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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.

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.

Rules

  • Cupless! There will not be cups at the aid stations. Please plan accordingly, either through the use of a bottle or a collapsible speed cup.
  • 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. There will be separate recycling receptacles available at most of the aid stations, so help us help the planet!
  • Relieving Yourself: There will be facilities at the start/finish at Hemlock (which is also the aid station 17 miles into the race); at the Bluebell Loop water stop 10 miles in (at Bull Run Regional Park); at the Bull Run Marina A.S., 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 opt to 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: We probably don’t need to say this, since our volunteers are awesome and no doubt you will be grateful to them, but 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 do offer partial refunds based on the calendar and the size of the field leading up the race. We do not offer deferrals, but check with the race directors in the weeks leading up to the race about a potential partial refund.
  • Race Cutoff Times: You must have departed each aid station that has a cutoff before that cutoff time to continue in the event. These cut-offs are very generous in the first 2/3 of the race, so don’t consider them to be a series of targets. The further into the race, the tighter the cutoffs become. The cutoffs are there for the benefit of the volunteers and race officials, so that they can plan when their day will be completed. And also to allow the race to be completed in daylight. Please be aware of the cutoffs if you may be running towards the back of the pack. 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 the 6:00 PM cutoff, 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, small 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 adjacent to the start/finish line; it will be at the Hemlock aid station (17.6 miles), so readily available to use at that time, in addition to after your finish. 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 on the trails. The exception would be family members who want to run Mom or Dad in to the finish line after spotting them on the closing stretch of gravel road.
  • 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 discouraged at the Bull Run Run as a result. Please leave your poles at home, unless you absolutely need them for balance purposes on the trail.
  • 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.

Warnings

  • 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 on that road. 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. On the off-chance that we use this route, look both ways, wait for a break in traffic, and use great care. We will attempt to assign a volunteer to assist if the road crossing is needed, but be alert and safe, regardless.
  • 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 sections of the course that are always muddy in the spring. This is particularly true in the first 17-mile northern section (especially around the Bluebell Loop after the Centreville Road aid station). 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 VHTRC’s Massanutten Mountains Trail 100 miler. 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 field that we utilize for parking, the closer you are to the start. And if you arrive at the race with more than one entrant in your vehicle, the parking volunteers will direct you to the Carpool Parking area that is in a small field located mere steps away from the start/finish area. 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, Gatorade, sodas, cookies and chips. Additionally, some of the later aid stations will have other special offerings. The VHTRC’s volunteers and aid stations are The Best! We are extremely confident that you will not be disappointed.
  • 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 2024, 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; and the aid stations, after the first 7 miles, are generally 3-5 miles apart. But by all means carry the hydration device with which you are most comfortable. Remember, too, that this is a cupless race, so you will want to have a bottle or cup with you if you plan to use the sodas or Gatorade at the aid stations.
  • Are drop bags allowed? There are opportunities for two drop bags at the Bull Run Run 50 Miler. Your finisher bag can be left at the Hemlock aid station adjacent to the start/finish, and you may then access it at mile 17 when you visit that aid station, in addition to using it once you have finished your race. Also, if you bring a small, well-labeled drop bag to the start for the two Fountainhead aid stops, we will transport it out to that aid station for your use at miles 29 and 38. We will bring your bag to the finish, but it may be late in the race, so plan accordingly!
  • 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 runners that they are 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 the BRR 50 race markings.
  • Will I need a headlamp for the start, or for the finish? The only time you are likely to need a light will be pre-race as you check-in (if you didn’t pick up your bib on Friday). The civil sunrise and civil sunset in early April means daylight for the entire race. This is actually why the race starts at 6:30 AM, as it is light by that time, and will still be light 13 hours later for the end of the race. The one exception: if you make the 6 PM cut-off at the final aid station, but then fail to finish by 7:30 PM (the 13 hour cut-off time for the race), you may find that it gets dark. If you feel you may finish close to the 13 hour cut-off, be sure to have a light or a charged phone with you to light that final stretch of trail if it should be needed.
  • Where can I stay the night before the race? We have put together a list of area resources that should provide good area hotel options. For 2024, we once again are able to offer overnight accommodations at the host site. There is a small fee for use of the bunkhouse, and no charge for tent camping. Car camping is not allowed at Hemlock.
  • May I bring my family/crew? Yes, you may. All aid stations other than the Do Loop and Wolf Run Shoals 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 continues 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 that was held through the 2019 race. 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.
  • Will there be drug testing? Only for Joe Clapper! Although there could be alcohol testing for VHTRC Ambassador Emeritus Gary Knipling, as well.

Last updated February 26, 2024