Your first trail race? Hone these skills.

Alain, Joel and I make it our goal to host trail races that are first-timer friendly. We think trail running is great and we want other people to have the opportunity to try it out. This includes people who are already experienced runners as well as people who are just getting into running.

If a Summer Trail Series event will be your first time on the trails and you’re the kind of person who likes to know what to expect, here are our suggestions about the skills and mindset that can help you get the most out of a trail race:

  • Rolling with the punches and the twists and the turns

Depending on your experience and what motivates you to try trail running, this could be your first time running a race that has: uneven running surfaces, a twisting course, and places where you can take a wrong turn. That makes trail running challenging, but it’s also part of the fun. If you are able to handle the unexpected, you can have a lot of fun in a trail race.

  • Passing on singletrack

The Summer Trail Series course involves a lot of narrow trails, which can make passing challenging. If you want to pass a runner, expect to run around them while they stay on trail. Pick a spot where there’s room to pass without either of you running into a tree. Give the runner you’re passing a verbal warning, such as “Passing on the left!” Whenever you can spare the breath, it’s also good etiquette to say “Thanks!” or a word of encouragement as you go by.

  • Being passed on singletrack

Trail runners care about helping each other to do their best. If someone is moving fast enough to pass you, please avoid being a barrier or obstacle for them to navigate. You don’t have to step off the trail or change your running pace. But if you hear the runner behind you say they want to pass on your left, try to keep to the right of the trail as much as you safely can. If you are wearing headphones while running, keep the volume low enough that you can hear someone say they want to pass. If you have the energy to cheer them on as they go past, you’ll probably make their day and give them the mental boost to go even faster.

  • Being present in the moment

Sometimes it’s nice to daydream on a long run – it makes the time go by faster and running can be a great time to process ideas, problems and emotions. During a trail run that has as many twists and turns as this course, you’ll want to focus on where you are and what you’re doing. It will keep you from tripping, but being present is also about enjoying what you’re doing at that moment, even if you’re breathing hard.

  • Looking for answers when you have questions

For longer trail races, some runners will do extensive research on the course, conditions and the gear they’ll need. That’s unnecessary for the Summer Trail Series. If you have any questions before your race, though, please don’t hesitate to contact any of the race directors. You can reach me by email at

Of course, these are all finer details. You’re going to have a great time. We race directors just want to do our bit to make it simple and fun for people to try trail running for the first time. You can find some more tips in this post from 2016. There are some beautiful trails in Manitoba and lots of ways to enjoy them. Hopefully we’ll see you out there!

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