TARC Wapack & Back
Join us for the 2023 Trail Animals Running Club Wapack & Back along the Wapack Trail, with 21.5 mile, 43 mile, and 50 mile distance options! You can read all the exciting details below!
Please note: This race sells out, and there are no refunds, no transfers, and no deferrals (except for emergencies)!
Saturday, May 13, in Ashburnham, Massachusetts
If you plan on training on the course, please note that there is a fee to use/pass through Miller State Park. $4 for adults 12 and older and $2 for children ages 6 to11. Please stay on marked and developed trails to avoid and trail erosion or disturbance of vegetation.
All check ins and finishes happen at the DCR Mount Watatic Reservation entrance in Massachusetts, just south of the New Hampshire border.
The TARC Wapack and Back Trail Races consist of both the 50 mile and 43 mile ultramarathons and an end to end 21.5 mile trail race on the Wapack Trail. Leading from Mt Watatic in Massachusetts to North Pack Mt in Greenfield, NH, the rocky ledges of this technical trail (approximately 4,600 feet of elevation in each direction, 50 miler is around 10,800 feet of elevation) afford views of the Boston skyline to the east, Berkshire and Green Mountains to the west and White Mountains to the north. Ultrarunners who complete the 43 mile out and back section will be receive a finishing time and be listed in the results. Runners "only" looking to run the 43 mile race can still sign up for the 50 mile race and stop at the start/finish. Four water stations (which participants in the ultra will pass in both directions) will provide water and some additional aid. Post race refreshments may be provided.
Map (to be updated)
Strava link (to be updated)
Course Markings: The Wapack Trail is blazed with yellow triangles painted on trees, rocks, telephone poles and the occasional signpost. With one or two exceptions, there will be no additional markings. The trail is easy to follow for the most part, but if you’ve gone more than a few hundred feet and haven’t seen a marker, retrace your steps until you find one. The water stations will be spaced no more than 7.5 miles apart. Please check out the Friends of the Wapack website for more information on the trail. Participants should be sure to review both the course maps and the course description beforehand to understand the general layout of the various distances. We recommend participants also download the GPX file and load it onto their GPS watches if they have one for additional reassurance. If you go off course on race day, you must backtrack, as opposed to making up your own version of the course. Review of GPS files will be done if it is believed the course was not followed by any given participant. Participants found to have not done the course as marked may be unable to get an official finish time. Please let the volunteers know at the aid stations if there are any navigation issues and we will work with you and others to sort them out.
Cutoff Times: Participants in the 43 mile and 50 mile event have until 3:30 pm to get to Windblown, 5:00 pm to get to the Watatic trailhead the first time, and 7:30 pm to return to Watatic the second time to finish 50 miles. Participants will have to be pulled from the course if these cutoffs are missed. Please respect the cutoff times enforced by our timers and volunteers. We will do everything we can to help you finish within the allotted time. The cutoffs are in place for both runner safety as well as the time commitment of volunteers and DCR park staff.
Aid Stations: The aid stations will be stocked with water and Hyle Hydration, (if you want to try out Hyle Hydration before the event, they were generous enough to give us the discount code TARC20 for everyone's personal use!).
We will have the basics in terms of aid station food: candy, maybe PB&J, maybe chips, maybe soda, a lot of maybe this and maybe that. If you need something specific, please plan on carrying it with you or placing in your drop bag for those utilizing the turnaround in the longer races. With as much as 7 miles between aid stations, you should be carrying at minimum two bottles. Feel free to bring food for the post race potluck at the finish line.
Bathrooms: Two porta potties will be in both parking lots on either end of the trail.
Headlamps: 43 and 50 mile participants will need headlamps (or the equivalent) at the start of the race. Binney Hill aid station will have a box that participants can leave their headlamp in if they don't want to carry it the entire way (and it will be brought back to the start/finish).
Drop Bags: 43 and 50 mile participants can bring a drop bag to the start of the race for delivery to the Northern Terminus/Mountain Rd (28.5 miles). We don’t have a lot of capacity for transporting the bags so make them small. Please make sure they are labeled with your name and phone number. Drop bags will be brought back to the Watatic trailhead following the cutoff times. All bags must be collected by 7:30 pm.
Leave No Trace: The TARC Wapack and Back has a Leave No Trace policy. Please adhere to the Leave No Trace principles during the duration of the event (and we hope whenever you are out in nature).
The TARC Wapack & Back is held on land that was previously home to the Wabanaki people, the original stewards of this territory. We encourage our participants to educate themselves on the history of the land we will be running on as well as the history of the land where you train and call home.
Saturday, May 13, 2023 | Race Day
4:00 am | Bib Pickup Opens at the 50M/43M Start
4:55 am | 50M & 43M Race Briefing
5:00 am | 50M & 43M Race Start & Yeti Howl
8:00 am | Bus leaves Ashburnham for drop off at Northern terminus (Mountain Road) for 21.5M participants
8:45 am | Bus arrives at Northern terminus (Mountain Road) for 21.5M participants
9:00 am | 21.5M Race Start & Yeti Howl
3:00 pm | 34M Cutoff (must reach Route 124/Windblown in 10.5 hours to continue to 43 mi)
5:00 pm | 43M Cutoff (must reach start/finish in 12 hours to continue to 50 miles)
7:30 pm | 50M Cutoff & Course Closure
Cost & Registration:
We keep the cost of all TARC events low to try and make our events as accessible as we can. The cost of the TARC Wapack and Back is $75 for the 43 and 50 mile distances and $60 for the 21.5 mile distance. Please see below for information on our discounted youth entries. Our event profits are donated to land conservations & trusts in support of our trail running passion. Please reach out if the cost is in any way a barrier to you. We want everyone to have the opportunity to experience the incredible trails and community at our event.
No race day registration is offered, and online registration closes at the beginning of race week. We recommend registering early in advance, as this event will sell out.
Switching Distances or Canceling Registration:
Participants will have to email the Race Director in order to switch distances or cancel their registration.
Pregnancy Deferral Policy:
We understand there are many barriers for new parents and pregnant runners within the sport of trail running. Participants who become pregnant prior to race day or are the parents to a recent newborn can defer their entry to our event for up to two years. The race reserves the right to require additional proof of pregnancy. Please reach out to the Race Director at least one week prior to race day to process your deferral.
TARC races maintain a no refund policy. There will be no refunds for any reason. Any requests for a refund will be politely directed to this blurb. Please consider your race entry a donation to the trails, but one where you also get a chance to challenge yourself physically and mentally while taking in all the beauty the landscape has to offer.
USATF Mountain/Ultra/Trail Running Youth Initiative:
To raise awareness of trail races among young runners and increase participation, the American Trail Running Association has partnered with the USATF MUT Youth Initiative to create a “Youth Trail” certified program for race directors. The TARC Wapack and Back is one of the early adopters of their program, and we offer discounted entries ($10 off) across all distances for youth 19 years old or under.
Please reach out if you are looking to register yourself or someone else through this program.
Trail Sisters Approved Event:
The TARC Wapack & Back is proud to be Trail Sisters Approved! The commitment includes, when applicable, equal podium spots, equal prize money & awards, women’s specific swag & apparel, menstrual products at aid station parta potties (where applicable), and equal opportunity/space for women on the starting line. You can learn more about the standards and their awesome organization here.
Pride on Foot Partner:
Pride on Foot works with run groups, race directors, and fitness organizations who want to understand how to be more accepting and inclusive of Transgender, Genderqueer Intersex, Gender non conforming, and Non binary people. Through education and policy changes they create affirming, inviting, and safe spaces where everyone can be free to workout while living an authentic life.
We welcome the participation of adaptive athletes at our event!
Adaptive athletes must be able to run the course.
Tethers and guides may be used for athletes with a visual impairment.
Leg prosthetics may be used for amputees.
Crutches, braces, or poles may be used if indicated/necessary, with approval from the Race Director.
Please reach out with any questions or to let us know how we can best support you and your race day needs.
Guides for adaptive athletes can register as participants if they want their own time/result.
We need volunteers to help make this special day happen and to give our participants the experience they deserve! This includes help with bib pickup, course directing, aid stations, course sweeping, start/finish area support, parking guidance, etc. Volunteers are what make TARC events so fun and also run so smoothly. No experience is required, and it can be your first time attending one of our events! If you are bringing along family or friends to spectate, we encourage them to also get involved by volunteering. If you are running one of the shorter races, consider hanging around to help out afterward. Even if you can't make it on the day of the race, there are still opportunities to get involved. If you need service requirements for other races, we can also sign off on your hours! If we get enough folks, too, it's never a problem for our volunteers to become "course marshals" and get some running in on the trails. All we ask is you help fill up some water bottles and tell runners they look awesome.
Please reach out if you or your organization are interested in volunteering. We welcome running clubs, hiking groups, sports teams, local businesses, and more to join us in May.
Registration for the various shifts will open around two months before the race date, but feel free to email us beforehand if you or your group is interested in volunteering.
Whether you are competing for the win or bringing up the rear of the pack, we are all out on the trails to have fun and move our bodies in nature. All of our participants are incredible for just getting to the starting line, and you all have impressive journeys for getting there. On race day, we hope you will be everyone else's top cheerleader, cheering on and providing support for one another throughout the morning. Be sure to spread the love and joy with your fellow trail animals. We also welcome and encourage you to bring chairs and stick around after your own race to cheer on other participants as they come through the finish.
Parking & Travel:
The trailhead parking lot is where the start/finish/check ins are, but there will be no event parking there (with the exception of volunteers). The trailhead parking lot is super tight, so we ask that runners and spectators carpool and park across the street on Old Pierce Road. Just in case you forget, we’ll have a nice volunteer directing cars appropriately. Do not park on the main road or you risk getting your car towed.
Timing and Results:
This is a manually timed event. As such, the results are not the type that we click and voila, they are up. We can give you your time at the end of the race and the comprehensive results will be up later in the week. Thank you for your understanding!
While we look forward to greeting everyone at the finish, please notify one of the aid station volunteers if you need to withdraw from the race and expect to be chowed upon by black flies and mosquitoes while you patiently wait for a ride back to Watatic. That ride will take a while. So our advice? Just keep walking. Please do not go home without telling a race volunteer! If you aren’t at an aid station, and someone comes to get you, go to the nearest aid station to tell them you are dropping. Thanks in advance!
Everyone is a winner!
Running in the Woods & Weather:
Please prepare for all manner of weather, insects, critters, trail rash, etc! Historically, this race has fluctuated between nice and cool days and uber duber hot ones! In New England, we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best!
Looking for folks to run and train with? Here are some local groups:
Looking for trail shoes and gear? Here are some local stores we recommend:
Marathon Sports (multiple locations)
Heartbreak Hill Running Company (multiple locations)
Fleet Feet/JackRabbit (multiple locations)
Recreation Equipment Inc. (multiple locations)
New England Running Company & Trail (Beverly)
Charles River Running (Norwood)
Who We Are:
The Trail Animals Running Club is a nonprofit running club rooted in the Boston area. We aim to act as community stewards by providing equitable access to trail running and promoting positive trail running culture. We welcome people of all races, nationalities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities & expressions, ages, and abilities. Our event profits are donated to land conservations & trusts in support of our trail running passion. You can RSVP for emails about our runs here.
Trail Animals Running Club Apparel:
You can purchase our fun club apparel here! We are working on offering additional apparel which will be added to this page!
History of the TARC Wapack and Back:
(To be updated)
21.5M Male Record: 3:01:16 | 2017 | Brandon Newbould (35)
21.5M Female Record: 3:57:29 | 2015 | Kristina Folcik (37)
43M Male Record: 8:06:16 | 2019 | Ed Cullen (31)
43 Female Record: 10:22:15 | 2019 | Kara Olivito (36)
50M Male Record: 8:51:34 | 2013 | Josh Katzman (33)
50M Female Record (Female): 10:43:10 | 2018 | Samantha Leblanc (29)
Reviews & Reports:
Let us know if you have any reviews or reports of our event that you want to share with the community!