The first running of the Elkhorn Mountain Endurance Runs 100K took place on the roads and trails in the Elkhorn Mountains in 1989. The race founders, accomplished ultra marathon runners Jim and Bobbie Pomeroy, wanted to show off the beauty and challenge of trail running in Montana to other ultra runners.
The Elkhorn 100K attracted runners from all over the United States and Canada, with participants from as far away as Australia and England. A 50K option was added in 1997.
The Elkhorn Mountain Endurance Runs created interest ultra marathon running in the local area. A group of local runners, loosely organized as the Helena Ultra Runners League (HURL) took over organization of the event in 2005. HURL changed the race format to a 50 mile run using more trail and less road than the original event, and changed the name to the HURL Elkhorn Endurance Runs.
A 50K distance was added in 2006, and a 23K option was added in 2010.
New courses were laid out for all distances for the 2012 event, so that we could incorporate the historic Town of Elkhorn into the 50 mile course. All three courses were revised in 2015 to accommodate a new start/finish area. This change took out some of the maintained road sections of the course and replaced it with single track.
The 2021 event will feature a few changes to all three courses. The changes will result in runners and aid station volunteers being out of the most remote sections of the course before dark. The difficulty of extracting runners from these remote locations is compounded after nightfall. For those familiar with the course, you will run the southern loop first, which also means you’ll have fresh legs for the big climb to Elk Park aid station! On the northern return loop, you will no longer be going through Jackson Creek. The changes mean all three events will be a little shorter; the distances now are approximately 50 miles, 50 kilometers, and 13.1 miles.
All trail portions of the course are in remote, roadless areas. You may encounter horseback riders, bicycle riders, or hikers on the trails, but all trails are for non-motorized use only. The primitive road portions of the 50 mile and 50K courses may be used by ATV and four-wheel drive vehicles, but access is still very difficult. You may also encounter deer, elk, moose, and bear anywhere along the courses.
We don’t have and don’t want the hype of some of today’s large ultramarathon events. Our goal is to provide runners with a memorable, challenging, back country, Montana mountain running experience. We hope to see you soon at the HURL Elkhorn Endurance Runs!