Here’s a collection of commonly asked questions from runners. If you have a question that’s not answered here, or if you have suggestions on what else to include, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!
Q: What is your refund policy?
A: Entry fees to our trail runs are non-refundable. It is very expensive and time consuming to organize and produce a trail running event and most of the cost (insurance, permit fees, advertising cost, preparation time, etc.) are incurred in advance. However, if you let us know ahead of time, we are happy to transfer part of your entry fee (75% up to two weeks of the event, 50% from 2 weeks up to 48 hours of the event) to a future trail run. Only registered runners can participate, and you cannot exchange your entry with another runner.
If a race is cancelled or rescheduled, we will transfer 100% of your entry fee to another ITR event, or issue a 100% refund.
Q: Can I pay with a credit card at the event?
A: As long as we have cell reception at any of our events, we have the ability to make a credit card transaction. It is sometimes unknown about the strength of the signal, so this can be unreliable. Please be prepared with cash or check just in case.
Q: I am interested in doing a trail run but I’m mostly a hiker. Is walking allowed?
A: Absolutely! Many hikers participate in our races. Most trail runs involve several steep sections and the majority of runners (even some elite racers) hike these sections as a race strategy to preserve energy. As long as you are enjoying yourself and unfazed by the limits of time, you can hike, walk, or even crawl to the finish.
Q: I am a newbie and I am worried about getting lost… how will I know which way to turn at a trail junction?
A: If a junction is coming up, we pre-announce it by putting striped ribbons (at eye level) and/or flags (stuck into the ground) on the side you need to turn to. For example, if you are at a T intersection and you need to turn right, we’ll have ribbons and/or flags on the right side of the trail a few feet before you go into the turn. After you make the turn, look for ribbons ahead of you at eye level. These are called “confidence ribbons” and are an indication that you are on the right track.
For junctions that are somewhat tricky or ambiguous, and we need to provide extra information to make the correct turn, we put a white sign with instructions written on it and a blue ribbon located on the incorrect path to indicate that you’re going the wrong way. Always take a moment to read these signs. It will be time well spent.
Finally, we try to let you know when you are going off course my using blue ribbons. Blue ribbons are used to indicate the WRONG trails. If you run passed a blue ribbon turn around and find the proper colored ribbons and flags to get back on course.
We also strongly recommend that you carry a course map and/or the turn by turn directions provided on our website. Vandalism (people removing or changing course markings) does happen and a course map could save your race and minimize frustration!
Q: How should I dress for the race? Anything I should consider bringing?
A: We recommend you dress in layers, so you can add or remove clothing as the temperature changes. Tech fabric is the best choice for better wicking, whereas cotton tends to soak up sweat and stay wet. When it is wet or rainy, a rain jacket is a great idea since it will preserve body heat, as well as block wind and rain. On a cold day it would be a good idea to wear a beanie (wool or tech fabric are both good choices) and gloves. Other than that, some people carry their cell (protected by a zip lock bag or a dry bag) as an extra precaution.
Q: What kind of shoes should I wear for trail runs?
A: The difference between trail running and road running shoes is that trail running shoes tend to have deeper grooves on the sole for better grip. Depending on what you’re looking for, some shoes are optimal for varying terrains, roots and rocks by providing better stability. Some shoes are minimalist to lessen the weight and allow for better feel of the ground. If you are a first timer, we recommend you go to a store that specializes in trail runs and have them help you find the shoes that fit best. Transports, in Oakland and Berkeley, is where a lot of runners frequent because the people that work there are all running enthusiasts and many are ultra-runners that have a ton of experience and knowledge about trail running and shoes. We recommend breaking in any new running shoe for at least 1-2 weeks ahead of a race so that you do not suffer any subsequent injuries.
Q: Is there anything I should bring for after the race?
A: We recommend bringing a set of dry clothes, extra shoes and socks so you can change out of wet clothes and keep warm, and any specific post-race snacks or preferred foods.
Q: Where can I expect aid stations on a trail run?
A: As opposed to road runs, trail runs tend to have fewer aid stations (most are about 5 – 6 miles apart) since aid stations can only be set up at designated open areas. Because of this, most trail runners bring hydration (hydration packs, water bottles, fuel belts, etc.), energy gels and bars with them. Hydrapak make some of the best hydration packs on the market, such as the E-Lite vest. The packs come with compartments that allow you to stash food and water in easily accessible pockets, and also come with straps that can be adjusted to fit your body to minimize bounce. Some runners prefer to use belts around their waist or a handheld bottle. Any of these options work as long as it allows you to carry enough water and food from aid station to aid station. We recommend all runners carry at least 20 ounces of water with them.
Q: What kind of food can I expect at the aid stations? How about the finish?
A: The foods that we stock at aid stations are foods that are easy to digest and have a good mix of protein and carbs such as Clif Bars, Clif Shot Bloks, bananas, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pretzels, chips and candy. Beverages include plain water as well as Clif Shot electrolyte drink. You are free to pack this food and liquid with you as you go to the next aid station. We recommend you eat and drink frequently to prevent fatigue.
Depending on the race, the finish line food differs a bit, but vegetable soup, bread or bagels, fruits and a bunch of other stuff like chips, M&Ms and cookies are common options. Drink wise, we’ll provide a variety of drinks such as sodas, water, Clif Shot electrolyte drink and chocolate milk. At many races we make pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches and occasionally provide pizzas!
Q: What if I run into horses and other users on the trail?
A: The trails will be open to other users during the event, such as hikers, cyclists and equestrians. Please be courteous, you will unlikely encounter more than a few. Where the trails are narrow, please let other participants pass you if they want to get by. It is a passing runner’s job to tell the person in front that they wish to pass.
Horses get startled easily and when they are startled they can buck and cause the rider to fall and get hurt. Horses do have the right of way, so if you see a horse, please stop running, step off the path, and let the horse past, unless the rider tells you that it is okay to walk past.
Q: Will there be a photographer on the course? Where can I access the pictures after the race?
A: On most of our runs you can expect a photographer on the course and all pictures taken will be available online. Pictures taken by ITR volunteers will be available on Facebook and our Picasa site free of charge for you to download for your personal use.