Aug 29, 2013

Launch of the International Trail Running Association in Chamonix



Gaël Couturier

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With the growth of trail running as a sport and following talks between various outdoor industry players, international ultra runners announced the launch of the ITRA in Chamonix, France

In the build-up to the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), 2013 here at Chamonix yesterday, top-notch athletes and industry figures from the trail running fraternity announced the launch of an industry body for trail-running, which till now did not have such strong association for issues related to the sport. At the ongoing UTMB expo (August 27-30, 2013), they explained their agenda and ITRA’s role.
I feel that this association is of great use for all the trail runners around the world. Of course it’s a work in progress, but this launch commands attention. Today, the main goal of ITRA is to collect all the stars of the trail running scene (elite or anonymous), race organizers and even brand managers, around shared values and principles. By doing so, the ITRA will finally answer key questions raised as the sport has grown exponentially in the past five or six years.
Traditionally trail running hasn’t seen the same kind of funding or prize monies as other sports, but this may be about to change. “We understand that it’s not at all controversial to introduce ‘prize money’ in trail running, for a start”, said Michel Poletti, the newly elected Director of ITRA. Mr Poletti is also the creator and owner of The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, that groups four unique races- La Petite Trotte à Léon (PTL), Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS), Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix (CCC) and the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. “We’re not saying all race organizers should give away money, because we don’t want to impose it on anyone, but we’ll be there to make sure that in case one chooses to do so, men and women receive equal treatment, which means the same amount of prize money”, he said.
That’s one among the many ITRA plans for its new policies, but they have many other interesting ideas. One of them is of setting realistic and easy-to-use health and anti-doping policies for race organizers. Another one is about offering a pacer/non-pacer (forbidden in most places around the world, except the USA where it’s not only legal but also recommended on some very remote – and dangerous – trail races). Finally, one of the most most notable actions that ITRA is taking is to establish an international ranking for all trail runners participating in events worldwide.
I’m still trying to figure out how it works and what my ranking means! Having said that, if I’m in there, you could be there too! I’ll keep you updated on what ITRA does here.
Stay tuned trailers!
Image © The Outdoor Journal
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Place: Chamonix, France