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 at support@northcountrytrailrun.com and we will try to answer it and also add it to this page.

What is the date of the race?

Saturday, August 26th and Sunday, August 27th, 2023

How old is this race?

The marathon and ultra will celebrate their 24th years while the half marathon will celebrate its 14th year, the Sunday half marathon its 9th and the Sunday 50K its 4th year.

What are the starting times?

Saturday Ultra – 6:30 am (with a 1:30 pm cut off to begin loop 2)
Saturday Marathon Wave 1 – 7:10 am
Saturday Marathon Wave 2 – 7:35 am
Saturday Half Marathon Wave 1 – 8:30 am
Saturday Half Marathon Wave 2 – 8:40 am
Saturday Half Marathon Wave 3 – 8:50 am
Sunday 50K Ultra – 6:30 am
Sunday Half Marathon Wave 1 – 8:30 am
Sunday Half Marathon Wave 2 – 8:40 am
Sunday Half Marathon Wave 3 – 8:50 am

Is there a course map?

Yes. Click on the link that says “Course Maps” and you can download or print the maps. 

What is the course like?

Please visit our Course Page for a description of each distance.

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 for the Saturday 50-mile ultra and 9 hours based on the Sunday 50K. On Saturday, you’ll need to be able to make it to the aid station Sandpiper, near the start/finish line 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 a dip in the river afterward)
• Your own water bottles filled for the start of the race
• Gloves, just in case it’s cold
• Extra socks
• External phone re-charger (there is very limited access to AC power on-site
• Extra shoes including a pair of non-running shoes
• Sunblock
• Small personal first aid kit
• Snacks or candy
• Bug Spray
• Vaseline
• Sport Wax or Body Glide
• GU
• Plastic bag for your smelly clothes afterward
• Camera
• Rain Gear and/or umbrella
• Sunglasses
• 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
• Bandannas
• Moleskin, Duct Tape, or Second Skin
• Road ID
• Salt tablets or S! Caps
• Canopy or tent for resting/blocking shade
• Extra spending cash (extra swag, post-race tickets, post-race beer)
• Headphones or MP3 Player
• Camelback or handhelds
• Book, magazines, reading material
• Batteries
• Shower items
• Local Beer for the Race Director
• A good sense of humor and a smile

Can I have a cell phone on the course?

Yes, but please note GPS signal goes in and out but has improved over the years.

Can I have a stroller, jogger, or dog on the course?


What items will you have at your aid stations?

• Aid Stations Bittersweet, Echo, Natural (Sunday 50K Only), Merit and Hilltop: 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 Mitten (for half marathons): Cantaloupe, Bananas, Oranges, Watermelon, Gatorade, Water, Pickle Juice, Pop Sickles.
• Aid Stations Eagle, Howling, Primitive, and Sandpiper: 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, ONLY ONE ear can include an ear bud. Do not violate this rule as the safety of you and other runners is important. 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.

May I SELL my bib?

Yes from August 29th 2022 through March 31st 2023 ONLY. After that time we cannot guarantee swag.
Yes from April 1st till RACE DAY. Swag from original runner will be given to the new participant.
We have reinstated the option to sell your entry to the race.  Any other money-changing hands will need to be arranged between the runners selling and buying the entry. We ask that if you sell your entry you do so at the price you have paid. If you sell your bib, you will need to contact us with the new runner information by the above dates.


May I DEFER my bib?

Yes from August 29th 2022 through June 30th 2023 ONLY. After that time no deferrals will be allowed and you will forfeit your bib if you cannot attend the race.


If I don’t show up to the race, can my swag be mailed to me?

No. In order to receive your swag, race medal and the overall race experience you have to show up. If you do not show up, a forfeit of your race gear will happen. Like nearly, even race on the planet, we also do not mail swag, even if you pay for shipping.

What if I lose something on 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?

THIS IS PENDING BASED ON COVID-19 PROTOCOL: Yes, at Manistee High School from 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM Saturday and 6:00 AM – 1:00 PM Sunday for free. The school is located at 525 12th Street, Manistee, MI 49660

When does registration open?

During race weekend and in most cases it is full within 7 to 10 days.  If we fill up or are close to filling up we will notify everyone via the website and Facebook.

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 troop, youth dance groups, and high school sports teams from Manistee, Mason, Lake, Oceana, and Wexford Counties. Local food pantries as well.

Will I receive an award if I place it 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 the 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-old runners can only participate in 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 25th, 2022 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturday, August 26th, 2022 from 5:30 a.m. to the start of each race, and Sunday, August 27th, 2022 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?

All runners will be required to pick up their own race packet and will be required to show their ID to do so.  No runner will be allowed to pick up another runner’s race packet and no packets will be released without a positive photo ID matching the registered runner.

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 on race day, there will be three tarps. Your course drop bags will be taken out on the course to Aid Station Eagle (mile 7.83/32.73) and Aid Station Merit. (mile 17.95/42.85) and there is a 3rd drop bag location near Aid Station Sandpiper (mile 26.2) 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 the marathon, twice for the ultra), then place the bag on the right side of the trail and we will deliver those to the finish line 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 on 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 $5.00 per car. 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 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 N 44 11.570, W 086 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 US 31 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?

For 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?

There is a runner camping area 1 mile from the start/finish area that fills pretty quickly. Per our permit with The US Forest Service, there is no longer the option to sleep in your vehicles or put a tent up in the parking lots near the start/finish area.

What are the average temps at 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-jons 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-jon at the following aid stations: Bittersweet, Eagle, Mitten (serves half marathon), Echo, Howling, and Merit. 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 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 will be on standby as well as ambulances on standby.

Do I have to be there for the opening ceremonies?

You do not have to, but we would really appreciate it if you were. For 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 there for the 15-minute ceremonies prior to the ultra 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 racecourse.

What are the distances to the aid stations?

Please see the course maps page for distances.

What time will the awards ceremonies begin and do I have to be there?

Starts at 10:30 AM then at 11:00 AM and at the top of each hour after that.

Are Pacers allowed on the course?

If you need that extra help to get to the finish line with a buddy or family member encouraging you on and pacing you for either the 50 Miler or 50 K this year make sure you bring them along. In the past, we have had the policy that they needed to begin with you at the aid station following the start/finish area for the second loop. This year we have made the adjustment that they can now start at the start of the second loop at Aid Station Sandpiper or at any aid station along the second loop other than Aid Station Primitive and Aid Station Hill Top (there is no direct access to those for spectators or pacers). If you don’t know where those aid stations are along the course, head on over to our website and you’ll see course maps with all of the aid stations. We cannot guarantee that our Aid Station Supply Team will take your pacers back to the start/finish area from the aid station if they don’t pace you to the end of the race, but we’ll try our best throughout the day. We ask that you plan on your pacers making it back to the original destination/vehicle, but when we can help, we will. Pacers will be required to check in at the aid station that they start from, there is no charge to have a pacer out there with you and all pacers are welcome to what foods and hydration we offer at the aid stations as well.

If I would like to volunteer how can I do that?

The race is put on by more than 150 volunteers each year and if you are looking to volunteer to learn about the running community, have a 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.

If you have additional questions or need clarification on the information above:

Please send an email to support@northcountrytrailrun.com.  Our support desk will provide as much information as possible.  If they are unable to answer your questions they will make sure that your question is forwarded to the correct individual to get an answer.