Youth Trail Running

Youth Trail Running

Welcome to the USATF Mountain, Ultra, Trail Running Youth Initiative – a program in cooperation with the American Trail Running Association (ATRA) designed to increase 14 to 18 year old kids participation in trail races and lay the groundwork for American excellence in elite trail running competitions.

Show me trail running events with youth categories!

2023 Youth World Championships

May 27, 2023WMRA U18 International Mountain Running Youth Cup – Annecy, France. U.S. U18 Mountain Running Team (16-17 years old) – How to Qualify – Team Staff: Paul Kirsch and Melody Fairchild.

June 6-10, 2023World Mountain and Trail Running Championships (U20 Mountain Race) – Innsbruck, Austria. U.S. U20 Mountain Running Team (16-19 years old) – How to Qualify – Team Staff: Paul Kirsch.

August 4-6, 2023Youth Skyrunning World Championships – Gran Sasso, Abruzzo, Italy. U.S. Youth Skyrunning Team (14-22 years old) – How to Qualify – Team Staff: Ryan Kerrigan.

U.S. team members at the 2022 International U18 Mountain Running Cup.

Youth Certified Trail Races

To raise awareness of of trail races among young runners, ATRA has partnered with the USATF MUT Youth Initiative to create a “Youth Trail” certified program for race directors. To be eligible for the Youth Trail badge, an event must:

  • Must have a race distance of under 10 miles.
  • Terrain greater than 75% natural surface.
  • Allow youth participants at least as young as 14 years old.
  • Be willing to offer 15% discount to youth 19 years old and under or host a dedicated youth oriented event.
  • Be willing to offer a minimum of 2 free youth entries if requested.

TRAIL RACE DIRECTORS – To get your event certified FILL OUT THIS FORM or for questions contact Max King at [email protected]. A list of current youth trail certified races can be found on this webpage.

Lauren Gregory on her way to a bronze medal at the 2017 World Mountain Running Championships.

Athlete Profiles

Oakley Olson (2022 U.S. U20 Mountain Running Team) – “To represent the United States of America was a dream come true. It was a once in a lifetime experience to be surrounded by people from across the world that were extremely talented and dedicated to the sport of running.”
Read the full interview with Oakley.

Christian Groendyk (2022 U.S. U20 Mountain Running Team) – “I’m so grateful to have had the experience of the World Mountain Trail Running Championships. Not only was the race itself and the environment amazing, I was exposed to some incredible athletes on our team and others that really inspired me. As a track and cross country runner, it was a different, unique race but incredibly fun and something I’d highly recommend to anyone with potential interest in the trails.”

Lauren Gregory (Bronze medal, 2017 World Mountain Running Championships) – “The junior mountain running team was so valuable for me as an athlete. It helped me realize confidence in my abilities and strength that I never knew existed. It also made me realize how incredible the mountain running community is worldwide. I think back to my race in Premana [Italy] during hard workouts and collegiate races and it gives me so much confidence in my strength. I loved every part of being on the junior team in 2017.”
Read a profile of Lauren from August 2022.

Tabor Hemming (Team silver medal, 2014 World Mountain Running Championships) – “When I was that age [18], I thought I was hot shit and going over to Europe and getting my arse handed to me by other girls my age was a really good lesson for me. Those experiences certainly helped me when transitioning to college, because I went from being the big fish to a minnow really quick.”
Read a profile of Tabor from July 2022.

Levi Thomet (Silver medal, 2015 World Mountain Running Championships) – “I loved racing at the World Championships. I could have seen trail running as something I would have gotten into had I had the opportunity to do so in college. It was such a different style of running than the conventional track and field that I was used to. It was like a different sport. Trail running required a different type of fitness, more endurance and grit based than pure speed.”
Read a profile of Levi from January 2022

Allie Ostrander (Gold medal, 2015 World Mountain Running Championships).

Read more: Young runners reflect on their experience on the US junior mountain running team 

Lauren Gregory at the 2022 World Mountain & Trail Running Championships. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

Youth Resources



The Trail Team – Our mission is to independently support and develop rising athletes into the best professional trail runners in the world through mentorship, skill development, and media exposure. We are building a team of athletes interested in making the jump to professional trail athletes. Apply now!

Collegiate ProgramsOpportunities for Collegiate Trail Running Are Growing, feature article written by Tayte Pollmann, member of the 2015 U.S. U20 Mountain Running Team member and silver medalist at the 2017 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. Also check out Tayte’s article opportunities for youth in mountain, trail and skyrunning.

Revibe Wild Runners – ReVibe Wild Runners is a Pennsylvania based youth trail community created to inspire, motivate, and encourage kids to get outdoors and hit the trails at any pace. Points are based on race distance and difficulty, so whether they finish first or last, the points ReVibe Wild Runner kids earn are the same. Learn more at

US Youth Trail Series