Trail runners at the World Athletics Championships

Five athletes who have used off-road running to excel on the track

The IAAF World Athletics Championships begins today in Doha so what better time to acknowledge the part that trail running plays in the preparation of some of the world’s top athletes? The athletes in the 10-day event may be best known for running around in circles on a rubber track or, in some cases, on the roads - but take a look at the social media accounts of many of them and you will see them running off-road.

The following list is by no means exhaustive, of course. But here are just five of the trail runners we will see on the track in Doha.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen

The man recognised as one of the most exciting distance running prospect in the world after he won double European gold aged 18 last summer was spotted running on trails around St Moritz just two weeks ago.

Yet the Norwegian picked out as the most likely to upset the Africans over 1500m and 5000m in Doha is perhaps best suited to the flat. He can be seen in this video in 2017 struggling in the incredibly steep Stolztzekleiven mountain race in 2017. He went to finished 30th after collapsing near the top.

Eilish McColgan: on the  TR  cover last year

Eilish McColgan: on the TR cover last year

Eilish McColgan

The coverstar for Trail Running’s December-January issue last year will run in the 5000m and 10,000m in Doha for Britain. The Scot regularly runs off-road and told us she moved to where she lived because the trails were on the doorstep.

Emma Coburn

Living in beautiful Colorado, it’s no surprise that world steeplechase champion Emma Coburn loves trail running. As the American explained in this video below about her and trail running: “There’s nothing better than starting a run in the morning in a little crisp air and the leaves are falling and it’s just you and the trail and your breathing, and that’s all. “

Alina Reh

The German, who is entered for both the 3000m and 5000m in Doha, posted on Instagram in August about how she was swapping the track for the woods of the Swabian Alps for a week before heading off back to the mountains. The European under-23 10,000m champion earlier wrote on Instagram of her love for the mountains, calling the mountainous Allgäu region of Germany her second home.

Rachel Schneider

The American, who will run in the 5000m for USA at the Worlds, has an Instagram page full of pictures of her running on trails. Her bio reads: “Heart in the mountains & canyons”. She describes her base of Flagstaff, Arizona, as a “a really special place” in an interview posted on, adding: “It’s one of the best running hubs in the world. You have people from all over the United States and so many other countries coming to train in Flagstaff, so I feel incredibly grateful to call it home. There are endless miles of running trails and dirt roads.”

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