What we first need to learn is what trail running and skyrunning is and the differences between them. What makes it different from road running even though they all have running as their basis?
Trail running is a sport which takes place on marked paths in nature. Trail is a combination of running, hiking and trekking. The only difference between the recreational and the professional level is in the intensity and the duration. The main trail running organization is ITRA (International Trail Running Association). In 2015, the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) recognized trail running as an athletic discipline. Every year, two different associations, ITRA and IAU (International Associations of Ultrarunners) hold global championships according to their rules. However, by the end of 2015, since this is running, which is an athletic discipline, the main athletic organization, IAAF, took the matter into their own hands. At their congress, they officially accepted trail running as an equal athletic discipline, sorted out the policy and decided that the upcoming world championships will be held only once a year. It was also decided that both organizations, ITRA and IAU, will be equal bearers and co-organizers. The world championship in trail running is now organized every year.
The idea for establishing a federation for skyrunning came from the Italian hiker Marino Giacometti. Together with a handful of fellow climbers, they set records and created races on Mont Blank and Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps in the early nineties. With the support of the Fila sportswear company, skyrunning took off across the world’s mountain ranges. Giacometti’s vision didn’t end there. In 1995, he established a Federation for sport on high altitudes. Skyrunning, as a sporting discipline, is today managed by ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) which took over that responsibility in 2008 from the initial Federation. ISF is a member of UIAA (The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation) which is also a member of the IOC (International Olympics Committee). This membership is very important for lobbying for entry into the Olympic sports family.
As previously mentioned, trail running takes place on marked paths in natural surroundings, while in skyrunning, racers run on tracks that haven’t been marked or used, which makes it technically more demanding. Skyrunning is held exclusively in the mountains. At skyrunning races, the goal is to overcome the climb and reach the top of the mountain, while for trail running races, it’s not mandatory for the trails to reach the highest point of the mountain. Every discipline has special formats that differ in height, altitude, technical difficulty and extreme trails.
Although seemingly a very demanding and unreachable sport, this type of sport is available to everyone. The number of trail runners is increasing annually because people want to spend more time in nature. There are now up to 10 000 participants at the different trail races in the world. The maintenance of the paths through nature, which are an unavoidable segment of today’s tourism offers, is very important.
If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.
Montenegro has perfect conditions for developing these disciplines, although as a community, it hasn’t yet reached the same level of acceptance as mountain running. Every year, around 2 000 people participate in the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc which is approximately 166 kilometers long. For participation in the race, the applicants must enter a lottery through which it’s determined who can compete in the race. There were several tries to popularize this sport in Montenegro. The Orjen marathon serves as an example, but its original format has been changed after 16 years. Now there are annual Lovćen and Kotor marathons that attract more participants each year. The Lovćen marathon is held every year around the 21st of May to honor the day of Statehood of Montenegro. The Kotor marathon is organized on the first Saturday in October. The race “Orjenski Djir” is organized on the second Saturday in October on Orjen by the NGO “Orjen Outdoor” and AK “Niskogorci” organizations. This is the first race in Montenegro that is being scored by the ITRA (International Trail Running Federation), giving all the racers a chance to qualify for the biggest races in world. “Kotor Vertical Extreme” is organized every year in the mid of March. What makes“Kotor Vertical Extreme” race special and unique is that the start of the race is in Kotor Old Town at sea-level, and the finish is on the Pestingrad mountain at 1 007 meters above sea-level after only 2.8 km.
It’s worth mentioning that the Durmitor, Prokletije and Morača mountains are the ideal terrain for these races, although there still isn’t enough strength and energy to start a project of that kind.
In August, for the first time this year, a race in the fortress in Herceg Novi, called “Game of Novi“, was organized. The race included passing through three fortresses in Herceg Novi: Citadela, Forte Mare and Kanli Kula, where the race also finishes.
Running discipline that you can join
As for the running techniques, there are no strictly defined rules because it’s all happening on the terrain that sometimes doesn’t allow running or making every step the same. What we’re trying to do, here in NGO “Orjen Outdoor”, is to educate the people on running disciplines as well as present mini formats that are adapted to everyone who would like to try this sport for the first time. In the first half of this year, we have created a pilot mini-league consisting of 6 rounds. It has been a great success resulting in an increased number of participants from Montenegro and the neighboring countries. This motivated us to start a new league in November. It will have 10 rounds and will last until May 2018. In this league, we will try to bring all the formats closer using mini versions.
This is the schedule for the runs:
- Nov 11. Borići – Vratlo – Borići Mini Trail
- Nov 25. Topla – Sv. Ilija (Mokrine) – Topla Sky Mini Race
- Dec 09. Kameno (Čakoton) Sky Mini Extreme
- Jan 13. Radoštačko Sedlo Night Mini Vertical
- Jan 27. Bjelotina Mini Ultra Trail
- Feb 10. Spile Mini Vertical
- Feb 24. Vrbanj Snow Trail
- Mar 03. Savinska Dubrava Night Mini Trail
- Apr 21. Kruševice – Vučiji Do – Kruševice Mini Trail
- May 05. Vrbanj Sky Mini Race + The Award Ceremony
Members of the “Orjen Outdoor” are the sky-runners, trail-runners and ultra-runners, among which are Maksim Stolica from Herceg Novi, climbed Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe and Sasa Kulinovic, the first person from Herceg Novi to run a 100-mile race.
If you are to start running, feel free to contact OrjenOutdoor, who are always happy to new members.