There is absolutely no doubt that 2020 has changed the way we engage with trail running. What is difficult to say right now is exactly how, and what the implications for the future of trail running are…..
So my aim here is to start a bit of a debate on this post. You can comment below. Once your first comment has been approved, then the rest will post immediately. To get this going I am going to write a few of my observations below. Let’s make this constructive.
Before I write out my observations, please note that these are general observations and not aimed at anyone or any organization in particular. There are multiple examples that I am drawing from in general. As mentioned these are merely my personal observations:
- People who didn’t previously venture onto the trail did so after being confined to their homes. In other words, some people actually started trail running because of lockdown. Big plus!
- New groups and new trail running areas formed. It was awesome to see people getting creative and even cutting their own “neighborhood” trails.
- Probably the most interesting development was that of SAAMES (South African Association for Mountain Endurance Sport). Like many other less formal sports and recreational activities to get back up and running after lockdown, formal permissions were needed from the government which could only be attained through sporting and recreational bodies. A plethora of associations was established this year across many industries. SAAMES was successful in being recognized by the Department of Sport and having covid operational procedures approved.
- Most events that took place had smaller numbers. Probably because a fair percentage of participants are still avoiding getting out because of the risk of exposure.
- Events still have a long way to go – losses from 2020 need to be recouped in the long run, many entrants have already paid for entries in 2021 as a roll over from 2020.
- New events are coming to the fore as people look to new income streams.
- ASA continues to try and claim trail running as a sport that can only be run through their association, but SAAMES clearly sees this differently.
Trail running has an edge to it that is wild and free and will never be tamed or controlled. But in order to enjoy our sport in the form of events and guided excursions, a level of oversight and responsibility is needed to be lawful and responsible towards participants. There was a time, prior to the 2010 Soccer World Cup, when events did not need police and municipal permissions to take place. It took a few years for trail events to latch onto this, and many still take place without everything in place. When covid is well and truly over, or maybe I should say when regulations are relaxed back to “normal”, we are likely to see an even greater number of events.
Maybe this will happen in 2021? Who knows? The presidents most recent speech gave us confidence that we won’t go into another hard lockdown, but we can expect numbers to remain limited for some time……
Where should we take trail running in 2021……?