We have compiled as many of the frequently asked questions that participants, spectators, crew members and the general public want to know about the North Country Trail Run. If you have a question we were not able to answer here just drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to answer it and also add it to this page.
What is the date of the race?
Saturday August 29th and Sunday August 30th 2020
How old is this race?
The marathon and ultra will celebrate their 21st Anniversary year this year while the half marathon will celebrate its 11th year, the Sunday half marathon its 6th year and the Sunday 50K its 3rd year.
What are the starting times?
Saturday Ultra – 6:30 am
Saturday Marathon Wave 1 – 7:10 am
Saturday Marathon Wave 2 – 7:25 am
Saturday Half Marathon Wave 1 – 8:30 am
Saturday Half Marathon Wave 2 – 8:45 am
Saturday Half Marathon Wave 3 – 9:00 am
Sunday 50K Ultra – 6:30 am
Sunday Half Marathon Wave 1 – 8:30 am
Sunday Half Marathon Wave 2 – 8:45 am
Sunday Half Marathon Wave 3 – 9:00 am
Is there a course map?
Yes. Click on the link that says “Course Maps” and you can download or print the maps. Also download the App “RaceJoy” and you can see virtual maps.
What is the course like?
The course is a well marked 25 mile loop. The marathon runners will run a 1.2 mile section on the paved road prior to hitting the trail. This allows them to run the same 25-mile loop the ultra runners will and also spreads the runners out prior to reaching the 1-track trail. The trail is a single-track hiking trail with enough hills to make for a challenging race. There is no high altitude to contend with, no rocks to jump over, and no stream crossings to wade through, just a beautiful forest with some roots to remind you you’re not on pavement. The course is flagged approximately every 100 ft with landscaping flags. Ultra and marathon runners follow the red flags while the half marathon runners follow the yellow flags. When all three events are on the same trails you will see both yellow and red flags. We will mark off where trail crossings may confuse runners by hanging caution tape at these points and also placing additional flags to direct you on the right path. It is also important to review the course maps and even print them off prior to race day.
Do you limit the number of runners in each race?
Yes. Each event will fill up fast, so please register early and train for the race you registered for so that you don’t get stuck out in the cold if you want to switch at a later date.
Is there a cut-off time?
Yes, 14 hours based on the Saturday 50 mile ultra start time and 9 hours based on the Sunday 50K start time. Both begin at 6:30 AM so depending on what race you are running subtract your start time from these two times. (as an example, if you are running wave 1 of the half marathon which starts at 8:30 AM that means you would have 12 hours to finish on Saturday and if running the half wave 1 on Sunday you would have 7 hours to finish since wave 1 begins at 8:30 AM). This means you must be able to finish the ultra, marathon or half marathon by 8:30 PM Saturday or the half marathon or 50k by 3:30 PM Sunday. On Saturday, you’ll need to be able to make it to the aid station near the start/finish line (26.2 miles of the first loop) no later than 1:30 PM to be allowed to begin the second loop. That means even if you cannot make the start of the second loop, you will have completed the marathon distance.
What should I bring with me to the race to help finish and have a good time?
• Change of Clothes
• Towels (for dip in the river afterwords)
• Your own water bottles filled for the start of the race
• Gloves, just in case it’s cold
• Extra socks
• External phone re-charger or A/C phone charger
• Extra shoes including a pair of non-running shoes
• Sun block
• Small personal first aid kit
• Snacks or candy
• Bug Spray
• Sport Wax or Body Glide
• Plastic bag for your smelly clothes afterwords
• Rain Gear and/or umbrella
• Drop Bags or Rubbermaid Container with your first and last name clearly labeled on it
• Tums or Pepto-Bismol
• Medical Tape
• Sports watch and/or GPS
• Icy hot or ice packs
• Ankle wrap
• Moleskin, Duct Tape, or Second Skin
• Road ID
• Salt tablets or S! Caps
• Canopy or tent for resting/blocking shade
• Extra spending cash
• Headphones or MP3 Player
• Camelback or handhelds
• Book, magazines, reading material
• Shower items
• Cash to be ready to sign-up for the race next year
• Local Beer for the Race Director
• A good sense of humor and a smile
Can I have cell phone on the course?
Yes, but please note GPS signal goes in and out, but has improved over the years.
Can I have stroller, jogger or dog on the course?
What items will you have at your aid stations?
• Aid Stations 1, 3, 4B, 5 and 7: Pineapple, Bananas, Strawberries, Watermelon, Vegetable Broth, Chicken Broth, Raman Noodles, Turkey and Cheese Sandwiches, Potatoes and Salt, Gummy Bears, Chips, Pretzels, Pizza, Gatorade, Water, Pickle Juice, Defizzed Coke, Vernors, Peanut Butter Cookies, M&Ms and Pop Sickles.
• Aid Station 2B (for half marathons): Cantaloupe, Bananas, Oranges, Watermelon, Gatorade, Water, Pickle Juice, Pop Sickles.
• Aid Stations 2, 4, 6 and 8: Cantaloupe, Bananas, Oranges, Vegetable Broth, Tomato Soup, Raman Noodles, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Potatoes and Salt, Burritos, Swedish Fish, Chex Mix, Bar Mix, Gatorade, Water, Pickle Juice, Defizzed Coke, Vernors, Brownie Bites and Pop Sickles.
Can I wear headphones?
Yes, but you MUST be aware of your surroundings at all times and this includes being able to hear any verbal warnings/instructions from course officials, or the sound of any other participants on the course approaching you to pass.
Will this race be professionally timed?
Yes, it will be professionally timed and scored. Results will be updated every 2 to 5 minutes online from the North Country website so your friends and family can track your progress.
Can I switch races or transfer to another runner?
Yes. Prior to May 15th 2019 with a $25 distance change or transfer fee and if the race is not already full. After that date, no, with no exception.
May I sell my bib?
Yes. Only during transfer to another runner. The race does not handle payment between runners, only the required $25 transfer fee. All transfers must be done by May 15th 2019.
What if I lose something race weekend?
There will be no lost and found. You are responsible for your items left and if they are left they are either donated of pitched.
Are there showers available after the race?
Yes, at Brethren High School from 11am – 8pm Saturday and 6am – 1pm Sunday for free. The school is located at 4400 N High Bridge Rd, Brethren, MI 49619
When does registration open?
During race weekend and in most cases it is full within 7 days. There will be no race day registrations! If we will fill-up or are close to filling up we will notify everyone via the website and Facebook.
I am injured, pregnant or unexpectedly out of town, can I get a refund?
Entry fees are non-refundable. This means once you have registered, you will not receive a refund if you cannot participate. You may defer your entry to the following year for $25 prior to May 15th 2019 (new for the 2019 race).
Why haven’t I received an email confirmation?
Usually the problem is that your computer’s spam filter has erased or blocked the email confirmation that was sent to you. Please make sure that you check your spam filter. If you click on the registration confirmation button on this website you can enter your name to see if you are registered.
Where does my registration fee go?
To numerous local partners, including local boy scout troup, youth dance groups, high school sports team from Manistee and Wexford Counties. Local food pantries as well.
Will I receive an award if I place in my age group?
Yes, places awards will be given now 5 deep in each age category and each gender. In addition, crystal awards will be given to the top overall male and female and overall male and female masters in event.
What are the Age Groups?
(12-14), (15-17), 18-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70 & over
* 12-17 year olds can only run the half-marathon or marathon at this time. Ultra participants must be 18 years or older.
When is packet pick-up?
Packet pick-up will be held Friday, August 23rd 2019 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturday, August 24th 2019 from 5:30 a.m. to the start of each race and Sunday August 25th 2019 from 5:30 am till the start of each race at Big “M” at the Manistee National Forest. 3500 Udell Hills Rd, Manistee MI.
What do I need to bring with me to pick up my packet?
Your photo ID is preferred and you are picking up a packet for another participant please bring the printed confirmation receipt.
Is there a place to drop bags at the start line?
Yes, there are three locations you may drop bags for your race. When you arrive race day, there will be three tarps. Your course drop bags will be taken out on the course to Aid Station #2 (mile 7.57/32.7) and Aid Station #5. (mile 17.78/42.9) and there is a 3rd drop bag location near Aid Station #8 which is near the start/finish area. All of them will be placed on the left side of the trail. After you are done with your bag (once for marathon, twice for ultra), then place the bag on the right side of the trail and we will deliver those to the finish line for when you are done with your race. You may also go out and pick up your drop bag after the race. Directions will be provided race day.
Where should I park on Race Day?
Parking is available within walking distance of the start of the race. You will need to pay a $5.00 per car fee directly to the Forest Service when you park. Envelopes are located near the large course map right near the start/finish area. You write your vehicle information on the pass, tear off the tab, drop it in the box that is available and put the other portion in your front window. There are three additional free parking areas within 1 mile or less of the start/finish area. We ask that you please be respectful of non-parking areas and also try to not park out on Udell Hills Road. Parking attendants will be in place in to help you maneuver to these parking areas.
Where does the race start and finish?
At Big “M” in the Manistee National Forest GPS coordinates N44 11.570, W086 04.011. (3500 Udell Hills Road, Manistee Michigan)
FROM MANISTEE: Go east on M-55 about 14 miles to Udell Hills Road, and go south approximately 3 miles.
FROM LUDINGTON: Go East on US10&31 about 5 miles to Scottville. At Scottville go North on US31 for 10.5 miles to Freesoil Road. Go East on Freesoil Road about 7.3 miles to Campbell Road. On Campbell go north about 5.5 miles to Udell Hills Road. Turn East on Udell Hills and go about 2.5 miles to the main entrance.
What is not allowed on the course?
Runners going backward, runners not wearing a race number, animals, bicycles, baby joggers, strollers, roller skates, roller blades, hand-crank chairs and wheeled vehicles. Also, dropping trash between aid stations. Carry your trash to the next aid station as much as possible. This will help keep clean-up to a minimum and also ensure nothing blows into the woods that we do not see when we walk the course for clean-up purposes.
Where would be the best place to fly into?
The nearest airport is in Manistee, Cadillac and Traverse City and the closest major airport is in Grand Rapids. For additional transportation options and details go to the travel/lodging page on this website.
Do you recommend any places to stay?
Complete information on the area please visit our travel/lodging page on this website.
Is there any place where I could sleep in my vehicle for a few hours before the race?
At the start/finish area, but we ask that you refrain from setting up tents as the US Forest Service prohibits camping at the trail head. There is also a runner camping area 1 mile from the start/finish area that fills pretty quickly. Email us for details.
What are the average temps that time of year?
The daytime high temperatures are usually in the range of 75 to 85 F. At night, it generally drops about 15 to 20 degrees from what it was during the day. Clear nights are usually cooler than cloudy ones.
Are there any facilities anywhere along the course?
Port a potties will be available at the start/finish area which is also the start of the second and final loop for the ultra. We will also have 1 port a job at the following aid station: 1, 2, 2B (serves half marathon), 3, 4 and 5. Toilet paper and wipes are available at all aid stations along the course.
Is the trail pretty smooth, or do you recommend trail shoes?
For the most part, lightweight trail shoes are recommended for most runners. The biggest challenge you will have is roots along the course and ensuring you keep a good eye open for them. Other than that, there are few sandy spots, but 95% of the trail is in shaded woods with hard packed dirt trails.
Will medical personnel be on hand?
Yes. Medical teams are at the start/finish area, along with EMS teams throughout the course, local EMS on standby as well as ambulances on stand by.
Do I have to be there for opening ceremonies?
You do not have to, but we would really appreciate if you were. Most races you arrive, pick-up your packet, get in line and race, then leave and it’s over and done with. We have participants traveling from all over the country and so we want everyone to know that they are special. We have a lot of honored guests that attend opening ceremonies so we want to show them how great the running community is by being their for the 15 minute ceremonies prior to the marathon start.
Can I bring my dog?
Yes, as long as you know that they will be leashed and under your control during the entire time especially if others bring their dogs. No dogs will be allowed on the race course.
What are the distances to the aid stations?
Please see course maps page for distances.
What time will the awards ceremonies begin and do I have to be there?
Starts at 10:30am then at 11am and at the top of each hour after that.
If I would like to volunteer how can I do that?
The race is put on with more than 150 volunteers each year and if you are looking to volunteer to learn about the running community, have runner running in the race and want to spend some time helping or are you have a church, organization, youth group or any other group that would like to help please check out our volunteer form to sign-up today.