*Warning* The Empyrean 5k is a not what it advertises. It is actually around 3.5-4 miles, depending on the year. And that little extra comes at no extra cost!
This trail run is awesome! The race itself is fairly small, and runs mostly on the - very - hilly course that is part of the Carol Joy Holling Camp site. You will run through the woods, along the road, down some single-track, through a stream, up a hill that is so steep it needs stairs, and through some pasture that will give you views of the Platte River. The course is challenging enough -- 300+ feet of elevation climb in 3.5 miles -- but has places to catch your breath.
Keep in mind that this race is in Nebraska in February. This means that the race will almost always be cold, and frequently will have snow on the ground. But that just adds to the fun of a trail run in Nebraska. And because of the length (less than 4 miles) and trail nature, there are no aid stations available. If you need water, you must bring your own on the course.
After the race is a catered meal from Lazlo's -- bbq pork, salad, soup, sides -- and you get two drink tickets for the Empyrean Ales they brew for the race (two full pints). This food is worth the price of admission in and of itself. Plus, TWO BEERS! TWO GOOD BEERS!
The swag is a little lacking in quantity, but is made up for in quality. In the two years I've ran this race they've gone from a nice beanie hat with the embroidered logo, to a ear warmer headband (my preference for running in cold weather) which is soft, and nice.
This is one of my Top 3 races in the area, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a shorter race that is a blast. Not to mention, the price is incredibly affordable.