“More experience, more expertise”

ITRA president Janet Ng welcomes the joint World Mountain and Trail Running Championships and is confident that the WMTRC will establish itself as a memorable event.

Since she took the reins on September 11, 2021, Janet Ng has been the first woman to head the ITRA. The trained lawyer from Hong Kong started trail running more than two decades ago, has been organizing trail events for more than ten years and was the ITRA’ treasurer before being elected its president. In addition, Janet Ng is the Vibram Hong Kong 100’s co-founder and race director.

Looking back at the first World Mountain and Trail Running Championships last November in Chiang Mai – what lessons did you learn there?

We’ve learned two things. The first is that it takes meticulous planning, lots of hard work and real vision to put on a successful event of the scale achieved by the Amazing Thailand team in Chiang Mai. The second is that the success of the Chiang Mai events means that the WMTRC now has real momentum so that the WMTRC in Innsbruck and Stubai will see even more countries represented by even bigger teams and even more athletes experiencing the joy and pride of the sport.

Now let’s take a look at the future. What do you expect from the WMTRC in Innsbruck-Stubai?

The team from Innsbruck-Stubai were in Chiang Mai observing, and the ITRA team enjoyed spending time with them. They are passionate about trail running, proud to be hosting the WMTRC and excited to welcome the mountain and trail running community to beautiful Innsbruck-Stubai. I am sure the 2nd WMTRC will be a wonderful experience for the athletes and the teams, as well as their families and friends and all the supporters. With public races before the WMTRC races and an expo, it will be a real festival of mountain and trail running that no one will want to miss.

From the ITRA’s point of view: What are the most important advantages of the WMTRC as joint championships of mountain and trail runners?

The most important advantage of the WMTRC is that it is the only opportunity for trail and mountain runners to compete for their respective nations and for the official world championship crown. This makes the experience extremely special for the athletes, and no other event can match this. The fact that athletes from all over the planet are taking part and that each athlete has teammates as well as, in most cases, friends from other teams, gives the WMTRC an especially friendly and sociable atmosphere. This will be a career highlight for many of the athletes, and it is a real privilege for everyone at ITRA to be able to play just a small part in providing that experience.

There’s a saying in Austria that there is no advantage without a disadvantage…

Organizing the WMTRC jointly means we each have the benefit of more experience and expertise. Each of the organizing bodies are passionate about the sport and committed to putting on a great event, so everyone involved is super-responsive and collegiate and the communications work well.

It’s only for the second time for joint Championships to take place. Where do you see the WMTRC in ten years’ time? Are they going to find their place among other iconic events and series like the UTMB or the Golden Trail Series?

The WMTRC are different from other events and series because they are the World Championships. We will keep ensuring that the WMTRC take place in some of the world’s greatest venues for trail and mountain running and that each event is optimally organized. We aim to provide wonderful and unforgettable experiences for the athletes and everyone involved. If we continue to do that then the WMTRC will be in a pretty good place in ten years' time!

Is there a plan to get trail running recognized for the Olympic programme with the help of the WMTRC?

This is not a formal aim of the organizations involved in the WMTRC. The focus is really just on putting on the best possible WMTRC events at this stage. But it is definitely something worthy of careful study and proper debate.

You are a great runner yourself; do you know events in Austria or Tyrol or have you run any of them?

That’s flattering and very kind of you. I have not raced in Austria before, but I have certainly heard of the Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival and it’s on my bucket list.

Will you participate in one or both WMTRC public races (one round of Mountain Classic and Vertical)?

I broke my ankle and had surgery in December, but would love to at least give the Vertical a go … if I get a green light from my doctor!