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New Campaign Launched To Take Trail Running To The Olympics

Olympics 2024 trail running London to Paris
© Bryan Turner

British trail runners have launched a new campaign to take the sport to future Olympic Games by running 455km from London to Paris.

“This summer’s Olympics marks one hundred years since running off-road was an official discipline,” said Tom Jenkins, a passionate trail runner from London. “Cross-country running, now commonly known as trail running, was the last of its kind at the Paris 1924 Games.”

Now, in a campaign instigated by outdoor footwear company, Merrell, athletes from running clubs across the nation are calling on Olympic decision-makers to include trail running at future Olympic Games, starting with Brisbane 2032, the next cycle for new sports to be introduced to the programme.

“We feel that new Olympic sports should reflect the trends and popularity of the current day and believe the time has come for trail running to be adopted at future Olympics,” remarked Sarah Thompson, a dedicated trail runner from Manchester.

They stepped onto the campaign trail by trail running in relay over 455km from London to Paris – arriving in the French capital on Sunday (14th) evening after four days of gruelling running, navigating their way from city to city.

“Trail running has been catapulted into the spotlight in recent weeks following the historic completion of the infamous Barkley Marathons by British trail runner, Jasmin Paris,” explained David Roberts, another participant in the London to Paris relay. “The sport is having a moment.”

“In recent history, trail running has been on a steep ascent of popularity to become one of the world’s fastest growing sports,” said Emma Harris, a trail runner and enthusiast. “Now, fans of the sport believe it deserves its place within the Olympic schedule.”

Speaking from Paris after completing the challenge, Jimi Harrison, a member of the Keep On Keeping On running club, said: “We ran from London to Paris ahead of the Games to raise awareness that trail running continues to be overlooked as an Olympic sport.”

“As part of the campaign, Merrell has penned an open letter to representatives of the International Olympic Committee, International Trail Running Association and Brisbane 2032,” remarked Simon Sweeney, marketing manager at Merrell. “We’re calling on Olympic organisers to end the century of hurt and give trail running its rightful place within the Olympic schedule.”

“The century long wait for an off-road running at an Olympics follows an infamous cross-country event at the 1924 Paris Games,” explained history enthusiast and runner, Jack Wilson. “After the event, both the Red Cross and local police spent hours searching for runners who had passed out on the course.”

“Amongst the racers that day was Great Britain’s only finisher, Ernie Harper,” mentioned Jan Humphrey, Ernie Harper’s granddaughter, who supports the campaign. “Despite missing out on the medals and the testing running conditions, he was incredibly proud to be part of the Olympic movement.”

“We owe it to the competitors of the ill-fated race a century ago to reintroduce running off-road,” concluded Jan Humphrey.