Thailand to host inaugural mountain and trail running championship

Chiang Mai, Thailand will host the inaugural World Mountain & Trail Running Championships on 11-14 November 2021. It will feature 40KM and 80KM trail races, classic mountain races for Seniors and Juniors, and a vertical uphill race. World Athletics President Sebastian Coe: “we encourage runners of all kinds to explore everything our sport has to offer”. 

The First Edition of the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships (WMTRC) will be held 11-14 November 2021, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Over the four days, the action-packed championships program will include vertical uphill mountain races, short and long trail races for senior athletes and the classic mountain races for both seniors and juniors.

Situated 700km north of Bangkok, on the banks of the Ping River, Chiang Mai offers the unforgettable scenery of the most beautiful and the largest tourist spot in the northern part of Thailand. The mountainous surroundings and the city’s growing reputation for outdoors mass sporting events make it the perfect place to host the first-ever combined World Championships.

 This new biennial event further develops the partnership between the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA), the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) and the International Trail Running Association (ITRA), with support from World Athletics.

Building on the creation of a single definition for mountain and trail running within the athletics family, it replaces the successful separate World Championships held respectively by WMRA and IAU/ITRA. This new global festival is designed to attract the best elite trail and mountain runners, as well as provide opportunities for mass participation runners to test themselves on the same courses. It is an exciting development that aims to provide athletes, brands, athletics associations, media and fans of the sport with a clear, recognizable product in the global calendar of this burgeoning running discipline.

Minister of Tourism and Sport of Thailand, Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, said: “I am delighted that the Tourism Authority of Thailand under the Ministry of Tourism and Sport is ready to support and to be a part of the 1st edition of the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships. We are looking forward to being able to host athletes and countries from all over the world for what we believe will be a special event that will showcase the best of Chiang Mai and mountain and trail running, I would like to thank you for giving us this opportunity to host such a new and exciting world class event.”

Deputy Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Thapanee Kiatphaibool said: “We would like to use ‘Amazing Thailand’ as the naming of this event. Amazing Thailand has always been associated with Major Sports events in our country. We are proud to be a part of WMTRC2021 and hope that the world-class event will attract thousands of competitors and families to join us as we believe that this event will be one of the most unforgettable in The Land of Smiles, Thailand“.

Welcoming the announcement, Presidents of the WMRA, IAU, and ITRA – Jonathan Wyatt, Nadeem Khan, and Bob Crowley said: “We are delighted to be able to end such a difficult year as 2020 with the announcement of our first-ever joint mountain and trail world championships. Chiang Mai has a growing reputation for hosting quality off road running events, and we are sure it will provide excellent courses to enable the best runners to test themselves against one another. Working with World Athletics, we know that mountain and trail running has a massive part to play in getting more people physically active, and we look forward to working with the local organizing committee to develop a truly global festival of running for both elite and mass runners”.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said:“The announcement reflects the common interests and growing collaboration of our four organizations, who share the ambition of promoting running in all its guises. Our closer ties will create more opportunities for distance runners to compete in varying environments and take on different challenges, whether it be in the spectacular natural settings that mountain and trail events offer, or in more traditional events on the road or the track. That versatility and range of opportunities are one of running’s great attractions and we encourage runners of all kinds to explore everything our sport has to offer.”

The event schedule will be:
Friday 12th November – 40km trail race, followed by the vertical uphill races in the evening
Saturday 13th November – 80km trail race
Sunday 14th November – Classic up and down mountain races for seniors and juniors
Plus mass participation events, expo and running clinics

All races will be held under World Athletics Technical Rules, with the final details of the course to be confirmed in early 2021:

RaceDistanceAscentDescent
Vertical uphill3 – 6 km1000m 
Classic up and down senior10 – 12 km500 – 700m500 – 700m
Classic up and down junior5 – 6 km250 – 350m250 – 350m
Short trail senior35 – 45 kmITRA factor 45 – 74 
Long trail senior75 – 85 kmITRA factor 115 – 154