Green Trail Concept starts a new chapter at Österlen Spring Trail in Sweden


Green Trail Concept holds a data collection event and a consortium meeting in Sweden, marking the next phase of the project

Over the last few days, the Green Trail Concept (GTC) consortium gathered along the Skåne region of southern Sweden to collect information and raise awareness about sustainability at the Österlen Spring Trail event, as well as conduct the project’s annual in-person meeting between partners. The Green Trail Concept project is cofounded by the European Union through the Erasmus+ project and has as a goal the creation of a sustainability certification for trail running, as well as the promotion of sustainable practices and raising awareness in this sport’s sector.

The Österlen Spring Trail event (ÖST) 2024 was held on the 13-14th April and organized by Green Trail Concept project partner A Different Path. Gaël Joly has been organizing this event since 2015, gathering almost 2,000 runners each year along the local trails over the distances of 60km, duo race of 2×30 km, 21 km, 14 km, 5 km, and 600 meters for children.

Sustainability in action

Green Train Concept was present at the event with a stand, hosting a workshop to engage with the event’s participants and to inform them about the project. This included the efforts being made towards creating a certifications scheme to make the trail races more sustainable and inclusive by looking at strengthening the local economy, supporting local associations, and by reducing the overall environmental impact of the race.

At the stand, the participants of the race and the public were asked to fill a questionnaire to help the project partners to know more about what their point of view on the project and the event were. It was such a great experience to engage with the people coming from all around the south of Sweden, the nearby city of Malmö, Denmark, and some even traveling from abroad.

The winner of the main event, the 60 km race, managed to complete it in a staggering 4 hours and 13 minutes, and was awarded with a young apple tree, the iconic local pride of the region, and a wooden medal crafted locally with local wood. As sustainability is put at the centre of this event, the efforts made by the organizer were one of the many reasons why people come and participate in this event year after year.

Run the talk

On the second day of the event, the Green Trail Concept team was kept busy at the stand and continued raising awareness with the participants and the local community, but we were also ready to run the talk! Five of our project members ran either the 14 km or the 5 km races to have an immersive experience of the event. Green Trail Concept member Gerard Vila from the Killian Jornet Foundation even won the 14 km race with an amazing time of 58 minutes.

We had the opportunity to exchange ideas with the volunteers, the families, the local businesses, and associations to better understand what makes a race successful in their view. Inclusivity is clearly a main attraction point, with a race for every type of runner from the most experienced to the youngest being able to run with their parents and friends. Such organization requires strong choices, for example proposing local food products without meat to reduce as much as possible the carbon footprint, to avoid single use plastic items, and to make it possible for children with disabilities and low mobility to participate in the event through the local “Joellette” association.

Taking the next step

The GTC partners took the opportunity of the event to organize in Brösarp back-to-back the annual consortium meeting, a village very close to the event’s venue. There, we reflected on the event and the contributions and discussions that we had with the people present at the event. Attendees gave us such insightful information for us to integrate in the project findings and ultimately in the certification tool creation process. Thank you all for the wonderful exchanges we had with all of you!

The purpose of the two-day meeting in Brösarp was also to plan the activities of the project for the upcoming year. So far, we have accomplished a lot, from the engagement and communication strategy, two data collection events at two races, and fruitful discussions with many stakeholders to find better ways to improve sustainability altogether.

The next steps are to gather all the information collected and start building the certification scheme that will be available for any trail race organizers to test out on the GTC website in 2025. The objective is to make it as inclusive as we can by adapting the indicators to measure the sustainability of all types of races: from the small to medium size events with contained budgets, but also to larger-scale events that gather several thousands of runners.

This is a challenge, but the GTC project partners have a great collaboration and feel supported by the runner’s community. We are on track with the project activities and excited to developing the tool and sharing it with as many race organizers as we can. Our goal is to make a difference through the impact of trail running events and inspire as many people as possible to keep our mountains, forests, and trail networks in good condition for us to enjoy every day of the year!