39th Meeting of WMRA Council Concludes in Monaco

The following press release was written by WMRA Council member Nancy Hobbs. Nancy is also the founder and Executive Director of the American Trail Running Association.

39th Meeting of the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) Council Concludes in Monaco

MONACO – 9 January 2016

The meeting of the WMRA Council was held at the Hotel Marriott in Cap d’Ail-Monaco on Saturday, January 9, 2016. Following opening words and a short welcome from WMRA President Bruno Gozzelino, business got underway. In attendance for the WMRA, Secretary Pierre Weiss (FRA), Treasurer Nancy Hobbs (USA), Tomo Sarf (SLO), Wolfgang Münzel (GER), Andrzej Puchacz (POL), and Galia Puhaleva (BUL). Paul Hardy represented the IAAF, and Carlos Cardoso attended in his role as IAAF Cross Country Committee Chairperson. Apologies were received from Erhan Basoglu for his absence.

(There was a separate meeting for financial matters with Weiss, Münzel, Gozzelino, and Hobbs, as well as a review of working regulations by Weiss and Sarf, on Friday, January 8, at the IAAF offices. The outcome of these meetings is included in this recap.)

For the IAAF, Paul Hardy provided an update stating at the outset, “The IAAF ship is not sinking, but we are in very rough waters.”

One of the key items to share was the suspension of the Russian Federation and its athletes (a list of some 4,000 viewable on the IAAF website), which will affect upcoming WMRA championship events as long as the suspension remains in place. WMRA Council was in full agreement to support the IAAF decision regarding this ban and will implement it at the international WMRA mountain running events.

Newly elected IAAF President Sebastian Coe has brought in an expert to evaluate the current administration and the IAAF is undertaking a review of the governance structure. There shouldn’t be a marked change, but perhaps some restructuring of staff along with the appointment of a CEO most likely in the spring.

Carlos Cardoso is not new to the WMRA as he was involved for a decade as a liaison to the WMRA starting in 1989. His return to the WMRA family was enthusiastically welcomed by the council.

There was positive news regarding financial matters. At the end of 2014, the reserves were nearly depleted, and 2015 showed savings in various budgeted line items (newsletter printing and travel among them), to reverse the trend and create reserves over $10,000. The goal by 2017 is to have $25,000 in reserves. There was discussion to raise the annual dues by $50 in 2017, and this item will come before Congress in September. Although no sponsors are secured for 2016, this point is a key item and relates to marketing, promotion, and brand visibility (our brand being “mountain running” and the associated championship and cup events).

Some key outcomes of the Council follow.

Equality of course distances for men and women as well as team category sizes was a lengthy discussion point resulting in several changes which, now approved by Council will be put forth to the WMRA Congress for consideration. Should the Congress approve the changes, they would go into effect in January 2017 and be part of the 2017 World Mountain Running Championships program. Those changes include

1) Senior men and senior women will run an equal distance course of 10 kilometers (+/- 10%) The course is approximated based on the ramifications of the venue, which changes from year to year.

2) Junior men and junior women will run an equal distance course of approximately 5 kilometers. (+/- 10%)

3) in both cases, the course will have 10% ascent/descent difference.

4) The team makeup by category will be the same across all categories. Up to five athletes can be included on an entry per category, with 4 to start/race and 3 to score. One of the reasons for this change is to reduce the cost of accommodations for the LOC, who will be responsible for the 3 scoring members and team staff, while the federations will bear the cost of non-scoring athletes.

Another topic of interest was the new Rule 252 for Trail Running, and further a discussion of what constitutes trail running, mountain running, Skyrunning, cross country and vertical running. At the present time, trail doesn’t appear anywhere within IAAF as a committee. With other matters facing IAAF, the discussion of the out-of-stadia events has been put on hold, but it is certainly important to have a global view of non-stadia events.

The WMRA regulations are reviewed regularly to reflect any changes dictated by the Council and/or the Congress. Much of the updating is simply to adjust working for a more clear understanding and precise interpretation. Some of these “housekeeping” items include deadlines from the LOC for PEF and FEF distribution to the federations. Another related to the precise definition of accommodations – full board or partial board. Included with the FEF, was the suggestion to add anti-doping controls signed by the federations on behalf of the athletes. Legal ramifications were considered and it was decided that this would be a good first step in the right direction.

The Congress will also be invited to accept additional paragraphs in the Constitution related on “how to guarantee the election of at least one woman”’

Proposed by Tomo Sarf was the potential inclusion of a mountain running relay event in the championships program. The idea is to create an event that is more interesting to sponsors, media, and spectators. There are many options for the format, (perhaps 1 SM – 1SW – 1JM – 1JW or 2 SM + 2SW), hosting on the same weekend as the World Championships. This type of event is already in the IAAF Rule Book under Mountain Running. There is potential to start with an exhibition-type event and see what the response is from the athletes and the LOC.

During the Congress meeting in Wales, there was a desire from the attendees to enlist a working group to address issues within mountain running. There are various challenges in the quest to grow and expand. To respond to the wishes of the Congress, it was decided that Council would enlist a working group commission (as defined in the WMRA constitution), to address the following topics marketing, promotion, and developing WMRA brand. The five delegates who indicated interest in serving on the commission has been nominated as well two delegates proposed by the President who is an ex officio member off this Working Group. Nancy Hobbs will serve as the liaison to the group with the deadline of no later than May 31, to provide a report to the Council.

An important consideration was the date of the 2016 World Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria. The new date requested by the LOC was September 11 due to a national holiday the prior weekend.

No official candidature has been received for the 2017 World Championships, although a document of interest from FIDAL was received and reviewed. It is a new concept to have the World Mountain Running Championships and the World Long Distance Championships on back-to-back weekends. The Council was supportive of this proposal and will go back to FIDAL to discuss the timing of the proposed events.

The next meeting of the Council will be held in Sapareva, Bulgaria on Friday, September 9, followed by the Congress meeting on Saturday, September 10.