What’s Your Favorite Aid Station

Many of us have already hit the trails for a race this year and are looking forward to more this summer. At the vast majority of these races, we’ll stop at one or more aid stations (or a couple dozen if you’re running the Vermont 100). For the most part, these aid stations serve the utilitarian purpose of providing food and drink. However, some aid stations take it a few steps further by offering hot food, full-on smorgasbords, music, entertaining themes, adult beverages, or other mood boosting amenities. We’d love to hear what you favorite aid station is and why!

Setting and scenery can greatly enhance an aid station.

If you’re interested in finding out how to make the most of the aid stations at future races, pick up the latest issue of Trail Runner magazine (No 73) to read my Trail Tips article Acing Aid Stations: Use Them to Speed Up Your Next Race.

BONUS: By leaving a comment, Benjamin Dunn won an entry in the inaugural Slickrock 50 mile on October 8 outside of Moab, Utah. He’ll have the option of upgrading to the 100 mile or downgrading to the 50k. Since not h might not be able to get out to Moab, the entry will be transferable to anyone of the winners choosing.

Bryon Powell: is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar.com. Having spent nearly 20 years as an ultrarunner and three decades as a trail runner, he's also written Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and co-wrote Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running. He calls Silverton, Colorado and Moab, Utah home.

View Comments (74)

  • Actually the aid station that has left the most lasting impression on me was Ford's Bar on the WS course. Two gruff guys in the middle of the night, water [runners only one year, pacers can do without]. "Don't sit down unless your sick, someone else will need that chair. We don't want to make friends, just fill your bottle and keep moving." As we left my pacer said that those guys were mean. "Sure, but we didn't dawdle did we?" I should add that it's a remote AS with a pretty good drop off on one side, no room, but I really liked the minimalist approach.

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  • That's an easy one....Virginius at Hardrock. It's where Deb and I announced our engagement in 2001. Plus it just might be the most extreme aid station in the country!

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    • That is now named Kroger's Canteen after the aid station's founder, Chuck Kroger, who passed away a few years ago.

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    • Agree.

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    • Way cool!

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  • The Hobart aid station on the Tahoe Rim Trail course. Always great themes - my favorite was an Irish Pub theme, where they had you toss a dart at a dartboard before you left, kept some kind of score, and awarded prizes later. I think they had a bottle of Jamesons back there somewhere, too...

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  • I have to agree with Steve on Kroger's although his Rendija Canyon aid station is always a welcome sight at Jemez.

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  • My favorite aid station is the one my wife has found and is waiting there for me. Nothing like having loving crew to help you!

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    • amen brother.

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  • I think any trail aid station is 100 times better than a road race aid station. I love having "real" food to choose from, after so many road aid stations with just water and possibly a GU.

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  • No Hands Bridge at WS. There's a unique smell down there. Barn-like, actually!

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  • AWESOME. Was looking at this race but didn't know If my wife and I could both swing the reg. Fingers crossed!!

    My favorite aid station is soup, towards the end/in the dark. I can only take Gu for so much before I crave sweet potatoes and soup. Also, it takes a special person to man an aid station...if they looked bummed/bored when I get there...imagine how I'm going to feel!

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  • hells gate at zane grey. it sits on top of one of the fingers coming down from the mesa and offers an amazing view. it is a remote AS w/ no roads in. it's no-nonsense, no frills, but has a powerful vibe that can't help but rejuvenate and inspire. there's a sense of solidarity with those staffing that AS; totally off the grid and operating in epic mode. does that make sense?

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  • Lately it's been any aid station with cola. I'm not much of a soda drinker, but when I do get a chance to have a few sips during a race it lifts the spirits and motivates me to the next aid station in hopes of more cola!

    Chris

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  • I would say, any aid station at Hardrock. The views can not be beat.

    Shad

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  • Foresthill aid station at Western States. Lon runs it very well, it is where runners finally get to pickup pacers and it is where I first met Bryon in person!

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  • Please put my name into the hat for Slickrock 50! Thanks!

    I'll always remember Hopeless Aid Station at Leadville (inbound, on the way home), a bivouac a few hundred feet from the top of Hope Pass. It was my first 100 and I'll always remember that view, the llamas, the hot noodle soup, the 3 runners in the med tent (passed out with oxygen masks), and how everyone looked beaten and deathly. I can't wait to get back there.

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  • I love the aid station posted in that photo. Aid Station #4 at Moab's Red Hot 50K+. I've returned to Moab 3 times to experience the views and I will be back next year.

    I've never been to Kroger's Canteen but when I was trying to decide which aid station to volunteer last year, I found this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NDd8JpR4IA. Insane!

    Finally, Coyote 2 Moon has the best aid stations hands-down. Food, booze, costumes, and friendly volunteers.

    ChrisG

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  • Peaks Ultra 50k at miles 12 and 18. The aid station has an ABBA theme and the volunteers are awesome.

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  • My favorite aid station came during the Barr Trail Mountain Race, right before Barr Camp there was an aid station designed as Candyland, complete with the high school kids dressed as candy characters, and they were handing out some candy. I was exhausted from pushing a little too hard earlier in the race, and the gummy bears and junior mints gave me quite a jolt! Of all of the great aid stations, that one will always stick in my mind! The race also does an aid station challenge where they are manned by the local high school cross country teams, and I believe that aid station won by a large margin!

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    • Awesome! I just signed up for this race looking forward to the aid stations!

      Chris

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  • Tunnel Creek at Tahoe Rim Trail!! Also, a close second goes to the Maiden Lake aid station at Waldo. Those ladies really give the spa treatment - shoulder rub, face wipe, latte. Seriously!

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  • I'm partial to Mayqueen Inbound at Leadville. The place is a trap. Big tents, nice people, warmth, beds, and tons of food. The course goes through the tents, so you have to subject yourself to the comforts.

    Best advice anybody gave me was to have my crew wait for me on the other side of the aid station out in the dark & cold, that way you're forced to go through in a timely manner to meet up with them.

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  • For me it is Margaritaville in Vermont. It is worth taking the time to have your picture taken with the festive and colorful cast, although I didn't bother to stop that long until my third running :) They include fast paced music, margaritas for the taking, and a warm welcome.

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  • Kroger's Canteen. Really hard to get tequila all the way up there, but the volunteers come through every year. Hopeless is pretty cool as well, with the llamas chillin' all over the place.

    Never been through Brown's Bar at Western, but I've heard good things about it. Pacing through this year and looking forward to a visit.

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