(Updated: July 31, 2022)
The Arizona Trail Race (AZTR) Challenge (300 or 800) is to cycle the AZTR route end to end, as fast as possible in a solo, self-supported fashion.
These rules are for anyone who wants to compare times against other riders following the same set of guidelines, whether it’s from the Grand Depart or an Individual Time Trial (ITT)
The self-support ethos is designed to provide equal opportunity to all riders. A series of guidelines have been developed to promote self-sufficiency and keep the playing field as level as possible.
Guiding principles are self-support and equal opportunity.
Am I doing this myself?
Am I relying on others?
Is this an unfair advantage over other riders, who may not live in the USA or have friends/family near the route?
- Complete the entire route, under your own power.
- No support crews as this is a solo self-supported challenge. This includes personal media crews. The AZTR views this as support. Feel free to self-document all you like. Pre-approved neutral media coverage is allowed as long as coverage is general to the event and not focused on any single rider(s). Please contact the ride director if you wish to cover the event in this way.
- No pre-arranged personal or AZTR specific caches.
- Visitation by spectators (friends/family) is OK if they are local to the route, the visit is near town/services and the visit is short. Limit one ‘drop-in’ per race/racer. *Excessive visitation may lead to relegation.
- No pacers.
- No motorized transport or hitch-hiking, EXCEPT for travel to hospital/medical care.
- No eBikes. (The Arizona National Scenic Trail is a non-motorized trail)
- Each rider must carry their own gear. There is no required gear list.
The following are allowed, but not encouraged. Please use sparingly.
- Unplanned support from other AZTR riders.
- Trail Magic
- What is trail magic? Unexpected, unplanned support from a stranger, i.e. a candy bar, Coke or water. No begging, please. If you know the person or the person knows about the race and is offering you something, it is not trail magic. Politely turn down the offering or self-relegate.
- Mailing stuff ahead to post offices.
- Using public AZT water caches, but do not rely on them.
- Mobile bike service. If a bike shop wants to offer mobile service for AZTR riders, but doesn’t normally offer mobile service, the Race Director must be notified at least one month prior to the Grand Depart so all riders have access to this information.
- An (*) will be given to any rider who completes the route but misses between 0.1% and 1% of the published route (~3 & ~8 miles respectively) but a finish time will be recorded. A full finish requires 99.9% route compliance as defined by the GPX track. Any rider who misses between 1% (~3 & ~8 miles) and 5% (~15 &~40 miles) will be relegated but still have a finish time noted outside of the standings.
- Snow detours, official closures and signed re-routes are not counted as route deviations.
- An Alternator is any rider who deviates from the defined GPX file by more than 5% (~15 & ~40 miles). No finish time will be published.
- It is highly encouraged for riders to record their ride via GPS, Strava, Trailforks, etc. In the event of a discrepancy, the track may be requested by the Race Director. The rider will have seven days to submit the track, if requested. Any tampering with the gpx file will result in relegation.
- A note about record attempts: A record attempt for a fastest known time, FKT, may only occur on the full route. No record will be recorded for a finish including a snow detour. Any long-term trail detour will be evaluated by the Race Director to determine if a record will be noted.
- There is currently a detour on the North Rim, north of US89A and another north of Flagstaff that does not affect the 800 record.
For the AZT800, we are extremely lucky to be able to carry bikes through Grand Canyon National Park. The following are not only AZT800 rules, but rules set forth by the Grand Canyon National Park Service to allow bike access across this natural wonder. Please, please, be on your best behavior when in the park.
- Be overly kind and courteous to all trail users.
- Follow instructions from mule train leaders if you encounter them.
- Camping/sleeping/napping is NOT allowed anywhere in the Canyon unless you have a permit for either Bright Angel or Cottonwood Campgrounds. Walk-up permits are often available at the Backcountry Office at South Rim Village. The Manzanita Rest Area is NOT a campground. The stock sites at each campground are often used for AZT through travelers.
- You must carry your disassembled bike from the South Rim to the North Rim. The wheels can not touch the ground. Yes, you can take your disassembled bike/pack off your back for a rest.
- Absolutely no riding or pushing (rolling) of the bicycle is allowed below the rim.
- If you are caught rolling or pushing your bike, you will be disqualified and banned from all future events and reported to the National Park Service at the Grand Canyon. No exceptions.
- Don’t get in over your head. Over-carry water, food and energy (yes, carry energy!!).
- At the request of the Grand Canyon National Park: Groups of 11 to 30 individuals day hiking through the Canyon as part of this race will need to obtain a Special Use Permit though our office. You can find details about our permit requirements at the following link: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry-permit.htm
- What this means: A permit is NOT needed if you arrive solo or with another rider, only if your group has 11+ riders. In other words, in the unlikely event that 11+ riders arrive at the Canyon simultaneously for the crossing, you will need a group permit.
State Trust Permits
A State Trust Land Recreational Permit is required for the AZT800 as it crosses State Trust Land while detouring off the AZT proper to bypass Wilderness areas. The permit is available online at the link below. Please note, AZT300 riders do not need a permit because there is a 15-foot easement for the AZT wherever it travels on State Trust Land. NOTE: If you reside outside of the United States, please use a secured or prepaid credit card issued by a US entity or bank to purchase a permit online.
There are a number of public water caches on the trail. These are OK to use, but not encouraged. Please use sparingly, they should not be your water strategy for the ride. If you are taking water from every cache you come across, you are doing it wrong. Don’t do it. We cannot have the race depleting the caches because they are relied upon by thru-hikers. Topping off is OK, but do NOT land at a cache dry, or plan to take an entire gallon from one.
- Never, under any circumstances, take water with a person’s name written on it. Their life may be depending on it. Violating this is grounds for instant disqualification.
- If you encounter a water cache box that is depleted (less than 2 gallons), has trash, or is otherwise in disarray, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. As trail users, we have a responsibility for them, and any issues will be blamed on the race.
Bring and study the water chart (PDF) on this page: https://aztrail.org/explore/water-sources/ . There are other water sources out there that may save your thirsty lips and reduce the overall impact of the race on the trail. The fact is the caches are not needed to travel the trail by bicycle, so racers should NOT be relying on them.
Absolutely NO unattended food and beverage caches, PLEASE!!
These are a bad, bad idea for so many reasons and if we cannot control ourselves, they will be the undoing of the race. Do not leave drinks or food unattended, in a cooler or otherwise, anywhere on the route, especially not at a water cache! Besides being against the spirit of the race, it creates litter and is bad for wildlife and wilderness.
Being a Good Citizen
Beyond all ideals of self-support and equal opportunity, the most important ‘rules’ have to do with being a responsible citizen and thinking about the repercussions of your actions. Obeying the law and following these guidelines are FAR more important:
- Practice strict Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics. Lnt.org Just because an imaginary clock is running doesn’t mean you can cut corners.
- Trail etiquette – the future of the race depends on everyone being OVERLY courteous to all other trail users. Just because you are racing does not mean you have the right of way. Yield to EVERYONE; it’ll be a good rest and good karma.
- If you are directed off the AZT (by signs or personnel) for logging, fire, or other official reasons, by all means, leave the trail and return as directed or as soon as it makes sense to return. Obeying the law trumps following the route, every time.
- Gates. There are a lot of them on the trail. The general rule is that unless you can actually see another rider coming behind you, always close a gate you open. Do not assume people you were riding with are actually coming.
- There is no entry fee, and no registration, but all racers are strongly encouraged to join the Arizona Trail Association. Please help support the organization that has worked so hard to construct, maintain, and promote this amazing trail across the state.
Membership is only $35.
To join, go here: https://aztrail.org/get-involved/join/
Don’t like it?
As always, if anyone disagrees with these rules or otherwise doesn’t want to follow them (or the route!), that’s perfectly fine. No judgment here, just please go ride the AZT on your own. There is a general AZT tracker you can sign up for if you want tracking. Thanks.
Also, I am happy to hear well-reasoned arguments about changes.
A few more words on self-supported bikepack racing.
This is worth mentioning again: Remember the guiding principles are self-support and equal opportunity. Two important questions to ask yourself when thinking about the rules are:
- Am I doing this myself? Am I relying on others?
- Is this an unfair advantage over other riders, who may not live in the USA or have friends/family near the route?
Don’t go so hard that you can’t self rescue. Know your limits. The AZTR is all about pushing limits, but please do not end up in a place where you are unable to continue to a bail-out point under your own power.
Placing a cache of food or water for yourself on the route is not fair to those who do not have the ability to place their own cache.
Taking food from a friend that ‘dot-stalked’ you is not fair to those that don’t have friends nearby, or maybe those who don’t have friends!
Having a friend meet you to hike across the Grand Canyon and keep you awake/motivated is not fair to those that do not have a friend capable of hiking rim to rim to rim.
With that said, the rules of the AZTR do allow for minor violations of these ideals, with the idea being that small forms of support do not make much of a difference in the long run, and that we are taking ourselves too seriously if things like innocent spectating and cheering of a racer are prohibited.
What does this mean? Some example forms of limited support allowed:
- Dropping in unexpectedly (not pre-planned) on a racer to cheer them on and ride for a few miles. Even better if it’s near your residence and you are visiting the racer near services (so there’s less concern about providing food/drink/services). Don’t follow the racer for the entire race – limit one ‘drop-in’ per race/racer. Don’t ask friends/family to come ‘find you’ while out on route, you won’t be gone that long.
- Calling anyone in the world for support – but remember time spent talking is time not moving forward on the route.
More background, adapted from the original Great Divide Race
With thanks to Mike Curiak.
The general idea is to race the Arizona Trail, under your own power, and to be self-supported between towns. Once in town, you can buy a meal, stock up on trail grub, even get a room for a shower and some quality sleep from commercial establishments.
The overriding principle is simply to do it all yourself. All of the pedaling, pushing, bike wrenching, food buying (and eating…), water filtering, suffering, and all logistical figuring.
Do. It. Yourself.
Prearranged outside support is not allowed. This includes, but is not limited to, assistance with navigation, delivery of supplies, lighting, or lodging.
If you need something that you didn’t bring or can’t find on the route, you may have the item(s) shipped to you: *via a commercial delivery service (UPS, Fed-Ex, DHL, Airborne, or USPS) * to a commercial location.
This means that NO, you cannot have a friend deliver anything to you, and NO you cannot have anything shipped to a friend’s house along the way. Commercial shipping, to a commercial location, period.
Competitors may only advance on the route via their own power.
If your bike breaks, you can continue to the next town on foot. Competitors may, in the case of a medical emergency, take a ride to a medical facility with no threat of disqualification. Once you’ve resolved your issue, you must then rejoin the route exactly where you left it, and you must do this under your own power.
This is a solo competition, but during the race it is likely that some racers may choose to travel together. This IS permitted.
HOWEVER, racers MAY NOT draft other racers and MUST maintain separate gear. Limited forms of sharing (small items of food, a small repair item) is OK.
The intent of these rules is to establish an equal and fair opportunity for all racers and to eliminate any advantages available to those who live near to or have friends/family along the route.
There are no checkpoints or officials on course.
Riders alone are responsible for their safety.
Riders alone must police their conduct.
There is no mechanism to communicate to riders while on course.
Riders alone are responsible for communicating with their loved ones.
Updates to MTBCast from rider call-ins are time-delayed and not intended to ensure rider safety.
Online GPS tracking is also not intended to ensure rider safety. It is for info only, and validation of course completion.
Relegation: AZTR reserves the right to relegate a rider from the General Classification (GC) for confirmed rules violations.
No rider will be notified of possible relegation mid-race. It is the sole responsibility of all riders to know the rules, police themselves, and in cases of course deviation, recognize their error and correct it before proceeding on route. Ideally any rider who defaults on any rule will honorably scratch from the GC or self-relegate.
One last word on the rules: The original intent of this race was to ride the route as fast as possible in the simplest/purest style possible. As time has gone on people have begun looking for loopholes within the rules that’ll save them time on the course.
This is human nature and all of us do it in different ways in our everyday lives. With respect to the race, we ask that you please consider the long-term ramifications of finding and using loopholes – the race will only get ‘easier’ and (conversely) require more rules/regulations as time goes on.
Please don’t bring the race down to your level – elevate yourself to the level of the race. If you find yourself looking for loopholes, consider taking another year to prepare before racing. Most likely you’ll go faster and enjoy it more as a result.
Need even more background on Self-Support?
Please read the
QUESTIONS? Better to ask before the race starts.