Join us for one of the year's most scenic runs through the Big Woods State Park during the peak of the fall colors. Many people have photographed the beauty of this park but not many have the opportunity to run/walk the trails in an organized fashion.  So put on those running shoes and get out there and see the many wonderful fall views this park has to offer you (Caution, you may wish you had a camera to capture all these breathtaking views).

The half marathon and the 10K events start and finish at the St. John's United United Church of Christ.  From there, both races go 1.2 miles north and into the south end of the Big Woods State Park.  The 10K run will run about 3.5 miles through the south half of the Big Woods State Park.  The trails this time of year are all covered in leaves so you will need to pick up those feet or you will likely trip on one of the many roots in the trails from the large oak, maple and basswod trees that create a conopy that often blocks out the sun!  During the hot days, the large canopy forests such as these can often be 10 degrees cooler than normal areas surrounding the park.  We again caution you to slow down and pick up those feet or you may get close and personal with the leaves and ground.  The nice thing about the 10K is that the south trails are relatively flat except for the one place where you go down, cross the bridge and come back out of an old creekbed.

trailsThe half marathon also goes through the many beautiful trails on the south side but you will also spend a great deal of time on the north side trails of the Big Woods State Park.  From mile 5 to mile 10 you will find yourself engulfed in the grandeur of the north side of this park.  This side is hilly, the trail take you by the historic falls seen in the picture and through some very old growth forests.  This side of the park, although a little more challenging, has scenes you will never want to forget.

The 5K run starts in the middle of the park on the gravel road that splits the state park into the north and south sides.  The 5K runners need to take a bus from the church to the start line and must be on the bus no later than 8:40 am.  The start is on the road and the runners immediately proceed to the trail and run about 1.7 miles on the south side park trails before emergin on the south side of the park where they will head south to finish at the church.  We designed this point to point race to ensure that even the 5K runners get some time to soak in the beauty (or sweat it out) of Big Woods State Park.


Registration and half/10K start lines are located south of the state park at St. John's United Church of Christ on Jacob's Avenue (19086 Jacobs Avenue, Faribault, MN 55021).  Click HERE for a google link to the address.  There is no registration at Big Woods State Park.  

After the race, you can savor a bowl of hot soup with fresh cookies and soup for all participants.  In addition to the race, there will be a Bake Sale!  Just a note that all the money raised here and for the race go to mission work for the church including disaster releif and local charity programs like battered womens shelters and homeless shelters. This race has raised over $120,000 in total.  The race is a must for all outdoor enthusiasts!

Race Awards:

In 2023, the race has elected to do door prizes for the random runners to get more prizes out to all runners.  We value all runners and want this to be reflected in the prizes given out.  See you there and look for your race number in the drawings list. 

The Big Woods Run began in 1997. It was originally part of the Nerstrand Bologna Days celebration. It has developed into a beautiful end of the season race sponsored by St. John's United Church of Christ. The members provide most of the volunteers to operate the water stops and provide course direction. They also prepare the post race meal which includes soup and homemade cookies cooked by the church members!.

2018 resizedSpectator Viewing:
The best spectator viewing area is at the start and finish line at St. John's United Church of Christ.

If you would like to see your runner at the halfway point you can park at Big Woods State Park ( a state park pass is required), parking on the road in front of the park entrance is prohibited. You will need to park in one of the designated parking lot at Big Woods Park and walk or run out to the road to see you participant.  The runners will be running on the road by the park entrance (This is 170th Street). Click Here to see a driving map from the Church to the middle of the state park where you can view the runners

There is parking available at St. John's Church in their parking lot and in the surrounding fields.  There is no charge for parking.

Race Photos:
This race currently does not have an official race photographer. If you are interesting in capturing photos of this event, please email us.  If you or your family are taking pictures of the event and want to share them, we would love to see them and share with the participants.  We have been blessed to have many people give us pictures over the years to use as promotions for the event!  Email us if you can take photos at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Here are 2018 photos taken by Cary Johnson:

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St. Johns Church


Final Stretch

Contact Us
(507) 664-9438


P.O. Box 121
Nerstrand, MN 55053

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