LAST UPDATED: 22 November 2021
US Trail Running Conference Webinar shares initiatives to inspire climate action champions
Industry experts summarize key factors to propel the sport towards achieving a zero carbon footprint.
The fourth webinar in a nine-webinar series introduced by the US Trail Running Conference and presented by the leading trail registration platform UltraSignup, was hosted on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22. The session subject: Empowering a Community of Climate Action Champions, presented four industry leaders that are actively engaged in promoting climate action. Active at Altitude, organizers of the US Trail Running Conference and the webinar series, reported 100 race directors and event organizers registered for the webinar, representing 30 states, as well as Canada, Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Vietnam and the Czech Republic.
The four panelists included Zoë Rom, Associate Editor of Trail Runner magazine, Vic Thasiah, Founding Executive Director of Runners for Public Lands, Paul Thompson from Cool Planet and Citizens Climate Lobby, and David Callahan owning partner UltraSignup. Rom, Thasiah and Thompson each shared four key factors that they have found effective in empowering individuals in their own trail running communities to become successful climate action champions. Callahan additionally presented steps that the UltraSignup platform will soon introduce to remove barriers for race participants to engage and participate in climate action, with a broader vision to move the sport toward a goal of achieving a zero carbon footprint.
Rom suggested, “Experts are telling us that we have to depend on political solutions in order to have wide reaching impact in the realm of climate action. Lean in and get comfortable being uncomfortable…discussing political issues and expressing your opinions to other people.” Rom further encouraged attendees to, “Listen to BIPOC voices, minimize your personal carbon footprint, and don’t sweat the small stuff as collective action matters most.”
Thasiah added that the most important FKT (Fastest Known Time) at this moment is rising carbon emissions and the pace of the change in our climate. Thasiah went on to share the importance of shaping our running culture to help preserve our environment. “We need to build power, runners are the largest sector in outdoor recreation,” said Thasiah. “Shifting capital, investing in things that make a difference in mitigating or adapting to climate change, changing behavior, taking steps to make our lifestyles and the organizations we represent or liaise with, focus on lowering carbon emissions.”
Thompson posited that it is important to focus on our personal health and well-being and this starts at home. “We need to protect what we love and cherish and can do so with citizenship and public policy work,” said Thompson. “This includes all levels from neighborhood to city, state and federal.” Thompson echoed Rom’s comments on the importance of getting outside of your comfort zone, and identifying biases and barriers to change.
“UltraSignup is grateful for the opportunity to both listen and talk to the trail running community,” said Callahan as he shared initiatives the platform is working on behind the scenes, and how this could impact the community in a positive way. “We want to remove the friction that restricts engagement for races with a goal to use to use the
platform as a means for good.”
The registration provider will introduce – by the end of this month – an option for all runners that register for any race on the UltraSignup platform to be able to donate $1 towards carbon offset. Future iterations of this process will allow runners to generate a calculated carbon offset figure based on their home address and the race location. Callahan also shared that UltraSignup are part of a consortium to share innovative ideas with a goal to move the sport to achieve carbon neutral status.
“Implementing these initiatives will help us all move the needle in the right direction,” said Nancy Hobbs, executive director American Trail Running Association. “With these thoughtful suggestions and many other actionable steps in front of us, we can be part of the solution with a simple commitment to make a difference.”
Each webinar is presented by industry leaders in their respective fields, and offers information that can boost a race director’s knowledge and afford insight into innovative practices to implement at their events. Every participant receives a best practices resource document after each webinar that details key actionable items, while there will be an opportunity to follow up on deliverables through an online forum, and in-person or remotely at the 2021 US Trail Running Conference to be held October 27-30, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The fifth webinar in the series is scheduled for May 27, at 11.00 am MST, and is focused on sustainable races, current best practices and future developments. Panelists include Steven Aderholt, principal at One Step Events, Celia Santi, Senior Brand Experience Manager at GU Energy Labs, and Bruce Rayner, founder Athletes for a Fit Planet. Race directors, event organizers and anyone interested in attending can register for the session as a stand-alone, or for the complete series at a discounted rate. The recordings of the first four webinar sessions will also be available for anyone that registers for the complete series.
For details on the webinar series and to register, go to https://ustrailrunningconference.com/webinar-series/.