Looking into 2021…. trail running and events

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……

Your thoughts…….?

Where should we take trail running in 2021……?

DNT 2020 – quick race report

The first to be canceled and the last big one for 2020, that’s what happened to DNT this year on the KZNTR calendar. It was virtually all systems go the week ahead of the event when the State of Disaster was announced in March, so to go out there on 5 December and have the event go off really well was a brilliant way to see off the last “big” race for 2020. Being part of the MMS it also gave us an opportunity to touch base with lots of those looking at taking on the 2021 challenge of running at least 4 of the 8 MMS 2021 races.

In the week leading up to the race we were all feeling a little on edge about the event. The weather was forecasted to be interesting and a few things were not running as smoothly as we may have wanted them to be. But it’s often better to be a little on edge and not overconfident in the build-up to a race. Literally the moment we gathered as a full at the Race Village on Friday morning we relaxed and everything flowed. Beautifully. We were waiting and ready for the storm, but instead the sun came out and shone on us.

Here are some of our thoughts coming out of DNT2020:

  • 40km is a really great distance to run in a day in the mountains for fit person
  • So is 21km a great distance for those who don’t want to be out there for most of the day, but are still quite fit.
  • If you are not fit then 10km and 5km are better distances to go for
  • Good Vibes are important throughout
  • Supportive community is important
  • This race is a rough, unmanicured mountain trail
  • Compulsory kit is very important
  • Ginger beer and eggs are great at an Aid Station
  • Rocks can be very slippery when wet
  • Don’t miss cut-offs

When it came to the racing side of things there were strong fields in both the men’s and the women’s field on the Marathon Distance which made for exciting racing. Check out the results here: https://drakensbergnortherntrail.co.za/results-page/

There has been some very cool media coming out from the race including this video by Hendrik Steytler: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0ZHhgZ2O48

Relive the race on the DNT FB page here: https://web.facebook.com/draknorthtrail

There were no major incidents, only a few small and minor injuries.

Entries for the 2021 event on 27 March 2021 already filling up. Hope to see you there in a little over 3 months. It’s going to be a little weird being back so soon, but why not…? Visit the DNT page on this website for more info….