Press release written by US Trail Running Conference director Terry Chiplin. The US Trail Running Conference is produced in cooperation with the American Trail Running Association.
The 7th annual US Trail Running Conference was held October 9-12, at the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, and provided three and a half days of presentations, networking, vendor displays, morning trail runs, and panel discussions that inspired and educated. A new attendee record was set welcoming 200 race directors, trail runners, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors.
The first two and a half days focused on content for trail race directors. This year’s theme for the Conference, Diversity and Inclusion: Trail running for Everyone, showcased panels discussing how to attract groups that are currently under-represented in our sport, and how races can make runners of all races, ages, abilities, and gender orientations feel welcomed and included.
Keynote speaker Billy Mills, Olympic gold medalist at 10,000 meters at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, delivered a powerful speech that encouraged the audience – young and old alike — to use running as a platform to promote inclusivity and break down racial barriers. His humbling message of “Unity through Diversity” touched everyone in the audience and resonated perfectly with the Conference theme, with many remarking it was the best keynote they had ever heard. Billy participated in the Conference as a result of a sponsorship arrangement with Run Strong from Fox River socks. Billy’s keynote was presented by Performance Medicine.
Nearly 60 race directors from 27 states and Canada representing more than 250,000 runners, enjoyed networking opportunities with 19 sponsors and exhibitors on hand that provided key services and products to help race directors create effective, sustainable and profitable trail races. Presenting Sponsor Race Roster, the fastest growing endurance registration platform in the US, delivered a presentation that focused on how creating engaging content can help to drive registrations for trail races more effectively than pricing strategies. American Trail Running Association (ATRA) executive director Nancy Hobbs shared a year in review presentation covering the many milestones ATRA achieved since the 2018 Conference. All race directors attending received a branded hoodie supplied by Official Conference Apparel Supplier Leslie Jordan, and a “crusher” branded hat from Official Conference Headwear Supplier Headsweats.
Panels and presentation for race directors covered subjects ranging from how to welcome more women, racial and socio-economic groups, younger runners, LGBTQ & intersex, as well as blind and disabled athletes. Further panels included the use of positive imagery, sustainability and green initiatives, how to create a course, advocacy and accessibility, and how to deal with cheats. Presentations were delivered by Bruce Rayner from Athletes for a Fit Planet on sustainability, and on the importance of social media and digital marketing from Jayme Mechure of Junction Marketing. Paul Jurasin, Director of the Digital Transformation Hub of Cal Poly, led a digital innovation hands-on workshop, working backwards from the customer, which focused on what race directors could do differently to attract a more diverse audience of runners to their races.
Friday evening included a special movie night at the Estes Park Mountain Shop. Movies shown were The Source, featuring Courtney Duawalter, and Leadman: The Dave Mackey Story. Dave Mackey joined runners for the showing that also featured a fun run with shoes from Altra, and prizes from Ultimate Direction. Proceeds from the movie night were donated to the American Trail Running Association, and Girls on the Run of the Rockies.
The final day was geared toward trail runners. A fun run kicked off activities, with demo shoes provided by Altra and Scarpa, followed by interactive sessions with expert panels that covered trail shoe development, healthy nutrition and hydration, a coaches corner focused on healthy training, together with how to become active trail advocates and get engaged in climate change reversal. Maintaining the theme of diversity and inclusion, panels also covered the barriers to inclusion faced by racial and socio-economic groups, pride and disabled athletes, and women on the trails. Top US mountain runner Sage Canaday led a running form clinic in the fall sunshine in front of the Stanley Hotel.
Athletes present for trail runner day included Olympic gold medallist Billy Mills, World Mountain Running Champions Joe Gray (2016) and Max King (2011), and USATF Mountain Running Champions Addie Bracy (2016) and Sage Canaday (2012), along with elite runners Corey Conner, Sandi Nypaver, Tayte Pollmann and Peter Maksimow.
US Trail Running Conference Event Director and owner of Active at Altitude, Terry Chiplin, stated, “I am thrilled with the effect that this year’s Conference theme has had on attendance and the content that we created. Diversity and inclusion is a critical component to ensure the continued growth of our sport, and I am very proud that we have started a process where trail running explicitly welcomes all types and shapes and colors to enable us to collectively choreograph the horizon of our future. I look forward to working in partnership with our friends and colleagues at the American Trail Running Association to continued development of this theme, and to an even more successful Conference in 2020.”
Added Nancy Hobbs, “Our relationship with Active at Altitude has grown and thrived over the past seven years resulting in a fantastic must-attend event. This year, the engagement and enthusiasm we witnessed by all of the attendees was contagious and led to the best Conference to date.”
Organizers will announce the location and dates for the 8th annual US Trail Running Conference within the next two weeks.