Friday, December 30, 2005

Consider a Series Competition for 2006

As you plan your 2006 race calendar, you might want to consider entering a “Series” competition in your area. I have really enjoyed the Trail Runner Trophy Series and Fuel Belt/ Series I competed in over the last couple of years for two reasons. First, you get to see the same group of runners more often throughout the year. I’ve made some great friendships (both racers and supporters), found new training partners, and cheered on some spectacular breakout performances, largely because I got to know people over the year. The second reason I enjoy a Series is that it helps me step up my training from “single events” to looking at the whole calendar year. I know I have to do a long run each weekend, so I often sign up for many weekend races to make sure I get in the miles (you don’t have to “race” all of them). Oh yeah – you also get outside a lot more often!

Series competitions can vary, but typically require you to race at least three races. Points are calculated based on finish place (where you get 10 points for first, 9 for second, etc.) or finish time (the winning time divided by your time x 100; this helps account for “break out” performances). Prizes can range from cash purses to unique awards, and often are awarded to both overall and age group champions.

I’ve compiled ~20 of the biggest Series in North America so you can get an idea of what is out there. Some of these Series require travel (such as The Grand Slam), while others are locally focused (such as many of the Colorado Series). Note that many of these require pre-registration at the beginning of the season (and some seasons start in January!), so be sure to get signed up.

I hope this helps with your race planning! If you know of a Series that I missed, please leave a comment and let me know.



North American Trail Running Series



Point Calculation



North American

Montrail Ultra Series

Best four of twelve (must race one each of four distances – 50k, 50m, 100k, 100m); points based on finishing time

$5,000+ in cash prizes, awards, merchandise

Arguably the most competitive Series, with many races being USATF championships as well. Includes Western States 100, Kettle Moraine 100, Leadville 100, and White Mountain 50M among others. Final race in Series (Mt. Masochist) counts for 50% more. Free entry.

Open and Masters overall competition.

The Grand Slam

Cumulative time of four 100 milers


Since 1986, 100 miler racers have become “Slammers” by completing the Western States 100, Wasatch 100, Leadville 100, and Vermont 100 in a single season. $80 entry fee. Note that some of these races are just a few weeks apart, so it’s only for the super-trained out there. Other slam “flavors” also exist, including the Eastern Slam, Rocky Mountain Slam, etc. (check run100s for details).

Overall competition only.

Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series

Cumulative points; points based on age group place x distance

Merchandise; one grand prize (trip to Italy) for runner with the most races

Two competitions (ultra and marathon-and-under) in this two-year-old competition. Broadest range of races, with over 130 races to choose from across North America. Automatic entry when you race any participating race.

Overall competition for ultras, overall and age group competition (10 year age groups) for marathon-and-under.

West Coast, USA

Cougar Mountain Trail Running Series

(Seattle, WA)

Points based on four races (must complete all four); points determined by overall place among “four race finishers”

Awards, merchandise

Short course trail racing. Races get progressively longer, from 5 miles to 13 miles.

Men/Woman overall competition, no age group competition.

Oregon Ultra Trail Series


Cumulative points from best seven of seven races (can do less than seven); points determined by finishing time

Awards, gift certificates, merchandise

Races range in distance from 50k to 100k. Jeff Riley, 2005 men’s champion, completed all 7 races, while Kami Semick, the 2005 women’s champion, completed only 4 races (but won them all).

Overall and age group (10 year age groups) competition.

PA/USATF Ultra Grand Prix

(Northern California, Nevada)

Best seven races of 21 (can race less than seven); points determined by age group place

$2000 cash prize, awards, merchandise

Wide range of distances (50k to 100m) including popular races as Western States 100, Way Too Cool 50k, and Miwok 100k. ~2 races per month throughout the year.

Overall, age group, and team (runners club) competition.

Fuel Belt Series

(Northern California, Nevada)

Best five races of eight (must do at least four races); points determined by finishing time.

Awards, gift certificates, merchandise

Well-timed Series, with roughly one race each month. Trail and road events, ranging from 50k to 100 mile.

Overall and age group (10 year age groups) competition.

SoCal Ultra Runners Grand Prix Series

(Southern California)

Best six of 17 races; points determined by finishing time.


Many races throughout the year, including the Angeles Crest 100, the San Diego 100, and San Diego 24 hour (most age group winners finished one of these). $20 additional fee.

Overall and age group (10 year age groups) competition.

Central, USA

Nike Summit Trail Running Series

(Breckenridge, CO)

Cumulative points based on six events; points based on finish place

Awards, merchandise

Both “short” (5k) and “long” (10k) course competitions. No age group competition. Free event entry for runners 18 and under.

Twilight Trail Series


Four race series; point calculation n/a


A short course Series in small towns of Colorado, including Littleton, Evergreen, and Golden.

Steamboat Springs Running Series

(Steamboat Springs, CO)

Cumulative points based on 13 races; points based on overall and age group finish

Awards, merchandise

Races range from easy 10k’s to more challenging runs such as the 10k at 10,000 feet and the Steamboat Marathon.

Overall champions (1st-3rd) and age group champions (10 year age groups).

The Colorado Running Racing Series


Cumulative based on 18 races; points based on division place

Awards, merchandise

Races range from 5k to marathon distance, all across Colorado. Sponsored by Colorado Runner Magazine.

Overall and age division champions (open, masters 40-49, grand masters 50-59, and senior masters 60-69).

Teva Vail Mountain Trail Running Series

(Vail, CO)

Best four of five events; points based on place

Awards, merchandise

Mountain running series, with most races at altitude (8k-11k feet), distances range from 5k to half marathon.

Overall and age division champions.

Rogue Running Trail Series

(Austin, TX)

Combined time of three events

Awards, merchandise

10k/30k options available, all leading to same points competition.

Open and masters division champions.

DINO Series


Cumulative points from seven events; points based on overall place

Awards, merchandise

Over 800 runners participated in this six-year-old Series. Three categories – 5k, 15k, and “mega-saurus” mix. Mountain bike races also available.

Overall, age group, and team competition.

WORS Trail Running Series


Cumulative points from seven events (must do at least four); points determined by overall place

Awards, gift certificates, merchandise, cash

VERY short course racing (2.5/5miles).

Overall and age group champions.

East Coast, USA

Western NY Ultra Series

(New York)

Best three of five races (can run 1-5 races); points based on category finish place


Includes 50k, 50 mile, and six hour events. Mostly trails.

Men/Woman Open or Veterans (50+) competition.

Lynchburg Ultra Series


Three race series (must do all three); points based on overall place


David Horton’s ultra Series. Two 50k and one 50 mile race. $50 entry fee for Series.

Overall champions only.

Mt. State Trail Run Series

(West Virginia)

Best four of nine races (must do at least three); points based on overall place (percentile) and mileage


Races range from 10k to 15 miles. Series in its second year.

Overall and age group champions (1st and 2nd).


MEC Five Peaks

Best five of ~30 events; points based on place

Awards, merchandise

Short course racing all across Canada, with over $40,000 in merchandise. Two divisions include “short” (5-6k) and “enduro” (10-15k).

Overall competition and age group competition (10 yr age groups).

GutBuster Trail Series

(Victoria, BC)

Cumulative points based on five races; points based on overall place

Awards, merchandise

Summer Series with races ranging from 5k to half marathon.

Overall champions only. New team category for 2006.

Ontario Trail Series


Best eight of 13 races (can do less than eight); points based on mileage and overall place (percentile)

Awards, merchandise

2006 is the 18th year of this event, with races ranging from 10k to100 mile, as well as six hour and 24 hour runs. “Trail Series” focuses on 10k-32k events, “Ultra Series” on 50k+ events, plus a “50k challenge” series.

Overall, division (open, masters 40-49, and super masters 50+), plus unique awards.

Alberta Ultra Series


Cumulative points from seven events; points based on distance and place


Races range from 52k to 100 mile. “Alberta Triple” focuses on three 100k+ events.

Overall and age division (34 and under, 35-49, and 50+) champions.

Montrail British Columbia Ultra Trailrunning Series


Best three of seven events; points based on age group place

Awards, merchandise

Races range from 50k to 100k, including flat and hilly courses.

Age division (under 40, 40-49, and 50+) champions.


  1. Helpful, Scott, thanks!! Which one(s) are you going to do?

  2. Calgary has a series of trail races. Small 4/8km routes that run from late Sept to March. I've done most of them for the last 3 years. They are a great way to stay motivated through the winter months.

  3. I hope you've considered the Musselman Triathlon in Geneva, NY.

    And please consider posting more snippets from the beautiful Finger Lakes for athletes. Try VivaGeneva!

  4. Hi, I stumbled upon your blog while Googling about the Dipsea Trail. It seems you ran the Double Dipsea this past year. I'm plannig a trip to San Francisco and wanted to do this trail as a training run. What can you tell me about the trail? Any thoughts would be welcomed. Thanks in advance!

  5. Meghan -

    The Dipsea Trail is a great training run, as is most of the Marin Headlands area where the Dipsea is located. The trail is very steep in some sections, and weaves its way through tight single track, fire roads, and the infamous Dipsea Steps. It has a little bit of everything. Use trail shoes for sure. Also make sure you bring Technu, since poison oak is deep in some sections.

    Don't let the fog or wet weather at the beach hold you back from running - often you'll climb out of that mess within the first mile. Take a look at the photos at to get an idea.

    Have fun, and enjoy your trip!


  6. Hi Scott, Thanks for this info. I have thought about a series in the past, and having all the information on different ones helps make choosing a series a lot easier! I notice you are doing the Tahoe Triple this year. I ran that in 2003, it's a great event. Definitely not a trail race, but it's beautiful and the people are great. Have fun!

  7. Thanks, Gretchen. Be sure to share any tips you have on Tahoe Triple recovery!

    I try to mix in one or two road races each year for good measure. It's fun to go fast! The Tahoe Triple is a bit extreme, but I thought it would be great bragging rights with the locals. ;-)


  8. For people reading from upstate NY there is another trail series besides the western NY ultra series. The Finger lakes runners club has a very low key casual trail series. 12 races with distances ranging from 7K to 50M with most in the 10K to 15M range. Do any 3 races for elligibility. All you can win is bragging rights, but it is a bunch of fun.

  9. Oooh, wish I had some helpful recovery tips for the Triple. My recovery consisted primarily of time off, followed by a decision to switch to trail running.
    One suggestion: It's a great race to have a crew for, as almost anywhere on the route will be accessible to your crew. My husband acted as a sort of mobile aid station, and I didn't have to carry anything with me, it was great!
    Well perhaps I'll see you on day 3, as Tahoe is my local marathon. (what did I say about switching to trail running??)But that's too far out for me to plan.

  10. Can't forget the Grand Tree series in New England. 2006 schedule is not out yet, but last years series took the best 6 races from a 22 race schedule including most of the classic events in New England.

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