Trail Running Etiquette
With more runners being attracted to and participating in local trail runs, it's a good time for a refresher on some basic rules of the trail:
Unless your momma is following behind you picking up your trash, don't litter. Period. It is unacceptable at any AURA or UTS run. Littering includes leaving gel packs, gel pack tabs, candy wrappers, cups, bottles, cans, toilet paper--ANYTHING that didn't grow there! If you see someone drop something, tell them they dropped something. If you see a gel pack, cup, etc on the trail and didn't see who dropped it, an appropriate action is to pick it up and carry it to the next place where it can be properly disposed of. In many races, littering can get you disqualified. It's always bad manners.
Be courteous / Make room
A lot of races incorporate out-and back sections, so who has the right of way when meeting on a single-track trail? Well, typically the slower runner will yield to the faster-more competitive runner (--who's coming "back"). Another rule of thumb is that if on a hill, you should yield to the runner coming downhill. (Note that there could be a conflict between these guidelines.) Work it out people! If you're having a bad day and/or are feeling grumpy and not inclined to move over--that's probably a good sign that you should move over and yield when you meet a runner. Right-of-way runner: Say "Thank you" or lend other encouragement to those who yield trail to you.
Be courteous / Make room II
If a runner approaches you from behind, be considerate and ask if they'd like to pass. If so, let them by. The same goes if the path is wider and you are running with others side by side. If you approach a runner and intend to pass, let them know your intentions. Passing with a warning "on your left" is common courtesy. Passing runner: Say "Thank you" or lend other encouragement to those who yield trail to you.
Be courteous III
Be friendly and courteous when you meet other users of the trail. Remember that to them you represent all runners; Don't give us a bad image.
Lost, or just off course?
Do not expect someone to be standing and instructing you where and when to turn. Listen closely during the pre-race trail briefing, and pay attention to trail and course markings. Even then, it's likely that sooner or later you will get off course during a trail run. When that happens, retrace your route to the point at which you got off course. Not only is that (returning on foot to the place where you got off course) the only way to not disqualify yourself, it is the best way to ensure you do not become truly lost.
Be a hassle-free runner
In our area, there are very few races where the organizer is compensated. (No one is paid to direct an official event put on by the Arkansas Ultra Running Association.) Run organizers typically do what they do for the love of the sport and to enable an enjoyable run for all. So why would you want to cause a hassle for them? Don't be a problem child: Read all available information posted for an event before calling or e-mailing questions to the run director; follow instructions; don't do stupid things that will get the organizer in trouble and/or threaten the future of the event, or get you lost (see above); sign-in at the finish (regardless of if you finished the entire route) so that no one is wondering if you're still out on the course. Thank those who help with the run. Volunteer yourself to help some time.
These are just a few basics. For more good habits and tips, please:
Check out the etiquette page at Trail Runner magazine
Join the AURA, where Mr. Manners frequently provides ultra/trail etiquette lessons in the member newsletter
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