After a year of race cancellations, runners of all disciplines have something to look forward to in 2021: the first ever World Mountain and Trail Running Championships. While there have been separate world championships for both trail and mountain running in the past, this is the first time that both disciplines will be combined into one global running festival.
The event is set to take place every two years, with the first one being held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from Nov. 11 to 14. The four-day festival will be the result of a partnership between the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA), the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) and the International Trail Running Association (ITRA). World Athletics will also be playing a supporting role.
Events will include a 40K and an 80K trail race, vertical uphill races and classic up-and-down mountain races for both seniors and U20 runners. The festival will no doubt attract the world’s best elite trail and mountain runners, but it will also allow mass participation runners to participate and test their grit on the same courses as the elites.
As trail and mountain running continue to increase in popularity, these new championships will help create a single definition for mountain and trail running and provide both athletes and fans of the sport with an easily recognizable event to put in their calendars.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe stated that the event reflects the common interests of the four organizations, all of which are working to promote all forms of running beyond road and track.
“Our closer ties will create more opportunities for distance runners to compete in varying environments and take on different challenges, whether it be in the spectacular natural settings that mountain and trail events offer, or in more traditional events on the road or the track,” he said.
Coe added that one of the great attractions of running as a sport is the versatility in its events, and he is hoping that the new combined Mountain and Trail Running Championships will encourage runners to explore all the various forms the sport can take.