Black Trail Runners

An Open Letter to Event Organisers and Race Directors

Dear Race Directors and Event Organisers

We have a favour to ask. Can you help us to encourage more Black people to enjoy trail running?

We believe trail running has a diversity problem. As Black trail runners, our experience is that trail running is overwhelmingly, disproportionately White. Often, each of us has felt that we are the only Black person taking part in a trail running event. Many Black people are missing out on the physical and mental benefits of running and racing on trails.

We created Black Trail Runners as a community and campaigning group to increase the inclusion, participation and representation of Black people in trail running. Since our launch last month, the response from runners has shown us that our group is meeting a need. Black runners have welcomed the opportunity to join with others who look like them and value their experiences and views. At the same time, the comments of detractors have clearly demonstrated to us that trail running is far from being the inclusive sport many claim it to be. The fact that many people don’t see the problem, is part of the problem, invalidating our lived experiences and those of other Black runners.

This is where you can help, by enabling us to quantify the issue. It is customary for races to collect age and gender information from entrants, as this is used for prize categories and age-grading scores. Very few events collect ethnicity information, in the way that is standard practice in corporate recruitment. We have seen in recent years the use of gender data to help inform work to increase female participation in events. We believe the same can be done for ethnicity. Right now, very few event organisers could say how many of their participants are Black. A simple addition to your sign-up process could change that, help us quantify the issue and inform our efforts to increase participation, a goal which we hope you share.

We’re delighted to say that following discussions with us, one UK trail event company has already implemented the collection of ethnicity data in its race registration process, using the standard 18 groups recommended by the UK government. We will be very happy to put you in touch with them if you’d like to discuss the practicalities of doing this.

We very much hope you’ll see this as an easy way to help us encourage increased participation in trail running. We are publishing this as an open letter to encourage runners, manufacturers, sponsors and other allies to join with us in asking for this change.

We look forward to your response, and hope to see you at a trail event soon.

Yours sincerely

Dora Atim, Marcus Brown, Rachel Dench, Martin Johnson, Sabrina Pace-Humphreys, Sonny Peart, Donna Richards and Phil Young, on behalf of

Black Trail Runners
August 2020