Entry opens on Sunday November 15, 2020

The Bull Run Occoquan Trail meanders through a sea of bluebells.

Mark VanDyke

North-South Competition

The Bull Run Run includes a competition between the two sides of the Civil War — the North and the South. Our goal is to further the North/South theme of the event and increase the interest in the friendly rivalry between the two modern day “armies.”

General Pope
General Pope

Each runner will join, or be conscripted, into the North or the South. Runners will wear the colors of their side in the form of distinctive bib colors. The North runners will have numbers starting at 1, the South will have numbers starting at 251. (See below for why.)


The bib numbers for the North will be blue. The South colors will be gray.


General Lee
General Lee

The competition will be scored by those finishing under 11 hours. Just as in real battle, the front line troops determine the outcome and the REMF’s (Rear Echelon “So and So’s”) enjoy the spoils. While we doubt “REMF” was a term used in the Civil War, we bet there was an equivalent. More to the point, using only the people under 11 hours allows us to designate the winning side and distribute awards before everyone has left.

Each runner under 11 hours will score for his or her side. If the runner is from the side with the greater number of entrants (the North, as it was in 1861 and is now), she will score one point. If the person is from the side with the smaller troop strength (the South), he will score a proportionally larger amount to account for the lesser troop strength. In 2019, there were 324 final BRR entrants. 229 had chosen to run with a blue North number, and 95 had chosen to run with a gray South bib number. Each qualifying North finisher scored one point and each similar South finisher scored 2.411. The factors were based on that year’s relative troop strengths. In the years that we have had this competition, it has never been close enough to bother with all of those digits, but they are there if needed. In 2018, the score was North 39 (due to 39 sub-10 hour finishers), South 37.0528 (which had 16 sub-10 hour finishers). In 2019 (aka “The Mud Year”), the score was North 17 (due to 17 sub-10 hour finishers), South 9.642 (which had 4 sub-10 hour finishers). This year we will include runners who finish under 11 hours in this total, which in 2019 would have allowed 52 runners to score points for their army.

Once the winning side is determined, ALL finishers (those who have already finished and those yet to) for that side will receive an award. (The award will not be mailed.) In 2018 it was a BRR bandanna; in 2019 it was gloves; as with all the awards for this year’s race, we shall see what 2021 brings forth!

Next year, the winning side will be issued the lower numbers. So let’s see if the South can break the North’s current two-year victory streak.

Last updated October 20, 2020