How to design a Trail race? – PART 2

How to design a Trail race? – PART 2

13 May 2020 Off By Carlos Ultrarun

Second part of the recently published article (HERE you can read the first part) where I briefly explain how ultra-distance races are designed in extreme locations.

The walking
The new design of any race involves knowing the territory as a local, or better. The better it is known, the more attractive the race will be, since logically it is supposed that we will be able to choose the best places, and for this there are two options, or we are from the area, with which we are supposed to know it or we put ourselves in the hands of a local (or several) to serve as a guide. It is quite normal that some guides are more capable than others, or that their knowledge is limited to very specific areas, so sometimes it may be advisable to hire more than one, depending on how extensive the area we intend to explore.

With a guide, a vehicle (if you can use it) and a quality GPS, what comes now is to explore the area. The more kilometers recorded in the GPS, the better, and the more spectacular the selection the better the race will be.

I also usually record all the points (waypoints) that are necessary to be able to recognize the route that I am taking, and it is important to assess the level of difficulty, since it will be another parameter that we must consider when “mounting” the race. the possibility of taking georeferenced photographs, with the GPS if possible or with a camera that has the system, can also be of great help.

The highlights
Every race has highlights, that are, areas or points of special attraction that we want to include in the course, and these are a perfect way to start setting sections for our new race. The more highlights we get for our race the better. These “pearls” can be not only splendid areas from an aesthetic point of view but culturally or historically interesting.

The normal thing is to go through the area that we have determined for the race as many times as possible and ask everyone what we find. A highlight can appear at any time and in many cases, the local inhabitants tend not to classify them as such, so it is advisable to suggest ideas … waterfalls, cliffs, caves, fountains, bridges, some type of building, particular landscapes. … anything can become a highlight in our race.
Once found, these elements will offer us the skeleton of the race.

The process
Once this skeleton is fixed, almost always the easiest, what we have left is to find the connections that allow us to complete the desired route.
This is normally the most complicated and tedious part of the job, since it involves a greater and more complex search, and the need to adjust these sections to a selected distance and certain terrain characteristics.
The need to adjust the race to parameters of distance, positive unevenness, complexity of the terrain, etc., may even force us to have to dispense with a pearl since it may be too far away, or it may be too difficult to access or pass through it.

Safety factors
There are many factors that we must take into account when sewing the selected race pieces. The number of mountain or desert runners is increasing, perhaps inversely proportional to their experience, which is why organizations are responsible for safeguarding their safety, although the great Spanish Trail Runner, Salvador Calvo, does not think the same way (:-).

For this, when in the final creation of the race there are many elements that we must take into account:

Provisioning points, control points, access of service means, access of rescue means, circulation of means of assistance in the race, danger of specific sections or steps, fauna, road traffic, protection areas, natural parks, nesting, … etc.The setting up of a trail running race, as we have seen, is far from banal. There are many elements to combine so that the race is perfect for us and many are the safety factors that, more and more, must be considered.

The increasing influx of runners to these races makes it advisable to professionalize these services to obtain greater precision in the data provided to the participants and an increase in race safety.

If you have any questions about what you have read or want to make a comment, I will be happy to answer.