Philosopher’s Way Trail Runs

"On my farm was a group of several hundred trees. They were tall and straight. I called them my temple."
—Horace Williams

Race Information

The TrailHeads are pleased to announce the Eight Annual Philosopher’s Way 7K and 15K Trail Runs, scheduled for May 2rd, 2015. Both courses gently roll along single-track trails in the Carolina North Forest. 

The event will promote awareness of the Forest, UNC’s active management program and will provide the participants and community a chance to learn and connect with the natural environment. Proceeds are donated to Carolina North Forest for trail planning and maintenance.

The 15K race will start at 8:00AM, and the 7K will start at 8:20AM with door prizes and awards to follow.

Here’s an article by Randy “Yellow Dog” Young about the 2014 Philosopher’s Way races.

PWTR 2014 logo

Packet Pickup

Note: the information below is for the 2014 races. This page will be updated with the specific details for the 2015 races as we get closer to the race, but the general outline will be roughly the same.


Race numbers, T-shirts (for those who ordered them), and a drop bag will be available for pick up on Friday, May 2, from 3:00PM to 6:30PM at Fleet Feet Carrboro. Note that Fleet Feet is open until 7:00PM on Friday, but packet pickup will end at 6:30PM.

IMPORTANT: Please note that each participant in the race is required to sign a liability waiver in hard copy when picking up her or his race number. This means that each runner must be present to pick up her or his number. We cannot allow runners to pick up numbers for others (except for those belonging to their minor children), or to sign on behalf of other runners. We realize that this is not the case for all races and we hope you understand our need to have each runner sign a waiver in hard copy. You may pick up another runner’s number if and only if that runner has signed the waiver.

To facilitate the waiver signing process, please feel free to print out and sign the form from the following links.

Waiver for Runner 18 or older
Waiver for Runner under 18 years of age

Race packets also may be picked up on race morning, subject to the same criteria described above, at the race site (not at Fleet Feet!). Race day pick up begins at 6:45AM and closes out at 7:45AM. Note that the 15K begins at 8:00AM, while the 7k begins at 8:20AM. If you’re planning on picking up your race number on race day, especially if you’re doing the 7K, be sure to arrive in plenty of time.

Directions to the Race

Map of Municipal Drive

The race start is accessed off Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Chapel Hill. Turn onto the Municipal Drive and head back toward the gravel road that enters the forest.

From Downtown Carrboro:
1. Head north on N. Greensboro St .5 mi
2. Turn right at Estes Dr/Estes Dr Ext 1.7 mi
3. Turn left at Martin Luther King Jr Blvd/NC-86 0.3 mi
4. Turn left at Municipal Dr 0.4 mi

From Downtown Chapel Hill:
1. Head northwest on N Columbia St/NC-86 Continue to follow NC-86 (Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd) 1.9 mi
2. Turn left at Municipal Dr 0.4 mi

Directions from South of Chapel Hill (from South – Pittsoboro or US 64)
1. Head north on US-15/US-501 toward Chapel Hill 15.4 mi
2. Continue on S Columbia St/NC-86 Continue to follow NC-86 3.3 mi
3. Turn left at Municipal Dr 0.2 mi

From Greensboro:
Take I-40 East towards Raleigh (45 mi)
Take exit 266 for NC-86 towards Chapel Hill (0.3 mi)
Slight right at Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd/NC-86/NC-86 S (2.1 mi)
Continue to follow Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd/NC-86
Turn right at Municipal Dr. (0.2 mi)

From Raleigh:
Take I-40 West (22 mi)
Take exit 266 for NC-86 (0.3 mi)
Keep left at the fork, follow signs for Chapel Hill/Carrboro (131 ft)
Turn left at Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd/NC-86/NC-86 S (2.4 mi)
Continue to follow Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd/NC-86
Turn right at Municipal Dr. (0.2 mi)

Parking and Carpooling


There is limited parking at CNF for this race and we have a record number of runners this year. There will be prize awarded to the driver of the *best* carpool. The awards will be based on factors like the number of registered runners in the carpool, distance driven, fuel efficiency of the vehicle. In the case of a tie, the final decision will be made by audience applause. So pack your vehicle to capacity with fellow runners and qualify for this special round of competition.

You will also want to allow yourself extra time to get to the start line. Runners will be required to park in a satellite lot at CNF, off of Municipal Drive, and walk about a 1/2 mile up to the race start and festivities. (This is a great way to warm up and wake up!) We will start even if folks are continuing to walk in and have missed packet pick-up. Reduce stress for you and for us on race day by arriving early and driving with friends.

Race-Day Logistics

Drop bag

In an effort to make things a little easier for runners this year, we will offer a drop bag option. This is intended to prevent runners from having to go back and forth to their cars before and after the race. We also hope this will allow you to stick around and have some fun when the race is over. You will get a Fleet Feet bag at packet pickup in which you may put your belongings and leave in a secured area while you run the race. You will be given a nametag and marker on which you must write your BIB NUMBER ONLY, which will go directly on the bag. It is your responsibility to put your number on the bag and to physically take your bag over to the drop bag area, which will be in the meadow at the finish (from the start). Again, a volunteer will guard these bags and they will be the only ones with access to them. Everything you wish to leave behind must fit into one bag with your number on it. When you’ve finished running, you should come directly to the drop bag area (if you left a bag) and pick it up.

Pre-race Briefings

There will be a mandatory race meeting for each race to go over last-minute details and information. It’s very important that all runners attend their respective meeting. The 15K meeting will happen near the start at 7:50AM; the 7K meeting will be at 8:10AM. Give yourself plenty of time to be ready to go by then.

The Race

Both races will begin at the red gate at the Locust Lot (trail parking) off the Municipal Drive entrance to the forest. After a few hundred yards of wide, double-track trail, the course turns onto a single-track trail for the remainder of the race. This is the same course as previous years, for those of you returning. Please position yourself appropriately at the race start (faster runners toward the front, groovier runners toward the back).

For those of you who are new to trail races, keep in mind that these are single-track trails. This means that passing other runners requires a little more patience than in a road race. If you want to pass someone, say “on your left” or “trail”. If someone asks to pass you, please yield the trail and allow them to pass (on the left is the norm) as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Please remember that this is a NO HEADPHONES EVENT. This rule is intended to provide a safe and enjoyable trail run for all participants. While running with music can be great for training runs, running a trail race with headphones means that you can’t hear those who may want to pass safely. So please respect this rule! Volunteers have been instructed to ask runners to come off the course if they see folks running with headphones.

Course maps are posted here, however, the maps may be a little difficult to decipher. You can blame Squonk; he gets blamed for everything else…

Weather and Trail Conditions

We’ll have an update on weather soon, but it’ll either be sunny or cloudy, dry or wet, or some of each. Where there are wet areas, you will be instructed to run right through the puddles and not to go around. Getting dirty is a big part of the fun of trail running, but it’s also a big part of keeping the trails healthy.

Aid Stations

15K runners will have aid stations at ~ mile 1.7, 4, 6.3, and 7.5. 7K runners will have one aid station at ~mile 1.7 and then water at the finish. All aid stations will have water as well as friendly, enthusiastic volunteers. Feel free to bring a handheld water bottle for the event. This cuts down on our use of paper cups (and it allows you access to water throughout your run). Aid station volunteers will be more than willing to refill your bottle.

If you need medical attention, please ask at any of the aid stations. We’ll have medical personnel at the event, and bikes patrolling the area (and checking in at the aid stations), just in case.

Prizes and Sponsors

Thanks to our title sponsors Fleet Feet Carrboro, New Balance, Open Eye Cafe, Mountain Hardware, and Proaxis Physical Therapy/Balanced Movement Studios.

As in previous years, prizes will be awarded to the top overall finishers (men’s and women’s) in both races, as well as to the masters’ (over 40) winners. We’ll also have prizes for the first finisher in each age group 19 and under, 20-29, 30-39 etc. In addition to prizes for overall and age group winners, we’ll be awarding prizes for best carpool (see above) and the family with the most runners running in either of the races. You must be present to win these last two prizes another reason to hang out for a bit after the race.


Registration is through SportOften:

Philosopher’s Way Trail Runs – 2015 – May 2, 2015 – Chapel Hill, NC

PWTR Course Map

Here is an overview of both courses (this map is about 99% accurate):

PWTR course maps

And here are links to space age maps of each individual course courtesy of Lego:

PWTR 7K Course
PWTR 15K Course

© TrailHeads 2013