The World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) held its annual council meeting January 11-13, 2013. The three-days of meetings for the nine-member council were held at the Marriott hotel located on the Riviera, La Porte de Monaco.
The first two days of meetings dealt with the many programs which the WMRA oversees to include the signature event, the World Mountain Running Championships which celebrates its 29th running on September 8, 2013 in Poland.
More than 40 countries are expected at this annual event including Team USA who hope to repeat their senior women’s gold medal finish from 2012, and to better the fourth place performance by the senior men. In addition to fielding a senior team the U.S. will also field a junior team comprised of athletes ages 16-19
Planning for the World Championships is well underway by the Polish organizers according to WMRA council member and technical delegate to the event Wolfgang Munzel. “I have visited this place and some changes will be made to the course so that it is in line with our established rules for ascent and descent,” said Munzel. “I will return to the venue in late March or early April when the snow is gone to work with the race organizers to finalize the course.”
One week prior to the World Mountain Running Championships, the World Masters Mountain Running Championships will be held. The Czech Republic will host the 13th edition of this popular event which is open to athletes ages 35-79. The 2014 Masters Championships were awarded to Telfes, Austria, to be held on September 6.
Another event on the WMRA calendar is the World Long Distance Challenge. This year’s event will be held on August 3, in Szklarska Poreba, Poland over a 44-kilometer course. More than 1000 athletes are expected to participate in both individual and team competition. In 2012, the USA won the team gold medal for women and the team silver for men.
The WMRA also oversees a grand prix series. This year’s schedule was confirmed in Monaco to include six events. In addition to the World Mountain Running Championships, the other events in the series include the opening event on June 2, the 33rd International Montee Du Grand-Ballon in Willer-Sur-Thur, France; the 3rd Castle Mountain Race in Arco/Trento, Italy on July 21; the 15th Grintovec Mountain Race in Kamnik, Slovenia on July 28; the 5th Asitzgipfel Mountain Race in Leogang, Austria on September 15; and the final race, the 34th Smarna Gora Race in Llubjana, Slovenia on October 5. Athletes score points through the series with the best of four to count in the final standings. Approximately $20,000 in prize money will be distributed among the top finishers in the series.
There is also an event in the WMRA portfolio for junior athletes ages 16-17. The 8th WMRA International Youth Cup was awarded to the French Athletics Federation to be held on July 7, at Gap (Hautes Alpes), France. The boys’ course will be 5km and the girls will run 3km.
During the final day of meetings, the definition of mountain running dominated the agenda. The topic was discussed at length which resulted in the development of proposed language for a new rule to appear in the IAAF rule book.
It was agreed by the Council that there are extreme variations in conditions in which Mountain running is practiced worldwide. The difference between very successful and unsuccessful events often lies in the natural characteristics of the venue and the abilities of the course designer. The proposed rule from the WMRA Council is intended as a guide and incentive to assist countries to further develop Mountain running. Guidelines are included to support worldwide race directors in the organization and logistics of their events.
The proposed rule will be forwarded to the IAAF for consideration with hopes for final approval by their Congress in August 2013. The rule would then appear in the IAAF rule book.
For more news from the WMRA visit their website at www.wmra.info.
Story by Nancy Hobbs – Executive Director – American Trail Running Association