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Permits for Virtual Trail Races and Covid Restrictions


In normal times the TRA is authorised by UK Athletics to issue permits for trail races held in England held under UKA Rules of Competition.  The race permit demonstrates to competitors, insurers, and other interested parties that the race is promoted to governing body standards and that UKA Rules of Competition will apply.  Race promotors that are affiliated to UKA are covered under the UKA insurance arrangements for races that hold an approved TRA permit.

Athletics competition in England was suspended in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 emergency, and permits for trail races held under UKA rules were cancelled. 

When the first lockdown period ended, for a short period the TRA, with agreement from UK Athletics, approved permits for time trials for groups of up to six socially distanced runners, with groups setting off at timed intervals.  Although these were referred to a "virtual" races, they were in effect a cross between what most think of as virtual events and trail racing as it was pre-COVID-19. 

The TRA stopped issuing such "virtual" race permits in September 2020 when England Athletics issued COVID-19 secure trail competition guidance, and authorised the TRA to approve permits for events that followed that guidance.  

Following the Government's National Restrictions that came into force in England on 5 November 2020 and again on 6 January 2021, all outdoor trail competition was suspended.  The TRA agreed with England Althletics that it may approve permits for virtual trail races that meet the new National Restrictions.  

Virtual Trail Races after 5 November 2020

The TRA is now accepting applications for virtual trail races that meet the National Restrictions. In such events, runners compete virtually, usually aiming to run over a course of their choice for a specified distance or for a specified time. Race Directors and Event Organisers must ensure that runners are encouraged to follow all relevant guidance from the government, police and our sport when participating in virtual racing.  Runners must run alone, with other members of their household or household bubble, or socially-distanced with one other person. Under government guidance, local travel is permitted if it is necessary to get to and from the exercise location, but people should not travel into or out of any tier 3 or tier 4 areas, and all travel should be minimised.  

Runners should be encouraged to consider the time of day and period of time they exercise, carefully select their route, and apply social distancing to stay clear/give priority to pedestrians and people using public spaces.

In order for a permit for such a trail race to be approved, the race must be held as far as practicable under UKA Rules for Competition for trail. For example, the course should be predominantly off-road, including on private land with the permission of the landowner, and along public rights of way,   The maximum permissible distances permissible for younger runners must be complied with.  Running with dogs is not allowed.  The Countryside Code must be obeyed.  

If entry fees are payable, race promotors of virtual trail races may charge the £2 additional unattached levy to unaffiliated athletes, but TRA have agreed to waive all permit fees payable by the race promotors for virtual trail races with TRA permits.  Race promotors are still obliged to report, within 4 weeks of the event, the numbers of runners and any accidents or incidents.

Insurance is still necessary for virtual events as it is not possible for an Event Organiser to contract out liability relating to any possible injury that participants may incur while taking part in a virtual event.  Virtual trail events and races with approved TRA permits will be covered under UKA Insurance if the promoting organisation is affiliated to UK Athletics.

Covid-19 Guidance

Race promotors must follow the latest guidance from England Athletics and government.  This can be found on the England Athletics website and in links from that site.

A named Covid-19 Co-ordinator (who may be the Race Director) must be appointed for each race in accordance with the EA and government guidance.  Their responsibilities include producing Covid-19 risk assessments and safety plans in accordance with the guidance, ensuring that such risk assessments and plans are updated as any guidance evolves, ensuring that all identified risk mitigation measures are in place, and liaising with third parties in relation to all matters involving Covid-19.   

Application for a Virtual Trail Race Permit

Although the TRA Permit System has not been updated with specific changes for virtual permit applications, the current permit application system may continue to be used.  Where questions   Some of the questions posed by the current application are not relevant for virtual events, and may be left unanswered.

So that applications for virtual permits can be identified, applicants are asked to append the word VIRTUAL to the title of the race.  It is not necessary to include the word VIRTUAL in the race title in promotional material for the race.

Click HERE and scroll down to access the TRA permit application system.