Backcountry Trail Run Leader


Backcountry Trail Run Leader

The holder of this badge has been approved as a trail run leader for The Mountaineers.


The holder of this badge has demonstrated sound judgement, strong leadership skills, and technical proficiency in:

  • Travel over a variety of trailed backcountry terrain, including slippery, rocky, or otherwise challenging and technical running terrain
  • Group leadership, including trip planning and group dynamics
  • Use of topographical maps, compass, altimeter, GPS, or other navigational tools
  • Mountain safety, including identification of hazards such as: exposure, rockfall, changing weather, etc… and actions to minimize risk
  • First Aid
  • Emergency preparedness (including emergency bivouacs and how to summon help, should it be needed)
  • Self-supported group backcountry trail running fundamentals
  • Conditioning


This badge allows owner to plan, organize, and lead trail runs in backcountry terrain as designated in the Mountaineers’ Trail Running Minimum Standards.


To become a backcountry trail run leader, club members must:

  • Submit an application to the Trail Running Committee
  • Have completed three (3) or more group runs that would be classified by the Mountaineers as backcountry trail runs, either with the Mountaineers club or privately
  • Schedule and successfully lead two (2) mentored backcountry trail runs for the Mountaineers with existing trail run leaders, as arranged by the Trail Running Committee
  • Have additional knowledge/badges as outlined below

After the mentored run takes place, mentors will report to Trail Running Committee whether the candidate meets requirements and expectations and is qualified to become a backcountry trail run leader. If the candidate does meet the requirements and expectation, the Trail Running Committee will issue a backcountry trail run leader badge for that individual. If the candidate fails, the Trail Running Committee will assess the candidate and make recommendations for improvement so the candidate can, if they so desire, continue to pursue the goal of becoming a backcountry trail run leader.

Please Note:

  • Previous qualification as a frontcountry trail run leader is not required to become a backcountry trail run leader
  • Backcountry trail run leader candidates are welcome to request multiple (more than two) mentored runs

Backcountry trail run leader candidates must also have these qualifications:

  • Wilderness first aid training or training/career as a medical professional
  • Mountaineers navigation badge, navigation training, or a “stay oriented on trails” training
  • Have participated in three backcountry trail group runs with the Mountaineers or have equivalent experience, as determined by the Trail Running Committee
  • Have experience with self-supported group backcountry trail running, as determined by the Trail Running Committee
  • Be familiar with the ten essentials and how to adapt them for trail running as well as the trail run leader guide and the trail runner code of responsibility created by the Trail Running Committee

Committees are responsible to verify that prospective leaders are competent in the key elements listed above using a structured, objective method. The following are examples of avenues that could be used:

  • Data from application form and/or activity/course history
  • Other leader badges (e.g. Climb or kayak leader or other)
  • Documented completion of classes (Red Cross First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, “Staying Found” or Wilderness Navigation or equivalent external class)
  • Trail running leader seminar or equivalent
  • Take-home test following leader seminar or as a “equivalency” in lieu of seminar
  • Structured interview with committee chair/experienced committee member or designate to validate knowledge
  • Mentored trail run in which the mentor evaluates against the standards to the degree possible

Committees have flexibility to use different combinations of the above methods appropriate to individual leader candidates, maintaining flexibility to recognize experience and training from another activity or from outside the club where it directly applies to the key leader competency requirements. However, the committee must maintain a mechanism to document their evaluation of a leader candidate against the key criteria so that any outside party can understand the objective method used to qualify the person.

It is strongly recommended that each trail run leader attend a trail run leader seminar including an overview of the minimum standard and all the key leader criteria and expectations, even if they have led other activities for the Mountaineers. Other outdoor leadership seminars offered by the Mountaineers can also suffice, or extensive documented experience as an outdoor leader, in the judgment of the Trail Running Committee.

Leaders must also demonstrate skill maintenance by satisfactorily leading at least one trip every three years for the committee for which they are approved as leaders or be willing to participate and lead another backcountry trail run prior to planning additional runs through the Mountaineers.

Leaders are expected to lead trail running trips within their ability.

Contact the relevant committee contact through your branch’s roster for application information and requirements