be gracious and supportive of all volunteers-- Any complaints can be made to the race-board at any time, but volunteers are off-limits for complaints! The backcountry aid stations filter water from nearby creeks and especially for the 50k’ers, may momentarily run out of water due to high demand so ALL runners MUST fill up all water (prefer 2L per runner) at N. Indian Cr the last time leaving there, and then plan to TOP OFF at Garden Gnome AS. Planning to fill up empty containers at Garden Gnome may cause you to wait in line at Garden Gnome AS, especially during the 50k.

 

PACERS

The 100-mile race is the only race allowing pacers. 100 milers can have 1 pacer at a time, and pacers must wear a ‘pacer’ bib that will be picked up at packet pickup. Pacers can start anytime after mile 41 at North Indian Creek and can be switched at mile 50, 59, or 79. No hiking into an AS to pace from there.

 

SPECTATOR/CREW REGULATIONS:

Racers are responsible for their crew and/or spectators. Please share the following race rules and info with all crew and family/spectators and share this website linke for them to read through:

Parking at the start/finish: Spectators/Crew are asked to carpool and DRIVE CAREFULLY!

Parking at North Indian Creek Aid Station: Crew for 50k, 50 milers, and 100 milers. Parking on the road is just fine once the aid station parking lot is full. Please do not ‘camp out’ at the station hours and hours in advance of your runner’s arrival. And once your runner is gone, please exit the station quickly and safely.


THERE IS NO CAMPING AT THE N. INDIAN CR. TRAILHEAD PARKING LOT- Crew/family who attempt to set up tents, RVs, hammocks, etc at this station will risk a DQ for their runner

Hiking: Due to the high number of runners on the trail, we ask that non-racers/pacers do not hike into remote aid stations.


FINISH LINE: We realize that crew/family are eager to wait at the top of the steps for their runner-- And while we love and encourage those special moments, we do ask that family/crew do not gather and wait at the top of the final steps until their runner's name is called by the announcer (giving crew 2-3 minutes to gather up) and then after the finish line is crossed, finishers and their crew/family are asked to move 'quickly' to the designated spectator's area to allow more spaces at the finish line. Remember that dogs are not allowed in the finish-line area.

 

AWARDS

All finishers from the 13.1/50k/50 mile will receive a handsome Idaho-made wooden finisher's medal by Jeff Fullmer’s wife Jill!

Our 100 mile finishers earn a 22-oz, locally designed and crafted belt buckle that is SURE to occupy a special place in your trophy case! If actually wearing to display it, it is recommended to wear a belt AND suspenders. Ha!

The top 3 male and female finishers for each race will receive AWESOME overall awards!  

This year, we are also awarding the top male and top male female finisher with a handsome age-group award, in the following groups: 

<20, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60+

Some of the age groups will be combined that don't have at least 3 runners in that age group. We have some 50+ all combined or an under-30 category. If you win a podium award you will not win an age group award. Below are the awards for 2024 (still in progress but almost finished.)

 

RACE SPONSORS

Please show your gratitude to our sponsors by reaching out to them, exploring the possibility of working with them or paying for their services before and/or after the race. Be sure to tell them THANKS for supporting the Palisades Ultra! Sponsors List: PickPT and Tailwind. You will notice our sponsorship list is pretty short. Small local homegrown races have lost a lot of sponsors over the past few years since COVID-19. We do the best with what we have but generally end up having to cover all our costs with entry fees alone. Anyone wanting to get into Race Directing to make money has a surprise coming for them!


TRAIL MARKERS:

**The trail markers will be clearly placed.

**With regards to navigation during the race, remember the following when out on the course:

  1. NEVER leave a perfectly good trail (unless our markers/signs indicate that you should!)

  2. Take your TIME at intersections!

  3. If you have to step off the trail for a potty break, and you are a back-of-the-pack runner… Be sure to leave a backpack or something on the trail so the sweepers don’t pass you by!

  4. SOME SECTIONS might not have a race markers for 1/2 mile or more--Don't worry, all turns are WELL MARKED and there will be plenty of confidence markers as well!

  5. You can see what the course markings look like on our website here. In addition, we will have some filler markers that are bright orange and safety yellow ribbon and signs at critical turns.


WEATHER-REPORT

Likely to be HOT! Most years are also pretty dry. Experience tells us that things can always be a bit cooler up high, especially at night and at the race start. And expect wind up high and in the canyons at night! Look up “Irwin, Idaho” to get the best location for weather reports.

 

POST-RACE FOOD: 

All runners will receive a ticket for 1 post-race meal. Family and friends are asked to ‘donate’ a minimum of $10 per person to eat at the finish line. Please pre-pay for tickets on ultrasignup, cash-only will be accepted for meals on-site.

If food supplies run low, we reserve the right to preserve food for pre-paid runners and their families. PURCHASE MEAL VOUCHERS IN ADVANCE (by Wednesday) on ULTRASIGNUP!

We’ve got a new caterer for 2024– But we will still be serving 2 distinct ‘finish line meals’ – Meal #1 will go from 8am until about 11:30am, and will essentially include a main course plus drinks. This is basically for early-finishing 100 milers, as well as the vast majority of ½ marathon finishers. This planned meal is likely to be something along the lines of Eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, fruit, granola, yogurt, and a drink.

Meal #2: Starting at about 11:30am, and continuing until 6:00pm, the finish-line meal will be cold drinks, a main course along the lines of tacos with cheese, black beans, lettuce, mango salsa, and chips.

ALL meals will be served in a styrofoam clamshell bowl, so you can grab your food and eat right there, or take your meal anywhere else to eat.


RACE MERCHANDISE

WE WILL ACCEPT CREDIT CARD SALES OR CASH OF PREVIOUS-YEAR SHIRTS, CUSTOM BOCO HATS AND VISORS, CUSTOM VACUUM BOTTLES, AND MORE! CHECK OUT THE SALES BOOTH AT THE MAIN LODGE AT REGISTRATION OR AFTER YOUR RACE TO SCORE SOME SWEET SWAG! 


RACE REPORTS

If you still want more info of what its like being out on the course and to prepare even more, please read some of our race reports. Please note we have made some big changes since year one so the most recent reports will best prepare you. You can find the race reports here.


FINALLY….

REMEMBER THESE THREE IMPORTANT POINTS FOR THE PUTS:

1. IF ITS WET- WALK THROUGH IT!

2. IF ITS GREEN-- GET AWAY FROM IT!

3. IF IT GROWLS-- GET THE HECK OUT OF THERE!

WE WILL SEE YOU IN A FEW DAYS!!


SINCERELY, 

YOURS IN BLOOD, SWEAT, AND STINGING NETTLE,

THE PALISADES ULTRA RACE BOARD


P.S. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram @palisadesultra to see the latest updates, pictures and videos before, during, and after the race!

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