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Race Organisers

Guidance on Permissions

The Trail Running Association (TRA) issues permits to organisers of trail running races on behalf of England Athletics (EA). The main benefit of a permit is to demonstrate that an event is held in line with the national governing bodies ruleset and that it follows recommended good practice. Organisers who are affiliated to EA, either as a promotor or running club, also benefit from insurance cover.

Obtaining a permit from the TRA however, does not mean an event is 'permitted' to go ahead and one of the most time-consuming elements of race organisation is obtaining the correct permissions to proceed with the desired route.

This short article gives an insight into what may be required to get an event approved and off the ground. This is not intended as legal advice, simply recommendations based on experience.

Start/finish base

Depending on where your start/finish is held you will require permission from the landowner. If this is a public place, such as a park or towpath, you would need to contact and obtain permission from the appropriate local authority.

In any other instance, you will need to obtain permission from the private landowner.

Public Right of Ways (PROWs)

If your routes follows PROWs, including public highways, you should get in touch with the Rights of Way Officer or appropriate Highways Department Officer at the relevant District or County Council.

The local authority may require you to apply for a licence, and may set other specific requirements before granting a licence, such as getting the local Safety Advisory Group (SAG) involved - This will vary between authorities.

For particular footpaths, such as National Trails, there will be a designated 'trail officer' for that route, you should contact this person too.

Private footpaths

If your route passes through privately owned footpaths, permissive ROWs, or 'open access land' you must get permission from the landowner before proceeding.

Land-owner permissions on route

If you plan to put up signage or any infrastructure along your route, you will need to obtain permission from landowners for those parts of the course - even if the path itself is a PROW.

Larger landowners such as the National Trust or Forestry England may ask you to complete an application and supply planning documents (such as a risk assessment) and they may request a donation or fee for permission.

Smaller landowners, such as farms, should always be contacted where possible.

Please note: A landowner cannot charge money or deny you access to pass through a PROW on their land. However, a landowner may charge for other services, such as allowing signage on their property, or setting up a checkpoint/infrastructure.


For any race that uses or crosses roads open to traffic, it is a requirement to consult with and reach an agreement with the police.

Typically this is done by phoning the department for the local area, informing them that the event is happening and obtaining a referencing number.

If you have contacted your local Safety Advisory Group (SAG) then the police may already be aware through these discussions.

Parish Councils

For areas that may have a significant impact on residents, businesses, and members of the pubic, race organisers should consider consulting with the local parish council.

Every trail running race will have different circumstances and nuances that the race director will have to manage.

There will most likely be additional things to consider outside of the above for your race, but hopefully this acts as a good starting point.

If you have any questions regarding race permissions, please email permits@tra-uk.org

@ Trail Running Association 2007-2024
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