The Trail: a sports activity of trail-running that people can’t stop talking about
T.R.A.I.L., 5 letters which resonate, like the echo of a stream at the bottom of a valley, like that of the pulse on your temples.
The Trail is a walking/running route whose natural setting brings it own allure. The route has an ever-changing profile (single-track, forest paths, etc.) and an often striking drop, so that running the Trail respects the natural environment at the same time. Each runner is, above all, there to measure themselves and to enjoy a preserved natural environment.
There is an ever-increasing passion for the Trail and this has continued since the starts of the noughties, brought about by increasing demand, the organisation of flagship events and support from economic players (outdoor- product brands).
The stuff of champions
The Trail is also getting more and more of a reputation through media interest in high-level athletes. The Spanish athlete, Iker Karrera or the Catalan athlete, Kilian Jornet, French athletes, such as François D’Haene, Luca Papi, Xavier Thévenard and Emilie Lecomte, Americans Jim Walmsley, Zach Miller or Courtney Dauwalter, but also the Swedish athlete, Emelie Forsberg or the athlete from New Zealand, Ruth Croft, smashing time, distance and endurance records through mythical time trials such as the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), the Grand Raid de la Réunion (Diagonale des Fous), the Transvulcania (La Palma) and the Tor des Géants."
These stars of the mountain-running discipline shine in their performances, but also in their humility faced with challenges, difficulties and Nature.
Throughout the world
France is the pioneer in the area (500,000 to 2 million mountain-runners each year), but the Trail is also developing in Belgium, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, as well as in the United States and Japan.
In Wallonia, the number of trail-runners is showing an ongoing increase and the expansion of various running organisations is there as proof of this. In a radius of 20km around Spa, Theux in Xhoffray-Malmedy, passing through Stavelot and Jalhay, we list 5 very high quality events, the best in Belgium. We have seen more than 6,000 runners come from Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Sportspeople from various backgrounds
A study, “The walking movement today and tomorrow, from the discovery walk to the trail”, underlines that the Trail (or quick walk) attracts people coming from different sports. Experts in mountain biking, hiking, athletics or team sports, all turning towards a more “natural” sport, towards a more “authentic” discipline.
They find themselves, on the one hand, in a practice close to running, based on performance and competition over marked-out routes and on the other hand, an activity which is honed towards discovery and adventure in a wilderness setting.
The physical challenge, beating personal targets, solidarity and respect of the natural environment are the principles, values and reasons to trail run.
A driver for the tourist economy
The Trail from now on contributes to the development of tourist policies, which are based on the activity to offer targeted products to an-ever growing and increasingly-demanding audience.
As an example, in France, a network of Trail Stations has been created. Several tourist regions have jumped on the bandwagon to increase their offer, and thus enable everyone to discover different landscapes through this new practice. In 2014, more than 60,000 people have visited this network.
A competitive advantage for our region
Unlikethe mountainous regions, our Ardennes area is accessible throughout the year. Here, the practice of Trail-running is not seasonal, and the routes are workable no matter what the weather has in store.
It’s a great advantage for Belgian runners, but also for the French, Dutch, German and other English runners looking for mini sporting trips and lovers of our regional events (Trail des 600 Boitheux, Spa Vertical Race, Herbiestrail, Ultra Trail des Sources (UTDS), Trail des Hautes Fagnes, Crêtes de Spa, Trails des Lacs et Châteaux (GTLC), Olne-Spa-Olne, Trail de la nuit de Mai, ...