If you’re looking for a tough 50k ultra marathon then the Quest for the Crest 50k in Asheville NC shpuld be at the top of your list. Put on by RunBum Tours, one of trail running’s premier race organizers the Quest for the Crest is billed as the hardest 50k in the country. Boasting 12,000+ feet of elevation gain over 3 major 3,000+ ft accents and descents the course the course will lead you up and down Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak on the east coast and it’s surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. Compare this to the what many consider the toughest 50k in the US, the Rut. With 10K in total gain over 5+ climbs The Rut has a new challenger for the crown in the Quest for the Crest. Lacking the exposure of The Rut, the Quest for the Crest trails are trails that were cut by water down steep rocks. With epic views, trees for miles, large rocks, roots, and ropes to slow you down along your way. The course is designed to test you while rewarding you with some of best views on the east coast.
Quest for the Crest 50k – Race Review
Friday night’s mandatory registration is held at Albert’s Inn., about an hour outside of Ashville , NC. The location is pretty remote so don’t plan on having cell service. The Inn has a few rooms so book them early, if not the closest hotels are about 30 minutes away. You can also camp on site.
- Water Filter (Life Straw or Sawyer)
These will be checked at registration. You will definitely be using the headlamp at the start of the race but a lot people have asked me about the water filter and if I had to use it. I ran with 2 liters of water in collapsible flasks and didn’t run out, but came very close at the end. Make sure you fill your water at every chance and you should be ok, just make sure you have it on race day.
This changes year to year but in 2019 and 2022 it was 14.5 hours.
The Quest for the Crest 50k Course
Vert is real and this course aims to prove it. With 3, 3,000+ accents and descents featuring 30%+ grades your legs are in for a burner. The course doesn’t pull any punches with a massive 3,200ft+ climb right out of the gate. This should put you on the ridge for an amazing view of the sunrise. The views along the course are stunning so don’t forget to stop and take a few photos while enjoying the moment.
While the massive climbs may get the headlines it’s the downhills that make this course so tough. These are hiking trails with a lot of rocks and limbs along the way making for some adventurousness down hill sections. By the end of the last decent you will be praying for uphill. And don’t worry, the race director saved one last 400-500 foot climb to finish you off.
I found the Quest for the Crest course to be the hardest mile for mile race I’ve ever done. It was also one of my favorites and I am planning on running it again net year.
The Aid Stations
The race featured 3 main aid stations with 1 food only aid station at the real start of the third climb. With the oush between aid station 1 at mile 7 and aid station 2 at mile 18 being a brutal push. But the reality is there is no way to get an aid station up on the ridge. So expect to use your water filter.
Like most RunBum Tours races the aid stations are always A+. They will have all of the standard trail running food plus some extra surprises like bacon or soup if it’s cold. You’ll have access to two drop bags on the course but I didn’t end up using anything from mine. The food at the aid stations was way better