Embracing inclusivity: Marbella’s trail running events set a new standard

by Lorraine Williamson

MALAGA – In the picturesque coastal city of Marbella, where sun-soaked beaches and opulent allure typically take centre stage, a new narrative is emerging – trail running embracing inclusivity for all.

This year, Marbella, in collaboration with CD Ultra Trail Sierra Blanca, is not only showcasing its natural beauty but also its commitment to inclusivity and environmental consciousness through a trio of trail running events. These challenges are not just about testing endurance and strength; they are about breaking barriers and setting new standards.

A trio of challenges

The journey begins with the IX edition of CxM Sierra Blanca on February 10th. Furthermore, this event is attracting athletes from 24 countries, spanning the globe from Iceland to Chile, Canada to Argentina. This well-respected trail running event is now making waves by embracing participants with diverse abilities, particularly in the 12 km and 28 km races.

Following closely is the I edition of Marbella Epic Trail on February 17th. This presents an ultra-distance challenge covering 60 km with a formidable 4,500 metres of cumulative elevation gain. Despite minimal publicity, the international appeal of this event speaks volumes about Marbella’s growing reputation in extreme sports.

The most groundbreaking event in the series is the I edition of Sierra Blanca Rangers on February 24th. Tailored for children aged 6 to 17, it exemplifies true inclusivity by inviting kids with various abilities, including those facing challenges like cancer and disabilities, to participate alongside their peers. This event symbolises a significant step towards creating an all-embracing sporting culture.

Trail running

The inclusivity edge

Marbella’s approach to inclusivity in sports goes beyond mere participation; it is about creating an environment where everyone feels valued and supported. The introduction of races with wheelchair accessibility, especially in the Sierra Blanca mountains, is a commendable initiative. With the support of CD Ultra Trail Sierra Blanca, the city is not only making the races accessible but also fostering a sense of community and belonging among participants.

This inclusive initiative is inspired by children like Aray, a 6-year-old boy battling Sanfilippo Syndrome Type B. Through trail running and outdoor activities, Aray’s life has been transformed. Regular engagement in these activities has brought joy and excitement into his life, with tangible impacts on his health. The club’s ongoing GoFundMe campaign reflects their commitment to raising funds for studies on this illness, with a vision to establish a hub for specialised wheelchairs in Marbella, ensuring outdoor sports are accessible to all children, regardless of physical abilities.

Aray (centre) in wheelchair Joelette, has been made an honorary member of the club and is their captain of competitions.

Trail running

Sierra Blanca Rangers

The 24th of February is the first fully inclusive event where kids of all different abilities can get together and share the experience while having good time with their families. The mountain routes are specifically designed for boys and girls between 6 and 17 years old. Young athletes can experience the thrill and challenges of running on these trails. The Marbella club is inviting youngsters to join them and become a Ranger.

Baycrest Wealth

This is a unique opportunity for children to combine sports, education, and nature, creating unforgettable experiences and profound learning. The club´s innovative approach integrates an active lifestyle with environmental education, social cohesion, and personal growth. Furthermore, they instill the value and care of our natural surroundings. They also encourage friendship and teamwork, and prepare children to face challenges with confidence.

However, don´t worry, if you don´t want to race, you can still benefit from all this by becoming a volunteer.

Green footprints in the trails

Marbella’s commitment to inclusivity is complemented by a dedication to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals in these events. A significant reduction in plastic usage and other high CO2 emission materials reflects a commitment to sustainability. This aligns with global movements towards a more environmentally conscious world.

Trail running

Beyond just races

What sets Marbella’s initiative apart is its holistic approach. The integration of environmental education and inclusivity extends beyond the events themselves. Local schools and community groups are involved in educational talks and programs, leveraging the natural healing properties of the UNESCO-protected Sierra Blanca.

Looking ahead

As Marbella showcases these initiatives at FITUR, it stands as a shining example of how a city known for luxury can also lead in creating a sustainable and inclusive future. The efforts of the municipality of Marbella and CD Ultra Trail Sierra Blanca are not just about organising sports events; they are about shaping a community ethos that values every individual and the environment in which they thrive.

Pictured below at FITUR – Francisco Viegas on the right president of the club and Lisandro Vieytes Sports Council of Marbella municipality on the left.

Trail running

In the end, these events are more than just races; they are a celebration of the human spirit, community, and our collective responsibility towards the planet. Marbella’s trail running events are setting a new narrative, proving that inclusivity and environmental stewardship can go hand in hand with sporting excellence.

Also read: Andalucian Green Hydrogen Valley

Images courtesy of Club Deportivo Ultra Trail Sierra Blanca


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