European Athletics has reinforced its commitment to the first-ever European Athletics Off-Road Running Championships in La Palma, Spain which will be staged between 1-3 July 2022.
The innovative Championships combines both mountain and trail running events and, with just over four months to go, European Athletics can confirm that the event will go ahead as planned.
Entries for the championship races will be made by the European Athletics Member Federations but the Local Organising Committee (LOC) has already almost sold out all the available places for its mass races.
The island of La Palma made international headlines with the spectacular eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano last September, which lasted almost three months and caused extensive devastation and destruction on the picturesque island, one of Spain’s Canary Islands.
European Athletics’ first concerns were for the islanders, their safety, and livelihoods but there subsequently have been understandable thoughts about whether Championships could feasibly take place.
Now with the worst behind them, thankfully the island’s inhabitants are rebuilding their lives, and European Athletics is working together with the LOC and event agency Reventón to support the islanders as well as deliver a successful event.
An estimated 2000 runners will participate across all the races and be accompanied by several thousand visitors, who will not only witness elite mountain and trail races against a spectacular backdrop but whose presence will also provide a valuable injection into the local economy.
The event, with the town of El Paso as the main centre of activities, begins with the Championships opening ceremony on Thursday 30 June and the celebration of the third edition of La Subida a las Estrellas – The Climb to the Stars – a 3.1km uphill event that takes place under the unique night sky of La Palma.
The European Athletics Off-Road Running Championships official programme opens on Friday 1 July with classic mountain running uphill races. The competitors in the senior men’s and women’s races will cover 8.95km while the U20 races will be over 6.45km.
The second day of the championships will be highlighted by trail running races, with the main championship races contested over 47.4km; and the first ever official European champions in this discipline will be crowned.
In addition, there will also be mass participation mountain and trail races as well as a children’s race whose aim is to promote the participation in athletics amongst the youngest athletes.
Sunday 3 July sees the mountain running up and downhill races with the senior races being contested over a circular route of 18km and the U20 races over 5.4km.
European Athletics President Dobromir Karamarinov commented: “The staging of the first-ever European Athletics Off-Road Running Championships in La Palma is a very important moment both for European Athletics and the island itself, coming in the wake of the devastation caused by the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano.
“By our continued commitment to bringing the Championships to La Palma we wish to show our support for the island, and all who live there, as it recovers from this natural disaster.
“We have stayed with our original plans to include an elite trail and mountain running event in the European Athletics calendar and embrace what is a fast-growing sector of our sport. However, perhaps more importantly, I hope our continued support sends a signal of hope to the islanders as they try to return to a more normal life.”