Monday, October 10, 2005

What is Mountain Running?

So I have my first mountain run behind me. So what is a mountain run, and how does it vary from a normal trail run? Actually I have been wondering this myself so last night I did some surfing. I found the following article at Cool Running:


In the United States, Marathon road racing features huge prize purses, great competition, and extensive media coverage. Trail Racing on the other hand, is quite popular with significant participation numbers, but as a competitive sport, it sometimes seems like a nice, relaxing way to spend a Saturday morning jogging thru the woods.

This is not true in the rest of the world!

All other countries use the term "mountain running" instead of "trail running", indicating the distinction being made, as they do not emphasize "ultra" distances, and instead feature steep, technical, and tight courses, that lend themselves to fun, fast and competitive running that is exciting to watch.

Bernie Boettcher, of Silt CO, just returned from the World Masters Mountain Running Championships in England. He wrote,

"In the USA, trail running is pitifully far behind. These guys (and girls) love to run downhill...and uphill. The depth of good runners [in England]was remarkable to see."


The World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) actually has established rules for a mountain run course:

For a course to be sanctioned by the WMRA it must meet the following rules:

1. The Course for age groups up to and including M50/W50 shall have the following parameters:
Mainly Uphill courses: Approximately 10km and 800m of ascent.
Up/down courses: Approximately 10km and 600m of ascent/descent.

2. The Course for age groups M55/W55 and older shall have the following parameters:
Mainly uphill courses: Approximately 8km and 600m of ascent.
Up/down courses: Approximately 8km and 500m of ascent/descent.

3. Courses must not contain any dangerous sections.

4. Courses must be adequately marked throughout such that complete strangers to the course can follow without difficulty.

5. Courses must have less than 20% of the distance on road.

6. Difficult sections and possible shortcuts must be manned.

7. Guidelines for downhill sections are as follows:
• They must not have rock steps.
• They must not consist of loose rock terrain.
• They must not exceed 30% rate of descent, averaged over each kilometer from the starting point of descent.

8. Drinking and sponging stations must be provided according to IAAF rules.

9. Due regard to mountain ecology and preservation must be observed when planning courses.

10. Courses must be approved by the WMRA delegate.

Great clarification on "mountain running", thanks. Bernie let me post his e-mail here -->

It sounds like mountain running is a very different (and exciting!) thing. All I know is if Bernie got 26th, then those mountain runners are FAST!!!

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