A collection of commonly asked questions from runners.

If you have a specific question that is not answered here, or if you have suggestions on what should be included, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

Q: What is your cancellation policy?

A: Entry fees to our trail runs are non-refundable in all cases, and we do not offer credits, transfers, or deferrals to future races except as described below. Only registered runners can participate in our races, and you cannot exchange your entry with anyone else in any case.

We are happy to issue a credit worth 50% of your original race fee toward a future Inside Trail Racing event if we receive your cancellation at least 3 weeks prior to the race. Credits will expire 1 year after the date issued. There will be no credit provided if a cancellation is made within 3 weeks of the race. Cancellation requests should be make through the Inside Trail Contact Form, or by emailing rd@insidetrail.com.

While we understand that last-minute injuries, conflicts, emergencies, deaths, and other unfortunate events affecting registered runners can happen and may impact your plans for participation, we must adhere to our cancellation policy stated above and cannot offer any credits, refunds, transfers, or deferrals in any of these cases.

If the situation does arise where ITR must outright cancel an event for any reason, there will be no refunds. This could include earthquakes, floods, extreme weather, unsafe air quality, pandemics, or any other “Act of God”. ITR at its sole discretion may choose to offer future race credit or deferrals in these force majeure situations, depending on the circumstances and how close to the race date the event was cancelled. We will communicate with all registered runners as soon as possible regarding the cancellation and any pertinent information.

We do not cancel races due to rain or heat. Due to trail work, closures, or for myriad other reasons, permitting agencies may require changes to the publicized courses at any time prior to an event. This is out of our control, and we therefore will not offer refunds, credits, deferrals, or transfers (except as described below) in such a situation. If a race location is changed, but still hosted on the same day, we will automatically transfer the registration over to the new venue, or entrants may choose to run the race remotely and we will mail awards. If a race is postponed all entrants will be transferred to the new date.

Q: Can I pay with a credit card at the event?

A: Yes. We use Square and can process credit/debit card transactions on the spot.

Q: I am interested in doing a trail run but I’m mostly a hiker. Is walking allowed?

A: Absolutely! Many walkers participate in our races. Most trail runs involve several steep sections, and the majority of runners, including some elites, hike the big hills 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. Most of our races have an 8-hour cut-off, however, please note the time cut-off posted for each event found on the page dedicated to that specific race.

Q: I am new to trail-racing 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 placing striped ribbons (at eye level) and/or flags (stuck into the ground) on the side you into which you’ll turn. For example, if you are at a T intersection and you need to turn right, you will see 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 extra information is necessary to make the correct turn, we place white signs with written instructions 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 and look for the right color of ribbons. 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 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? Is there 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. Some people carry their cell (protected by a zip lock bag or a dry bag) as an extra precaution. Lastly, we urge people to always carry a water bottle/flask and a snack. Even if your race is short, it may come in handy if it’s a hot day or someone else is in need.

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 have deeper grooves on the sole for better traction. Some shoes are optimal for varying terrains, roots and rocks by providing more stability. Some runners prefer the minimalist option, which has a lighter weight and allows for a better feel of the ground. If you are a first-timer, we recommend you go to a store that specializes in trail running and have them help you find the shoes that fits best. Transports and RoadRunner Sports, 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 damp attire and keep warm. We provide a bountiful post-race buffet, though you should take along any specific snacks or preferred foods you usually eat.

Q: Can I wear headphones?

A: Yes. Listening to a device is condoned as long as the user remains aware of his/her surroundings. We do recommend only using one earpiece or keeping the volume low enough so they can hear the sounds of the environment, such as runners coming from behind or hikers up ahead.

Q: Can my dog run with me?

A: We host several races where we welcome you to bring your pooch! The following is a list of those such races: Fort Ord, Chabot, Knickerbocker Canyon, Folsom Lake, Reservoir Dogs, Toro Loco, Berkeley Trail Adventure, and the Oakland Hills Trail Run. We want to keep everyone safe and happy, so please do not bring your dog if they are nervous around people or if they are unfriendly.

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.

Finish line food can vary from race to race, however, vegetable soup, sandwiches, fruit salad, chips, cupcakes and cookies are always options. We provide a variety of drinks such as sodas, water, Tailwind and chocolate milk. At many races we make pancakes, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, and we occasionally provide pizzas!

Please note that due to current COVID-19 restrictions our selection of food at aid stations and the finish line will be extremely limited.

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 our website and will be free of charge for you to download for your personal use. We partner with Let’s Wander Photographer for most of our events. Professional photos from Let’s Wander Photography will be available on their SmugMug site and can be purchased starting a couple days after the event.


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