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Morehead, Kentucky is now Kentucky's go-to spot for trail running with the Big Turtle 50 Miler!  The Big Turtle is a fun and challenging trail running event that follows the northern section of the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail.  Why Big Turtle?  Well, back in the day the Shawnee gave Daniel Boone the nickname "Sheltowee" which means "Big Turtle."  

The race is an out and back course that runs from beautiful downtown Morehead to the northern terminus of the Sheltowee Trace and back.  50K-ers and 10 Milers turn back sooner.  

This race will give you a little bit of everything:  rolling meadows, steep climbs and descents, rugged terrain, creek crossings, fast forest roads, and amazing spring views of the surrounding foothills.  The Big Turtle is a challenge that only a select few have been able to conquer.  Sign up today to test yourself at one of the biggest trail races in Kentucky.


Start Time:  7:00am

Cut-Off:  7:00pm (12 hours)

10 Miler

Start Time:  9:00am

Cut-Off:  2:00pm (5 hours)

50 Miler

Start Time:  7:00am

Cut Off:  10:00pm (15 hours)

NOTE: The Event Guide is your one resource for all relevant information. You can bookmark that document, print it, or download it. Just know that if you print it or download the Event Guide it may be updated after you do so.

Pre-Race Packet Pickup, Meeting, & Meal

Location: Laughlin Health Building Gymnasium, Morehead State University

Date/Time: April 24, 2020 4:30pm-7pm

Packet pickup begins at 4:30pm. Meal begins at 5pm. Announcements and presentation at 5:30pm.

**The pre-race meeting is not required but will be extremely beneficial to runners. Pre-race announcements will be covered as well as important details from the Race Directors.

Meal Tickets

Meal tickets must be purchased for $10 for anyone wishing to eat dinner.  Meal tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased via Ultrasignup (click the button below). Meal tickets may also be purchased on site on Friday night. Attendees must have a meal ticket in order to eat dinner at the Friday night event.


Race Day Packet Pickup & Check In

Location: Laughlin Health Building Gymnasium, Morehead State University

Times: 50M & 50K: 6:00am-6:50am; 10M: 7:30am-8:50am*

*No 10 Miler check in prior to 7:30am. This is to ensure that the 50K and 50M runners get through the line quickly so we can start on time.

Pre Race Meeting / Announcements IN THE GUYM

Time: 6:50am (50M & 50K); 8:50am (10M)

Race Start

Time: 7:00am (50M/50K); 9:00am (10M)

Crews, Pacers, & Drop Bags

IMPORTANT: Reference the Official Event Guide below for complete details on Crew locations, driving directions, and other instructions.


50 Mile runners may have a crew. 50K and 10 Mile runners may not. 50 Mile runners can see their crew FOUR TIMES at three separate locations. Those are:

  1. Dry Branch Aid Station - Mile 15 & 35

  2. Terminus Aid Station - Mile 25

  3. Big Perry Aid Station - Mile 40


Only 50 Mile runners may have a pacer. 50 Milers can pick up their pacer at two locations:

  1. Dry Branch Aid Station - Mile 35

  2. Big Perry Aid Station - Mile 40

Drop Bags

50 Mile runners and 50K runners may have drop bags. 50 Milers can have three drop bags. 50K runners may have 2. Drop bag locations are:

  1. Big Perry Aid Station - 50K & 50M

  2. Dry Branch Aid Station - 50K & 50M

  3. Terminus Aid Station - 50M Only

Awards and SWAG

All registered runners receive Big Turtle bumper stickers, a race shirt, and other SWAG from our sponsors.

All finishers receive a finisher medal. Top 3 men and women at each distance receive a special hand made award.

Overall male and female champions of the Big Turtle 50 Miler receive FREE ENTRIES into the 2021 Big Turtle 50 Miler!


The Big Turtle 50 Miler is an out and back route along the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail.  All runners start in downtown Morehead on the campus of Morehead State University.  50 Milers will run The Trace all the way from downtown Morehead to the trails northern terminus in northern Rowan County.  50k runners will turn around at the Boy Meets World Aid Station (mile 15.6) and 10 Milers will turn around at the mile 5 Saved By The Bell Aid Station.

The race will start and finish on the lawn of the Laughlin Health Building on the campus of Morehead State University.  Runners will run approximately a half mile through the Morehead State University campus before reaching the trail head at Eagle Lake.  Then you are on the Trace!

The 50 mile course has approximately 8,000 feet of elevation gain and equal descent.  The 50K course will give you approximately 3,800 feet of elevation gain and equal descent.  10 Milers will see approximately 1,600 feet of elevation gain and descent.*  Click the buttons below for maps, turn by turn directions, and downloadable GPS files.

*All distances and elevations are based on GPS data and are approximate.

Review the Big Turtle Event Guide for aid station distances and cut off times.



The Big Turtle 50 Miler trail races take place along Kentucky's long trail:  the Sheltowee Trace.  The races will start and finish on the lawn of the Laughlin Health Building on the campus of Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky.  Parking for racers will be available at the University overflow parking lot at East Wilkinson Blvd. and University Blvd.  Runners make a short walk to the Laughlin Building for the start of the race.

For directions to the parking lot use the following address and/or GPS coordinates:

Overflow Parking, University Blvd., Morehead, KY 40351

GPS Coordinates:  38.186480, -83.429045

The start and finish line is at Morehead State University's Laughlin Health Building, University Blvd., Morehead, KY 40351. (see Parking map above)


All runners must abide by and follow the official rules as specified in the Next Opportunity Events Race Participation Policy.

All participants must agree to the Race Participation Policy as part of the registration and waiver process. Please review the rules set forth in the Race Participation Policy to avoid disqualification and to ensure we have a safe, fair, and enjoyable event.



+ Do I still get a finisher's award if I make all the aid station cut offs but miss the finish line cut off?

Yes. Everyone who runs the entire distance of the race will get a finisher award. However, missing the finish line cut off (or any aid station cut off) will result in a DNF as your official race result.

+ Are there restrooms on the course?

There will be a portable toilet at the 50K turnaround and the 50 Miler turnaround.


If you would like to volunteer for the 2020 Big Turtle 50 Miler event, click the button below.  We need happy, energetic folks for a number of duties from aid station workers, parking attendants, base camp workers, course marking, and more.  You must volunteer at least two hours to receive race discounts.  We'd love to have you with us.

*Read our volunteer policy HERE.

Volunteer Opportunities

Race Command Support

Assist with race timing, set up and tear down, communications, finish line support, and more. Run errands as needed, hand out medals, and generally ensure a positive finish line experience.


Aid station workers are the heart and soul of the race. You provide the energy, assistance, and enthusiasm to keep our runners pushing toward the finish. This is a critical role in terms of safety AND runner experience

Course Marshals

Like being out in the woods? Course marshals are out on the course at important intersections directing runners in the right direction. You make sure no one gets lost!

Aid Station Volunteer Opportunities

977A Aid Station

Location: FS-977L on Forestry Ridge Rd.

Volunteers Needed: 3-5 at all times

Time Open/Closed:  730am-845pm

Shifts: 645am-12pm, 12pm-4pm, 4pm-915pm

Dry Branch Aid Station

Location: Gray’s Arch Picnic Area, Tunnel Ridge Rd

Volunteers Needed: 4-6 at all times

Time Open/Closed:  9am-530pm

Shifts: 830am-1pm, 1pm-6pm

Big Perry Aid Station

Location: Forestry Ridge Rd and Big Perry Road

Volunteers Needed: 3-5 at all times

Time Open/Closed: 815am-7pm

Shifts: 730am-12pm, 12pm-4pm, 4pm-730pm

Terminus Aid Station

Location: Rough Trail Trailhead, Sky Bridge Road

Volunteers Needed: 2-3 at all times

Time Open/Closed:  1015am-3pm

Shifts: 915am-345pm

Elk Lick Aid Station

Location: Elk Lick Road @ Sheltowee Trace

Volunteers Needed: 3-4 at all times

Time Open/Closed:  915am-5pm

Shifts: 830am-1pm, 1pm-545pm

Big Turtle 50K034.jpg


There are TONS of lodging options in Morehead, Kentucky.  We are currently working with local lodging providers to get you deals, so please check back here soon for more info on that.  Until then, check out this web site for complete info on the lodging that is available in town: 

Thanks to our sponsors at Morehead Tourism for making the Big Turtle possible!