MOUNTAIN RUNNING HISTORY (1984-2019) AND FUTURE, BY JONATHAN WYATT. President WMRA & World Champion

 

This interview with Jonathan Wyatt as WMRA president is the latest feature in our MOUNTAIN RUNNING section. World Mountain Running Association created back in 1984 the very first trail running international World Championships, which are holding in 2019 its 35th edition at the iconic K42 Patagonia.

 

Also, the World Mountain Running Association holds its 21st World Cup calendar, this 2019 with 7 races, including major events such as Maxi Race Annecy in France, Broken Arrow in USA and Sierre Zinal in Switzerland. Let us learn on the history and future of Mountain Running in this interview with Jonathan by Mayayo, held at the recent Lavaredo Ultra trail.

 

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MOUNTAIN RUNNING HISTORTY 1984-2019 AND FUTURE. 

Interview with WMRA President Jonathan Wyatt at Lavaredo Ultra trail by Mayayo. 

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Good morning, Mr. Jonathan Wyatt president of the world mountain running Association and quite the veteran runner, having been up to 6 times World champion of the very same Association. ¿Now,being back to Lavaredo ultra trail how does it feel to be on the other side of the race, as head of the officers rather than as a runner?

Yeah. Look, it’s certainly a big change, of course. You know, when you’re an athlete it’s kind of easy, too easy to criticize, and easy to say how well you know how things ought to be better. But then, I always knew that if you want to say things like that you should also experience both positions, to be fair. And look, I’ve had so many good years of racing and running as an athlete that I thought that being on the other side of the bib, was at least something that i should do to give something back to the sport, try and help the sport develop and really encourage people to do something that I’ve just loved to do for so many years

Being the president of the world mountain running Association is in fact a volunteer position, with no salary attached. We all know that WMRA is the pioneering entity for this sport, having held the first mountain running world championship back in 1984, and still going strong this 2019. Plus, also the first World Cup launched 21 years ago and this edition covering seven races. ¿What has happened in this 34 years that makes WMRA different from other later come associations? 

What does it make it different from other associations…….? Yeah, sure. How long have we got? Aside from jokes, you’re exactly right. Our Mountain Running was really the pioneering federation in the off road running sport and right from the very beginning the WMRA had a very close connection to the IAAF and the athletics world. A heritage that we’ve continued throughout all of the years. So nowadays in 2019, when we old a World Championships we have athletes representing their countries sending their countries athletics federations from all over the world, the best Africans, Americans, Europeans…and that’s a really strong point of the world mountain running Association.

For the last 10 years and before I became involved, of course, trail running has really developed strongly and we can really see that the whole global sport has really really grown a lot. As for me as WMRA President, I know that mountain running really needs to engage with more people wanting to try this sport for the first time and really be a part of the development of the entire sport of off road running

WMRA works together with IAAF as its official entity in terms of distances up to the marathon, let us say uphill races,  classic distance 15K up and down races and the long distance up to marathon. In fact, WMRA is holding what might arguably be the most interesting race this year which will be the world championship at K42 in Patagonian where for the first time ever we will have over 40 national teams including top squads such as Spain (Azara García, Sheila Avilés…) Great Britain (Jonathan Albon, Tom Evans…) USA, Peru, Argentina, France, Italy and of course African cracks such as Lucy Murigi or Petro Mamu racing ecach other at a National Park up in Patagonia. ¿Isn´t that a dream come true ?

That’s right, you know. You may tag it with a number of labels, but like you say having even more countries involved this year than ever is incredibly exciting, as well as going to South America, since the traditional kind of center point for the world mountain running has been based in Europe for so long. Yet, at WMRA we really want to be seen as as a global and International Association so to to move to Argentina and Patagonia is super exciting.

Also, for the first time we have both long distance championship (42km) and classic distance (15k) all on one weekend so we will really be able to create a real festival of mountain running. Beyond that, there’s also the mounting running World Cup going on, which as you said is now holding its 21st edition. The World Cup in the beginning was called the Grand Prix, and it was really originatged when a few of the iconic races in Europe decided by themselves to make a series, and then the world mountain running Association said this is a really super good idea let’s let’s make it bigger by working together.

Over the years we’ve really tried to work really closely with with races and really encourage them and the great job that they’re doing and we stay involved to create a series that is exciting for for any athlete to to come and do
well.

 Definitely so. This 29019 including Maxi Race Annecy, Broken Arrow and Sieree Zinal is quite impressive, for sure. What can we tell about mountain running in 2020 and beyond?

In fact, as you 2019-2021 is a real transition time for mountain running and I think it’s super important that we really work with all the different disciplines and sectors of off road running. In 2021 we will hold the first combined “Mountain & Trail running World Championships” under IAAF. Before that,  in 2020 we continue with the WMRA Championships, as a transition to create something really more exciting and then to really try to bring all of the best athletes together in one championship so we really know who is the world champion

Any other service that mountain running is considering now for athletes?

I should first mention the Masters running because this is another area where we’ve really been working hard to encourage veteran runners and to actually have an event really dedicated to them, so every year we do a Masters championships. On the other end for the really young runners we bring in an under 18 championship which is a race to really really bring up the developing runners of the sport in a race event dedicated directly to them.

On the other side, yeah, we’ve got new projects including a ranking and I think we can really use this to develop a really interesting part, plus some kind of licensing and club in an Association system where runners can really get direct benefits from being involved with the WMRA. So it’s early days and there’s a lot to do, yet the idea is coming. Let me add we’re all volunteers at this association, and all passionate about the sport for which we have a lot of ideas, yet there’s only so many hours in the day we can dedicate do it but we really want to do as much as we can

OK well let there be rock for 35 more years at least  We can see it, right in front of us

Jonathan Wyatt-WMRA, Alessio Punzi-IAAF and Michel Poletti-ITRA at Chamonix 2018. (C) IAAF

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MOUNTAIN RUNNING WORLD CUP 2019: CALENDAR

 

The World Mountain Running Association welcomes in some race events that for the first time are involved in Mountain Running (with the WMRA) including the two opening races, the Maxi Race in France (16km race) and the Broken Arrow Sky Race (26km race) in USA.  Maxi Race is known for their long distance trail event above the beautiful lake of Annecy and to further the appeal of a highly successful event they are excited to include a fast Mountain Running event on their programme.

Having a World Cup race outside of the traditional Mountain Running zone of Europe is really important,” stated WMRA president Jonthan Wyatt. “And so to work with the Broken Arrow Skyrace in the USA (Round #2)  is a way to support the Mountain Running community there.  The location is fantastic and it will be great to work together with the Skyrunning folks as well.

Round 3 will take the athletes and the World Cup to Austria and the classic Grossglockner race (awaiting for final confirmation) on the uphill track of 12.7km with Austria’s tallest mountain towering above the finish area racing through a beautiful National Park.  One week later the Snowdon International is a 15.5km up / down historic mountain race in Wales (GBR), a great addition for 2019 which taps into the Fell Running scene there and promises to be a great and unique experience for all runners.

WMRA are very fortunate to be able to continue the work with the Sierre-Zinal (Switzerland) and the iconic 31km trail beneath 5 of the 4000m high mountain peaks.  Here WMRA will team up to have a combined World Cup and Goldentrail Series event on the same race.   “Having the best mountain and trail runners competing together has always been the goal,” said race co-ordinator Valentin Genoud and the WMRA is happy to be able help them with this ambition.

Stage number 6 comes to Italy, a real home for mountain running in general and this year also to one of the most iconic mountains in the Italian Dolomiti Alps.  The unique and spectacular Drei-Zinnen (Tre Cime), where the race finishes beneath this amazing Dolomites background.  An uphill race it helps root the World Cup in the tradition of the sport.

The final stage has a familiar theme for the runners who will be finishing their World Cup season at the Smarna Gora in Slovenia. 10km of fast forest trails and a festival in 2019 to celebrate this races 40th anniversary are sure to make this years’ “race of the falling leaves” something special.

 

Calendar full details:

  • 24 May (start Friday 19h) – Salomon Gore-tex Maxi Race FRANCE, Annecy.  16,5 km  (945 m+ and 990 m-).  Point to point course.
  • 23 June – Broken Arrow Sky Race USA, Squaw Valley.  26km (1550 m+ and 1550 m-). A Loop course.
  • 14 July – Grossglocknerlauf AUSTRIA, Heiligenblut 12,7km (1495 m+ and 370m-). A mainly uphill point to point course.
  • 20 July – Snowdon International Mountain Race WALES, Llanberis 15,5km (995 m+ and 995 m-) on a loop course.
  • 11 August – Sierre Zinal SWITZERLAND, Sierre 31km (2200 m+ and 1100 m-) This is a mainly uphill; point to point course.
  • 14 September – Drei-Zinnenlauf ITALY, Sexten/Sesto 17,5km (1350 m+ and 250 m-). A mainly uphill; point to point track.
  • 12 October – Smarna Gora SLOVENIA, Ljubljana 10,0km (710 m+ and 350 m-).  On a mainly uphill; point to point course.

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MORE ON SKIMO, TRAIL RUNNING AND MOUNTAIN GEAR

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Info by Mayayo for Trailrunningspain