About the Wildland 52

Benefit Mountain Race – September 11, 2021

 52K Mountain Ultramarathon to benefit Wildland Firefighters

Vertical K in remembrance of 9/11 and to benefit our Structural Fire family

Thanks for visiting!! The Wildland 52 was created in 2018 to benefit wildland firefighters and their families in their time of need.  My hope was it would pay homage to those who help protect the places we love to run, recreate and even live near, by emulating some of the rugged terrain and conditions that wildland firefighters experience day after day (without the 40 pound pack, clearing fuels while on the move, or the element of fire), while raising money to support organizations that support them, such as the Eric Marsh Foundation and The Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute.

While details of the 2021 Vertical Challenge and the 52K course are not yet hammered out (there was a land ownership change), I do have some sections that were added to the “big loop” last year that made up our “fun run”, and a few more sections up my sleeve that have not yet been included in any of our events.  I promise it will still be 52K and it will still be steep, beautiful and rugged.  Hopefully more so than in the past.  See “Wildland 52 Trail Race” below for more details on the course from prior years; just know that it is likely to change this year!

One thing we WILL be doing, since this year’s race will be a VERTICAL K to honor our “structural firefighter” family and in remembrance of those who laid their lives down for others.  We don’t have steps to emulate the Towers, but we do have a lot of steep terrain; expect a minimum of 1,368′, the height of Tower 1, but maybe the sum of both towers?  Details will be forthcoming as I choose the right summit, and a course of 5-10k (the higher the longer the descent route will be).


In 2018 and 2019 Wildland 52 kilometer course will featured over 8,000′ of elevation gain and 6,500′ of elevation loss. Much of the elevation change is in condensed sections with few switchbacks, but there is much runnable terrain in between. The course varies from dirt roads, faint two track, established single track, dozer lines, primitive trail, and “no-trail”. Some areas the track is well defined, others will be flagged and the line you take is “runner’s choice”. While 50% of the course will be on maintained single track, dirt or gravel or rocky roads (not necessarily smooth) so you can open up that stride a bit; the other 50% is rugged, unimproved, steep and very technical, requiring your full attention and grit.  

The course was intended to help display the rigors of wildland firefighting; regardless of the terrain, obstacles, physical discomfort or conditions, they must contain that fire. Often, they will use roads as containment lines, but will have to link those barriers by handcutting cutting containment lines straight up the steepest sections by hand. The routes they choose is not the easiest, but the most effective and often the most direct (you won’t find switchbacks on a fireline, no matter how steep). Dozer lines may be cut as wide breaks, and while at times wildland fire trucks may be driven up them, most often crews will hike these lines, carrying between 35 and 90 pounds of water, gear and tools, even dragging hundreds of feet of hose with them.

September 29, 2018 we held the first annual Wildland 52k Ultramarathon. Our goal was to donate half of each entry to two non-profit organizations dedicated to the safety, mental and emotional health, and assistance in the event of a tragedy to wildland firefighters, their families and crews. I am so excited to share that with the generous support from our sponsors and private donations, we were able to exceed our anticipated $650.00 donation goal and instead split over $2,500 between the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute!

In 2019, we split 100% of the proceeds ($1,096 plus direct donations from runners) between the Eric Marsh Foundation, Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute; both organizations were created after the Yarnell Hill tragedy, when 19 of the Granite Mountain Hotshots perished.  The GMH was in the Jemez fighting the Thompson Ridge Fire just weeks before they died; working alongside the La Cueva VFD and USFS Jemez Ranger District fire fighters.  

In 2020, we did a small, (nearly) unsupported “fun run” with a “mountain marathon” length course, and had runners donate to their favorite wildland firefighter charity; most gave more than the required $52.00 for entry, and in total gave $1,467.00!  Wonderful sponsors like Jemez Valley Credit Union and San Ysidro’s CWW Feed Store, Tailwind Nutrition and Blackboot Coffee, as well as the ever-willing and amazing La Cueva VFD and a few other incredible volunteers made the event memorable for our runners!

20% of this year’s proceeds will go to La Cueva VFD; this volunteer fire department covers the majority of the Jemez Mountains, providing medical, structural and wildland fire fighting and SAR/high angle rescue services to the residents and thousands of visitors to our beautiful mountains; they also make time to volunteer for this race, even though they could spend the weekend getting some R&R after the busy summer/ tourist season winds down (talk about endurance!)!  This is the first year we have donated to them, but I feel it’s well earned and also overdue…


The race is limited to 30 runners this year; entrants for the 52K MUST have previously completed a mountain ultramarathon and be able to navigate in the backcountry without course markings

Runners for both courses MUST be willing and comfortable traveling off-trail on steep, rugged, loose and rocky terrain.  The first climb of the 52k (which will also be the route of the Vertical challenge) is completely off-trail in a on old burn section; runners will need to navigate over dead down and through mountain locust (even I am not a fan of those thorns!), so expect to get a little dirty and bloody and don’t wear a shirt you don’t want snagged; if it’s no as bad as I recall, I’ll let you know.  😉

Registration will open April 10 and run to August 10.   

Entry fees: 52k- $110.00 ($120.00 after 7/12) and Vertical Challenge – $60.00 ($70 after 7/12)

A minimum of half of each entry is guaranteed to be donated, as well as any additional proceeds!  40% to Eric Marsh Foundation, 40% to Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute and 20% to La Cueva Volunteer FD who not only provides the majority of our race volunteers but also responds to over 200 fire, EMS, wildland fire, search and rescue and public assist calls in the Jemez mountains annually.

We are sorry, but we cannot offer refunds for any reason and cannot defer entries to future races.  Due to all profits being donated and the limited amount of entries, we cannot offer any refunds or transfer entries to next year.

Contact us with questions about the race, entry, volunteering or event sponsorship!!

Thank you,

Cheryl & the Wildland 52 Crew

email:  runwildland52@gmail.com       phone: (970)-919-0271

FOLLOW US!  Facebook   and Instagram: @runwildland52

REGISTRATION WILL OPEN APRIL 10 check back for details!

The Wildland 52 course is held on 90% Santa Fe National Forest; permit has been issued by the Jemez Ranger District.  Written permission has been granted by Private and State landholders for the other 10%.


Jemez Valley Credit Union, Returning PARTNERING SPONSOR!!!

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 Second Alarm Brewhouse *PARTNERING SPONSOR* returning sponsor

                                                     2nd ABH

Monica’s Firehouse Grill (returning Sponsor)

Monicas FHG

Get up ‘n GO provided by Black Rifle CoffeeBRCC Logo




Tailwind Nutrition (returning sponsor)


And a special thanks to our 2018 sponsors!!  

Thanks to their support we were able to donate 100% of runner entry fees, plus some! Wildland 52 donated over $2,500.00 to WFGI and WFF in 2018!  

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Icebreaker Merino  

CWW Feed Store                  Amanda’s High Country Store

Classic Air Medical

La Cueva Volunteer Fire Department (medical support)

Dr. Halloway at Grant, Gibble & Davis Dental 

Jemez Monument & Historic Site

The Fitzgerald Retreat and Renewal Center