Trail running as Olympic sport?

Let’s talk trail running in the Olympics

If this was an Olympic sport, would that be good or bad for the trail running culture?

How might trail running in the Olympics be structured? 5k? Vertical oriented? 50k?

Would that limit the locations that might bid to host the Olympics?

Summer sport? Winter sport? Both?

Other mind wandering about this hypothetical?

There has been a good deal of chatter about whether the 2024 Olympics will have some kind of ultra format.

I think it would be a very good addition to the Olympics. They are often looking for sports that have reached a critical mass and are continuing to grow.

Really, there is no sport more Olympic than an ultra distance trail race…right?

The original marathon was a trail run…so, why not embrace that history and bring it back.


Thx for the share @davidc - had not heard this. Right on.

Re the buzz article, gotta love the date of that release

“I quit my job and dropped out of college so I could ‘pursue my ultrarunning career’” exclaimed Manny Yong Malles. “Also, my beautiful and smart girlfriend got sick of living out of the back of the pickup truck and left me; this is just the opportunity I’ve been counting on”.


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Love this! and you’re absolutely right – the first “marathon” was not run on a track or a road! Trail is likley the purest expression!

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While I completely agree with every single word of this, I don’t think ultra trail races would be a good choice for the next Olympic Games.

I saw (and experienced) what happened with Spartan races when organizers thought it would be a good idea to have Spartan Races at the Olympic.

In the first few years you only knew your start time. Everything else was intentionally not communicated, and to be honest, this gave the meaning of the whole thing. Then you could download the obstacles. A few years later they shared the actual track before the race. Later on, the distances were pretty accurately measured and communicated. Spartan races were cool and great and sexy when it started. Now it’s just an OCR of many.

In order to compare athletes at the Olympic Games, you will need standardized tracks and standard rules.

Anything standard and anything that can be planned would just kill ultra trail running. It would get too “sterile “ . Ultra running is not only about running (and eating) but it is about solving unexpected problems on the run. Global standards would probably kill the “unexpected “ part of it.


That’s a good point @kris and if you were going to include an ultra trail race in the Olympics, it’d probably have to be 100 miles, which just invites even more opportunity for small discrepancies in each athlete’s experience.

I still think a 100mile trail ultra would be worth including, but those are legitimate issues that you brought up and they would certainly need to be addressed.

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