Trail Running Etiquette
Happy Monday morning to you all. To my American readers – I hope you slept in this morning and are spending the day relaxing and enjoying a well-deserved holiday!
For the rest of us, it’s back to the grind! I had a fantastic, sun-soaked weekend full of long bike rides, weight training and camp fires. It is finally starting to feel as if summer is rolling around here in South Western Ontario.
Today I wanted to chat a little bit about trail running. It feels like it has exploded this year more than any other year prior and I am EXCITED about that! I fell in love with the sport in 2010 and I cannot imagine a week without spending some time in the local trails.
However, I have been getting some emails and comments lately with some trail running questions and I thought I would take some time and tackle basic trail running etiquette before the season is too long underway.
Stay On The Trail
In order to preserve the integrity of the trail system you need to stay on the trail. When you go off trail, you tend to destroy habitat and eventually if enough people stray from the path, the foot traffic can create a trail where one was not intended.
Leave Nothing But Footprints
Don’t litter. It’s so easy to leave gel packets and energy bar wrappers, but there will not be someone coming behind you to clean up like a road race. Litter damages the environment and ruins the experience for other people. Trash can also be ingested by animals and you can harm your local wild life.
Stay To The Right And Pass On The Left
Ideally you should stay to the right, and announce your presence by saying, ‘on your left’ as you pass.
Share the Trails
If you are training on a system that is both mountain bikers, runners and hikers, be aware. Announce your presence clearly to hikers who are moving slower than you and hop off the trail to the right when you hear a mountain biker approaching.
Run Over Obstacles
Run single file in the middle of a trail, even when the trail is obstructed with a fresh blanket of snow or is muddy. Go through puddles and not around them. Running around mud, rocks, or downed tree limbs widens trails, impacts vegetation, and causes further and unnecessary erosion. Use caution when going over obstacles, but challenge yourself by staying in the middle of the trail.
Be Aware of Trail Conditions
If the trails are exceedingly muddy, refrain from running so that you don’t create damaging potholes in the surface. The wetter a trail is, the more damage you can do. Trails that have been constructed with rock work, or those with soils that drain quickly, may hold up to wet conditions – even a downpour. But, in general, if the trail is wet enough to become muddy and hold puddles, all hikers, runners and mountain bikers should avoid it until the moisture has drained. Tearing up the trail ruins it for everyone.
Happy trail running!
What is the most important piece of trail etiquette for you?