What is the event?
Running Up For Air is an endurance challenge calling on runners to accumulate vert in the name of clean air.
In our third edition of the European event, we’re taking the challenge to new heights—asking you to join us in racking up ascent on a run between 1- and 24-hours long. Over hills, on a ski slope, through the mountains, or up the stairs. It all counts.
We are all breathing in toxic air. It damages our health and the environment around us. As trail runners we feel this acutely, but for communities living in valleys, busy cities, and mountain towns, exposure to air pollution is a critical issue. That’s why Running Up For Air 2022 is connecting runners across Europe to raise funds for 18 environmental groups who are campaigning for better air quality.
So whether you’re logging your ascent on alpine trails, or lapping the hill in your local park, every vertical meter matters. A full 24-hour grind or a relaxed hour at chatting pace, pack the gels, grab some friends, and join us for one uplifting day of altitude and awareness.
Four facts on air quality
Pollution cuts an average of two years from the lives of the global population, and nearly 800,000 people die prematurely due to air pollution, every year, in Europe. Children, asthmatics, the elderly, and those from some racial and ethnic groups are among the worst affected.
As we run, we breathe in and out more deeply. This can mean we are taking in more air pollution particulates than when we’re breathing normally. In an intense session, this can be as much as 10 times as many toxic particles.
Nine in every 10 people living in European cities are breathing in dangerous air caused by issues such as the burning of fossil fuels and biomass, industrial processes, and increasing levels of traffic.
Air pollution doesn’t just damage our health and shorten our lives, it harms the ecosystems around us too. In Europe, most agricultural crops are exposed to ozone levels that exceed what the EU deems safe for vegetation protection.
London features canal paths, pavements, parks and wild places to train in, when we can’t make it to that remote ridgeline. But London also holds the record of having the highest health costs from air pollution of any European city. In fact, millions of Londoners live in areas that exceed legal air limits – meaning they are toxic to health.
Patagonia ambassador Martin Johnson:"As a trail runner and ultra-runner, there are few things I love more than running in nature and experiencing the joy of breathing in fresh air. However, the reality of being a father of two, living and working in London, means opportunities to escape to the countryside, the mountains and the clean air they offer are often limited. As a result, I spend more time than I'd choose clocking-up daily miles running through the streets of the capital - and some of the poorest quality air in Europe - in training and on my way to and from work.”
Environmental groups ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth are fighting air pollution in London and across the UK.
The European capital of trail running, Chamonix’s pristine alpine surroundings are marred by increasing air pollution. This is caused by the heavy traffic that chugs constantly through the Tunnel du Mont Blanc.
Patagonia ambassador Clare Gallagher:
“Running in Chamonix, I learned from locals about the cloud of air pollution that hangs over the valley on smoggier days. I could feel how similar Chamonix air pollution is to that of Salt Lake City. No matter where we live, taking a day to run, think and do something about air pollution is worthwhile.”
Environmental group Inspire is working to improve air quality in Chamonix Valley.
InnsbruckWhile air pollution is not a major problem in Innsbruck, it is still the cause of premature death for thousands of people in Austria, every year.
Patagonia ambassador Thomas Bohne:“I’m very lucky that my home trails are in and around Innsbruck. Air quality here is great, and when I’m running, I don’t need to worry about what I’m breathing in. You could even buy bottles of compressed Alpine Air at the Innsbruck airport duty-free. But I’ve run all over the world and have also experienced first-hand the effects of toxic air. There are places where I simply wouldn’t choose to run anymore as air pollution is a great danger to my health. Clean air should be a basic human right. However, for millions of people around the world, it is far from guaranteed.”
Global movement Fridays for Future is inspiring millions of people to take action on the climate crisis.
Milan has beautiful canal paths and parks to run in, but the air in city is some of the most polluted in Europe.
Patagonia Enviro & Marketing Manager, ITA, Damiano Bertolotti:
“I’m from Lodi, a city very close to Milan, and air pollution there and in this region is an extremely important topic. Millions of Milan’s residents live in parts of the city where toxins in the air exceed the legal limit.
As a sports person, I love to run and be in nature, but when I do so in Milan, I have to breathe some of the poorest quality air in Europe.”
Environmental groups Cittadini per l’Aria and Genitori Antismog are fighting for clean air in Milan and across Italy.
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Running up and downhill is a big challenge – whether you run for 1 or 24 hours. So why not run with friends? Find your local RUFA Chapter and join the trail community to help raise funds for environmental groups campaigning for clean air across Europe.
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