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 info@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 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


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?

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 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 Sandpiper, 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
• Vaseline
• Sport Wax or Body Glide
• GU
• Plastic bag for your smelly clothes afterwords
• 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
• Headphones or MP3 Player
• Camelback or handhelds
• Book, magazines, reading material
• Batteries
• 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?

No.


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, 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.


Transfers, Switches, and Injury Options

In an effort to continue to accommodate the great North Country Trail Run family of runners, each year, we have developed the following policy on transfers from runner to runner in the current year and transfers to the next year.  If also provides greater movement for those runners who are not able to participate but know someone who does want to all the way up to the day before the race.

Any runner who has any conflict for any reason may transfer to the next year’s race.

  • The fee will be $20.00 up until June 1st of each year.
  • After June 1st and up to July 15th of each year, you may transfer to the following year by paying a $40.00 transfer fee.
  • Any runner after July 15th requiring a transfer will have an opportunity to register during a special 7 day window (prior to the race registration opening for everyone else) and will receive a $25.00 discount on the next year’s race registration price.
  • Notification of not being able to participate in the current year’s race, but wanting to register in the new 7 day window will need to be in writing to the race no later than the opening of the 7 day window.

Runner to Runner Transfers-includes both off the wait list or if your find a runner to replace you, transfer fees will be waived moving forward as long as the transfer takes place prior to June 1st.

  • Should the new runner require different gear sizes after June 1st, he or she will be required to pay a $30.00 gear fee.  If the new runner does not require different gear sizes, no fee will be charged and the transfer will be made at no charge.
  • After June 1st and up until the day before the race any runner may transfer their race registration to another without penalty and the original gear ordered by the original runner will be given to that new runner.

In the event a runner cannot run and does not want to transfer to another year, the race will do its best to replace that runner with someone on the wait list or work with that runner to transfer it to someone that they have lined up to take their place.

Once that runner is replaced and the wait list runner had registered, a full refund (less credit card processing fee) will be processed for the runner that was replaced.  No transfer fee is required.  The refund will be processed on the form of payment used on the original registration unless other arrangements are requested.  Moving forward no runner will need to pa another runner for their registration as it will be handled by the race, both in regards to the new registration and the refund to the original runner.

Wait-list runners will be guaranteed their gear sizes up until June 1st.  After June 1st and up to race day, it will be based on size and availability.  The new deadline for being moved from the wait-list to register will now be up until the day before the race however, we encourage runners to alert the race as soon as possible.

Any runner will be allowed to move to another wave, withing their registered distance up until the day before the race without penalty, pending the wave is not full.  No wave changes will be permitted race day.  All runners will have color coded bibs relating to their registered race and wave.  As runners make there way into the chute, bibs will be checked.  Those runners who are not in the correct wave will be asked to leave the chute and wait for their correct wave (if not already started).  In the event the wave has started, the runner will be moved to a DNF, removed from timing, results and awards eligibility but may still participate in the race.  In the event a runner runs in the wrong wave either accidentally or on purpose and not alerted by race officials, they will still receive an automatic DNF, removed from timing, results and awards eligibility.  NO EXCEPTIONS!


May I sell my bib?

No runners will be allowed to sell, transfer, or provide another runner their registration or race bib without following the transfer procedures above.  Should any runner bypass the above, a 4 year race ban will be implemented on both the previously registered runner and the bandit runner as well as a DNF, removed from timing and results and will not be eligible for placement or age group awards in the current year.


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 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 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.


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, 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 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 28th 2020 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturday, August 29th 2019 from 5:30 a.m. to the start of each race and Sunday August 30th 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?

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 runners race packet and no packets will be released without 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 will be 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 10:30 AM then at 11:00 AM 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.