Course Marking and Pictures 

We always get a lot of questions about how the race course will be marked. People are often worried about getting lost, especially those new to trial running. My goal is to NEVER have a runner get off course in one of our races and sometimes that does happen, or maybe it's just that no one tells me they missed a turn. Whichever the case, I do my best to keep everyone on the correct trail.

The first three races of the year, Tranquility Trail Race, Run for Kids and Memorial Day, I way over-mark the course. Often the flags are line of sight or almost line of sight. By Hotter-'N Hell in July I spread out the marking a bit. Here is a brief explanation of how I mark any given section of trail.

1. If the trails is long and obvious and there is nowhere to get off. That is, there is no way off the trail without going cross-country. The flags will be between 150 and 200 yards apart. The maximum distance between flags will be no more than "about" 200 yards. I count steps, I don't measure, so expect some variation.

2. On a straight section of trail, another trail crosses your trail. There will be one or two flags before the intersection and at least 3 flags visible beyond the intersection. There will be another flag on the trial 25 to 50 yards past the last flag at the intersection. This is a "confidence" flag. After that, the flags will go back to every 200 yards.

3. Changing from one trail to another: Anytime runners are changing trails in an STR race, the flags will be placed in a line around the outside of the turn, directing runners the way they are supposed to go. NEVER step through a line of flags.

4. You are running down one trail and a trail crosses your trail. You are to switch to the crossing trail. There will be one or two flags just before the crossing trail. Three or flags will be visible from the intersection heading down the trail you are to take. There will also be a sign with an arrow indicating the direction you are to go. I try to put the sign across the trail where you would almost run into it if you failed to make the turn. Note: The ground is very rocky and hard on the mountains around Birmingham. I cannot always get a sign, or flags in the ground where I want them.
Example: You approach a trail intersection. The course turns left. The flags before the intersection will be on the right side of the trail. The flags will continue down the trail you are to take also on the right side of the trail. See the diagrams below.

5. Changing from one trail to another: If runners have been on one trail for a long distance or when leaving a large trail or road to take a smaller trail, if there is a chance runners could miss the turn, there will be a "WRONG WAY" sign 20 or 30 feet past the turn.

If you pass an intersection and don't see any more flagging you very likely missed a turn. If you go 350 to 400 yards and don't see a flag, you did miss a turn. GO BACK!


These are my rendition of trails, not great but they do the job. The blue squares are flags. The blue dashes represent  the NEVER-EVER cross line.
Our Race Signs - Go where the arrow points.
The yellow arrow inside the big arrow is reflective tape.
Our Trail Marking Frags. If these flags head down a trail, follow them. 
If you don't see any flags going down the trail, don't go that way.
Above are two photos of trail making at the Lake Martin 100 Mile Endurance Run. The small silver squares on the side of the flags are DOT - C2 Reflective Tape. The tape makes the flags clearly visible from 400 yards away and are critical for staying on course at night.
We do our best to make it easy to find the start. 
Just follow the Big Arrow.