Race Director Hub


The following FAQs address some questions that event organizers may ask while using our Guide to implement community building and environmental stewardship goals at trail running events. The responses are not intended to suggest what is best for any specific community, event, or situation.


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How is the Race Director Guide for Community Building and Environmental Stewardship different from other toolkits available?

This Guide offers a new, collaborative approach to understanding and removing inclusivity and sustainability barriers at trail running events.

This approach is based on RPL’s guiding principle that Inclusion, Diversity, and Equitable Access to running and nature are necessary to building a successful movement of runners who will act to protect their environment. We cannot build a successful movement if our community doesn’t include the people who are most impacted by barriers to entry and environmental degradation.

As a Race Director, implementing these values feels overwhelming. Where is a good place to start?

Race Directing is a challenging and continuous process. Every event and Race Director will have a different starting place and different factors that affect what can and can’t be achieved from one year to the next. Our goal is to provide the tools to help you identify and prioritize ways to implement belonging, natural history, and environmental stewardship goals that work for you now and in the future.

After reviewing the resources in the Hub, consider using the checklist tool to prioritize some actions for the next few years. Identify those tasks that feel achievable and are most relevant to your community to get started.

The race I organize is small and doesn’t have a lot of sponsors or a large budget. How can I afford to incorporate these recommendations?

We recognize that there’s a great disparity in funding and brand-support available to race directors to produce trail running events and that a lack of resources may pose challenges to pursuing certain goals. The Race Director Hub provides information and tools to help you plan and implement the priorities that are aligned with your perspectives and the resources currently available to you.

To help you assess impact and make decisions on what tasks to pursue, consider organizing your priorities using the downloadable table below.

This chart may also be used to assess impact versus effort of priorities, as published by the Council for Responsible Sport’s Radically Responsible Guide.


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What is belonging? And how is belonging different from inclusivity?

The challenges of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, classism, ableism, ageism, etc., are real. Runners for Public Lands and the Council for Responsible Sport strive to meet these challenges by fostering a sense of belonging. To be included (inclusivity) is great, but to belong is even better.

Belonging is essential to human wellness and we encourage proactive and ongoing learning about current and potential community members’ cultures and heritages, especially underrepresented groups.

From an event perspective, belonging suggests that people relatively like you informed the organizing of the very event to which you’re participating, whether you’re a runner, volunteer, or have another role in the event. Race Directors have the opportunity to create a feeling of community and belonging by welcoming and facilitating diversification of their participants, staff, volunteers, vendors, sponsors, etc., and by acknowledging and supporting the people who protect and care for the land on which the race is run.

For more resources on belonging visit our existing resources page.

How do I create a sense of belonging at the event I organize?

To celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of your community, be proactive in inviting and facilitating participation, especially from marginalized or less represented groups, in all aspects of the event. Build relationships and be in communication with representatives of groups you recognize as being underrepresented. Work together to understand what may be preventing these runners from participating, and together identify ways and means to reduce the barriers you uncover.

Is there a connection between the elements of belonging and natural history?

Everyone is from somewhere, and those places have specific geographic histories and expressions of biodiversity, shaped over eons. Bioregionalism is the concept that means that people who live in a place have an obligation to live in harmony with the natural systems that exist there, including the human, wildlife, and plant communities. While such lifestyles are deeply embedded into Indigenous communities, they may not be as common in other cultures rooted in colonialism.

A sense of loyalty and corresponding practices related to knowing and caring for our home places is called reinhabitation in bioregionalism. Reinhabitation refers to the idea that to occupy our places, we can and must become inhabitants deeply attuned to them. How might an event facilitate a deeper understanding of their places, participants’ belonging to them and to each other as part of them? Do you think that specific places have the ability to help unite people that inhabit them, either temporarily or in an ongoing way?

Where can I go to find ideas about how to improve the sense of belonging at the event I organize?

Check out the existing resources page for a number of resources on inclusivity and belonging.

We would like to hear from you when you implement new ideas at a race or see great things at other events. Click here to share ideas or best practices you see in the trail running community!

How can I create a sense of belonging through a virtual event?

Virtual events present unique challenges and opportunities, especially with regards to building community. There is an opportunity to be in regular communication with your audience, and the topics and tone of those communications are only limited by your knowledge and imagination. Once you’ve identified the overarching purpose of your virtual event, get creative about weaving in stories about topics related to that purpose over a period of time through your communication channels.

A sense of belonging to a virtual event community might mean helping people deepen their own connections to their place, or an issue, and then inviting them to exchange reflections with other participants on messaging platforms. Providing educational information and then holding safe (virtual) space for respectful sharing is one way to invite people to connect with the sense that they belong.

Indigenous Collaboration and Land Acknowledgement

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What is a Land Acknowledgement?

Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement recognizing and respecting Indigenous peoples as the original stewards of the land and the enduring kinship that exists between Indigenous peoples and their traditional territories that were stolen from them.

Land Acknowledgements can include, for example, a respect for sovereignty, an honoring of treaty rights, a recognition of historic and systemic injustices perpetrated against Indigenous peoples, and commitments to respect, learn from, and work with Indigenous peoples to protect their sacred sites, communities, ceremonial access, and support their efforts in preserving their languages and cultures.

Where can I go to learn more about Land Acknowledgements?

We recommend visiting the Rising Heart’s Running on Native Lands Initiative for a great list of resources.

Also, the Meztli Project Land Acknowledgement Toolkit has great information and recommendations to share.

Why should a Race Director consider making a land acknowledgement part of the event they organize?

Race Directors create inclusive communities by acknowledging and supporting the people who protect and care for the land on which the race is run. By including Indigenous voices and a Land Acknowledgment at an event, race directors are taking the first step toward making their running community more “accessible, supportive, inclusive, and visible.” See the Rising Hearts Running on Native Lands Toolkit. A new commitment added to the toolkit, calls for Race Directors to create and adopt their own land acknowledgements with one or more long term actions they will take to continue doing the work.

I want to do a Land Acknowledgement at the event I organize. Where do I start?

Begin by doing some research to identify and learn the history of the local Indigenous Tribes.

Contact local Indigenous leaders and ask for a representative to attend your event to offer a Land Acknowledgement. If a representative is not available to attend your event, it is respectful to ask if they would consider providing a written Land Acknowledgement that can be spoken by the race director before the races/events begin or to draft their own land acknowledgement, with review by Indigenous communities

Compensation / honorarium must be included to support Indigenous voices as part of this collaboration.

See Rising Hearts for more resources, step-by-step “how to” and commitments. Also, look to the Meztli Project Land Acknowledgement Toolkit for more suggestions on how to get started.

Where can I find information about the Indigenous communities near the event I organize?

Visit Running on Native Lands, which recommends following the steps below:

  • Visit the Native-Land website and download the NativeLand App to use, and/or
  • Text your zip code to 907-312-5085 and the bot will respond with the Indigenous Peoples/Tribes that are directly connected to those lands.
  • Use Google. For example, “Indigenous Tribes of the Great Plains… or Indigenous/Native Tribes and peoples of Los Angeles”

To learn more about Indigenous Tribes:

  • Visit Indigenous Cultural Centers near your event to learn directly from Indigenous voices.
  • Connect with organizations in your community that advocate for Indigenous communities.
What is Two-Spirit Registration?

The term Two Spirit refers to people who embody both a male and female spirit within them. Two Spirit people have been present in Native communities for countless generations that predate LGBTQ terminology and settler colonialism. Expanding gender categories is one way to make more runners feel like they are included and belong at trail running events.

Natural History

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What is Natural History?

Based on both scientific and traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge, natural history is the study and description of natural objects and organisms – such as climate, landforms, watersheds, soils, native and invasive plants and animals, and human impacts – especially their origins, evolution, and interrelationships.

Runners for Public Lands celebrates the natural history of our living landscapes to contribute to a sense of place, better appreciate our belonging to and interconnectedness with the landscape, and inspire action to care for the natural world. We believe natural history education leads to environmental stewardship and contributes to community and ecosystem resilience.

Applied to the context of trail running and trail running events, attention might be drawn to the specific landforms, watersheds, native plants and animals, soils, climate, and human impacts that are visible while running.

Why should a Race Director think about natural history as part of event planning?

Trail running events inspire participants with the opportunity to explore and celebrate naturally beautiful landscapes. With the support provided in your event, runners can venture to places that they might not otherwise experience on their own. Event organizers can enhance this experience by highlighting and educating runners on the amazing and unique features of the landscape participants encounter throughout the run.

The combination of having a meaningful personal experience and learning why the location is unique creates a special connection between a runner and the lands they run with. Event organizers can inspire and spark action in the run community by offering ways for race participants to stay connected with the lands and support stewardship to care for and protect them.

How can a Race Director incorporate natural history elements into the event they organize?

Incorporating natural history into an event will enhance the overall race experience for many participants. Consider sharing some of the following information on the website, through social media posts or by inviting cultural and scientific experts to training runs:

  • Habitats and ecosystems runners experience throughout the course.
  • Features of the landscape that make the area special and unique.
  • Interesting facts about plants and animals that may be seen on the race course.
  • Ways the area is threatened and how runners can help care for and protect the lands.
  • Who are the original land stewards of the region? How can runners learn more about the history and the Indigenous tribes that are connected to the past, present and future of the lands?
  • What organizations are actively involved in the stewardship of the land?
  • How can runners contribute to protecting the area after the event is over?


Where can I go to find natural history resources in my area and/or online?

Check out our Existing Resources for ideas on where to find resources in your local area.

Environment Stewardship

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What is environmental stewardship/ protection?

Environmental Stewardship is “the responsible use and protection of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices to enhance ecosystem resilience and human well-being,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Runners for Public Lands adopts this standard definition, while using environmental stewardship as an umbrella term covering its work of climate action, sustainability practices, the protection of public lands, and equitable access to nature. Environmental stewardship has reciprocity at its heart. Just as the natural world takes care of us (e.g., air, water, food, clothes, homes, energy), we are to take care of the natural world. We use the terms “environmental stewardship” and “environmental protection” synonymously, to safeguard against certain views and actions of stewardship that prioritize other values at the expense of natural habitats and ecosystems, and their richness and resilience.

How does environmental stewardship relate to trail running events?
Trail running cultures are the sets of values, customs, beliefs, and practices associated with trail running events. Cultures of environmental stewardship are unique to each trail running event, and can be developed in relation to both global issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and overconsumption on the one hand, and regional/local environmental challenges and community perspectives specific to the location of the trail running event on the other.
What are Sustainability Practices?
Sustainability has to do with production and consumption cycles that maintain and/or regenerate nature’s capacities to sustain life, including ours. Runners for Public Lands supports what the Climate Justice Alliance calls a “shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy…approaching production and consumption cycles holistically and in a waste-free way.”
How much impact do trail running events have on the environment?

Watch and listen to this short slide presentation, Climate Impacts and Endurance Events, created by the Council for Responsible Sport for insight into how endurance events impact the environment.

Also, check out the research article “Trail Running events contribute microplastic pollution to conservation and wilderness areas” by Nicola Forster published in Science Direct.

Where can I look for ideas on how to make the event I organize more environmentally friendly?

Check out the Existing Resources for sources to reference on making events more environmentally responsible.

Refer to the Sample Policies for some examples of policies you may implement at the events you organize.

For examples of events incorporating environmental stewardship in creative ways check out the Best Practices.

Will making an event more sustainable mean a lot of additional work?

We recommend reading Chapter 8: Get Organized, of the Council of Responsible Sport’s Practical Guide to Hosting Radically Responsible Events for tactics on how to prioritize, delegate, and share authority to further sustainability at the event(s) you organize.

We also find the CRS chart used to assess effort versus impact especially helpful when prioritizing ideas you may consider implementing at events.

Will making the event I organize more sustainable significantly increase the cost to put on my event?

Not necessarily. Make a list of the things you would most like to do, and list out their associated costs. Then use the downloadable Council for Responsible Sport chart below to assess cost versus impact, and to help you prioritize what is achievable in your budget.

Have a suggestion for a new faq? Let us know!