Trail Running



Firstly at all events we should remember that we are sharing the countryside with other people and animals. There is a code of conduct that is accepted called 'The Country Code' so please follow the guidelines. 

The Country Code    

Essex Trail Events Code
The Trail Running Association website 


Please note that there are NO DOGS ALLOWED in any trail event. This is a UKA rule (UK Athletics)

We are often asked what the age restrictions are for a trail event so we have listed them:

Under 12 years 3,000 metres  

Under 14 years 5,000 metres  

Under 16 years 6,000 metres  

Under 17 years 10,000 metres  

Under 18 years 25,000 metres  

Under 20 years 45,000 metres 

There are various types of trail running popular in Essex

The Trail Race (Mass Start)

This type of trail is popular countrywide. There is a mass start as in road racing, there will be marshals on a marked course, often with manned water stations. Finishers will receive a medal, t shirt or another memento. There will also be prizes for winners.

The Navigational Trail

This type of trail requires map reading skills. You will be looking for checkpoints and will normally have a set time to get to as many checkpoints as you can. Time penalties are often given for going over the set time.

The Trail Race (Narrative Route Description) Start when you are ready

This is the type of trail that Essex Trail Events will mainly be involved with. Here is our description of how it works:

For many entrants doing a narrative style trail this may not be racing at all but a social running exercise through some lovely countryside you probably didn’t know existed with a set of results at the end. Trail running in Essex often uses the narrative route description method and more often than not starts and finishes at a country pub. Some of you will have spotted the first advantage over road races already. The next advantage is the entry fee which is usually around £5 with a voucher for your first drink at the bar. Another major difference is that it is not a mass start. You start when you want (within limits) and run with whoever you want. Newcomers generally run round in small groups. Some people prefer running on their own, others always run with others. Some run in large packs, some clubs all start together then split up along the way. Basically there are many different styles from mad keen racer to headless chicken (sometimes being the same person). Several people walk them and some take their kids with them on the shorter ones.


Most of our trail races take place in the summer so in dry conditions road shoes are fine. Obviously our summer weather is pretty unpredictable and there are special trail shoes which have grippier soles. Unless it is likely to be really muddy (when we wear our fell shoes) we usually just run round in an old pair of road shoes.


You need to be able to read. The organisers generally try to make the print on the route description as large as possible. Other than that the only other skill is knowing the difference between Left and Right. Some people even write L on one hand and R on the other. No map reading skills or compass work are required at all.


The narrative route description is usually a sheet of A4 paper with numbered paragraphs (in most cases each paragraph is roughly equivalent to one mile).

They are likely to read something like this...........Turn right out of pub car park. After 100 metres turn left over stile and follow left hand field edge to field corner. Cross footbridge into next field and follow hedge to road......................

To save space the most common actions and obstacles are abbreviated so that the above might now read.................... TR out of car park. After 100m TL over ST & follow LHFE to FC. X FB into next field & follow hedge to road...............

All the abbreviations are explained at the top of the page and you will soon pick them up. HONEST.


On arrival at the venue register with the organiser who will give you the route description. You can then read it if you wish, wait for your running mates, limber up, use the facilities etc and when you are ready to go, go back to the organiser and he will set you off. When you get back find the organiser again (they are usually in the pub) and he will calculate the elapsed time of your run. There is usually a container at registration where you can deposit your car keys. To date no-one has gone home in the wrong car.


One big difference between trail and road running is the atmosphere during and after the event. Most people that you overtake or who overtake you will actually speak and pass the time of day. When you finish there will be people there enjoying a pint (making use of the voucher) who have already finished, then you can sit there watching people come in whilst you are sipping your pint. There will be great discussions about where you went wrong or how you misread the instructions turning left at a junction when the instructions clearly said turn right. There will be jolly banter with the organiser (the writer of the route description) but please do not hit him as he has put in a lot of work in on your behalf.

In keeping with the low key atmosphere, the winner will probably get a bottle of wine for their efforts although most race organisers are too tight to give prizes at all.

Outside Head Office at Littley Green

Outside Head Office at Littley Green