Note: This page is intended to provide information to those who help mark the course for each year’s AETR, so they understand the general philosophy and what we are trying to achieve. And that we do all sections consistently! But it may be of interest to participants as well, so you know what to expect.
The intent of AETR course marking is to help keep runners and walkers on the course without making too great a visual imposition on what is a beautiful trail run, and without annoying other trail users (too much!). We want to give participants the course guidance they need, while minimizing the course marking. On the other hand, the course needs to be clear to people new to these trails as well as anyone in the 24th hour of sleep deprivation. It’s a fine line.
Participants need to pay attention to stay on course, not be led by the nose.
AETR makes use of pin flags, the minimum possible amount of surveyor’s tape (usually just in one or two places), and small signs in tricky spots (never more than one or two places).
- Keep in mind that the course is used in both directions, so all course marking needs to be clear in either direction. As much as possible, avoid placing any flags that aren’t visible in both directions. Walk your course marking in both directions to be sure it works.
- There is virtually never a need to place flags closer than some five feet apart. Multiple close flags scream “look at me!” We want to give guidance, not demand attention.
- Participants will be told not to turn from a larger ski trail to a markedly smaller trail without clear course marking guidance. So there is no need to mark every smaller trail junction, unless there is likely to be confusion at a particular spot.
- To indicate that the course continues on a trail without making a turn, place one flag before and one flag after the junction. If that doesn’t feel like enough, add one or two flags, spaced 10 to 20 feet apart along the trail.
- Use 3 to 5 flags to indicate a turn: One 10 to 20 feet or so before and after the possible turn, and one at or near the intersecting trail. Add another flag or two further before or after the junction to make it more obvious, if necessary.
- Never create a “gate” with the flags for participants to pass through (flags on both sides of the course). Keep all flags at any stretch or in a turn on a single side of the course. Think of course marking as a path or handrail for participants to follow, not as a portal.
We favor marking the outside of a turn or curve, but sometimes inside works better and is clearer, as long as the marking is visible.
- At tricky turns, or perhaps at changes to the course from previous years, mark more heavily without making it an eyesore.
- On longer sections of trail without any trail junctions, place an occasional “confidence flag” so that people are reassured they are on the right trail. It is not necessary or desirable for a participant to always have a flag in sight, not even close. Let them enjoy a marking-free stretch of trail as much as possible!
Participants: please give the race director feedback on the course marking!