The Run Marking System

To ensure that all riders on a run ride at their own pace and do not worry about catching up another rider in order not to get lost, all 7W’s runs operate the TVAM Run Marking System. Basically, each run has a Run Leader and a Back Marker.  All other riders on the run ride between these two riders. 

Before the Run Sets Off

The Run Leader will give the group a Run Briefing.  This will involve:- 

  • Identifying themselves and their bike for easy identification on the road 
  • Identifying the Back Marker and their bike for easy identification on the road
  • Outlining the run for the day i.e. miles; fuel stops; comfort breaks etc.
  • A recap of the Run Marking System
  • Setting the Ground Rules for the Run: –
    • Riding Standard
      • Safety and riding to your own ability
      • Courtesy and consideration for all other road users
      • Courtesy and consideration for slower / faster riders
      • Speed limits
      • What to do if you are concerned or compromised by the actions of other riders in the group
    • What to do if you need to stop
  • Making sure all riders have the phone numbers of the Run Leader and Back Marker 

On the Road

When ready, the Run Leader will move off, but they may not wait for you to be ready.  If this happens, it is because the Run Leader wants to spread the run out to avoid bikes bunching up so DON’T WORRY, you are not being left behind and should not try and rush to catch up.  Remember, you are still between the Run Leader and the Back Marker.  The route will be directed for you and you will not get lost. 

On the run, at all route deviations (junctions and turns) including exits off roundabouts, the rider who is directly behind the Run Leader becomes the Marker.   In order to put down a Marker, the Run Leader will point to a safe spot on the road for you to stop.  They will then either indicate left, right, or point straight up for straight on. As the Marker, it is your responsibility to ensure the rest of the run goes the right way.  You should turn off your indicators, sit up on your bike and use clear hand signals to show which direction the Run Leader has taken. So make sure you watch to see which way they want you to direct the run.  You also need to watch where the riders go that pass you to ensure they are following your direction. 

The Marker must wait until all riders have passed, no matter how long the delay may be. It is possible there will have been an incident, such as a puncture, causing a delay further back within the group. Eventually, the Run Leader will run out of Markers and contact the Back Marker to find out what is happening so you will not have been forgotten.  

When the Back Marker arrives they will often flash their lights or wave to aid identification and let you know that you may re-join the group. However, depending on road and traffic conditions, it may be difficult for the Back Marker to pull in and wait for you if you are not ready.  So ensure you are ready to move off by making sure your helmet, jacket and gloves are all on and fastened; all bags are zipped and your engine is running.   As the Back Marker approaches, IF IT IS SAFE TO DO SO, move off in front of them.     If it is not safe to move off in front of the Back Marker, e.g. because of heavy traffic conditions, they may ride past you.  They will then find a safe place to pull over and wait for you to safely join the traffic and ride past.

Helping the Run Leader

Leading a run can be a highly stressful occupation.  Not only is the Run Leader responsible for ensuring that the run reaches the desired destination within daylight, they have to navigate on roads they may not be familiar with; ensure that they have enough markers with them and that they are placing their markers safely; give clear direction to their markers; ensure the run has sensible stops for petrol; food and drinks; and make sure that the run pace is sensible.

So if the Run Leader isn’t going for an obvious over-take, it may be because they know there is a turning up ahead and they don’t want a vehicle between you and them.  Or they may not be sure of the route and be taking their time approaching a turning.  Or they may even be looking for somewhere to stop the run.

So if you are the rider immediately behind the Run Leader please refrain from riding on their back wheel.    You’ve no idea how much a bit of space is appreciated.


“I’ve never used the Marking System before and am very nervous about getting it wrong.  What should I do?” 

Make sure you stay at the back of the run when it sets off.  That way, you can watch and see how it works and gain some confidence

“I marked the way quite clearly but one of our group still went the wrong way.  What should I do?” 

Wait until the Back Marker arrives and let them know you need them to stop (the Slow Down arm signal is a clear indication).  Tell the Back Marker what you saw.  They will set off to find the “lost” rider.   Unless told to do otherwise, make sure you stay where you are until the Back Marker returns.   

“I am third bike in the run and I saw the Run Leader put down a Marker.  However, the Marker didn’t stop.  What should I do?” 

It is imperative that you take the Marker’s position and direct the run; otherwise the run will break down.  Let the Run Leader know at the next stop that you had to step in

“I took the turning the Marker indicated, but have come to a junction and can’t see another Marker.  What should I do?” 

You have gone the wrong way.  Turn around and go back to where you saw the last Marker.  Keep a lookout for the Back Marker, who may be trying to find you, and let them know you are back en route by giving them a wave if safe to do so.  If you think they haven’t seen you, carry on to the Marker, pull in safely behind them and wait for the Back Marker to come back to you. 

“I’m running out of fuel and am getting really worried I’m not going to make it to the next petrol station.  What should I do?”

Find a safe place to stop behind the next Marker.  Get off your bike and out of the way of the Marker, so that other riders can still clearly see them.  Wait for the Back Marker to come along and let them know that you will be stopping at the next petrol station.  You can then carry on and get fuel without risk of the Back Marker not seeing you and leaving you behind. 

“I urgently need to stop.  What should I do?” 

Find a safe place to stop THAT IS NOT NEAR A JUNCTION and STOP.  Face back the way you have come and look out for the Back Marker.  Wave them down so they stay with you until you are happy to carry on with the run.

“I’ve been marking for over an hour and am getting really worried that the Back Marker has missed me.  What should I do?” 

Stay where you are.  Something may have happened that means the Back Marker is delayed.  Call either the Run Leader or the Back Marker to find out what is happening.  DO NOT JUST DECIDE TO CARRY ON.  If you do, you will break up the Run when it finally gets going again.  

“I’m an Observer and carrying out an informal Observed ride within the run.  Should I stop with my Associate when they are put down as a marker?”

FOR 7W’s RIDES ONLY – NO.  Ride on.  You will be put down as the next marker.  The last bike to come past you before the Back Marker will be your Associate and you can then carry on with the Observed ride.

“I see the Run Leader parked on the side of the road near a junction.  What should I do?”

Pull in behind them (Issy), they have run out of Markers.  Do not think “I wonder why the Run Leader is marking” and carry on for the next 3 miles until they can catch you up again.  It makes them anxious.