Trail running, also known as trail running, has been gaining popularity in recent years, attracting athletes and enthusiasts from around the world. With a mix of physical challenge, connection to nature and a sense of adventure, this sport offers a unique experience for runners. In this article, we’ll explore the history of trail running, the major championships, and the striking differences from road running.

Introduction to Trail Running

Trail running is a form of running that takes place on natural trails such as mountains, forests, deserts, and other rough terrain. Unlike traditional street racing, where runners run on paved roads, trail running provides an experience closer to nature, requiring extra skills in addition to physical endurance.

History of Trail Racing

The origin of trail running dates back to the dawn of humanity, when ancient peoples covered great distances over varied terrains in search of food, resources and to move around. However, as a formal sporting activity, trail running came to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In the 1920s, Swiss runners began to organize mountain races, mainly in the Alps, as a way to test their stamina and skills over rough terrain. From there, the popularity of trail running slowly grew in different parts of the world, with events being held in stunning and challenging landscapes.

Major Trail Racing Championships

Currently, there are several renowned championships and competitions around the world, bringing together elite athletes and trail running enthusiasts. Some of the biggest championships include:

  1. Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB): Held annually in the Alps, the UTMB is one of the most prestigious trail races. With a challenging course of approximately 170km, the race attracts elite runners from around the world.
  2. Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run: Located in the United States, this race is one of the oldest and most iconic in the world. With a route of 161 km, the competition tests the endurance and determination of runners.
  3. Transvulcania: Held in the Canary Islands of Spain, this 73km trail race is known for its volcanic trails and stunning panoramic views.
  4. Tarawera Ultramarathon: Set in New Zealand, this challenging 100km race takes you through lush forests, lakes and mountain trails.

Differences between trail running and road running

Trail running differs from road running in several important ways:

  1. Terrain and environment: While road running takes place on paved surfaces, trail running takes place on natural and rough terrain. Trails can present obstacles such as tree roots, rocks, mud and steep slopes, requiring more technical skills from runners.
  2. Connecting with Nature: Trail running offers a more immersive experience in nature, allowing runners to take in stunning scenery and enjoy a peaceful and serene environment.
  3. Navigation: Unlike road racing, where the course is usually marked, trail running can require navigational skills. Runners often have to follow terrain markings, such as tape or signs, or rely on maps and compasses to find the correct path.
  4. Variety of distances: While traditional road races often have standardized distances, trail races can vary in terms of distance, from short 10km races to ultramarathons of 100km or more.


Trail running provides a unique experience for runners, combining physical challenge with a deep connection to nature. With a rich history and growing popularity, this sport offers an exciting alternative to traditional street running. Whether you are an athlete looking for competition or an enthusiast who wants to explore new horizons, trail running will certainly provide moments of adventure and resilience.

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