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The 2003 WMRA Congress

A brief summary of the decisions taken by Congress, and the presidents review of the past year.

The 2003 19th WMRA congress took place in Girdwood, Alaska, USA on 19th September 19th. New Zealand and England presented two excellent bids to stage the 2005 World Trophy. With the promise of significant travel support for competing teams, New Zealand were elected by 19 votes to 6. A new marketing director, Serge Moro-Sibilot of France, was elected to the WMRA council and his details are now shown under ‘,Council’, on our web page. Three new rules governing the World Trophy were approved. Two concern the course design and the third concerns age limits for those competing in the World Trophy junior races. This latter rule was introduced in order to keep the WMRA rules in line with recent changes in the IAAF rules concerning juniors. 26 member countries attended the congress which was welcomed by Bill Roe, president of ‘,USA Track & Field’, Here is the review of the past 12 months of WMRA activity which I presented to congress. 1. I would like to preface this report by thanking the organisers of the 2003 World Trophy here in the beautiful country of Alaska. I mention particularly, Brad Precosky, the Alaskan Mountain Runners, the Alyeska hotel and all other sponsors for their work and contributions. It is the first time we have held the event in the USA, only the second time in 19 years that we have been out of a European country, but I hope not the last time we come to America. It is perhaps understandable that we have fewer countries attending this year due to the expense of travelling to Alaska. Nevertheless, athletes from 26 countries are here which is a very satisfactory result. 2. It is sure that many athletes would have found it difficult to attend without the generous financial support of IAAF, which this year amounts to about $42,000 in travel assistance. In addition, the $10,000 administrative grant to the WMRA council has all been spent by adding $50/athlete to the IAAF support, making a travel subsidy of $250/athlete. I would also like to place on record our great appreciation of the administrative support given to WMRA by the IAAF led by Lamine Diack, and particularly to Pierre Weiss (IAAF general manager) with whom we have excellent relations and understanding. Last years IAAF cross country committee, chaired by Otto Klappert, also gave us their full support. There are many new faces on the new cross-country committee and we look forward to working with them and gaining their support also. 3. The biggest news item this year is that the IAAF rule 1 which defines what the world athletics body understands by ‘,athletics’, now includes mountain running alongside track & field, cross & road running and race walking. This is the result of a proposal by San Marino (Paula Carinato) to the IAAF congress in Paris. Standing alone, the proposal from such a small country would have had little chance of success. However, it received the full support of WMRA when I reported to the annual meeting of the IAAF cross country committee, and that committee was persuaded in turn to give it its full support which Otto Klappert did in his report to the IAAF council. As a result of this unified level of support the IAAF council recommended congress accept the proposal with the words. Mountain running is a constantly developing and growing discipline, both by the number of athletes and the quality of performances. In many regions of the world where there is no track in the neighbourhood, the practice of mountain running represents the first approach to athletics, therefore the definition of athletics would be more complete if this term was mentioned.’, One cannot emphasise too much the importance for our sport of this apparently small move. Now all federations will see that the sport of mountain running is a branch of athletics, which they can support in the knowledge that it has the approval of the world governing body of athletics. 4. A seminar entitled ‘,Mountain Running as a Branch of Athletics’, was staged by the International Athletic Foundation (a branch of IAAF) and conducted by WMRA in Innsbruck following last years World Trophy. It was attended by 22 delegates from 16 countries, and chaired by Pierre Weiss. A fine booklet containing the proceedings of the Seminar was produced by IAF and distributed to all athletic federations. There are still some copies available for those who have not yet received one. 5. July 2003 saw an excellent 2nd European mountain running championships brilliantly organised in Italy by Atletico Trento. We have two new European champions, Marco Gaiardo of Italy and member of the organising club, and Catherine Lallemand of Belgium. 22 Countries participated with 20 complete teams in the mens race and 15 complete teams in the womens race, The EAA offered to pay the travelling costs of one male and one female athlete from each European country. Erika Strasser (Austria) is the new chairman, and Danny Hughes, Tomo Sarf, Bruno Gozzelino and Wolfgang Muenzel of WMRA council are members of the EAA Mountain Running Commission. Bids from Poland and GB are under consideration for the 2004 championships and from Austria for the 2005 championships. 6. Another significant development over the past year has been the setting up of a Mountain Running Commission in Asia by the regional body of IAAF, the Asia Athletic Association. The president is Rukma Rana (Nepal) and the secretary is Rabi Rajkarnikar (Nepal). The commission is modelled on that of the EAA. 7. There were some disappointing aspects to the Masters event in Innsbruck Austria last year. Despite the lovely setting and overall enjoyment by the competitors (a hardy lot) the organisation was not up to the standard expected of a world championship. Financial miscalculations and shortfall resulted in the organisation (in this case the town of Innsbruck) failing to pay the contracted fee to WMRA making a significant loss to our budgeted income. (since presenting this report the fee has been paid) Great things are expected of this years Masters in Germany were a record entry of over 800 athletes has been received. 8. Following the difficulties over arrangements for a Grand Prix series in the past when two mountain running GP's were staged, an agreement was reached with the event organisers and this year has seen just one WMRA Grand Prix. The mens first overall positions has already been decided with one competition to go the winner is Jonathan Wyatt (NZL). Izabella Zatorska (POL) and Antonella Confortola (ITA) being in contention for first place. 9. Our web page, www.wmra.info managed by Nick Russi of EAA continues to improve. Due to some dedicated work by Tomo Sarf it now contains a comprehensive statistics page on which you can instantly find the results of past world trophy and European events in a variety of different ways. The web page has a news section and by placing your e-mail address on the register you can receive news messages without the need to visit the page. This is useful because changes to the page can be flagged up to you without the need for you to visit the page to see if you have missed anything. 10. The WMRA newsletter, edited by Danny Hughes, was again produced (1,300 copies) and circulated throughout the world by IAAF, and to WMRA member athletes free of charge. 11. The WMRA calendar of international mountain races was produced at the EAA/IAAF calendar congress by Bruno Gozzelino and will be produced again for 2004. IAAF and EAA circulate it worldwide. Letters have been sent to many race organisers, but if you know of an international race that wants to appear in the calendar you should contact the secretary before the end of this month. Danny Hughes President WMRA 14.09.03

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