Introduction to Trail Running

You have registered for a Blaze Trails race, and this may be your first trail running experience. Welcome to our community! We are so excited that you are joining us.

Now that you are signed up, you might wonder what to expect and how to prepare. We are here to help!

Differences between Trail and Road Races

Timing Chips

When you run a Blaze Trails event, you will get your bib and a timing chip. The chip is attached to a strap and should be worn around your ankle. At the end of the race, we will remove, clean and use it again. Using this system helps us keep better track of which runners are still on the course.

Aid Stations

These are situated at points where the trail crosses a road or gives us good access near a road. Typically, aid stations are further apart than in a road race. Our aid stations will be well-stocked compared to a road race. Sure, we will have water, ice and endurance drinks. But we’ll also have bananas, potato chips, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, candy and more.

Two things we will not provide: cups and gels. We are a cupless race, and you need to carry your hydration system. In addition, we don’t provide gels because everyone has their personal preference, and they are easy for you to carry.


Garbage should never be thrown on the trail. If you use a gel on the trail, please carry the wrapper until you get to the next aid station. The same goes for other food wrappers and even banana peels and more.

As race organizers, this is a very serious issue. The trails are home to wildlife and livestock and therefore must be kept clean and protected. If garbage is left out on the trails, we might not get a permit for a future year. Therefore, if you purposefully litter, you could be disqualified.

Trail Markings

The trail will be marked with flags, arrows and signs. We do our best to mark the course so you can stay on course. Before the race, we recommend checking the trail map provided on the website. Be sure to listen to the race director during the pre-race brief.

The most common reason people get off trail is that they zone out and forget to pay attention to the markings. The second reason is that they follow the person ahead of them, again, not paying attention to the markings.

Exact Distance

Trail races follow the most natural course provided on the trail and are rarely precisely the “advertised” distance. In most cases, the distance will be a little longer; we want you to get your money’s worth.

Trail Running Gear

Much of the gear you use for trail running is the same as road running. Depending on the trail and the distance you are running, there are a few additional items you might need or want.

Must-Have Gear:

Hydration System: This is required! You must have a hydration system to carry water throughout your race. This could be a handheld water bottle, vest or belt. Consider how far you are running, the distance between aid stations, and the weather conditions. We recommend that you go to a local running store to find the best option for you.

Might Want or Need:

Collapsible, reusable cup: Carry in addition to your hydration system if you plan to drink soda or pickle juice at the aid stations. Read more about cupless races.

Trail running shoes: The more technical the trail, the more likely a trail shoe will help you. However, some people wear regular running shoes.

Gaiters: Worn over your socks and shoes, gaiters can be helpful to prevent rocks and sand from getting into your shoes.

Headlamp: If your race starts before sunrise or ends after sunset, you will need a headlamp to wear on the trail. Be sure to check batteries ahead of time and bring extras.

You might also wonder about:

Trekking poles: Here in Texas, the terrain does not require trekking poles. Some people still like to use them, and in some cases, people will use them in a local race as practice for a race that does require the use of poles. 

Drop bags: If you are running a longer distance with drop bags at aid stations, you might want a waterproof bag for supplies and gear. While there are many options, some at high price points, a great start is to use a ziplock bag. Mark your name and bib number clearly on the outside.

More questions?
Check our FAQs or post your question in the Blaze Trails Facebook Group. Trail runners are always happy to answer questions and share their advice.

We encourage you to go to a local running store for your gear. Most stores are staffed by people who know and love running. They will be happy to share their knowledge! For a running store focused on trail running, visit Trailhead Running Supply in Flower Mound, TX.