What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?

- Henry David Thoreau



Aug 29, 2013

Launch of the International Trail Running Association in Chamonix



Gaël Couturier

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
More on www.i-tra.org
Place: Chamonix, France

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Jul 10, 2018

The 2018 Whitewater Awards: Nouria Newman and Benny Marr take the spoils.

The Whitewater Awards is a gathering of the world’s best kayakers to show off the biggest and best things that have happened in the sport over the past year.



Brooke Hess

 To be considered for an award, athletes, photographers, and filmmakers submit media taken over the past year that they believe showcases the best progression in the sport.  

There are sixteen different categories for submission, including separate male and female categories within the “Best of” kayaking categories. Categories include Photographer of the Year, Film of the Year, Expedition of the Year, Best Trick, Best Line, River Stewardship, Grom of the Year, Rider of the Year, along with several others.  Awards are decided upon by a voting process done by the Association of Whitewater Professionals.

This year’s Whitewater Awards was held in the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise, Idaho. It was hosted on June 14th, the same weekend as the North Fork Championships, which takes place on the North Fork of the Payette River just outside of Boise.  The North Fork Championship is regarded as one of the hardest kayaking races in the world.

The race takes place on Jacob’s Ladder rapid, which is a rapid so difficult and consequential that most kayakers feel accomplished simply by surviving the rapid, much less racing the rapid. Nouria Newman, a 3-time NFC racer and winner of this year’s Whitewater Awards Female Rider of the Year describes it well,

“The NFC is the hardest race in whitewater kayaking. [Jacob’s Ladder] is a scary, consequential rapid. Running it is challenging, and it only gets harder to race it and make the gates.”

In order to minimize the risk involved in the race, event organizers have developed a strict qualification process for racers. 30 racers will qualify to race Jacob’s Ladder. Ten of them are pre-qualified from placing top ten at the event the year before. Those ten then read numerous athlete applications and vote on the next ten racers who will join them.  The last ten racers are decided through a qualification race on S-Turn rapid, another one of the North Fork’s infamous class V rapids.

Every year on this same weekend in June, kayakers, photographers, and filmmakers from around the world flock to Idaho to celebrate quality whitewater, progression of the sport, and the community that surrounds it. Both the North Fork Championship and the Whitewater Awards had great turnouts of athletes and spectators this year.

John Webster

The finalists of each category in the Whitewater Awards were presented in film format at the Egyptian Theater for the entire audience to view, with the winner being announced live. Winners were presented with an award and expected to give a short speech at the event. The big winners of the night were Nouria Newman and Benny Marr, who were awarded with Line of the Year and Rider of the Year in the female and male categories. Nouria says that voting for the “best” in each category is a challenging process, “…voting is always tricky, (look at both French and U.S. presidents, not too sure if they are really the best available option). And it is also very hard to compare lines and rapids. What’s bigger? What’s harder? I got voted Best Line of the Year with a good line down Parque Jurassic, a long technical rapid, but Rata’s line down Graceland, which is a huge slide, was equally as good, if not better.”

No matter how tricky the voting process can be, Nouria agrees that the Whitewater Awards plays a large role in the progression of the sport, “I think it’s super cool to see what people can do in their kayak, how they push the limit of the sport and how they open new possibilities.”

For more information about the Whitewater Awards, you can visit whitewaterawards.com, you can also follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.

You can follow Nouria on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You can follow Benny on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover photo courtesy of Ari Walker

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