During the WMRA Congress meeting in Premana, Italy, on July 29, 2017, Jonathan Wyatt was elected as the fourth president of the WMRA. Wyatt, who not only had a successful mountain running career, winning the World Mountain Running Championships six times between 1998 and 2008, as well as multiple mountain races including Jungfrau Marathon, also represented New Zealand in the Olympic Games finishing 21st at the Marathon in 2004. His interest in sport extends well beyond competition, and he is looking forward to serving in a leadership role with the WMRA.
Says Wyatt, “When I was first racing in the mountains, the president of the WMRA was Danny Hughes. I was interested in helping grow the sport back then, and my commitment to the sport has never wavered. I think I understand the sport, as well as the challenges of all off- road categories within athletics each of which is realizing substantial growth. There are now many more and different disciplines in the sport and Mountain Running needs to have a voice and a strong presence in this new era of trail, ultra trail, sky and mountain running.”
Some initial thoughts from Wyatt moving forward:
- Increase the number of participants, as well as the number of partner races in the Mountain Running space and consider opportunities with coaching.
- Increase media contacts and exposure to the sport. Include key media channels, local race organisers (who will be key to new bids for World events and World Cup/Grand Prix), Federations (we aim to have more than 50 members).
- Work closely with the IAAF with whom we would like to create partnerships and utilize their network and global reach.
- Look after our key events of World Championships, U18, and Masters, as well as consider some new innovations, such as relay events.
- Award World Championships two years in advance.
- Ensure that courses for World events will be a good test of true mountain running ability so we need to look for more difficult tracks than in the past. This is something we will be talking about as well as trying to work together with other groups that organise events in the off-road environment.
- Bring together the best athletes at the most important events. The sport needs this, so we can show to the World how good Mountain and Trail Sports can be. We will start the discussion with the calendar in mind, so that we give the athletes the chance to run a World Championship all together on one day.
- Support iconic mountain events and make the most of events that are held in beautiful mountain terrain, thereby showing how positive Mountain Running is.
- Recruit more National Athletic Federations to join as members of the WMRA.We can show NAFs that mountain running has something unique. We know that people enjoy mountain running for the challenging vertical climbs and the manageable distances. They also come for the spirit of the races and passion of organisers and athletes and that is something we need to support and encourage.
Work in the new administration has already begun with the first WMRA Council meeting under Wyatt’s tenure held on Saturday, August 5, in Premana, Italy. The next Council meeting will be held in early 2018. In the interim, the WMRA will be represented by Council members at the final three World Cup events in Italy, Germany and Slovenia, the WMRA/WMA World Masters Mountain Running Championships in Slovakia, and the NACAC Mountain Running Championships in Canada.