Minutes from the USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Running Council Meetings

Pictured above from left to right: Richard Bolt (American Trail Running Association), Vin Lananna (USATF President), Andy Wacker (AAC, Nike Trail Athlete), Nancy Hobbs (USATF MUT Council chairperson), George Leaf (USATF Kentucky), Peter Maksimow (USATF Colorado).

USA Track & Field (USATF) held its Annual Meeting December 6-7 in Reno, Nevada at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. At that event, Mountain, Ultra and Trail Running leaders and interested association members met to conduct business and plan for the future. Any USATF members are welcome to attend these meetings. Below are the complete MUT meeting minutes.

In attendance for all, or part of the meetings over the two days:
Addie Bracy, Athletes Advisory Council (AAC); Rebecca Bennion, UT; Richard Bolt, American Trail Running Association; Bill Brist, MT; Sara Brist, MT; Jason Bryant, NC; Andy Carr, GA/Records; Matthew Chestnut, GA; Andy Crawford, Pacific; Michael Daney, NM; Yen Darcy, So Cal; Russ Ebbets, Niagara; Ryan Elsbernd, IA; Craig Evans, Adirondack; Fred Finke, USATF Board; Kelly Flathers, AAC/SO Cal; Noelle Gayden, FL; Lin Gentling, MN; Mak Gilligan, Ultrasignup; Angela Gordon, Mid Atlantic; Philip Greenwald, Rules; Carl Grossbard, Long Island; Tish Hanna, Ozark; Zakia Haywood, NY; Camille Herron, OK; Kristen Hislop, Adirondack; Nancy Hobbs, ATRA/Chairperson; Teren Jameson, UT; Kim Keenan-Kirkpatrick, Niagara/WLDR Chair; Brian Keveny, World Masters Athletics; Meghan Laws, Pacific; George S Leaf, KY; Angie Longworth, Pacific; Duffy Mahoney, USATF National Office Liaison to MUT; Peter Maksimow, CO; Andy Martin, IN; Lisa Marie Moore, Central; Gary Morgan, Alumni Assoc; Grayson Murphy, AAC; Edward Neighbour, NJ; Howard Nippert, VA/Vice Chair; Jim Peterson, Substance Abuse Committee Rep; Brian Pierce, NE; Roy Pirrung, AAC/Exec Comm/WI; Mickey Piscitelli, Niagara; Bob Platt, PUA; Jean Pommier, Pacific; Chrisopher Rinaldi, NJ; Richard Robert, SoCal; Bill Roe, PNW; Carlos Ross, Ozark; Joe Sarver, Three Rivers; Mike Scott, LDR Division Chair; John Sesito, Adirondack; Taylor Short, AR; Jessica Stanford, UT; Steve Taylor, Collegiate Running Association; Elinor S. Tootle, WI; Eduardo Torres, CO/MLDR Chair; Andy Wacker, AAC; Joyce Welch, SC; Jack Wickens, Athlete Biz; Shawn Wierwick, AR; Josiah Wincheback, ME; Jack Wozek, NE.

Howard Nipper (MUT Council vice-chair), Meghan Laws, Nancy Hobbs (USATF Council chairperson).

Session One – Friday, December 6 – 2PM – 4:50PM

Nancy Hobbs, chairperson, called the meeting to order at 2:05PM. Introductions around the room. Minutes from past meetings are in the document library. The 2018 meeting minutes approved (motion by Roy Pirrung, seconded by Lin Gentling).

Rules presentation and discussion led by Phil Greenwald: Number of different things happening to rules as IAAF is updating on international level and reorganizing under the various headings. Old rule book hodgepodge was intended to make cross country rules fit/work for mountain and trail. Consolidating trail and mountain rules is a goal, and much depends on terrain and geography. Currently a one page document.

Richard Bolt and Jason Bryant have been working on a deeper rule set, from World Athletics (formerly IAAF), which are very prescriptive. Richard and Jason want it to be more hands off and organic based on the event – many of the rules from IAAF don’t need to be applied – such as gear and terrain.

Phil: Rules year – anyone can submit a rule. An off rule year is an L and L. When World Athletics (formerly IAAF) makes a change, we can propose those changes to the USATF rule book. Try to give RDs more free rein. MUT rules are generally many of the same as for LDR and Track and Field, but there are changes – as in aid stations in MUT events, which differ slightly from the LDR rules. New wording is a reworking of what we had in the rule book to try to make it work in the new structure.

Jason and Richard believe the rules are going to be 99% in line with what we want. If we don’t get it done this weekend it goes into next year. The rules are a subset that apply ONLY to MUT.

Jean Pommier has an issue with a measurement clause, but it doesn’t mention certifiable, and it doesn’t apply to mountain, trail or cross country. The understanding is the distance should be known, but won’t need to be exact. So it has been proposed the word “determined” replace the word measurement. Rule 252.2.

Pacing vs no pacing. 5b. Proposed new language regarding pacing 144.3a. Rules are no one can pace in a 5k road or track. This is an exception to the general rule for all masters and back-of-the-pack in open division. Open competitors cannot have a pacer, 35 and up you can have a pacer.

Rule 243.2g: Read by Phil. Safety runner concept. Proposal is to strike the this concept because you can’t enforce it. New rule says the RD can make a call. National Championship races can’t have a pacer, but open USATF sanctioned races can. Association championship races can decide for themselves.

Age group championships can have pacers, as long as they are NOT going for the open win.

Howard moves to allow the pacing or safety runner or companion rule to remain as written in the 2017 rule book, and the other rules be accepted as presented. Seconded by Roy and motion passes.

MUT Council meeting attendees.

Andy Carr – discussion about records. Report in document library. 190 records this year, 166 masters. 97 ultra events. We cannot ratify our own records. At present, men’s and women’s LDR committees do the ratification. We can have input by Andy. 9 unverified, 3 were ultra. 20 deferred, 3 marks failed. 2nd action item 6 Days in the Dome. 400+ track.

Record at non bon a fide event was in question for the Hoka-sponsored event. Discussion regarding meeting the official criteria of an open competition. It was determined that the Hoka event did meet the criteria and therefore the records were approved by the LDR committee.

Pacing in ultra events. Looking into the difference in wording between the IAU and USATF rules.

Jim Peterson substance abuse liaison to the committee. Provided overview of his report which is available here. Anti-doping Andy Wacker question – currently there is no out of competition testing by WADA for MUT athletes. Would like to see (from athletes) more out of competition testing.

Howard cited another organization that does surprise testing in the road racing scene. (PRRO).

MUT will have 18 anti-doping tests in 2020. This budget is a separate budget ($1700 per test) from our MUT operating budget. Focus will be on national championship races and selection races. All websites for our MUT national championships and selection races will contain language indicating the possibility for drug testing. Currently there is no money allocated for MUT out of competition testing.

Updates from national office: 2020 – no budget cuts to MUT budget from 2019. Dues – have not increased in 12 years. Adding transaction fees to the online membership registration is an option. The council members present had no issues with the additional cost to membership.

Partnership potential: Jean Pommier asked if there is documentation/education on how to apply for a USATF championship bid. Mark Gilligan is willing to offer an avenue through ultrasignup.com.

The Grand Sierra Resort and Casino – venue for the 2020 & 2021 USATF Annual Meetings.

Richard Bolt provided a report on social media. Twitter accounts – @USAultrarunning is now managed by Tracy Outlaw. @usmrt is now US Mountain & Trail Running and is our primary Twitter account for all un-paved championships, news and teams. How we use them – useful for liaisons and staff at national championships. Coordinate with RD, event, and events social media accounts. All are intended to promote athletes and events, as well as to post to Trail News section on the American Trail Running Association (ATRA) website and to their 3 social media channels (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook). Brands involved with ATRA are very supportive. Need better coordination with the various USATF association accounts.

Fundraising for MUT Teams: Trail Butter (support for mountain teams – $5/jar of special RWB tribute blend goes to the team via American Trail Running Association – ATRA), Ellen Miller raises funds through the Vail Mountain Winter Uphill, Fred Ross raises funds for the mountain team through New England Uphill Mountain Running Series, Allie MacLaughlin raises funds through MUT Wild and T-shirt and hoodie sales. Howard Nippert raises funds for the 24 Hours Team through the sale of custom, hand-made ice bandanas. Mountain running team was fully funded (seniors and staff) for the world mountain champs in Argentina due to these fundraisers’ support. Ice bandanas – Howard started these a few years ago – great for ultra runners.

Honors: MUT had 4 USATF athletes of the week during the year – anyone can submit a nominee any time to communications@usatf.org.

USATF MUT Runners of the Year (ROY) & Contributor of the Year: 17 award categories – 4 divisions MF masters open trail open. 31 voted, the most in recent memory. A list of the winners can be found on trailrunner.com.

Process for the ROY: Awards have been going on for at least 20 years (in various iterations to add more categories over the years). May need to revamp – so many categories. Quantity of awards may need to go down. Many ideas floating around to make it simpler. Maybe go down to one for each category, MF, figure out the age groups.

Generally consensus is to make fewer awards available. Mark Gilligan offered to help with his website by adding a box for USATF membership. He is willing to cooperate to help with runner of the year efforts.

Nancy Hobbs presents awards to Camille Herron, Grayson Murphy and Meghan Laws.

LDR Division Chairperson Mike Scott introduced. MUT expressed concerns to Mike regarding reimbursements, which have taken far too long. USATF is working on a turn around of no more than 45 days from submission. Spoke at length the value or lack thereof for RDs to put on a championship races. Road races are losing numbers, but trail running is growing. How can we partner with the RDs to really support them and help them grow.

Nancy – how do we get all the associations to have MUT division (asking Mike Scott). Also how do we USATF staff and board members to come to MUT national and world champs? Get them more involved. Also how do we get MUT recognized at the USATF national conference for all their awards (in the opening general session remarks by senior staff).

Mike – what can we flex on when awarding championship races that will attract more race directors – can we let go of prize money for masters, for example. Also, ask individual associations or find races that look like that might be good. Help them make the bid process not so intimidating.

Peter Maksimow made a motion to recess, Lin Gentling seconded the motion. Approved.

Mark Gilligan accepts an award from the Nancy Hobbs on behalf of the Broken Arrow Skyrace.

Session Two – Saturday, December 7 – 9AM to 11:50AM

Broken Arrow Skyrace – served as a US team selection race for the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships and a WMRA World Cup race. On behalf of the World Mountain Running Association, Nancy presented a plaque to Mark Gilligan, who would in turn present to the race directors of Broken Arrow.

Selection criteria for some of the teams: Recap by Richard from an ad hoc gathering yesterday. Addie Bracy, Andy Wacker, Grayson Murphy, and Camille Heron were there as athletes. Feedback on world champ team selection process. Work in progress always. Evolution is always based on many factors. Trail World Championships (IAU/ITRA) is going away next year, but in 2021 it will join the mountain world champs long and classic courses for a joint World Athletics Mountain & Trail Running Championship. How do we reshape the selection process? Athlete engagement is important. Past national team athletes can spread the word and engage more MUT US athletes to get involved.

Team Reports: Richard’s summary of Portugal for Trail World Championships. Race was a 44k (originally anticipated 50k when bid), followed rules set by IAU and ITRA. The US did not field a full team of 6 men and 6 women. It was a very competitive race with many countries sending their best athlete. There were no US medals.

Lin Gentling reported on the IAU 50 km World Championships held in Brasov, Romania on Sept 1, 2019. The women came in 2nd, our best runner placed 5th. Lin reached out to marathoners who may be OTQ for the team. The men’s team was not as successful but did well. The 2021 50K world championship will be in Taipei, Taiwan on October 31st.

The 2020 100k world championships will be in Winschoten, The Netherlands, on September 12th. The national 100K championship will be at Mad City, WI (April 18). This is a selection race with the winning male and female named to the team.

Encourage races to secure an IAU label, which will give athlete teams better travel grants. It is just paper work, easy to do.

Qualifying time window for the 100k will be 3/15/2019 – 6/14/2020. Exception is the date of the World Championships in Croatia (September 2018). Anyone who ran a qualifying time will be listed in the pool of candidates for the 2020 100K team.

Howard Nippert commented on the IAU 24 Hour World Championships in Albi, France. The women won gold for the 5th time in a row. The men won gold for the 2nd time. Howard elaborated on the top US male and female. Both teams broke the team world 24 hr records. The 2021 event will be in Romania in May.

Tracy Outlaw started the US 24 hour team website in 2015, and had over 11k followers during the 24 hr world championship race.

Terry Lovely from the national office was introduced: Terry has responsibility for team logistics, uniforms, and is the MUT USATF staff liaison person.

Team USA at the World Mountain Running Championships in Argentina.

Andy Wacker and and Grayson Murphy commented on the World Mountain Running Championships. The event combined 2 world championship races into one weekend in Argentina (November 16-17). The 14k (classic) and marathon for the long distance were run along with a junior championship 8k event. The US won the individual classic male and female races, as well as the long distance male event. The male long distance team took the silver. The juniors performed really well, though no medals.

Richard described what he learned from the Italian teams. They have a $250,000+ budget and great support staff, and their results show that effort. Much discussion on the youth development programs which are intended to serve as a feeder system to the senior teams. Reaching out to post collegiate athletes is also a great option to gain interest in the trail running opportunities.

Uniforms for 2020 will be the same as 2016 (this quad). The new uniforms start in 2021.

Duffy Mahoney introduced: His role is the liaison from the national office to our council. He explained all of his liaison commitments of which there are many. He and his staff handle reimbursements which involves a lot of paperwork. Because of legal requirements (IRS,contracts, w9, etc.), the USATF finance department has really grown. As a MUT national championship liaison, you get reimbursed for travel, lodging, and meals. He explained a cash flow issue occasionally will trigger a delay in team and liaison reimbursements.

Moving forward into the future, some of the travel expenses will be covered up front before athletes even go to the championships. This will pertain to the mountain and trail teams beginning in 2021 as they will be taken under the World Athletics umbrella. USATF will process these teams as any other official World Athletics team with full status and benefits, etc.

Trainers will be employed by USATF (5 of them) to be available to elite athletes in their zones. The medical staff vetting requirements will be more rigorous. At this time, this does not apply to MUT teams because we’re not categorized as a high performance (Olympic) sport.

Athlete wellness and safety is very high on the agenda and is going to be implemented in the near future.

Joseph Gray won the 2019 World Mountain Running Championships.

Steve Taylor for Collegiate Running Association introduced: A non profit organization. All the events offer prize money to anyone who has taken a college course within a specific time frame. Mountain team members have benefitted from this. 14k members nationwide. On May 7, 2020, the collegiate championships will be held in Athens, Ohio. Collegiaterunning.org. Anybody can join! FREE. To be eligible for prize money in these events, the athletes need to be currently enrolled in at least one college credit course. The reason is to incentivize people to keep up their education, or obtain a degree.

MUT encourages all council members and followers to become members of the CRA.

USATF MUT Championships bid for 2021-22: The 50k road bid for 2021-22 was presented by Carl Grossbard. Caumsett has had this race for 15 years. Roy moved that we accept the bid, Lin seconded, approved.

Growing MUT at the association level: There was some discussion and clarification regarding what is a mountain vs trail event. Elevation is what determines if it is a mountain. It is hoped with this clarification, more associations can be interested in a MUT relationship even if there is little elevation in an association geographical area.

Motion to recess by Roy, seconded and approved.

Did you ever wonder where USATF gets its money? It’s not all coming from Nike.

Session Three – Saturday, December 7 – 2:00PM – 3:50PM

Awards: There was discussion regarding junior awards at championship events, specifically can we get a collegiate running grouping as their own category at a USATF championship. This cannot happen without a rule change. The NAIA is in favor of adding sports as it increase the number of participants. Next year is a rules year. Unlikely there will be any mergers with the NCAA and USATF.

World Mountain Running Championships November 14-15, 2020 in Lanzarote, Spain. Both distances (classic and long). WMRA is discussing the distances and if there will be some down to reach the distance.

There are two bids for the USATF mountain championships for 2020. Ian Golden at Whiteface Mountain, NY, on July 18 and Mount Hood, Oregon, from Go Beyond Racing on August 16. This will be decided by the MUT executive committee on their December conference call.

Some considerations for the mountain national championships include separate gender start, easy of getting to the venue, prize money, the national championship course mirroring the 2020 world championship course, the date and timing of national event in relationship to the World Championship, home stays or lodgings, support for liaisons, and complimentary entries to elites. The 2020 national mountain championship will serve as a selection race. All 2019 USA world champions will have an auto entry into the 2020 mountain world championships.

Andy Wacker spoke on the Mt Hood bid. He stated that previous mountain championships have been east coast centric, so he would like to move it to the west coast. The venue is easy to get to easy, good prize money ($5,000 or more from Nike trail), the course is a good comparison to the 202 world championship course, and there is good history with this race as it has been in existence for a long time race (Gnar Gnar, as is Whiteface Mountain race). Additionally there will be a lift available for spectators and runners to come down. The timing (August) is good for the world championships.

Richard Bolt spoke on the Lake Placid bid. This race has also been in existence for several years and has hosted the national champs previously. It’s harder to get to and more expensive. There have been fewer east coast athletes making the team in the last 3 years. Lake Placid is an Olympic own having been the site of 2 previous winter Olympic games. The race course is close to Lake Placid. There is an Ironman one week later. Great infrastructure.

2019 World Mountain Running Champion Grayson Murphy.

WMRA meetings will be held in January in Monaco and will shed more light on the actual world championships’ course for the classic distance.

The decision on the USATF Mountain Championships will be made by the executive committee later this month.

Liaisons and other Championships: We typically have 1- 2 liaisons at the championships. Usually no national office members present. So we do all the medals, banners, social media, etc.

USATF MUT National Championship races for 2020 (incomplete – a full list will be published this month in a separate announcement):

  • Jackpot 100 Mile Road on February 14-15 – Henderson NV
  • Caumsett 50k Road (venue changed for this year only to another park on Long Island) March 1 – Long Island, NY
  • Single Track 50 Mile Trail Pioneer Spirit on March 14 – Auburn, CA
  • Mad City 100k on April 18 – Madison, WI
  • Ragged Mountain 50k Trail on August 9 – Sunapee, NH
  • 24 Hours at North Coast in September (TBA date) – Edgewater Park, OH
  • Half Marathon Trail at the Birkie Trail Fest on September 26 – Cable, WI
  • Moab Trail Marathon on November 7 – Moab, UT
  • Brazos Bend 100 Mile Trail on December 4-5 – Needville, TX

Room consensus is to not have the 100k trail championships in March (original date was March 21). Calendar would be too crowded in March to add another championship. Events may be competing for athletes. Would consider the event if it moved to another time of the year.

Nancy accepts Carl’s bid package for the 2021-22 USATF 50 km Road Championships.

2021 championship bids: Caumsett 50K awarded for 2021-22 USATF 50 km Road Championships. 100 Mile Road at Jackpot awarded

World Masters Athletics Brian Keaveny introduced: Masters Mountain Running Championships was in Gagliano del Capo, Italy in August 2019. Next year in Austria September 4-6. World 100k road in Winschoten in 2020 (concurrent with the World 100km Road Championships).

Trail maintenance discussion: Peter – “plogging” picking up trash while why you’re running. Pikes Peak Ploggers. Take photos and post. Some information on plogging.

Jack Wickens introduced: Vice chair of USATF Foundation and helps get grants for athletes. Mostly for Track & Field. Athlete biz – non profit, donor funded. Can help you make a website. Fundraising. Career support transitioning from running to a real job. Any MUT member can take advantage. Donors can earmark the money to whatever group they want and the athletes get 95% of the money.

Strategic planning: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) is to be conducted with input provided to national office by the end of January. Free wheeling – each person do there own SWOT and then see what you have in common. Tool will be used to create goals with a road map to achieve them. We turn our results/input into Mike Scott.

Staff training for the following year will be necessary for all mountain and trail championship staff. Thus, we will most likely schedule our 2020 MUT meetings for Friday morning and afternoon and then Saturday after the staff training.

Peter moved to adjourn at 3:52 George Leaf seconded, approved

Nancy giving her MUT Council summary at the closing session.

Next meeting: TBD precise times. Reno, Nevada December 4-5, 2020. Future USATF annual meetings in Orlando, FL December 2021 and 2022

NEWS: Vin Lananna is back as acting president of USA Track & Field.

Thank you to Meghan Laws for transcribing the minutes as acting secretary for these meetings.

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