The Trail Running Film Festival - Back on Tour for 2024.

The Trail Running Film Festival - Back on Tour for 2024.

Inspired by baseball’s endless rule adjustments Andy Jones-Wilkins suggests some rule changes for ultra running in his column AJW’s Taproom for iRunFar:

An Aid Station Clock

An aid station clock would only punish amateur runners who don’t have a well-oiled pit stop crew. This change would force runners back out onto the course before they are ready. The DNF rate would increase and with that the safety concerns of the runners.

Limited Crew Contact

Limited crew contact is hard to implement as every race is different witha different layout of distance/terrain/aid station access. This also could have a negative effect on safety.

Common Gear Specification Limits

Gear requirements are often already implemented in races that go through remote or possible treacherous terrain to increase safety. Especially in European races this is already the norm. But Europeans complain about this as races that aren’t in technical/remote or dangerous terrain still require you to carry mandatory gear even if the weather doesn’t call for it.

Most of the time rule changes for a sport are considered to increase watchability for spectators. One other big reason is due to safety concerns.

We certainly don’t have to alter rules to make our sport more spectator friendly. There are other mechanisms that could help there, but I kind of like that our sport is a participatory sport and not one for fantasy leagues and hot dog stadiums, for now.

Changing rules to increase safety is always welcome, but often our races are already pretty regulated by the fact that the permits race directors are required to obtain come with lots of stipulations. If people would get seriously hurt the public lands agencies would address this concern. If there’d be regular helicopter rescues at Western States or Cocodona the permitting process would turn into a nightmare very quickly.

Now, implementing rules to make our sport more accessible that would be a welcome change.

  • For example there could be a ratio of how long a runner would be allowed to stay on the course based on distance/elevation/difficulty.
  • A maximum number of crew per runner would be a playing field leveler as not everyone can afford a huge staff of support.
  • I’m also not sure about pacer support. Big races in big terrain in Europe don’t allow pacers, over here it’s considered for safety. Necessary? What would Western States look like without pacers?