Trail running is a growing trend in Europe, and Italy, with its beautiful and diverse nature has the potential to become a very attractive tourist destination for trail running holidays in the near future. Trail running is rather strenuous as a holiday, but it is also a very enjoyable one for holiday makers with lots of energy!
But what is “trail running”?
Trail running is an eco-friendly, sustainable, outdoor activity whereby people run, or jog, through and at one with nature. Trail running can involve running in mountains, through forests, along coastlines, but also through city centres and suburban areas. People train hard before they take on a trail run, which can be anything between 10km – 80km! It is becoming more and more popular as people are becoming more health conscious and sporty.
Trail running is popular all over the world including in countries like the United States and Japan. In Europe, France seems to be leading the way in trail running and they have set up a network of “Trail Stations” which is always expanding. People who run are passionate about their hobby, and many of them love to run in nature. Thus, trail running is an attractive holiday option which allows people to get and remain fit, and see the sights from a different perspective, while at the same time respecting the environment and enjoying nature.
Trail running opportunity in Italy
Why does trail running have potential in Italy? Trail running is already popular in Italy with many runners taking advantage of its natural beauty and impressive landscape, but there is still a lot of potential for this increasingly popular holiday activity to grow, particularly in the tourism sector. There are trail running races in Italy throughout the entire year, whether it be winter or summer. Trail runners can run through the Italian Alps, the central Tuscan plains, or along the coast of Southern Italy and Sardinia. Due to the geographical diversity of the Italian peninsula there is a wide range of different natural environments for trail runners to choose from, and regardless of the time of year, trail runners will always be able to find a trail which is open and thoroughly enjoyable to run. There are many different types of races in terms of length and difficulty so there is something for everyone, depending on their level of fitness. There are an incredible amount of trail runs in Northern Italy of varying difficulty. The Green Ring trail run of Torino is rated as very difficult and is guaranteed to make you perspire enough to make your own Shroud of Turin! However, as trail running becomes more popular, it is also becoming more accessible to those of us who are sporty, but not professional athletes.
Expansion and increase of European Ecotrail Network
Trail running is becoming so popular that there is a growing Ecotrail Network in Europe which includes places as diverse as Paris to Reykjavik, Madrid to Florence. It is truly a global phenomenon which is becoming more and more popular. The Ecotrail Network seeks to encourage people of varying levels of fitness and of different ages to participate in outdoor activity, from running to Nordic walking, in an environmentally friendly way. They want people to enjoy nature and the outdoors in a responsible, sustainable manner. These races are well organised and the participants are dedicated. The Ecotrail Network doesn’t only talk about respecting the environment: they have also taken very practical steps to do that. For the first eco-friendly trail run in Florence the participants must bring their own cup for water as there are no plastic cups at the water stations along the route.
Ecotrail Florence: run wild with the Medici
On the 30 March 2019 Florence will host the only Italian stage of the international eco-friendly trail running circuit. The trail begins in the city centre, runs along the Arno, then goes up the steep hills of Florence, into the surrounding countryside and forest before leading the runners back into the city, and eventually, the finish line. The great thing about this is that participants will be able to enjoy great exercise, while at the same time see the Florentine sights, and the countryside around the city. There is nothing quite like visiting a city by foot, which makes this a unique tourist experience. There are other trail runs in Italy, but the Florence trail run is always growing in popularity. As mentioned, this year it is on 30 March and there are two possible trails to choose from: one is 43 km, while the other is 80 km. The second edition of the EcoTrail Florence begins around 8:30am Saturday morning (but check the website for details).
More and more urban dwellers are looking for an escape from city life, for fresh air, to connect with nature, and to feel better in their own bodies. Trail running can satisfy all these desires. Trail running is not only about running and exercise, it is also about enjoying both the awe inspiring power and tranquility of nature.
This could represent a new frontier in the tourism field: the combination of the love for trail running and the pleasure of discovering the beauties of Italy in an eco-friendly and responsible way. From stunning mountains, to peaceful forests, trail runs along the sea, passing through orchards, vineyards, olive groves: Italy definitely has a lot to offer!