2008 Ultrarunning Teams and Sponsors – The Small Teams

Here is the second in the iRunFar series on ultrarunning sponsorship in 2008. While the previous post focused on the largest nation-wide ultrarunning teams, this post will focus on smaller nationwide teams as well as a few local trail running squads.

Next week’s report will focus on individual sponsors for both elite and non-elite ultrarunners with what I hope will be a discussion worthy post the following week.

After the break you can read more about the ultrarunning teams sponsored by The North Face, Sunsweet, and GoLite as well as teams in various stages of development such as a rumored Pearl Izumi squad and a Wasatch Speedgoat team in the works.

[Please let me know if you have any corrections or additions to the following team descriptions.]

The Smaller Corporate Ultrarunning Teams:
As best I can remember The North Face has been sponsoring a team of endurance runners since I began ultrarunning back in 2002. This year’s team of 10 runners includes some of the best and best-known ultrarunners, including the likes of Nikki Kimball, Tim Tweitmeyer, and Dean Karnazes. The squad also includes veteran ultrarunning standouts Joe Kulak, Guillermo Medina, and Kami Semick. Youngster James Bonnett and relative newcomer, Elizabeth Hawker, also run for TNF.

Team Sunsweet Ultrarunning is a group seven West Coast friends who are sponsored by Sunsweet and Sporthill. The team includes Bev Anderson-Abbs, Alan Abbs, Meghan Arbogast, and Craig Thorney among others. (Full Sunsweet team roster)

(Note: The old Sunsweet team blog is dead; however, Alab Abbs informs us that the current Sunsweet team page will be expanding.)

The GoLite Trail Running Team consists of three record setting ultra runners – Dave Mackey, Darcy Africa, and Marshall Ulrich – and a GoLite corporate officer. While GoLite is without a doubt a national company, all four team members live in the greater Boulder metropolitan area.

A Sampling of Other Ultramarathon Teams:

[7/23/08 Update: Links to Team Ascent’s website have been removed as the site is dead. One of it’s former members, Paul DeWitt now runs for Team Pearl Izumi-Smith.]

The Ascent Trail Running Team is probably my favorite existing team on this list and I didn’t even know it existed until last week. It’s my understanding that Ascent is a group of friends that stuck together after the Vasque team disbanded in 2006. (At least some members of Team Ascent were know as “Team X“during the interlude between their days as members of the Vasque and Ascent teams.)

While I was never on the inside, the Vasque team seemed like a cohesive group of friends and the fact that this friendship holds such a disparate group together is what it makes it my favorite.

The team included Paul DeWitt, Jasper Halekas, the Holaks (Andy and Kim), and James Varner.

Oh, and while Jorge Pacheco wasn’t listed on the team roster, it appears from the news section of the team website that he was on the team as well. The team homepage had an inactive sponsors link.

While Vasque is no longer the headline sponsor of a trail running team, it is a sponsor for other trail running teams, including the Charlottesville Running Company/Bad to the Bone/Really Long Name Pro-Racing Team. This is definitely a regional team with all members living in Virgina, except for one in North Carolina.

The CRC/BTTB team includes two of my more frequent trail companions in recent years, Mike Mason and Greg Loomis, as well as some other runners from the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club. (Team roster)

The Rock/Creek Race Team is another mainly local trail running team, as most members live in either Chattanooga or Nashville, Tennessee. Of the team’s nearly 20 runners, Boulder, Colorado runner John Anderson stands out after his solid run at the Old Pueblo 50 earlier this month. (full team roster) At the moment, Team Rock Creek has the distinction of being the sole team with two shoe sponsors, La Sportiva and Vasque. Patagonia, SmartWool, Hammer Nutrition are also R/C RT sponsors.

Ultrarunning Teams in the Making:
As iRunFar previously noted, a Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team is forming. This fledgling group already has First Endurance, Backcountry.com, Nathan, and nuun lined up as sponsors in addition to the Wasatch Speed Goat blog itself. The team’s members have not yet been identified.

An anonymous commenter in the previous ultrarunning sponsorship post suggested a team was rumored to be forming centered around Pearl Izumi. iRunFar can neither confirm nor deny the possible formation of such a team at this time.

There are 11 comments

  1. AnthonyP

    Another great informational post. Thanks !I still have to figure out the "read more" feature for my blog…just haven't had much time lately.

  2. WVmtnrunr

    Goat,Awesome post. I'm sure you had to do some serious research. I had no idea there were so many teams out there. I'm not sure of my opinion yet; good/bad for the sport?; I guess only time will tell.– Casseday

  3. Anonymous

    Great post. I don't see harm in teams. I think its great. They help people who already run anyway. Breeds commoraderie (sp).Sounds like some attorney talk with regards to the Pearl Izumi team. hmmmm, now I am curious and suspicious.

  4. dan p.

    Interesting. I run with a group here in Colorado and I can completely support a team concept. I think its great for the sport. Its nice to see some companies back athletes with real passions for what they do and not how much they make. Kudos to them. I have heard some rumblings here about Pearl as well. Nothing concrete but it looks like an optics company is involved too.

  5. Trail Goat

    Thanks guys, glad you appreciate the post.As far as the pro and cons of sponsorship – both for individuals and the sport – that's the discussion topic that I alluded I'd be covering in two weeks. Now that you know that, you may want to hold off on that subject until it's the feature topic. :-)Anonymous #1,In this case, the "can neither confirm nor deny" phrase is more a nod to my father having been stationed at a number of SAC air bases than lawyerly language. It makes me chuckle when I hear or read it.Dan P., shot me an email. I have an educated guess as to which optics company you are referring and would like to discuss.

  6. Trail Goat

    Grae, I'll check it out.Word, Anonymous #3, that is, if Casseday would have 'em. As I pointed out back in December, Casseday is the real deal. Glad I'm not racing him at MMT!

  7. Trail Goat

    Grae and Alan, It turns out I already had the new website as the linked destination from my first mention of Team Sunsweet. I'll make it clear that there is an active team page with more features to come. Thanks for the info and best of luck this season!

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