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Free State Trail Run

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Free State Trail Run

26.2-mile Trail Marathon

and 1/2-Marathon

Saturday, April 19, 2014

8th Annual

Photo by Tyson Hofsommer.
100K Female winner, Olga Varlamova-King


2014 Online Registration is now open!  Click Here.

Snail Mail Entry Form


Race Details

Location: Clinton Lake State Park, in Lawrence, Kansas
40-miler & 100Km start: 7:00 AM,
Marathon start & 1/2 start: 8:00 AM

Loop course on rocky & hilly single-track trails.
Amenities: Food, gels, water and sports drink at the manned aid stations.  Post race meal, regular and vegan.  Post-race showers will be available right next to the race finish area, this year. Nicely-designed, technical event shirts, a logo'd mug, & unique finisher's "hardware.
" The marathon, half, and 40-mile finishers get custom medals, and the 100-Km finishers get a custom-made pewter belt buckle.  Camping and showers are available within the State Park.
Prizes for age group winners. 

Race director:

Ben Holmes 816-810-0440

"A major shout-out is due to the Kansas City Trail Nerds. They have done such a phenomenal job in organizing KC metro area trail races, and yesterday was no exception. Their volunteers are always gracious, the courses at races are well-marked, aid stations are stocked to the gills, and they just have their overall act together. Some race organizers should follow their lead and take logistics lessons from the KC Trail Nerds."
- NYC Native  (
More Here)

"Your races are some of the best around in my eyes. You choose great trails to have the races on and the staff and volunteers that man the aid stations are always great and extremely helpful. I think you have some of the best aid station workers of any trail race I've participated in. The overall organization and feel of the race is superb."
- Jeremy Duncan, Trail Runner Magazine

Trail Nerds Support:

Course: A loop course on rocky single-track trails. "But it's Kansas, how tough could it be?"  The marathon is one very-large 26.2-mile loop. The 40-mile course consists of two 20+ mile loops. The 100-Km course is three 20+ mile loops.
The course is held on single-track trails, (and some cross-country for the marathon).
Map of Courses.

Location: In beautiful Clinton State Park, in Lawrence, Kansas.

Date: Saturday, April 19, 2014

Start times:
7:00 a.m. for the 100K & 40-Miler. 8:00 a.m. for the Marathon and Half-Marathon. Chip timing will be used for all event distances.

2014 Online Registration is now open.  Click Here.

Well-designed technical t-shirts for all participants that enter prior to April 1, 2014. No guarantee of a shirt or proper size for later registrants.
All Entrants in all distances will also receive another race logo swag item!

Finishers' Medals: Finishers of the 100K will receive a pewter belt buckle.  40-Miler, Marathon and ½-Marathon finishers will receive a large, heavy, finisher's medal! All finishers will also receive a special (distance-specific) oval car stickers!

We will have hot food and cold drinks for all participants after your race; regular and vegan.  Showers are available, within 200 feet of the race start/finish.

Airport: Fly in to Kansas City International airport, (MCI). The race Start/Finish is just a one hour drive from the airport.  Map and directions.

Lodging and Restaurants: There are many lodging and dining opportunities within 5 miles from the race.  Camping is available, within 1/2-mile of the race location.

Packet Pickup: Packet Pickup will be at the Union Pacific Depot Building, located at 402 North 2nd Street, (Just north of downtown, across the bridge), Lawrence, Kansas from 11:00 AM to 5:30 PM on Friday, April 18, 2014. There will also be late packet pickup on race day at the start/finish area, one hour prior to your race.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions): Click Here

Race Reports, Photos, and Results for previous years.

 2014 Race Entry Fees:


April 18, 2014

At Packet Pick-up
on April 18, 2014

On Race Day
(April 19, 2014)

100K (limited to 60 entrants; it will fill-up)


























Join this Race's FB Page:

Photo by Tyson Hofsommer.
Photo by Tyson Hofsommer.
Ben by Gene Wee

2013 Race:

2013 Free State Trailrunners, Some wrap-up information…

If you have a race report, I’d like to post it or post a link of your blog post.  Please email me at and I’ll put it up onto the race webpage.

Here are some race photos available for free to you, (but paid for with race proceeds):
NEW: Tyson Hofsommer’s on-the-course photos, HERE 
Dick Ross ( start/finish line, special interest, and family photos, HERE 

can be found
HERE.  Again, if there was an issue with your results, please contact Raul at .

Special thanks to our sponsors:
the Michelob Ultra Team (for providing beer), Hammer Nutrition (aid station nutritional supplies), and the Moosejaw Crew (for their wonderful aid station).

Happy trails,
Ben Holmes

2013 Race Reports:

Danny Loental (100K)

Olga Varlamova-King (100K Female Winner)

Ed Husar (Trail Marathon)

Video by Adele Jordan:
What dreams (read nightmares) are made of…the "Red Trail" section of the Free State Trail Run.

Photo by Ed Husar

See all of our events HERE.

It's a Family Affair:

A Dick Ross Photo,
Ben Holmes with Jason Dunn and his Trailrunning kids!

Ben Smoker (40-Mile)

Short Video Clip of Red Trail (Ron Ruhs)


Thank you very much for putting on such a terrific race. I was very impressed with the organization and hard work you put into all of the events. A big thank you also to all of the volunteers.
When I got back to San Diego and looked at the race online, I was pleasantly surprised to find the link to the photographer's website who was offering free downloads of the pictures so I could share the wonderful experience with my friends and family. It was a terrific race with top notch, A+ race directing.
Thanks again for everything. No poison oak, never lost.
See you next year,
- Ben Hian (100K winner & record-setter)

Thank you for organizing the race. Although it was my first trail marathon, I think I have fallen in love with trail racing. It is much more challenging than road racing. I look forward to participating in the future. Thanks again!!!
- Brian D. Smith

Thank you so much Ben. Volunteers were great as always but that's a trail nerd event for you. ;)
- Ammanda Warren

Thanks for having a quality event! See you in July!
- Andy Emerson

Thanks for hosting this wonderful event. Psycho Wyco and Free State are the two best races I've done. I am now thinking about the Psycho Psummer (event).
- Xiao Geng

Thanks, as always, for running a great event. I've done every Nerd Event so far this year, and plan to keep that streak alive.
- Alex Beecher

My first Trail Nerd race and it was an absolute blast, thanks to everyone and that chili was incredible. Maybe next year I'll break 13hrs.
- Kevin Brown

Thanks Ben and crew.
- Gregg Mrkvicka

As always...awesome job by Bad Ben and all the volunteers. Mucho thanks to all. Cheers.
- Jeff Bird

Ben, thank you so much for putting on this event. I did the marathon and had a blast. It was my first official trail race and I plan to be back next year. I appreciate all you and the volunteers did to help us through the course. - Peter Benson

Hi Ben. I ran the Free State Trails 40 miler this past Saturday. Not only was this my first 40 miler but it was also my first time to Kansas. I wanted to tell you how awesome I thought the race was. Not only was the race very well organized, but it was very well marked so there was no question that I was going the correct way. The volunteers were beyond awesome! They made sure I had what I needed to make through. You have gorgeous trails there, that I wish I had more time to explore and enjoy via my running sneakers and my mt bike. The FREE pictures were also a very pleasant surprise. The fact that we had a gorgeous day just made the experience all the better. I may have to come back next year and earn myself a 100k belt buckle. :-)
Thanks again. -Corinna Stitt

Awesome event! You rock. I'll be back next year!!!
- J. Gibson

Great race. Thanks for putting it on.
- Chris Nicely

Thanks for a great event. Trail Nerd event bring out the best people because it is put on & worked by the best people. You rock like no other.
- Brian Warren

Thank you for everythng yesterday... was awesome making Free State my first Marathon 2 years ago... and my very first buckle this year!!!
- Erin Miller

Utterly fantastic job you did on this one – completely outdid yourself.  I think we should probably also thank God for fantastic weather leading up to the event and on the day, making a great event even better.
- Ben Smoker

Hello Ben,
I ran the Free State Trail Marathon this past weekend. Just wanted to say "thank you" to you and all your volunteers for putting on such a great event. This was my 32nd marathon overall, but my first on the trail. What a fabulous experience! The terrain was rough and unforgiving just as I had expected and strangely hoped it would be. I had a great time (as in race experience, not finish time)!! Well worth the road-trip from MN. Good luck to you and all the trail nerds with your future events.
- Michael Iserman, CSCS, ACSM-HFS, ACE-AHFS
President - Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA)

I'm guessing nobody else has mentioned this AT ALL, in any way, shape, or form, and I'll be the ONLY one to do so (yes, sarcasm), but.... fanfuckingtastic race as usual. There aren't any races out there that can hold a candle to the heart and soul of a Trail Nerd race. My favorite quote from yesterday's pre-race instructions... "If you get're an idiot and deserve to be brought down by natural selection." Or something along those lines. Thanks again for a wonderful event. I want a belt buckle next year. - Danny Loental



2011 Race

2011 Photos

2011 Results:


2011 Race Reports:

A major shout-out is due to the Kansas City Trail Nerds. They have done such a phenomenal job in organizing KC metro area trail races, and yesterday was no exception. Their volunteers are always gracious, the courses at races are well-marked, aid stations are stocked to the gills, and they just have their overall act together. Some race organizers should follow their lead and take logistics lessons from the KC Trail Nerds.
- NYC Native
More Here

Marathon by Halky

100K By Darin (Race Winner)

100K By Jay

40-Miler by David (three-time Race Winner)

Marathon By Indi

Half-Marathon by Chris

Photo by Dick Ross
Map to Start / Finish area below:

View Larger Map


Special Safety Information

Your safety is our primary concern.  In the event of severe weather (lightning, flooding, winds above 25 MPH, or tornado), we will shut the race down.  This happened at about 6:30 p.m. for the 2009 race.  In the event of a tornado siren sounding, please find your way to a cinder-block picnic/campground shelter and wait for the sirens and danger to subside.  Or, if severe winds suddenly hit your location, lay down in a ditch or low spot (that hasn’t yet filled with water), and put your hands over your head.  After the danger has passed, make your way to a paved road crossing or to a staffed aid station, so that we can get you back to your car or civilization, (such as it is in Kansas).

No Cups!
There will be plenty of aid along the course, but we must insist (for your safety) that you carry a water bottle or hydration system with you.  You will be disqualified for not carrying such. 
There will be no cups at the unstaffed aid stations so you will need to have something (other than your hands or mouth) to put the water into. 

Race Instructions

Speed Limits and ParkingObey all speed limits, signage, and parking regulations while driving in the park.  When arriving, stop at the front gate and pay the park entrance fee.   Watch for wild animals crossing the roads. Race Day Start Times40-miler & 100Km start: 7:00 AM, Marathon & Half-Marathon start: 8:00 AMShow up on race day about 1-hour prior to your race’s start time.  Please check-in at the registration table. Race BibsPlease pin your bib number to the FRONT of you somewhere, so that it is VISIBLE.  This race is not chip-timed, so we will need to see your bib number, to have an accounting of you in the results. No Littering!Littering on the course will not be tolerated and will result in removal from the race and the results. Flashlights or headlamps WILL BE REQUIRED to navigate the trails after dark. Each runner/pacer should plan accordingly. Backup batteries or flashlights are important. Special Weather-related Safety InformationYour safety is our primary concern.  In the event of severe weather (lightning, flooding, winds above 25 MPH, or tornado), we will shut the race down.  In the event of a tornado siren sounding, please find your way to a cinder-block picnic/campground shelter and wait for the sirens and danger to subside.  Or, if severe winds suddenly hit your location, lay down in a ditch or low spot (that hasn’t yet filled with water), and put your hands over your head.  After the danger has passed, make your way to a paved road crossing or to a staffed aid station, so that we can get you back to your car or civilization.  Injury ReportingIf you sustain any type of injury while on the course, you must report it to the next aid station.  We will have trained EMT’s on staff to assess and/or treat minor injuries.  If you sustain an injury that is deemed by the EMT staff to need further medical attention, you will not be allowed to continue in the race, and will be driven to an area hospital by our staff or by ambulance. 

Cut-off Times:

100K Cut-off Times:
There will be a 5:15 p.m. cut-off for 100K runners leaving the Main Aid Station for their final 21-mile loop.
The 5:15 cut-off may seem severe, but that's a 14:38 minute/mile pace, to make that cut-off.  History tells us that some folks will need every bit of the next 6-hours, 45-minutes to finish the last loop.  To attain the goal of making the initial cut-off, I tell people to not dilly-dally in the aid stations...that's where you will lose a LOT OF TIME. 
If you make the 5:15 cut-off, you could literally HIKE the last loop at a 19:17 minute/mile pace!  (This may not be as easy as it seems on trashed feet and AFTER DARK, though).
There are additional cut-offs (for your last loop) at Land's End (the middle aid station): 9:00 p.m.;
and a 10:30 p.m. cut-off at the Army Corp of Engineers (far end aid station).

40-Miler Cut-off Times:
There will be a 3:15 p.m. cut-off for 40-Mile runners leaving the Main Aid Station, for their 2nd (and last) 21-mile loop.
On that last loop, you had better reach the Army Corp of Engineer's Aid Station by 8:30 pm.  This would be an average pace of 2.35 MPH, or a pace of 25-minutes, 30 seconds per mile, up to that point.

To all runners:

Make sure that you have adequate lighting for the trail, after dark!  If you don't have lighting, you will be pulled from the race.
Cut-off Times are in the interest of your safety, and will be strictly enforced!

Dropping-down to another Distance or dropping-out of the race:  You can change your distance before the race until April 12th, by emailing Bad Ben.  And during the race, if you've bit-off more than you can chew, you can always drop, but you will need to notify the results team, so we aren't searching for you.  If you're running the 100K and drop down a loop (to 40 miles), you will get a 40-mile finisher's medal, but you will not be counted in your new distance's results; you will be in a separate "dropped to 40-Mile category."     

No Cups at Unstaffed Aid Stations!  A Hydration Device is Required Equipment:There will be plenty of aid along the course, but we must insist (for your own safety) that you carry a water bottle or hydration system with you.  You will be disqualified for not carrying such.   There will be no cups at the unstaffed aid stations, and at the staffed aid stations, cups will be used mainly for sports drinks, coke, hot soup or hot drinks, so you will need to have something (other than your hands or mouth) to put the water into.   Sustainabilty issues are a part of our mission statement.  We are dedicated to reducing waste and recycling as much as is currently possible. 

Aid Stations:
There will be 4 staffed aid stations along the course. There will also be at least many un-staffed (water-only) aid stations. You will travel no more than 3-1/2 miles between aid stations.  But keep in mind, that distance on the trail can take much longer than on pavement.  Here's a list of 2013 aid stations for all 4 races:

The aid station volunteers are very experienced ultra-runners, and are there to help you. If you are having a problem of some kind, just ask an aid station volunteer for a potential solution.  They may be able to help you. Make sure you are checked in at each aid station (have your number visible on your front side), for they will record your number and time into the station. Limited first aid will be available at the stations as well as bug repellent, Vaseline, and sunscreen.

The staffed stations will have the following food and drink:
HEED Sportsdrink
Coke, Ginger Ale

Prigles Potato Chips, Cookies, Chips
Fruit, such as bananas, watermelon, canteloupe 
Electrolytes: Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes and S-Caps. 
Hammer Nutrition Gels
They may also have coffee, potato soup, chicken noodle soup, sandwiches, candy, soup and other assorted food for runners and pacers. Remember: If you carry a cup or bowl out of an aid station please carry it to the next station. Ice will be typically be available at the KUS and Main (staffed) aid stations.

Drop bags:
Drop bags are only allowed for the 40-Mile and 100-K races.  At the morning check-in you will be given the opportunity to leave 2 drop bags, one for the start/finish area and one which will be transported to the Army Corp of Engineer’s (KUS) aid station out on the course. Write your name, and bib number onto each bag. These two locations will give you access to your bags at ten mile intervals, which should be about perfect. You should have a flashlight or headlamp stashed in both locations, for your personal safety when dusk falls.  You will have to pick-up your drop bag from the Army Corp of Engineer’s (KUS) aid station yourself, after the race, on your way out of the park.  Please keep these bags down to a reasonable size, and secure or pad any "breakable" items. No ice chests larger than 6-pack size. Absolutely no styrofoam coolers. Rule of thumb: A large drop bag should be no larger than a large shoe box, and weigh no more than 6 lbs.  Any bags left at the race will be discarded, or the items contained within will be given to charity. 

Trail Markings:
The course is marked with yellow signs that will tell you "right turn," "left turn," "straight ahead," and "wrong way." We will mark the course with ground flags and or ribbons at important intersections or turns. Care must be taken when crossing roadways!


Pacers are allowed on the course for the last 20 miles of the 40-Mile race, and the last 40 miles of the 100-kilometer race. Pacers are not allowed to be a "pack mule" for their runner, and should be fairly self-sufficient. Pacers need not pay, but must sign the waiver and be issued a numbered pacer race bib. Pacers can enjoy all of the food/hydration/service of the aid stations, but must not be an "overbearing burden" upon the race organization (or their assigned runner). We reserve the right to pull any pacer who we deem as "burdensome" either to us or to  their runner. 

Dogs as Pacers:  We are a dog-friendly bunch, within reason.  You can run with your (well-mannered) dog, but it must be on a leash, and you must not let it get entangled with another runner.  Register your dog for any race (online, for $10).  It will be issued a bib number that needs to be attached (with your name and cell # written on it with a sharpie).  Your dog will be included in the official results, and receive a finisher's medal, if appropriate for that distance/race.  We won't allow any cruelty to animals, so you must attest to your dog's "trail conditioning."  If it appears that your dog is heat-stressed or otherwise physically stressed or injured, we will ask YOU AND YOUR DOG to pull out of the race and seek out immediate veterinary help. Please provide water and food for your dog.  You can refill your dog's water at the aid stations.

Trail Etiquette:
This year's Free State Trail Run will have about 380 runners, in total.  The 40-milers and 100K runners (which number over 100), will start at 7:00 AM.  The Marathon and Half will start at 8:00 AM.  The Marathon has an extra-bit, at the start of their race, and won't enter the trail system for about an hour.  This makes for a strange mix of fast & slow runners at different places on the trails, and at different times, so "trail passing etiquette" needs to be followed; read the information below:
At the start of each race, there will be a "conga line" of runners as you enter the single-track (narrow) trails.  Be patient when you are part of this crowd of runners, as it will disperse soon enough.  Don't follow the runner in front of you too closely, since you won't have time to see obstacles and may trip.
To pass a runner on a narrow, single-track trail: Let them know you are approaching. Yell out, “On your left.” If it is unsafe to pass, be patient, a space will open-up, soon enough. If you are the slower runner, find a spot to step to the right to make it easier for the faster runner to pass you.
Personal Music IS ALLOWED in this race, but the use of two earbuds or headphones is NOT, for safety reasons.  You are not the only runner in this race...tuning-out everybody around you is just RUDE, for the reasons above (of passing on narrow trails).  There are multiple distance events happening, and there are some VERY FAST RUNNERS that will be approaching from behind you at certain points in the race.  Please don't inhibit both of your ears by using both earbuds or headphones, unless you want to be pulled from the race.  (And I WILL pull you from the race).
Faster Runners:
You know the drill.  Be courteous, but assertive, consistent, and loud, when passing.  And leave your machetes and firearms at home...those are only allowed in my night runs. ;-)
With some courtesy and trail ettiquette, this will be a very enjoyable event for everyone.

Post-Race Meal
Upon completion of the race, participants (and one guest or crew member) can enjoy post-race food near the start/finish area.  This year, we will have Sophia's homemade vegan lentil soup, Johnsonville brats and hot dogs.  If you bring more than one guest or crew member, they are welcome to enjoy post-race food for a $5 donation per person.  The aid station table food is for PARTICIPANTS, ONLY.
 Important Phone Number:
Race Direction: Ben Holmes 816-810-0440 

$$$ to the TrailsNote: A large portion of the 2013 race’s net proceeds will go to the Kansas Trails Council exclusively for the Clinton North Shore Trails "Friends of the Trail" Fund.  So the actual trail that you will be running on, will receive the funds from the race!  Many of the improvements to this trail system for the past 5 years, were paid for by this race.

Sophia & Ben:

I want to salute the two of you as the race directors most invested in the participants of any event I've seen.  Your personal attention at the packet pick up and breaking away to "talk trail shoes" with registrants, to ALL of the photos of presenting the medals to each runner, shaking their hands, photo ops, MEDALING THE DOGS (OMG!!!)--I cry about not having my running companion their (7 year-old husky-shepard mix, but he's testy at times).  Anyway--you two made the race memories for me.  But even more--the photo you've posted on the site speaks VOLUMES!!!!  It became my favorite running photo of all time (and I've done 37 marathons, 5 minis, multiple shorts)--Ben holding the medal, Sophia looking on, and runner 241 stopping with outstretched arms to say "Wait, my real reward is running this way!"  Now THAT puts it in perspective.


God bless your future together--it doesn't take long to see what a great thing you have going as a couple and as the organizers of a wonderful athletic organization.


DRFTYACF! (Don't Run Faster Than Your Angel Can Fly!)

Todd Baxter (and Salvador--my running partner)



Kansas Skies at 2010 Free State Trail Run
Photo by Dick Ross


Additional Information

Courses are on unpaved, 100% single-track trails, with rocks, exposed roots and beautiful woods; mostly shaded. Note: A large portion of each year's race’s net proceeds will go to the Kansas Trails Council exclusively for the Clinton North Shore Trails "Friends of the Trail" Fund. If you would like to donate more to the fund, please write a check for race day to "Friends of the Trail Fund."

Yes, the Trail Nerds are a GeNerdous bunch!
The Trail Nerds give back more than labor to the trails.  We also give our $$$.  So far in 2009, we have given $1500 to trail advocacy groups.  One thousand dollars of funding alone went back into the North Shore Trails in Lawrence (through an ear-marked donation to the Kansas Trails Council), up from $528 that we gave the year prior, and $383 that we gave in 2007.  Many of the improvements that you see out there were funded by the Trail Nerds Association.  In addition, we have given $500 to ERTA (so far in 2009), toward their trail maintenance and trail building concerns.  View the letters.

MCI (KC International)
MCI (KC International)

Nearest Airport: Kansas City International Airport is a short 1-hour drive away. Map and directions.

Hotels & Accommodations
Hotels & Accommodations

Jason Crosby Illustration
Jason Crosby Illustration

The Ultra-Distance events: Why a 40-miler or a 100-Kilometer distance Ultra?  Why not?
Many aspiring ultra-distance runners would like to move up in distance from a 50K to a 50-miler, but want to run an "in-between distance" first.  The same goes for runners who have finished a 50-mile run, but would like to move up to the 100-mile distance.  There just aren't enough in-between distance ultras to run "out there," especially ultras that are on 100% technical single-track trails.  It would also be nice if these in-between ultras were positioned in the Spring, prior to some of the popular 50 and 100-mile races.  It would also be nice if these races were close to a major airport, thus eliminating the need for long drives in rental cars for out-of-towners.  Hence, the idea for the Free State Trail Ultras was hatched and implemented.  

Kyle Amos, a talented local trail and ultrarunner veteran came up with the idea, and we discussed it on a Thursday night trail run.  One week later, we gathered our forces and put together the pieces to the race in earnest.  We already knew where and on what trails...the North Shore Trails of Clinton Lake, Kansas.  We've had a plan on the back-burner to do an ultra event there (for years), but we needed an event that was worthy of the North Shore Trails.  This is it!  

It also helps that the race is in Lawrence, Kansas.  Lawrence, home of the University of Kansas, is the most cosmopolitan small town in this part of the Midwest.  It's just a short 50-minute drive from Kansas City International Airport (MCI).  Some major U.S. poets, authors, and artists have lived, retired, and died here in Lawrence.  There are entertainment options galore.  There are fine hotels, B & B's, restaurants, bakeries, and brewpubs.  You can even camp near the race start/finish area, with showers available, after the race.  What more could a runner want?  How about decent aid stations, with freshly-made food items, and staffed by experienced ultrarunners?  We've got it!

Map to Event from Lawrence

Trail Description

Lawrence, Kansas Links

Map to Race Start / Finish Area

Bad Ben's Trail Running Site