US Trail Running Conference Webinar Shares Steps to Improve Safety at Trail Races

Expert panelists offer constructive and practical suggestions to enhance trail running safety

The fifth webinar in a seven-webinar series produced by the US Trail Running Conference and presented by Marathon Printing, the leading producer of custom printed items for endurance sports, was live on Thursday, May 26. The session subject for this session: Producing Safer Races, with the session being sponsored by Darn Tough Vermont. The webinar series is held in partnership with the American Trail Running Association.

This webinar’s content featured three safety experts, John Anderson, Medical Director for the Broken Arrow Skyrace, Chris Randle, CEO of Blerter, and Andy Pasternak, Medical Director for Western States 100. Panelists shared key factors to help produce safer races covering major safety components such as decision making, roles, communication & relationships, internal success, external success, and execution & response.

John Anderson shared the importance of pre-planning and making decisions before you have to make your decisions. “As you get into race day, if a situation arises that could hinder the safety of the participants or staff, you don’t want to have to decide what you’re going to do on the fly. You want to make that decision ahead of time; often you can write this into specific protocols so that when the situation arises you don’t have to work out what to do in that situation.”

Anderson emphasized establishing separate roles for medical care and rescue, to know your course inside out, to  be educated about your local resources, and to form good relationships and clear communication with each and every partner.

Chris Randle reiterated the importance of doing a lot of your work regarding safety upfront. “The way that I usually talk about this is to use a risk design approach to race safety before you even get onto site,” said Randle. “The time of year is really important, along with the design of the course. The way you put all this together and the decisions you make are all really important.”

Randle added, “you get on the ground and everyone turns into an expert on the weather, particularly at trail races. Actually knowing who your experts are that you wrap around your race systems can help you with your decision making. It’s important to make sure they are experts and not people who just say they are good.”

On external preparedness, Randle commented that he typically outsources most of his specialist services, whether that is medical or safety. He closed with the critical importance of communication to enable you to execute and respond proactively to your plan.

Andy Pasternak suggested ultra races should get engaged with ITRA …. and to make sure that medical volunteers are fully aware of what they might have to deal with during race day or race weekend, and how it could be different than what they normally deal with. “We run practice exercises ahead of time to get them ready…it is pretty amazing that when you rehearse it enough, when stressful times happen, it becomes a reflex. It is good to learn from other people and gain from their experience.”

Discussion also took place on implementable measures to execute safe races in respect to air quality. With the increase in wildfires across the United States, and rapidly changing weather situations, race organizers need to be prepared.

The session closed with discussion on the efficacy of using current technology platforms like podcasts or webinars to communicate safety processes and procedures to runners ahead of the race so they can be clear about what to expect in possibly unfamiliar terrain and weather conditions.

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 slide deck with step-by-step information that includes best practices from the expert presenters. There will also be an opportunity to follow up on deliverables in-person at the 2022 US Trail Running Conference to be held October 19-22, in 
Mukilteo, Washington.

The next webinar is titled: Marketing & Communication, and takes place on Thursday June 30, 2022, at 11.00 am to 12.00 pm MST.
Who is this for? Race directors and event organizers who are interested in introducing innovative technology to help market their race or races.
Registration is free – see for more details.

Active at Altitude, organizers of the US Trail Running Conference and the webinar series, reported more than 125 participants registered for the session, representing 34 states, as well as Canada, North Macedonia, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, and Saudi Arabia.

More info:

For details on the US Trail Running Conference and the webinar series, go to

Contact Event Director, Terry Chiplin for further information,, or 303-304-9159

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