By Mathias Eichler
Winter, trails, darkness, and all the weather.
Olympia, get ready for a fun and festive holiday treat on the trails of Squaxin Park.
This week has been all about an event the trail and ultra running world has never seen before in that fashion. Initially slated for 2021, and postponed due to COVID, the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Thailand to some feel like ‘another event that’s trying to be a world championship to crown the best trail runners in the world’, but is the only event where runners compete not just for themselves or their sponsors alone, but wear their country’s singlets and colors. Sanctioned by ITRA, the World Mountain Running Association, and the International Association of Ultrarunners athletes from 49 countries race in shorter distance events and compete for medals, and even team medals. It’s worth following as this event feels like a good example of what trail running could look like if it’d become an Olympic sport, with opening ceremony and fireworks. Next year’s event is already announced and is going to happen in October 2023 in Innsbruck, Austria.
The World Mountain and Trail Running Championships has the potential to be a great alternative for trail running fans who are getting a bit fed up ‘the old boys club gatekeeping their favorite trail races’ or folks freaked out by Ironman’s super dominance rolling over our sport. What it is though, is an event for pros. A very traditionally setup structure favoring athletes in the top 5% of runners, not an event for everyday runners to aspire to compete in. Which is fine, if the event creates the a great spectacle and allows us fans to follow along from the proverbial armchair.