EDITORS NOTE: ATRA Executive Director Nancy Hobbs is treasurer of the World Mountain Running Association. ATRA Director of Online Marketing Richard Bolt is US delegate to the WMRA Congress and manages social media for the WMRA. With support from the rest of the US Mountain Running Team staff, USATF Mountain, Ultra & Trail Running Council and athletes of our sport, Nancy & Richard lobbied Congress member countries to approve the equal distance & team size proposal.
World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) Congress Summary
The WMRA Congress, which is comprised of delegates from the WMRA-member nations, met on Saturday, September 10, in Sapareva Banya, Bulgaria during the 32nd World Mountain Running Championships. The meeting focused on WMRA’s activities of the past year and updates from the prior day’s WMRA Council meeting were presented. Additionally, amendments to the WMRA Constitution were addressed and as were approvals to the World Championships regulations.
President Bruno Gozzelino opened the meeting and introduced individuals on the dais including IAAF representative Carlos Cardoso, representatives from the Bulgarian Athletics Federation, the WMRA Council, and local dignitaries, several of whom gave welcoming speeches.
The roll call was taken resulting in 28 delegations present at the meeting eligible to vote. Delegates representing AUT, BEL, and USA were appointed as scrutinizers. Minutes from the 2015 Congress meeting in Llandudno, GBR were approved, and reports from Council members were brief as written documents were included in all delegate packets.
Treasurer Nancy Hobbs provided a review of the 2015 finances and reported that the accounts held by the WMRA in Europe and USA were reconciled. Related to the finances, the goal of the council was to increase the reserves after realizing a deficit in both 2013 and 2014. This goal has been achieved with the WMRA reporting reserves of $20,000 at the end of 2015, with income at $88,590 and expenses at $67,816. Savings were realized in Council member travel, disbursement of travel grants, newsletter production and mailing.
The financial health of the WMRA is positive, and the budget in 2017 will include a return of $10,000 in prize money to the World Cup and an upgrade of the WMRA website. A report of the 2016 financials will be provided as per the WMRA Constitution at the 2017 Congress meeting.
Discussion regarding proposals by the Council to amend the World Championships regulations saw many of the delegates providing input. Sarah Rowell (GBR) commended the body for addressing equality, but suggested that the proposal of 5km for juniors with +-10% (ie: 100m/km ascent/descent) and 10km for seniors with 10km +- 10% be changed to 5-6km for juniors and 10-12km for the seniors with 10% climb. There was discussion on both sides of the issue from ITA, MLT, ISR, CAN, USA, AUT, NZL, TUR, and AUS. Some comments suggested that coaching strength is different from men and women and that a shorter race for men would be too easy, for women too hard. The comparative gender equality, which has been realized in Cross Country was a topic of conversation. From Cardosa, in 2017, the senior men and senior women will run the same distance in Cross Country. The distance was 12km and 8km, now it will be in March 2017 10km for each.
From AUT, the top women want to know how close they are to the men by comparing their effort and time over the same distance. From the USA, it was indicated that our discipline has been criticized for its inequality by our trail and Skyrunning counterparts, which have equality measures in place. With those disciplines having equality, it was noted that it is hard to defend why we are running unequal distances.
At the end of the discussions, three clear principles were considered for approval to include equality in distance for men and women; the actual distance for the seniors and juniors, and the elevation aspect. Italy and Israel were against equal distance, all others in favor.
On the second question GBR proposed 10-12km for seniors and 5-6km for juniors six against. Passed by the Congress with six against. Regarding elevation, the proposal was for 100 meters of gain per kilometer. This question also passed with five against.
On the proposal of equal team size, four to run for each category with three to score, passed unanimously as did the inclusion of an anti-doping statement (We confirm that all athletes will respect and abide by the IAAF anti-doping rules and regulations), and a travel grant disbursement disclaimer (The promised travel grant will not be paid if the entries arrive after the set deadline), on the FEF passed unanimously.
The aforementioned proposals will be in effect in Premana for the 2017 World Championships.
Updates in the Constitution specific to the inclusion of at least one woman on the Council were approved, as were changes to some wording within the document.
Proposals put forth by MLT regarding a small nations championships suggested that countries such as AND, CYP, ICE, LIE, LUX, MLT, MON, Montenegro (not sure of the letters) and SMR could be included. In 2016, SMR organized their national championships and invited MLT to participate. Additional considerations were to include a Relay World Mountain Championships to the calendar, adding a public relations role on the Council, and a larger World Cup ranking system. These are all items that can be formally addressed in the coming year and could be something to look to in future.
The competition program in 2017 was reviewed included a presentation by the LOC in Premana, ITA, who will host the Mountain Championships and Long Distance Championships much earlier than the standard September timeframe, on two consecutive weekends with the former on July 30 and the latter on August 6. The presentation was enthusiastically received.
The other confirmed date in 2017 is the WMA/WMRA Masters Mountain Running Championships to be held on September 2, in Dubnica Nad Vahom, SVK. The Council adopted a change in 2017 for the World Masters competition. For categories 65-70-75, the masters will score two members per age group per country as opposed to three in determining the team competition.
The Youth International Cup has not yet been awarded for 2017. However, two bids were received for the 2018 World Masters with the Council awarding the event to Zelezniki, SLO, on an early June date, over a bid from Gagliano del Capo, ITA. The Council suggested that the ITA bidder consider hosting the 2017 Youth Cup and the 2019 World Masters should the course and venue be approved. Council member Munzel and president Gozzelino will visit the location to do the site review and report back to the Council in January. The LOC in Gagliano del Capo will be working with FIDAL to secure support in this endeavor.
The World Cup program for 2017 is not yet finalized, but will be addressed by the Council in their next meeting.
A request was made to the delegation to provide their calendar dates for national championships to be included on the WMRA website.
Richard Bolt (USA) provided an update on Social media. He reported that followers and engagement are steadily increasing on Facebook and Twitter with Facebook garnering the most engagements. Articles on the WMRA website are cross promoted to our Facebook page and all of the calendar dates have been created as Facebook events on the WMRA Facebook page. The NACAC event received the most amount of interest on our Facebook page so far this year. A request was made to the delegation to engage in social media channels.
Further to promotion, the WMRA Council has published three issues of the WMRA News and requested delegates to provide email addresses if they want to be added to the distribution list.
In regard to trail running, which has been recognized by the IAAF and is defined in Rule 252, the growth of this discipline is understood, but at the same time results in some confusion between what is trail, what is mountain, especially with the distances of the World Long Distance Championships (39km) and Trail Running Championships (50km) similar for 2017. The council will continue to work with the IAAF and other members of the athletics family to navigate the future direction of our disciplines.
The WMRA Council will meet in Monaco during the first quarter of 2017, while the 2017 Congress will be held in Premana, Italy. Next year’s Congress will include elections for the WMRA Council. Both Gozzelino and Weiss have indicated they will not be running for seats on the Council. Candidates for Council positions must submit their nominations from their respective athletics federation.