Thailand to host first-ever trail and mountain running worlds in 2021

(Reuters) - Thailand's northern city of Chiang Mai will host the inaugural world mountain and trail championships next year, World Athletics said on Wednesday.

The championship, which will be staged from Nov. 11-14, will feature vertical uphill mountain races, short and long trail races for senior athletes and the classic mountain races for both seniors and under-20s.

The new biennial event was first announced in 2018 when the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA), the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) and the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) combined forces with World Athletics.

The governing bodies are hoping to capitalise on the rising popularity of the off-road running events, with the championships giving both elite and mass runners an opportunity to compete at the same venue.

"The announcement reflects the common interests and growing collaboration of our four organisations, who share the ambition of promoting running in all its guises," World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement

"Our closer ties will create more opportunities for distance runners to compete in varying environments and take on different challenges, whether it be in the spectacular natural settings that mountain and trail events offer, or in more traditional events on the road or the track."

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)