the phılosophy of traıl runnıng
We, the members of the ITRA representing the different components of the trail-running community from the 5 continents,
so as to accompany the major evolutions of our sport and allow the conditions necessary for its future to flourish,
have decided to unite our cultures and passions to bring together our heritage, our visions of trail-running and our values.
These values have driven our initiative because they are the soul of trail-running, a core bond shared by the various players and participants in this discipline’s field, a core bond where authenticity and fair-play take central stage.
In fact, what is trail-running other than an authentic event in open country, without any external props, a marvellous way to offer access to our regions, our footpaths, much like sharing our “homes”?
What better driving-force for trail-running than the organiser’s motivation and desire to welcome runners, like welcoming friends to share something important with them, indeed something essential, where passion, conviviality, a world vision and human relationships are central?
By establishing this ambiance, this framework, by using simple and powerful rules, to which all the players naturally refer we can be sure to spread, for a long time to come, the values of our sport and also explain all that unites us:
“To surpass oneself and explore one’s physical and mental abilities while in contact with beautiful and sometimes harsh natural surroundings.
The pleasure of running, without necessarily focusing on striving for performance, even if this doesn’t prevent one from being proud of one’s final ranking.
The sharing of one’s passion and emotions with other runners and volunteers.
To experience the pride of being a “finisher”.
Mutual help and support to finish and share the emotion of crossing the finishing line together after several hours of effort.
To experience a great moment of conviviality together with all the participants and players involved within an event.
To experience solidarity…
To hear the great champions’ testimonies of respect for the performances of unknown runners…”
The analysis of these comments outlines the foundations of an unwritten culture which have united the players of the trail-running community since its beginning, and which continue to do so while our discipline experiences an ever-increasing popularity.
We wished to formalise these principles in the form of an International Trail-running Charter by defining their underlying values: the aim of this initiative is to share the salient points guiding the behaviour of all the players, whether they be runners, organisers, partners, volunteers, inhabitants or those responsible for the territories and regions that host trail-running events.
To adhere to, promote and implement these ideals is proof of a commitment in favour of a sport experienced as a human adventure, a source of self-fulfilment and sharing.
This Charter is in no way a call for uniformity, nor for standardisation. It leaves each and every individual the freedom to express their attachment to the trail running spirit according to their cultures and sensibilities.
The values of trail-running
Authenticity is the first trail-running value. At its origins, trail-running was born from the runners’ motivation to practise their sport in contact with natural surroundings, so as to experience the beauty of the landscape and to learn to evolve without artifice in an environment that is demanding for both body and spirit. Trail-running is an authentic sport, because it creates a confrontation between the participant and the unspoilt natural environment as a source of inspiration, surpassing oneself, but also one of harmony.
As a social activity, trail running promotes human relationships based on simplicity, conviviality, sharing and respect for differences. The trail-running community gives these authentic values as much importance as those of performance and competition.
In practising trail-running, an activity in open country, humility is a behaviour that is adapted as much to the natural environment as to oneself.
In natural surroundings, it relies upon taking into consideration the existing natural hazards, whatever the relevance and the quality of the measures taken by the organisation of a race to ensure the safety of its participants. Humility, in the face of nature, supposes the capacity to show caution and can go as far as renouncing the race or the envisaged project.
For that which concerns each individual, humility is based on the consciousness and the knowledge of one’s limits so as not to question one’s physical or mental integrity.
As a type of behaviour, humility is an inseparable attitude of listening and learning for better understanding of the principles which govern natural environments or the fundamentals of practising an intensive sport in natural environments.
Fair-play indicates the loyal acceptance of rules, not only to the letter but also in the spirit which presides over their definition.
For the runners, to be fair-play means respecting the race regulations, not cheating, not bending the rules, refusing all forms of doping; but also embodying the human values of trail-running throughout all of their races; mutual aid and solidarity with the other runners, respect for all the players present at the races.
For organisers, respecting fair-play supposes the implementation of the necessary means to fight against “…cheating, bending the rules, doping, …physical and verbal violence …exploitation, unequal opportunities, excessive commercialisation and corruption” (extract from the Council of Europe’s Code of Sports Ethics).
Is in the search for a just balance, based on impartiality and equal opportunity from which each runner should benefit.
The trail-running races are open to all runners. The regulations are conceived so that they apply equally to all concerned. All athletes are subject to the same conditions and they have the same rights and same duties. The measures taken to welcome the top athletes must on no account hamper the participation of the other runners.
It is the responsibility of the organisers to guarantee this principle of equity, to carry out the necessary checks and to offer all the participants the best race conditions possible.
The principle of respect embraces the respect for others, respect for one’s self and respect for the environment.
Respect for others
To respect others, is to understand and accept their differences and it is to act in such a way as to not bother or hamper them. It is equally understanding that the race takes place in surroundings which have their own culture and traditions; it is consequently adopting the necessary “knowledge and understanding” in order to respect the local population, its culture and its customs.
Each runner also agrees to respect all people encountered during the course of the trail, who are also benefiting from the open country at the same time (other trail-runners, hikers, etc.).
Each runner agrees to know and respect the regulations of the race in which they have chosen to participate.
Respect for oneself
The practice of trail-running can entail risks and the search for performance and/or pleasure on no account justifies the distortion of one’s, more or less long term, good health.
Each runner will be particularly vigilant so as not to take any doping product and not to resort to the abusive use of self-medication. They must take care not to exceed their limits to the point of affecting their physical or moral integrity.
Respect for the environment
Races take place in fragile natural environments. All players involved with trail-running races, runners, organisers, partners, accompanying persons make a commitment to protect the natural equilibrium.
Organisers of trail-running races must do all they can to reduce the negative impact linked to the running of their races. They make a commitment by sharing information and making efforts to educate in order to contribute to the general awareness of the natural environment’s fragility.
Each organiser will identify the environmental risks engendered by their event and propose concrete actions to reduce the risks to the minimum. They will encourage the use of public transport or car-sharing and limit, as much as they can, the use of other motorised equipment.
Each runner makes a commitment to adopt the most relevant behaviour to minimize his or her impact on the terrain through which he or she passes.
Together, the members of the trail-running community act as ambassadors for the promotion and conservation of natural environments.
Solidarity is a value that is practised and shared by the inhabitants at the heart of natural regions, which can become hostile, and consequently they need to help each other to progress better together or simply to survive. In the name of the principle of solidarity, each player in the field of trail-running is asked to prioritise going to the aid of anybody in danger or difficulty wherever they are and in whatever circumstance.
In a more global manner, the participants and players in the trail-running field often show solidarity by making a commitment in favour of environmental, social or societal causes or by helping the underprivileged. Trail-running race organisers implement this principle of responsibility by directly supporting charitable actions and sustainable development; numerous participants “run for a cause” to support the projects of their choice.
A “health policy” encompasses all the activities aiming to improve the prevention of medical risks for athletes as well as the protection of their health.
The health policy for runners
For race organizers, the main priority is not having fun or sports but your security and safety as a runner. By using the health space, made available for free by the International Trail-Running Association (ITRA), you will participate in the effort to better your security and make it easier for the organizers.
By completing your profile in the health space, your bib number will be associated to your name. This may seem like the simplest of task but for the health and safety actors on ground, it is very often superbly difficult to know who is who during the race.
You are tired of this medical certificate you always forget the morning of your race… You can save it once for all in your health space.
The health space also allows you to submit the name of the individual, or individuals, that are to be warned in the event of an emergency. It is also organizers and medical teams to have access to information about you allowing a more efficient and quick rescue; for example your blood type, medication that you can be taking or allergies that you can have…
The health space will also be a helpful tool in the respect of the anti-doping rules. Especially, you will be able to declare Therapeutic Use Exemptions. Of course, you can always heal yourself but, like any athlete, you cannot do this in any manner, be it before or after the race.
The health space is also a way to keep an history of all the treatments realised for you by the medical staff of the race but also the results of the blood tests you might do before the race managed by the organisers.
So come on, there is not a second to lose. You just need to sign up for a free account as individual and to access your personal space.
The health policy for organizers
By putting in place a health policy during your event, you will maximize the security of the runners participating and contribute to the ethics of our sport.
ITRA wishes to help race organizers to organize a health policy during their event. This will foster uniform rules and regulations between different races on the topic of health of the participants as well as the sharing of information between race organizers.
Collaborating with the race organizer, ITRA sets up the biomedical analyses (blood and/or urinary and/or capillary) before the start of the race, generally during race bib retrievals. These analyses are most often aimed at “elite” athletes, even if they can potentially concern all participants. If there is abnormal result or on the basis of the data submitted by the participant, a procedure exists which can lead to informing the runner or, eventually, the declaration by the race Jury that he/she cannot participate in the race for medical reasons.
The online platform SHOL (Sport and Health On-Line) allows the organizers, via their Medical Council, to study the data submitted by the runners and then to complete the medical profile of individuals with the onsite collections and analyses.
The other services offered to the organizers through the online SHOL platform include online management of health certificates, runner identification (associating bib number and name), access to a medical history, contact details of the person to communicate with in the event of an emergency…
The ITRA offers event organisers a guide of recommendations, drawn up by the Security Commission, which is made up of doctors, first-aiders, security professionals and race organisers.
Actually, organisers are obliged to have security and rescue plans. For this reason the guide describes all the preventative initiatives intended to prevent accidents and the information to transmit to all the players.
For the rescue section, the guide tables all the human means and materials necessary to help people in distress.
This guide is downloadable and free to view :
DEFINITION OF TRAIL-RUNNING
Trail-running is a pedestrian race open to all, in a natural environment (mountain, desert, forest, plain…) with minimal possible paved or asphalt road (which should not exceed 20% of the total course).
The terrain can vary (dirt road, forest trail, single track…) and the route must be properly marked.
The race is ideally – but not necessarily – in self-sufficiency or semi self-sufficiency (2) and is held in the respect for sporting ethics, loyalty, solidarity and the environment.
Classification of Trail running races
- Trail: Under 42 km
- Trail Ultra Medium (M): 42 km to 69 km
- Trail Ultra Long (L): 70 km to 99 km
- Trail Ultra XLong (XL): 100 km and more