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Black Forest Ultra

Are you ready to exercise your demons?

One of the toughest 100k trail ultras in the Northeast. Midnight start. No crews. No pacers. No spectators. Diabolically epic!

Experience the brutal yet stunning beauty of the Black Forest Trail deep in the mountains of the Pennsylvania Wilds. Climb to astounding views of the surrounding peaks and valleys and run through an assortment of forest types ranging from pine plantations, giant hemlocks and red spruce - all in the peak of fall colors. But beware, some of these beautiful vistas require climbing elevation gains of over 1,000 ft in under a mile! The course is a lollipop with over 13,400 ft of elevation gain; this is a tough and taxing course without a doubt and to add a twist to the equation, the course reverses each year so that the majority of elevation gain alternates from the back half of the course to the front half. Top it off with the race starting at midnight in the inky blackness and a strict 19 hours to complete the course!

Not hard enough you say? Here's a few more layers of pain we throw at you. No crews. No pacers. No spectators. Some are calling this the evil and twisted step brother of the Worlds End 100k. No matter how you classify this beast, be prepared to exercise your demons!

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SIGN UP NOW - If you dare!

Registration is first come, first served.
Registration is OPEN

Race Date: October 6, 2024
Capacity: 200 runners
Cost: $155 (until January 1, 2024)
$175 (after January 2, 2024)

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spectators

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CREW or Pacers

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aid stations

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Hours

Qualification Standards

The difficulty of the terrain means this is NOT an entry-level race. Each potential participant will be reviewed by the race directors after we receive the completed registration. At a minimum, all participants must have completed at least one 50k trail race within the advertised cut-off time before signing up. This must be within 3 years of the registration date. If you have a race that is not a 50k but has a high degree of difficulty, it may be an exception to the above standard - just email us to find out if the race may qualify you. Be sure that your race is an official race with results published on a publicly available website. Timed races can not be used as a qualifying race. You must have completed a qualifying race before registering.

Registration Details

SIGN UP NOW - If you dare!

Black Forest Ultra Details:
Event date: Sunday October 6, 2024
Start time: 12:01am
Cutoff time: 7:00pm (19 hours)
Start/Finish: Pavilion 1 at Hyner Run State Park
- Pre-Race Meeting: Saturday 11:30pm (Highly Recommended)

Directions to Race Parking

Bib Pick Up:
Saturday October 5
Noon to 6pm @ Mountain Top & Provisions
Come early and enjoy great food with fellow runners!
10:00pm to midnight @ Pavilion 1 at Hyner Run State Park

Directions to Early Bib Pick Up

Refunds

We will refund $50 of your entry fee until September 8, 2024. Race registrations are not transferable to other participants or future races. Please consider these factors very carefully before registering. Please use your registration profile to request a refund.

Request a Refund

As a Trail Sisters Approved race, we will continue to offer a pregnancy & postpartum refund as we have in the past. Whether planned or unplanned, expected or unexpected, start or end of a pregnancy, healing and recovery time are required for a women’s overall health. Please contact us for a refund option.

Course Information

How diabolical can it be?

Below you will find the official elevation profile, course map, and aid station planner. Click on each preview to view each document. You can download them to your computer and print them if you so choose to do so. We've also included links to Caltopo and ultraPacer. UltraPacer is an excellent tool to plan out your running strategy based on actual course data. Give it a try, it's super useful and fun!

ultraPacer (Odd Year) ultraPacer (Even Year) Caltopo Map (Odd & Even)

Elevation Profile / Aid Stations (Even Year)

Aid station details, elevation profile, and cut-off times for the race on an EVEN year.

Course Map

The official course map for every year.

Elevation Profile / Aid Stations (Odd Year)

Aid station details, elevation profile, and cut-off times for the race on an ODD year.

  • The course is divided into 2 sections. The first section is called "the stick" while the second section is called "the loop" and together they make the lollipop shape of the course.
  • The stick is made up of the Donut Hole Trail (blazed orange) and the T-Squared Trail (blazed yellow). The entire length of the stick will be marked with orange flagging with reflective tags. This section will be utilized twice in the race, first to connect to the Black Forest Trail during the night and then again in the daylight to return to the finish. So you will get to experience this section in the dark and in the light.
  • Once you reach the Black Forest Trail (blazed orange), you are now entering the loop. Signs at the junction will direct you in the direction runners will follow for the year. Orange ribbon with reflective tags will persist on the trail until slightly beyond aid station 3 (Hill of Difficulty) to assist participants on navigation through the night. Once past Hill of Difficulty, you will follow only orange blazes with just occasional orange ribbons at difficult intersections. Upon completion of the Black Forest Trial, you will be directed back onto the stick to make your way back to the finish line. Remember, the stick will still be flagged with orange ribbon!
  • The only time you exit the Black Forest Trail loop is to access Giant Despair. This section of trail to the aid station will be marked with orange ribbon. The total mileage to access the aid station and return is approximately 1/2 mile.

Aid Station Information

  • In an effort to be more sustainable and friendly towards the environment, the Black Forest Ultra is a cupless race. All runners will need to carry their own reusable cup throughout the race to use at aid stations. We highly suggest those who wish not to carry as much water between aid stations to invest in a Katadyn BeFree or other similar water filter. This method is incredibly convenient and fast for both training and on race day and we highly encourage runners to consider adding this equipment to their kit.
  • Aid stations are well stocked with fluids and a variety of foods. The fluids that are generally available are: water, hydration/energy drink, ginger ale and cola.
  • The late stage aid stations will also normally have soup and hot coffee. The foods that are generally available are: salt replacement foods such as saltines, pretzels, chips; fruits such as oranges, bananas, and melons; potatoes, cookies, candies, sandwiches, etc.
  • Aid stations also try to have their own unique foods available throughout the course. We try hard to have vegetarian options available but we cannot guarantee the ability to accommodate all dietary choices and restrictions.
  • Aid stations will not provide Ibuprofen or Naprosyn to any runner. Runners are welcome to carry medication or store medication in their own drop bags.

Drop Bags

You may have a drop bag with additional race supplies at every aid station. Aid station 1 and 5 are at the same location, so only one drop bag is needed for this location - we will keep your bag there for the duration of the race. We recommend a waterproof bag or small secure container in case of rain. Inside, you may want food or nutrition items that are not offered at the aid station such as gels, chews or powders that you use in training. We also recommend extra batteries, extra socks or shoes and layers of clothing (gloves, jacket, long sleeve shirt, rain jacket, etc.) depending on weather conditions. Please be mindful of the size of your drop bag; we will not transport large duffel bags, suitcases, or coolers!

Please label your drop bags with your name, bib number and aid station location.

The drop bag drop off location is located at the start line adjacent to Pavilion 1. You may place your drop bags starting at 10:00pm Saturday evening. Please place your drop bags in the appropriate aid station location - remember aid station 1 and 5 are at the same location. We do try and check each pile to ensure each drop bag is going to the correct aid station but it is the runners responsibility to correctly label and correctly place in the proper designated aid station pile.

Drop bags need to be picked up the conclusion of the event. Participants have 2 weeks following the event to request drop bags be mailed back to them providing they cover cost of time, packaging, and shipping fees. The event organizers are not responsible for pursuing participants leaving items at the race nor in case of accidental loss at the race or during shipping. After 2 weeks, participants forfeit all items left at the event.

Service Requirement

Black Forest Ultramarathon requires four (4) hours of volunteer service or a donation to our Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation fund (PPFF). You must have completed your service requirement or donation prior to race day.

1 - Buddy or solo work is an acceptable way to fulfill your requirements. You do not need to volunteer in team or group work days or at races. Coordinate with your local park, race director, etc., before starting any work. Unless you're doing trash pick up, don't go into the woods with tools and do you're own thing. It's extremely easy to email a race director, running club, or local hiking club that maintain trails and ask what work can be done. Someone is going to need to sign off the form anyhow. General spring trail maintenance that includes pruning back over grown trails and moving dead fall off the trail is a large help to our trail systems. A pair of snips, loppers, and work gloves can go a long way in helping keep our trails accessible and looking their best.

Service Requirement Form Submit Forms Here

2 - Our aim with our service hours is to bring our running community together and get people more involved with the trail racing scene but if doing trail maintenance or volunteering isn't in the cards, then we have another option for you. All participants can donate $50, in lieu of performing physical work for service hours, to the Black Forest Trail fund that is held through the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation. All funds go directly to the state park/forest! Your donation will automatically be recorded - no form needed.

Donate to the Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Fund

The Black List

The Black List is dedicated to those who can complete the Pennsylvania Triple Crown of Mountain Running Series plus the Black Forest Ultra 100k in a single season. The PA Triple Crown series is tough enough on it's own but this last swift kick in the drawers will leave a lasting impression and solidify your elite status as one of the few that can successfully get their names on this list!

Course Records

Eric Kosek

Men's 100k Even Course Record
12:57:18 ('22)

Michael Heistand

Men's 100k Odd Course Record
12:59:11 ('23)

James Gehenio

Oldest Man
61 years old ('22)

Jared Groff

Youngest Man
23 years old ('22)

Rhoda Smoker

Women's 100k Even Course Record
14:33:50 ('22)

Justyna Wilson

Women's 100k Odd Course Record
14:13:20 ('23)

Julie Pentico

Oldest Woman
53 years old ('21)

Kaylee Fredrick

Youngest Woman
18 years old ('23)

Snapshots from the Black Forest

A catalog of images from past races

This collection of images is an attempt to showcase what you might be in for. Click the button below to see the dark secrets of the Black Forest!

Snapshots from the Black Forest Ultra

Race Rules

Crew/Pacer/Spectator Rules

  • No crews, pacers, spectators, or any support of any kind is allowed at any aid station or along any part of the course. No one is allowed to drop or store supplies along the race route and runners are not allowed outside aid between checkpoints unless it is an emergency.
  • No unofficial or unregistered runners are permitted.
  • Every runner's bib must be clearly visible on the front of the body at all times.
  • Runners must follow the marked course at all times.
  • Mandatory kit must be carried by all participants at all times to include an emergency blanket, whistle, hat or buff and windproof jacket (weather depending). A headlamp or similar lighting equipment and spare batteries shall be available at the appropriate time.
  • No pets on the course.
  • Littering of any kind is strictly prohibited.
  • Race staff will be tracking runner's progress around the course. It is the responsibility of the runner to make sure the race bib is visible to communication teams and to check IN and OUT of each aid station, even if you are just passing through without stopping. The communications team at the aid station will record your arrival and relay your progress to race headquarters.
  • Aid station captains will strictly enforce the cut-off times that are posted for designated aid stations. Runners must check OUT of the aid station before the cut-off time. Runners who return to an aid station after the cut-off time will be pulled from the race.
  • If any runner can’t complete the race, they must notify an aid station captain and surrender their race bib, which will officially withdraw them from the race. If a runner leaves the race and doesn’t show up at the next aid station within a reasonable time, we’ll assume they’re lost and will notify authorities. This could threaten the race’s future permits. Leaving a race without informing an aid station captain may mean disqualification and restriction from entry in future races.
  • It is ultimately the runner's responsiblility to follow the correct course. You will need to carry the course using your built-in navigation on a smart watch or phone’s built-in GPS to see your location on the course at all times even while in airplane mode and without cell coverage. Cell coverage is poor or nonexistent in portions throughout the course.
  • Any runner who crosses the finish line after the 19 hour limit will not be an official finisher.

The Black Forest Ultra is a no crew, no pacer, no spectator ultramarathon designed to challenge the true wilderness trail runner. NO crews, pacers, spectators, or any support of any kind is allowed at any aid station or along any part of the course. If you're scared to be alone at night in the deep dark woods or have always preferred to bring your blankie on your runs, this race isn't for you! If you need a little extra pampering but still want to be challenged, best to look at our Worlds End 100k.

We are especially sensitive to our participants following the no spectator rule for several reasons, and we will enforce it and penalize participants rigorously. The race directors did not invent this rule just to make the race more difficult rather the race has certain stipulations that must be met in our permits with the Department of Conservation and Nature Resources (DCNR). Each aid station has a very limited amount of parking and they must be utilized by the race staff.  The different forestry roads the course crosses cannot accommodate spectators and will block race staff from getting to different parts of the course along with the general public who may be utilizing the trails. We cannot stress enough the importance of participants adhering to this rule so we can continue to hold this race. If there is any question that someone is there to spectate or crew for a participant, the participant can be disqualified and pulled immediately from the race. This may result in a ban for participating in future races.