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Trail Running Etiquette – 10 Rules for Running on the Trails

Running Etiquette

Running Etiquette – 10 Rules for Running on the Trails
By Isaac Walker
Image © Dario Airoldi / Dollar Photo Club

I think the majority of us would have experienced at one time or another, in one way or another, ‘bad manners’ while out on the trail. You could have been the recipient of someone’s wayward snot rocket or perhaps you have spotted another person’s gel wrapper on the side of the trail.  The trail running community is known as a respectful and fun loving group however some common running etiquette guidelines of respect and courtesy while out running is something that should be commonplace. Most of these can definitely cross over to all types of running.

  1. Don’t litter. We need to respect the environment that provides us with so much pleasure. Running etiquette, and straight up respect for the world around us, demands that what you carry in, you carry out – this includes toilet paper, empty gel packets and empty bottles. Leave nothing behind – only footprints.
  2. Passing. You usually pass on the trail on the right side in Australia however depending on the trail you may need to pass on the left. It does sometime depend on the situation. Downhill runners usually will also have right of way. Whatever side you are passing on please make sure the person in front of you is aware of your presence prior to passing. To ensure running etiquette is followed, a simple “on your left” or “passing on your right” is sufficient. Communication is key. There is nothing worse than needing a change of underwear due to someone ‘sneaking’ up on you from behind and giving you a fright.
  3. Don’t hog the trail. Try and run single file when in groups – especially on single track. Please be aware of other users coming from behind and from in front of you. Keep a wide berth around blind corners as not to run into people.
  4. Snot rockets etc. Running etiquette, yes, but this is also plain old life etiquette: When blowing ‘snot rockets’ make sure you are not up-wind of any other runners and shoot that rocket well off the trail. This also goes the same for gut bombs. There is nothing worse than than heading up a steep incline, breathing hard when someone ahead of you drops one (not naming anyone….) – please be courteous!
  5. Toilet stops. When possible use toilet facilities where available. If you have no choice to go while on the trail make sure you get well clear of the trail. The last thing someone wants is to run through someone’s ‘business’. A common thing to do is dig a small hole with a stick or hand so you can cover it back up again afterwards. Remember to not litter and carry all toilet paper/wet wipes etc. back out with you.
  6. Stick to the trails. Some trail specific running etiquette that also applies to hiking: Don’t head off running through the bush on your own fantasy bush-bashing wonderland tour. A lot of work has been done to build and maintain the majority of the trails we run on so respect that. This also protects the habitat that has been designed to be protected due to the creation of the trails.
  7. Be aware. Be aware of other runners. Be aware of the trail surface. Be aware of course markings. Be aware of your surroundings.
  8. Be nice. Running usually makes people nice to each other (fresh and exercise tends to do that), but just in case you’re having a really bad running day, running etiquette asks that that you still be nice to other runners. Be nice to hikers. Be nice to walkers. Be nice to the annoying lady with her dog who keeps taking down your course markings. The trail running community is known as being a friendly bunch of misfits and we should show the world how the trails make us feel. Happiness is contagious so be nice and smile to others out on the trails.
  9. Simple stuff. A few general and less thought of running etiquette rules include: Wear deodorant. Prepare and take enough nutrition/hydration for yourself and don’t rely on others. Selfies are expected but don’t go overboard (again I won’t name anyone….). Be realistic about your limits. Take your own first aid kit. Don’t wear headphones when running with a group. Don’t crank the music on your Iphone while admiring the most beautiful sunrise from atop a mountain peak (unless it’s the Top Gun theme song).
  10. Respect the trail. Enough said.

By Isaac Walker

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