The Delaware Trail Marathon

Note to 50-Staters: This is the hard way to earn your Delaware marathon finish! If this is your first trail marathon, expect ruined shoes and a possibility of not finishing. If you do finish, it will likely be your slowest-ever finish time. Dedicated roadies who prefer civilized flat marathons on pavement should check out the Delaware Marathon administered by our friend Wayne Kursh at or the Coastal Delaware Running Festival marathon.

Getting to Newark, Delaware: (pronounced "New Ark," not to be confused with "Newerk," NJ): 

Driving: Take Delaware I-95 to Exit 1 (896 north). The University of Delaware and downtown Newark are a mile or two up Rt. 896 (aka South College Ave.) from I-95.
Air: The nearest major airports are Philadelphia (50 minutes north on I-95) and Baltimore/Washington (about 75 minutes south). You can get a limo to Newark from either airport, but you’ll be much better off with a rental car, since Newark has minimal local public transportation. 
Rail, bus, taxi: Newark has limited Amtrak and SEPTA rail service, MegaBus service at UD’s North Campus, and some limited DART city bus services. Regular taxi service is also limited; you may have better luck with Uber.

Accommodations: Except for the Courtyard Marriott, Newark’s most of the other Newark hotels are clustered near the Rt. 896/I-95 interchange.

  • Courtyard Marriot at the University of Delaware, located on UD north campus, 200 New London Rd. (Rt. 896). Nearest hotel to the race (~1 mile); 302-737-0900.
  • Embassy Suites, 654 S. College Ave. (Rt. 896 S of town); 302-368-8000
  • Sleep Inn, 630 South College Ave.; 302-453-1700 (next door to Embassy Suites)
  • Howard Johnson’s, 1119 S. College Ave. (Rts. 896 & I-95); 302-368-8521 or 800-446-4656
  • Comfort Inn, 1120 S. College Ave.; 302-368-8715 (across the road from the Howard Johnson’s)
The marathon will start promptly at 7:40 AM (10 minutes after the half-marathon start) from the pavilion at the W.S. Carpenter Recreation Area of White Clay Creek State Park, approximately 2 miles north of downtown Newark on Rt. 896. 

What to expect:  Since this is a small event with a pretty low registration fee, we are trying to keep things simple. There is no packet pickup prior to race day, no gauntlet of vendors, no pre-race expo. Claim your packet at the registration table on the morning of the race. You can even register for the marathon 6-7AM on race day. There is no "official" pre-race pasta banquet, but there are lots of good restaurants on Newark's Main St.

This is a trail marathon, so you should expect more difficult terrain and a slower finish time than you would expect in a road marathon. By trail-race standards, however, this is easy terrain. The course is marked with colored pie plates on trees, spray chalk on the ground, survey flags through meadow areas and arrow signs to clarify critical turns at trail junctions. The marathon course is two circuits around the Triple Crown half-marathon course.

This 13.1-mile circuit has 4 aid stations, and you will pass each of these twice, plus the start/finish area at the midpoint of the race, for a total of 17 aid points. The start/finish area and one or two of the aid stations will sports drink and an array of snacks, but the others will have water only. You don't need to carry a lot of water or other stuff.

The half-marathon course fords White Clay Creek at about miles 3 and 10; marathoners will revisit this crossing at about miles 16 and 23.  The water crossing is about 80 yards across, ankle-or calf-deep, and footing is slippery in spots. We recommend that you keep your shoes on in the creek. Wet or damp shoes should not be much of a problem (you have run in the rain before, haven't you?).

This marathon is held simultaneously with the traditional Triple Crown race series, so you are likely to encounter runners in other races. The half-marathon will start ten minutes before the marathon, so faster marathoners will be passing slower half-marathoners. Later in the morning the 10K and 5K will be run on trails west of the creek, so you may encounter 10K runners coming the other way or 5K runners going your way within the Carpenter area. Please share the trails: signal to runners when you are going to pass them (e.g., "On your left!") and allow faster runners to pass you.

There is no official cut-off time for the marathon, although runners finishing after 1PM may miss the BBQ. If you DNF, please inform the marathon coordinator so that we don't send out unnecessary search & rescue parties.

Our aid station volunteers will leave at noon. From then on, aid stations are self-serve and road crossings are unpatrolled. You are solely responsible for getting yourself to the finish.

What other marathon offers a shirt, finisher medal, BBQ lunch, snacks, 17 aid points, and supportive church ladies for $3/mile? We even allow race-day registration--same low-low price but maybe without the shirt.

If you have further questions, please e-mail me at Hope to see you the last Saturday in April!

--John Mackenzie