Entry opens on Sunday November 15, 2020

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 over 300 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 RD know.

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


  • 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: 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, especially on congested sections of 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. To put it another way, if we let you transfer your number, we would not be able to admit as many people into the race. Additionally, such an action subverts the waiting list process.
  • Cutoff Times: You must have departed each aid station that has a “hard” cutoff time 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.
  • 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 do not transport drop bags to aid stations. You may leave a bag in the designated area at the start/finish area for your use at the Hemlock aid station (17.6 miles).
  • 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.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol is prohibited in the park.


  • 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 Yates Ford Road near the Marina aid station (just after the aid station on the first pass, just before on the second pass). 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 will be congested. There is a three-quarter mile loop around the parking lot to allow the field to spread out. If you don’t want to be caught behind slow runners, you should run fast on this loop. If not, expect some occasional conga-lines in the opening miles, particularly on the initial descent to the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail, and the Popes Head Creek crossing. The field will generally spread out enough to prevent similar traffic jams over the remainder of the course.
  • Mud and Water: Most of the course drains well. There are a few course sections that are always muddy. Unless it has been dry for several days before the event, you will likely have muddy feet. There are several stream crossings. Most can be navigated without wet feet. If it rains before or during the event, some stream crossings may require wading.
  • Rocks and Bridges: The course is not rocky compared, at least, 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, unsteady, and slanted. 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. There is also close-in parking that is specifically reserved for carpoolers, so plan now to take advantage of this option! 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.
  • Where are the pre-race meal and the bunk houses? The pre-race meal, race packet pickup, and the start/finish are located at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park. This is also the location for the Friday night accommodations. Post race showers are available…bring your own towels and soap. Directions to Start/Finish at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park
  • What’s at the aid stations? All aid stations have water, a replenishment drink, Coke or Pepsi, cookies, chips, and, crackers. The replenishment drink will be Gatorade. Additionally, some of the later aid stations will have sandwiches, fruit, candy, and usually other special offerings. The first aid station (the first two times you stop for aid) has basic fare but not fancy stuff like soup, meat, sandwiches, etc. The aid stations will have S! Caps. There should be enough for each runner to have one every now and then. If you take them like candy, you should bring your own supply.
  • What is the energy replacement drink? Gatorade.
  • 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).
  • 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 below 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 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.
  • Is there a map for crews? An REI local road map is available on the PATC Web site. This map should help crews navigate the area. Also, see the [crew instructions]() for directions, GPS coordinates, etc.
  • How do I form a team? Information about teams is available on the teams’ page.
  • 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 October 20, 2020