The Ranking in Trail Running with the ITRA Performance Index

The International Trail Running Association (ITRA) rating is the most renowned performance index in trail running. It serves not only to establish the reference ranking in this sport but also to compare individual trail running performances. For example, it answers questions like, “Did I perform better at the MaXi-Race than at the Mont-Blanc Marathon?” The ITRA rating enables comparisons across different races, between runners, and even among friends.

How is the ITRA Performance Index calculated?

During each trail run, the ITRA calculates a performance index for every participant based on their achieved performance. The maximum possible rating is 1000 points, representing a hypothetical peak performance akin to a world record, such as breaking the 2-hour barrier in a marathon.

The ITRA determines this index using the race’s distance and elevation gain as reported by the organizer. A ‘flat distance’ is calculated by adding the actual distance and the positive elevation gain. 

For instance, if you complete a 22km trail with a positive elevation gain of 2000 meters (D+2000), the equivalent distance is approximately 42km. Theoretical maximum performance (e.g., around 2 hours) for this distance would be valued at 1000 points. If you finish the trail in 3 hours, your performance index is calculated as follows: 1000 x (2/3) = 667 points.

To accommodate the course’s technicality and racing conditions, a coefficient is applied to normalize the index, ensuring fairness. This coefficient is adjusted so that the average performance index of all finishers equals the average index of all starters.

The calculation considers only the final time, disregarding the race ranking. When establishing an index for a new event, a statistical analysis ensures the consistency of the results. Thus, better-than-usual performances improve your ITRA index. The index is calculated as soon as the organizer transmits the results.

In which ITRA category was the trail I participated in classified?

Depending on the “flat distance,” the ITRA performance index is classified into categories ranging from XXS to XXL. A ranking is made in each category based on the five best ratings of a runner over the past 36 months, and a general ranking is also established.

It’s important to note that some trails award ITRA points that were necessary to participate in prestigious races like the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (10 points in a maximum of 2 races) and are still relevant for certain races.

These ITRA points are sometimes controversial because the trail organization must pay for its trail to award ITRA points. However, the transmission of results to obtain the ITRA rating is free and applies to the majority of trails.

Below the table, you will find a tool to quickly see the number of ITRA points for the trail you are going to run 😉

CategoryPoints ITRA‘Flat Distance’ in kmBest performance index – ManBest performance index – Woman 
GENERAL  953806
Calculate the equivalent flat distance
Trail distance:
Positive Elevation Gain:
Positive elevation (in meters)
Equivalent flat distance: 
0 km
ITRA points for the trail race:
0 ITRA points

What is the purpose of the ITRA rating?

Being a finisher

Most trail runs have time barriers to ensure the safety of runners. A Finisher criterion can help you choose your races. For instance, a minimum rating of 400 is necessary to become a finisher of the UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc).

Comparing one’s own trail running performances

With the different categories, it is possible to see on which distances one is most comfortable or to observe one’s progression from race to race. Each category provides an average based on the five best results from the last three years. You can see which type of distance earns you the most points. Similarly, the general ITRA performance prediction takes into account the five best results of the last three years, with a weighting according to the age of the performance.

Every trail runner can obtain their ranking on the ITRA website.

Establishing a hierarchy in trail running

The ITRA performance index allows for comparison of one’s performances with those of friends or Elite runners. The leader in the general ranking is American Jim Walmsley (940 points), while François D’Haene dominates in the ultra trail category, XL and XXL. Kilian Jornet is second in the general ranking with 937 points. Among women, Courtney Dauwalter leads with 826 points. It’s noteworthy that the theoretical maximum performance is the same for women as for men, so they follow the same scale. Here are the details of the ITRA ranking for 2021. This rating allows for a sporting ethic by enabling a fair global ranking.

Obtaining an elite bib and avoiding the lottery

Most trail runs offer registration facilities for the best trail runners and allow them to avoid the lottery system to obtain a bib. From a rating of 750 for men and 650 for women, a trail runner is considered to have a good national level. From 850 for men and 700 for women, the trail runners belong to the world elite.

Good preparation for your next trail runs! If you want to optimally prepare for your next trail running goals, the RunMotion Coach app offers customized training.

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Mailis Durif-VarambonMailis grew up in the mountains, where she went hiking and biking every weekend. She loves outdoor activities where she can relax at the end of the day. At RunMotion Coach, she is responsible for community management.