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September 12, 2020

Breaks Interstate Park, Virginia & Kentucky

Please review our Refund & Transfer Policies prior to registering.


Race Info


Breaks Interstate Park is one of only two such interstate parks in the United States. Located on the Kentucky-Virginia border, "The Grand Canyon Of The South" received its name by the "break" caused in the rugged Pine Mountain by millions of years of erosion by the nearby Russel Fork River. It is the largest canyon east of the Mississippi River and reaches craggy depths of over 1,600'.  Daniel Boone is often credited for being the first person of European descent to discover the 5-mile long gorge in 1767.

The Breaks Ultra trail race is an extreme challenge for any runner. Starting and finishing within Breaks Interstate Park in Virginia, the race takes runners back and forth across the Kentucky-Virginia border and up and over the ruggedly tough Pine Mountain numerous times. Your breath will be taken away by the beauty of the scenery and the extreme challenge of the terrain at the same time. This 45(ish) mile race will challenge even the best trail runners out there.

The Race

Distance: 45(ish) miles

Elevation Gain*: 12,000’

Start Time:  6:00am on Saturday, September 12, 2020

Cut Off:  10:00pm on Saturday, September 12, 2020

*This number is an average. Elevation data varies based on your tracking device. Previous Breaks runners have clocked as little as 11,200’ and as much as 14,500’ of vertical gain.

Pre Race meeting and dinner

Our pre race meeting and dinner will take place at Conference Center at Breaks Interstate Park on Friday night before the race.  We will have packet pickup, a meal, and a pre-race meeting (packet pickup will be available on race day as well).

The pre-race meal on Friday night is $10 per person and must be paid at the Conference Center restaurant once you are on site. Pre-race meal tickets will NOT be sold in advance.

Friday, September 11th

4:30pm-7:00pm (meal begins at 5pm. Pre-Race meeting at 6:00)

Conference Center

Breaks Interstate Park

Click here for directions to the Conference Center.

Race Day Packet Pickup and Check In

Saturday, September 12


Shelter 1 across from the Breaks Interstate Park Conference Center.

Please park in the lots next to the amphitheater, Shelter 1, and the upper lot of the lodges. The lower lots are for hotel guests only.


entrance criteria

All runners must be 18 years of age or older to participate.  No exceptions.

There is no official qualifier requirement for the Breaks Ultra; however, we ask that you understand one thing. THIS IS NOT A RACE FOR FIRST TIMERS. The terrain is treacherous, and the elevation is extreme for a race of this distance. If you have not completed an ultramarathon in the past, this is not the race to start. The Breaks Ultra requires experienced trail runners due to the variations in terrain, complexity of navigating the course, and elevation levels. It is HIGHLY recommended that you run at least one 50K race prior to running the Breaks.

mandatory gear

All runners must carry the following mandatory gear for the duration of the race.  This is non-negotiable.  

  • Capacity to carry minimum 20oz of water (bottles or bladder)

    • Your mandatory hydration will be checked at the start line. Failure to have this at the start of the race or at any aid station will result in disqualification. This is a safety issue due to the extreme conditions of the race course. This is non-negotiable.

    • Breaks is CUPLESS. There will be NO CUPS ON THE RACE COURSE AT ANY OF THE AID STATIONS. There will be water, Sword, and Coke at each aid station; but the aid stations will not have cups. Collapsible cups are available for purchase for $5 during registration or on Friday night at packet pickup.

  • Headlamp

    • Beginning at 5:00pm aid station volunteers will begin checking runners for headlamps at the mile 31(ish) Carson Island aid station.

    • Runners not OUT of the Carson Island aid station by 5pm must show their headlamp to the aid station volunteers.

    • Runners who do not have a headlamp at that point will not be allowed to continue.

    • OUR ADVICE: Just pack a headlamp regardless of when you think you'll finish!!!!

For questions regarding mandatory gear please EMAIL US.

Awards and SWAG

All participants receive a race shirt.
All finishers receive a customized Finisher Award made by your Race Directors!

Top 3 men and women receive a hand made axe.

Overall male and female champions of the Breaks Ultra receive FREE ENTRY into the following year's race to defend your crown!


Stick around and hang with us at the shelter after you finish. We’ll be grilling food, tossing back some local brews, and high fiving runners as they finish. A random game of horseshoes or frisbee may just erupt without notice as well!

CREWs , pacers, AND drop bags

Crews and pacers will be allowed for all competitors.  Crews may access their runner at the Carson Island aid station ONLY. This is mile 32(ish).

All runners may also have a drop bag at two locations.  Drop bags will be available at the following aid stations:

  1. Birch Knob Aid Station - Mile 18

  2. Carson Island Aid Station - Mile 32.4

Pacers may join their runner at Elkhorn City at mile 32.4 and not before.

NOTE:  Please reference the following Event Guide for full event details.  This document will be updated as new information is made available.  


Our start and finish line is at the Shelter 1 picnic and playground area across from the Conference Center. There is a nice playground, charcoal grills, and plenty of sightseeing to be had while you are at the Breaks. Breaks Interstate Park also boasts several lodges, cabins, and even a water park! Bring your friends and family down to the Breaks to enjoy a fantastic weekend in the mountains.

Course Info

The Breaks Ultra is a 45(ish) mile trail running race on the Kentucky and Virginia border. The race starts and finishes at Breaks Interstate Park.  All runners start at the Breaks Interstate Park, follow a brief highway into Kentucky, and follow the breathtaking course over and along Pine Mountain before returning to the Park for the finish. 

The course has approximately 12,000 feet of elevation gain and equal descent*. That is nearly 24,000' of elevation change in 45 miles! Click the buttons below for maps, downloadable GPS files, elevation profiles, and more.

NOTE: Runners must cross the Russell Fork River twice during the race.

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

Aid Stations

There are 8 aid stations along the course. Three drop bag aid stations (at Middle Finger) and one crew aid station.

  1. Rat Hole: Mile 3.2
  2. Goldfish Pond: Mile 7.7
  3. Ranger Cabin: Mile 15.0
  4. Birch Knob: Mile 18.0*
  5. Ranger Cabin: Mile 21.0
  6. Goldfish Pond: Mile 27.9
  7. Carson Island: Mile 31.9**
  8. Rat Hole: Mile 38.1

For full aid station details please reference the Official Event Guide.

*Drop Bags

**Crew & Drop Bags

Alternate Route

In the event of extreme weather that makes the river impassible we will use the following Alternate Route.




start & Finish line: BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK - sHELTER 1

Breaks Interstate Park

627 Commission Cir

Breaks, VA 24607


Race Rules

All runners are expected to be familiar with and abide by the Next Opportunity Events Race Participation Policy. Review it below.

In addition to the rules and regulations listed in the Race Participation Policy, here are a few race-specific rules you must follow.

  1. All runners must check in and out of every aid station. This is to ensure that everyone is accounted for and that everyone runs the full distance of each race. If you do not check in/out at of any aid station you will be subject to disqualification. There will be a volunteer at each aid station responsible for checking each runner in and out. It is the runner's responsibility to make sure he or she gets checked in and out of every aid station. When you arrive at an aid station, announce your bib number and make sure that you get checked in. The same goes for when you leave the aid station. Any runner who does not check in/out of every aid station will be disqualified and will NOT receive a finisher award.

  2. Runners may NOT receive any aid from anyone else between aid stations. This includes crews at any location not designated as an official crew point. Muling by pacers is strictly prohibited.

  3. Crews are limited to one vehicle per runner at every aid station. The exception to this rule is at the start and finish line.



+ What if I can't swim?

The river crossing is not an open water swim. Most runners will be able to cross on foot, but the water is still deep. This is a river, not a creek. There will be a safety raft in the water with an experienced raft guide in case of emergency. There will also be a tight line tied across the crossing points for runners to hold onto. Just hold onto the rope, take your time, take care with your footing, and you can make it across.

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

For the Breaks Ultra, we do recognize those with the strength to make it the full distance. Runners who reach the finish line receive a finisher medal. Those who reach the finish line after teh 16-hour cut-off, however, will receive a DNF as your official race time and result.

+ Are there restrooms on the course?

There are vault toilets at the Birch Knob aid station and a restroom facility at the Rat Hole aid station.

+ What if the river is too high and I'm not comfortable crossing it?

Race Directors work closely with Breaks Interstate Park, Elkhorn City safety officials, and private safety consultants to determine the safety of the river crossing. If we collectively determine that the race week water levels are unsafe we will use our alternate route that does not include the river crossing. If the river crossing is deemed to be safe to cross then you must cross it in order to finish the race. Everyone must run the same route.

+ Can I have my crew meet me at Birch Knob?

No. In order to maintain fairness and the integrity of the event runners must have access to the same aid throughout the entire length of the race course. That means that everyone gets aid at the same locations, and everyone gets to access crew and pacers at the same location. Since Birch Knob is not an official crew point no runner may receive aid from their crew at that point.

Event Staff Positions

We need a small army of volunteers to pull off these races!  If you, your family, club, or organization are interested in volunteering please click the button below to fill out the quick sign-up form.

All Volunteers receive FREE Next Opportunity swag and discounted entry fees on future Next Opportunity Events races (must volunteer for a minimum of 2 hours).  


Available 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.

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!

Course Sweepers

The course sweepers are critical to the safety of runners. Sweepers follow the last runner ensuring everyone stays ahead of the race cut offs and that no one gets left behind.

Aid Stations

Rat Hole Aid Station

Location: Ratliff Hole River Crossing, Elkhorn City

Volunteers Needed: 3-4 at all times

Time Open/Closed:  630am-815pm

Goldfish Pond Aid Station

Location: Goldfish Pond along the PMT (access from Elkhorn City)

Volunteers Needed: 3-4 at all times

Time Open/Closed:  715am - 430pm

Ranger Cabin Aid Station

Location: Rte 611 near Blowing Rock, VA

Volunteers Needed: 3-4 at all times

Time Open/Closed:  8am - 215pm

Carson Island Aid Station

Location: Carson Island Road picnic shelter, Elkhorn City

Volunteers Needed: 4-6 at all times

Time Open/Closed:  1030am - 615pm

Birch Knob Aid Station

Location: Birch Knob Observation Tower

Volunteers Needed: 4-6 at all times

Time Open/Closed:  830am - 1pm



Breaks Interstate Park 

Breaks Interstate Park has lodging options for everyone! The park has over 80 hotel rooms in their lodge, lake front and woodland cabins, and a campground with 138 sites. Click the button below to see all of the lodging options available at Breaks Interstate Park.

HINT: If you stay in the Lodge you will be able to see your room from the finish line. No driving required on race day!