Words read UTMB World Series
Credit: UTMB

On International Women’s Day in March, Trail100 Andorra by UTMB launched the WOMEN STEP UP program, an initiative giving voice to female trail runners, empowering them to inspire future generations.

The program brings together female athletes from all over the world to share their experiences in trail running. The purpose is to promote women’s sport. Women Step Up will be divided into two phases which will give athletes a voice to explain their concerns, and to accompany them during the training process with the help of professionals.

The first phase of Women Step Up aims to listen to and understand women trail runners through focus groups. The first focus group took place on Monday March 18, where the athletes who are participating in this year’s Trail100 Andorra by UTMB had the opportunity to meet part of the team that is behind the project, as well as professionals in the sector and personal trainers like Anna Comet. The big topics of debate dealt with individual milestones when running in the mountains, especially how athletes should manage the barriers that society imposes on them.

Sandra Blas, amateur trail runner and geologist by profession, said: “Sometimes it is difficult to reconcile the mother life with the training that I plan to do, especially if women around look badly at me if I leave my son with the babysitter because I have to do a trail session.”

Other taboo topics were put on the table, including hormonal health and sports practice. Judit Guix, a club trail runner and gynaecologist, said: “It is still difficult for us, among women who run, to talk about why sometimes our menstrual cycle is altered when we put our body to the maximum.”

Anna Comet added: “Twenty years ago, it was very difficult to find professional colleagues at the starting line of the races I went to, there were very few of us. Now we can affirm that women’s trail running is becoming higher every day, but there are still some standards that do not allow us to advance for the simple fact of feeling insecure when it comes to going running alone or having to prioritize motherhood over an important training.”

The second phase of the program seeks to help and empower women who want to participate in future editions of Trail100 Andorra by UTMB. The team will work hand in hand with professionals from the sector to guide athletes and accompany them when it comes to setting new goals, and, most importantly, achieving them.

Mountain races have seen a fairly notable increase in athletes lately. An increase in athletes that has also been positively reflected in female participation. According to data from Trail100 Andorra by UTMB, in 2022 the total number of women registered was 21%. In the Trail10K, they represented the majority of those registered with 62%; 32% ran the Trail 20K, 14% the Trail 50K and, finally, 10% opted for the longest distance, the Ultra 105K. Data that confirms the increase in female participation and demonstrates in most cases that any distance is suitable for any type of athlete.

All these figures highlight the increase in participation of women, but there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality on the starting lines. Fundamental issues such as problems of feeling unsafe running in the mountain alone, or the great debate on family and motherhood, are topics that the organization hopes to address soon.

You can follow Women Step Up through the Trail100 Andorra by UTMB social networks, where they will publish the next steps.