In addition to her role with the American Trail Running Association, author Nancy Hobbs is the treasurer of the World Mountain Running Association.
On Sunday, February 5, the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) held its annual winter council meeting in Cap d’Ail-Monaco, with seven of its eight council members present (Erhan Basoglu, was not in attendance).
In his eighth and final year as President of the WMRA, Bruno Gozzelino (ITA), who has worked closely with Secretary Pierre Weiss (FRA) for the past two years to lead the Council, conducted his second to last council meeting. Elections will be held July 29, in Premana, Italy, during the WMRA Congress meeting in advance of the 33rd World Mountain Running Championships the following day.
Four of the current Council members – Tomo Sarf (SLO), Wolfgang Munzel (GER), Andy Puchacz (POL), and Nancy Hobbs (USA), intend to run for seats. Weiss, along with Basoglu (TUR) and Galia Puhaleva (BUL), do not plan to run for another term.
There are presently 43 member countries in the WMRA family, the majority of which are represented by their respective National Athletic Federations. Only Canada and Australia, are outside their federations, but do operate with the approval of their respective federations. Any of the WMRA member countries can nominate an individual for a council seat in accordance with article 11.1 of the constitution. Nominations must be received 50 days prior to the Congress meeting, therefore by June 8, for the upcoming election.
In addition to discussions surrounding the impending election, rules and regulations for the various championships in the WMRA portfolio were reviewed with some changes to existing rules by a majority vote of the council members in attendance.
The Long Distance Championships will have a change in how teams are ranked. Starting in 2017, at the 14th WMRA Long Distance Mountain Running Championships on August 6 in Premana, Italy, teams will be scored by place instead of time. One reason is to align the team scoring with the other WMRA championships. The other relates to a rule, which took effect several years ago, to have a separate start for the championships division if it was held in conjunction with an open race. With this separate start, there is no need to eliminate open runners in the results thereby making the place ranking easier (and quicker). Hobbs shared feedback from a poll taken of US athletes who supported keeping the scoring based on time, and therefore was the lone dissenter of the rule.
Another change in the regulations affecting organizers was to eliminate the previous requirement to pay travel and lodging expenses for the past year winners of the event. This is due to the local organizing committee (LOC) now responsible for more costs associated with hosting the event.
For the WMRA/WMA Masters Mountain Running Championships, several rule changes will be implemented starting this year at the 17th annual event in Dubnica nad Vahom, Sloakia, on September 2. The most interesting, especially for countries with fewer athletes participating in the predominantly European-centric competition, is the new rule for team scoring. Previously, three athletes per country made up the team scoring in each of the age divisions starting at 35-39, in five-year increments to 74-79. Starting with the championships this year in Slovakia, all age groups for women, and men’s age groups 55 and up, will require just two athletes per country to score for a team. Men’s categories 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, and 50-54 will still require three per country to score as a team.
Athletes in masters championships must represent the country in which they hold citizenship. Organizers must request during the registration process, not only the address for a competitor, but also nationality as sometimes an athlete resides in a country in which he or she does not hold citizenship. It was suggested by the council that national vests should be worn for all podium appearances for both individuals and teams.
Although age determination for Masters was discussed, with many on the council supporting the age in the year of competition, rather than the age of the athlete on the date of competition, the World Masters Athletics (WMA), whose global rules are followed for this competition, did not support a change to the age rule.
Switching gears to anti-doping efforts, six international mountain runners were in the out of competition testing pool of the IAAF resulting in 35 tests, all of which were negative. Additionally, all in-competition tests (of which there were 19 doping controls and 10 EPO analyses) were negative.
Much of the meeting content focused on objectives to increase exposure and participation in the sport worldwide. This includes the launch of the newly designed WMRA website, which will be live in the coming weeks, and the continued publication of the quarterly e-newsletter, and social media interaction on Facebook and Twitter.
In an effort to expand the reach throughout the six areas within the IAAF (Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, NACAC, Consudalte), Gozzelino and Weiss met with the six IAAF area designees the day before the Council meeting. The meetings were very positive and resulted in several new nations considering WMRA membership.