Setting the tone for another active outdoors year, The American Trail Running Association’s (ATRA) advisory board recently enthusiastically shared its 2024 theme, “Better Together.” 

This year’s theme has many different interpretations, not the least of which is the fact that togetherness creates and builds community. That togetherness can be far reaching and include partnerships, mentorship, coaching, collaborations and multi-user experiences on the trails. The theme is meant to support and celebrate inclusivity and diversity and is focused on learning from one another, helping one another, and reaching individual and collective goals.

Each year ATRA uses a theme to guide its editorial decisions and initiatives over the next 12 months. By designating a theme it is able to focus its programming and have a targeted inspiration for its Trail News stories and social media content. The first in a series of “Better Together” articles is to be published this month.

“2024’s theme of gravitation and coordination is more about our community and the appreciation for nature than it is running in groups,” explains ATRA president Adam Chase. “Trail running, a silent sport for many, is often a solo endeavor.  But the promotion and celebration of it, now that’s a ‘the more the merrier’ sort of thing we can all support!”

“Even venturing out to experience the trails alone, there is a feeling that you are part of a fraternity,” adds ATRA treasurer Lin Gentling. “Anyone who trail runs knows the benefits of being outside.”

And Board member Corinne Trujillo Shalvoy shares: “Better Together is illustrative of the inherent ‘passing down of knowledge’ that the sport of trail running is known for. It speaks to the opportunity we have to grow the sport in a collaborative way, utilizing the stories, lessons and values that everyone in the sport cherishes to better trail running as a whole. While trail running is in many ways an individual sport, it has become what it is today and will become what it is tomorrow by our collective passion.”

The feeling is of togetherness is seen at all trail running events, points out ATRA Board member Andy Ames, who frequently volunteers as a trail ambassador at a popular local trailhead. “Each week I get to witness old friends and new acquaintances meet up to start their run, together,” he says. “When they return, I see their happy faces as they recount their time spent together and plan for their next adventure. For these folks, together really is better. So whether you go solo or with others, trail running truly is better together.”

And finally, Board member Ian Torrence remarks: “Trail running can often be construed as a solo sport. Distracted by the beauty around us and the fun we’re having, we might sometimes forget how the trail we’re running on was built, the land conserved for our use, or how the event we’re participating in was pieced together. ATRA’s 2024 theme “Better Together” reminds us that it takes a diverse and collective effort—the friends we run with, those who enjoy other trail sports, legislators, land owners, event organizers, volunteers, neighbors—to protect, foster, and create the trail community we love so much.”

Better Together is ATRA’s eighth annual theme and follows last year’s Celebrate Youth on the Trails, 2022’s Trail Running is for Every Body, 2021’s Resilience, 2020’s Climate Action, 2019’s Trail Running Responsibly, 2018’s Trail Stewardship: Leaving a Lasting Legacy, and our 2017 theme Community: Building Trail Running Connections.