Trail races include a variety of event types, they are held predominantly along footpaths, bridleways and towpaths over which there is a public right of way. Trail races may also take place on private or other land where the necessary consent for the event to take place has been given.
Trail races can be of any length with their length and the total climb measured using resources such as accurately scaled maps, such as Ordnance Survey maps, or GPS systems.
In ‘Supported Races’ a runner can have support from a team, such as friends, family or others who are permitted to give competitors refreshments or provide changes of clothing along the course in accordance with the event’s rules. ‘Self Sufficiency Races’ require competitors to carry everything they need, except that in ultra-distance races and in hot weather the organiser may provide water at intervals to prevent dehydration. ‘Kanter Races’ require runners to choose their own routes using trails and visiting check points along the route which are given as grid references on Ordnance Survey maps. ‘Staged Races’ are those where the course is broken into separate stages with rests at the end of each stage. The times of each runner are aggregated to determine the winner. ‘Extreme Races’ are self-sufficiency races of over 100km that include a section most competitors will run at night.
Trail races are held under UKA Rules of Competition with the management of Trail Running delegated to the Trail Running Association. The UKA Rules give the proportions of the race distance that must be on trails. rather than road, for an event to be categorised as a trail race and the ages at which athletes become eligible to compete in events of certain distances.