Highball to Thurmond 50 Mile and 55K


50K Athlete Guide (updated 5/12/2022(soon to be 55K)

50 Mile Athlete Guide (updated 5/12/2022)

The highball was a signal used in early railroads to signal the track was clear. When the ball was hoisted, trains were cleared to proceed!  We are raising the ball on this unique 50 mile and 55 Kilometer event, and encouraging athletes to proceed on this epic adventure.  Both races finish in Thurmond, West Virginia.  With a population of 5 at the 2010 census, it is the least populated railroad town in the nation and part of the New River Gorge National Park.

The 50 Miler:  This event starts at 4:45 am in Montgomery, WV, 50 Miles from the finish line, giving athletes enough time to Catch the Train!  The train leaves at 6:59 pm, and the last call whistle will be at 6:45 pm!  That means athletes will have 14 hours to complete this epic adventure in time to make the train back to Montgomery (don’t worry, if you miss the train we will get you home)! This course is a mix of paved road (about 12 miles), awesome mountain dirt roads, and gorgeous trails with a spectacular view!   Athletes can choose to take the train back to the start line (seats are limited and first come first serve on registration) or arrange their own ride.  With about 6,000 feet of elevation gain, athletes will certainly have earned their finishers medal, post race food and awesome awards!

The 55 Kilometer Event: We have added a fun and scenic 5 kilometers this year for a few reasons.   We can add two additional aid stations and space them out better, and we want to get our 55K runners to see the mines this year!  We have also moved the start earlier to give the 55K’ers more time to enjoy and finish this awesome event!  This will be a full daylight event starting and finishing in Thurmond and, other than the first and last miles, completely on the New River Gorge Trails! This is a well aided and extremely well marked 55 K and a great tune up race or beginner trail  ultra with a very reasonable cutoff time! With 2,000 feet of elevation gain, this course is both manageable and challenging!  Work hard and finish before the train leaves and you will earn your medal, post race food and awesome awards.

The 50 Mile Relay: This 50 mile relay can be run with 2,3, or 4 people. With 5 relay hand off points, athletes can run it in any order and  run as many or as few legs as they want as long as each member of the team runs at least one.  Bring your best trail runner, best roads runner, best mountain runner, and combine for an epic point to point 50 mile race!

Currently shown 2022 medal and shirt)


When and Where

Sunday May 21st, 2023

Thurmond Train Station
Hwy 25 & Hwy 2
Thurmond , WV 25936


For the 50 Miler, we will use street parking within Montgomery.  The 55K will use parking in and around Thurmond.  There will be parking attendants on site to help with parking.

Schedule of Events

Early Packet Pickup – May 20th, 2023 

  • TBD


Race Day – May 21st, 2023 

  • 50 Mile Race Start Time – 14 hour limit: 4:45 am (not eligible for awards)
  • 50 Mile Race Start Time – 12.75 hour limit: 6:00 am (eligible for awards)
    • We have two start times for the 50 mile race because we want everyone to have the opportunity to “beat the train” but do not want everyone to have to start at 4:45 am.  We also do not want our faster finishers to have to wait hours for the train (leaves at 6:59 pm).
  • 55 Kilometer Race Start Time: 7:00 am
  • Last Finisher: 6:45 PM
  • Train leaves the station: 6:59 PM
    • We do not control the trains.  This is a reliable schedule and is rarely late.  But if Amtrak is delayed, athletes’ departure will be delayed as well.

Entry Fees

Event Through 9/30/2022 Through 1/31/2022 Through 05/21/2022
50 Mile  $120 $130 $140
55 Kilometer $105 $115 $125
50 Mile Relay (price per person) $70 $80 $85
Post Race Celebratory Train Ride, 6:59pm (50 milers, limited tickets available) $25


What You Get With Your Registration

  • Race photos
  • Live results
  • Unique awards
  • Custom 2023 Highball to Thurmond Ultra shirt
  • Custom 2023 Highball to Thurmond Ultra Medal
  • Well stocked aid stations, and an epic and well-marked course

Our 2022 Medal and shirt currently shown


  • Both the 55K and the 50 Miler will be chip timed
  • 50 Mile – The top 3 men and women overall, along with the top 3 men (under 40 years), top 3 women (under 40 years), top 3 men (40-54 years), top 3 women (40-54 years), top 3 men (55 years or older), and top 3 women (55 years or older) will receive awards.
  • 55K – The top 3 men and women overall, along with the top 3 men and women in each of the following age groups: 19 and under, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60 -69, 70+ and over will receive awards.
  • Relay – The top 2 person, 3 person, and 4 person relay teams will receive awards.


Course Maps

    Strava Link for 50 Mile Course

    Est. Moving Time Distance Elevation Gain
    80.49 1,414.77
    hours km meters

    Strava Link to 55 Kilometer Course

    Est. Moving Time Distance Elevation Gain
    53.60 684.63
    hours km meters


Rules & Guidelines

In the event the race should be canceled for reasons beyond the control of the Race Director or Race Committee (inclement weather or unsafe weather conditions; local, state or national emergency), refunds will not be made, but race packets, including race shirts, will be available at a location to be determined. Information will be available on the race website.

Refund Policy: No refunds for any reason will be issued for this event within 30 days of the event start date. Earlier than 30 days before the event, a request may be made for a 50% refund (this will be 50% of entry fee, excluding any processing fees). Entries CANNOT be transferred or deferred to another event or year. NO EXCEPTIONS will be made to this policy. By registering for this event you agree to this refund policy. To request a refund, please contact us on our Contact page and select “Registration” as the reason for your message.

Transfer policy: Entries can be transferred to another individual for a $5 transfer fee. T-shirt size will not be changeable. Entries CANNOT be transferred or deferred to another event or year. To request a transfer, please contact us on our Contact page and select “Registration” as the reason for your message.