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

Mark VanDyke

Rules - Warnings - Frequently Asked Questions

The Bull Run Run is about having fun. We don’t have a lot of rules, but since we generally have a fairly large field of runners, we have to have some.

** Check back closer to the race weekend for any newly updated details.

Additionally, there are several admonitions (“warnings”) that we think you should consider.

Finally, there are questions that many have. We put the answers to those common questions here. If you have other questions that you think should be answered here, please let the RDs know.

If anything on this page is unclear, ask the RDs for guidance. Contact the RDs.


  • Littering: Littering is strictly prohibited. Nothing should go on the ground—even in the aid station. Trash should go in the proper receptacle. For us, littering is a death penalty offense.
  • Relieving Yourself: There will be facilities at the start/finish at Hemlock (also the aid station 17 miles into the race); at the first full aid station at Bull Run Regional Park; at the Bull Run Marina, and at Fountainhead. If a need should arise on the trail outside of these locations, please observe the following: Solid human waste should be buried well off the trail and away from water. Liquid waste should not be deposited on the trail itself or near water. A non-entrant in the race should not see you relieve yourself.
  • Personal Listening Devices: While we don’t prohibit personal listening devices (“PLDs” — headphones, ear buds, etc.), inattention caused by their use can make a runner an obstruction on the trail. Lack of awareness of your surroundings caused by wearing PLDs is impolite and annoying on the trail. Please don’t use any PLDs for the first 17.6 miles of the course (i.e. until you come back through the Hemlock aid station) and if you must use them after that, please be aware of your surroundings. While we will not disqualify someone for using a PLD, we will disqualify a runner whose inattention to his surroundings causes an unreasonable obstruction on the course. VHTRC Policy on use of personal listening devices.
  • Volunteers: Be polite to all volunteers. Abuse of a volunteer will lead to disqualification. You should be equally polite to any park officials and other users of the trails you might encounter. The trails are open during Bull Run Run to other users. We know that you will all be good trail running ambassadors while on the BROT!
  • Bib Number: You may wear your race number any place you want as long as it can be seen from the front at all times. Please note that the purpose of the race number is to allow race officials to readily identify you, both on the course and at the finish. A number on your back does not accomplish this goal; you are not wearing a license plate!
  • Entry is not Transferable: Your entry is not transferable and you may not give your number to another person. We put in the effort to maintain a wait list and give refunds, but after the final date to get a refund, we expect some attrition in the field. Our entry limit is based on that expectation.
  • Race Cutoff Times: You must have departed each aid station that has a “hard” cutoff before that cutoff time to continue in the event. “Soft” cutoff times are provided at aid stations prior to “Do Loop - Out” at 35.5 miles as warnings that at your current speed, you are no longer on pace to finish under the 13 hour time limit for the race. Click here to view aid station cutoff times.
  • Official Finishers: You must finish the race before 7:30 PM to be an “official finisher.” If, however, you leave the Bull Run Marina aid station not later than 6:00 PM and make steady progress but finish after 7:30, you will receive the finishers’ award and be listed on the results. You will not receive credit for this run, however, as a finish for the purpose of a multiple finish recognition, and if you are a member of a team, it will be disqualified.
  • Drop Bags: We will transport a single pliable drop bag, with your bib number clearly visible, to the Fountainhead aid station. You pass through this aid station twice during the latter two-thirds of the race. Fountainhead outbound is at 28.9 miles and inbound is at 37.9 miles. You may also leave the traditional finish line drop bag in the designated area at the start/finish area, which you may also use at the Hemlock aid station (17.6 miles). Since this bag will not be transported, there are no limits on the size or composition of your Hemlock drop bag.
  • Pacers: Pacers (or anyone not an entrant in the event) are not allowed to accompany runners.
  • Hiking Poles: This course does not have mountainous climbs and descents, and is not technical. The trails can also be somewhat congested. The use of hiking poles is prohibited in the Bull Run Run.
  • Other Trail Users: There will be other users of the trail. They have an equal right to be on the trail. They are not required to get off the trail for you. We expect you to treat other users, both in the race and not, with the utmost courtesy and friendliness.


  • Medical: You are responsible for your own health and safety. We do not provide medical support. You are responsible for the cost of any emergency services that you might require. Please be careful out there. Among the medical problems we have experienced are cuts, bruises, hypothermia, hyperthermia, and dehydration. Also, expect that you may come in contact with poison ivy.
  • The Road Crossing: There is only one significant road crossing. We plan to route you under the bridge and avoid the traffic. If, however, the water is high, you may have to cross Old Yates Ford Road near the Marina aid station (just after the aid station on the first pass, just before the aid station inbound). Cars go very fast on that road, and they will not stop for you. Look both ways, wait for a break in traffic, and use great care.
  • Trail Congestion: The first few miles of the course have historically been congested. If you do get caught up behind other runners, particularly in the initial descent to the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail, and at the Popes Head Creek crossing, please be patient. It is a 50 mile race after all, and you will eventually get out of that conga line.
  • Mud and Water: Most of the course drains well. There are a few course sections that are always muddy in the spring. This is particularly true in the first 17-mile section. You will have wet feet, and you are likely to have muddy feet, as well. There are several stream crossings that are not bridged. While most can be navigated without wet feet, that is not the case with all of them. If it rains before or during the event, some stream crossings may require some wading.
  • Rocks and Bridges: The course is not rocky compared to other area races such as the Massanutten Mountains Trail 100. But there are a few, short rocky sections. Be careful on those. There can be rocks and roots any place on the course. There are some wooden bridges over the small streams you will cross. These bridges can be slippery and unsteady. Be very careful on them.
  • Parking: We all need to cooperate to make parking work. Please arrive early, follow the instructions of the parking attendants, and don’t waste space. While it may not seem this way, the further you drive into the parking lot, the closer you are to the start. Parking Information

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the course like? Where is your elevation chart? We have prepared a lengthy response to this very common question. It is on the Course Information.
  • What is the energy replacement drink? Gatorade.
  • What else is at the aid stations? All aid stations have water, a replenishment drink, Coke or Pepsi, cookies and chips. The replenishment drink will be Gatorade. Additionally, some of the later aid stations will have other special offerings.
  • Will there be gels at the aid stations? No. If you bring your own, please dispose of the packages properly (this includes those pesky little tear-off tops). For 2023, we will have special trash receptacles for gel packs at each aid station. We plan to recycle them.
  • Should I carry water? We highly recommend that you carry water or some other liquid. While the average high temperature for this time of year is around 70 degrees, it can and has been unseasonably warm and humid in past races. We recommend a water bottle rather than a pack as it can be refilled more quickly and easily, but carry the hydration device with which you are most comfortable.
  • How is the course marked? The course is marked with blue ribbons, which are generally hanging from tree limbs, used to indicate turns, and occasionally used to instill confidence in the runner that she is still on the correct trail. Double ribbons will be used to designate a turn. Those ribbons will be hung to indicate the direction of that turn. Thus, double ribbons on the left side of the trail warn of an impending left turn. You will not always see the next confidence ribbon right after one you just passed; confidence ribbons are hung very intermittently. If, however, you go very long without seeing a blue ribbon, you may be off course. Red ribbons (often on the ground) designate the WRONG WAY. Do not cross a red ribbon! Most of the course also has blue and other color blazes (paint) on the trees. Follow blue ribbons, not the blazes. In some special circumstances, you will also see blue flagging (to take you across open fields) and signs/pie plates (to clarify particularly tricky turns). If you encounter ribbons of other colors anywhere along the course, ignore them, as they are unrelated to race markings.
  • May I bring my family/crew? Yes, you may. All aid stations other than the Do Loop are open to crew. For more information, click here.
  • How do I form a team? Information about teams is available on the teams' page.
  • Will you be having the North/South competition? While the Bull Run Run will continue to have a Civil War theme, due to tradition and the historic nature of the area that encompasses the course, race management has elected to end the North/South army competition. There will therefore only be a single category for age group awards for the race, as the runners will no longer be opting to “fight” for the North or the South. There will also be a single bib color for the race as a result.
  • Why does the application process list fewer finishes than I have? There are two possibilities for this. First, you may have used a different name than you previously finished under. The application process consults the prior finishers list to determine how many finishes you have. If there is a problem with that list, you should have let us know about it during the application process. (The most common problem is that you have run BRR under different names. Let us know before you apply for entry, and we can make all your finishes be under the same name.)
    The second possibility is that you have crossed the finish line after 13 hours. BRR has a 13 hour cutoff. A time of 13:05 is not a finish. (See “Rules” above.) We give 13+ hour runners a finishers award and list them in the results. But for the purposes of recognition of multiple finishes and team awards, we only count official finishes, which must be under 13 hours.
  • Will there be drug testing? Only for Joe Clapper! Although there well could be alcohol testing for VHTRC Ambassador Emeritus Gary Knipling as well.

Last updated November 7, 2022