2010 The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships Editorial

The North Face Endurance Challenge 2010I have a tendency to go on ad infinitum in my articles here at iRunFar. My men’s and women’s previews for the 2010 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Championships are great examples of this. While this year’s TNF Championship races call for such treatment, I’m taking a different approach. Why? Three reasons:

  1. iRunFar already provided a blow-by-blow of the event via Twitter on race day.
  2. We’ve already provided the race results with links to race reports and commentary, so you should already know that Anna Frost and Miguel Heras are the champions.
  3. I don’t have the time to write a 3,000 word novella about the race! :-)

Instead of my normal approach, I’ll get all editorial on you regarding prize money in ultras, the globalization of ultrarunning, and the uniqueness of racing in the Marin Headlands.

Money and Racing
I had some spirited conversations about money and racing while in San Francisco. In particular, a respected foreigner said that it changed the nature of the sport and implied it was not for the better. I would agree that prize money at least changes the nature of a particular race that offers it, but I don’t think that the money necessarily results in a change for the worse.

When a highly competitive trail ultra offers no prize money, it’s more common for a larger percentage of the elites to run more within themselves in the early miles. This is particularly true of runners who know they have little chance of a top three place. In contrast, a large cash purse leads to everyone and their mother going out with the lead pack and trying to hold on. I’d never seen anything in an ultra as crazy as the 30 guys who came through the mile 9 aid station within 10 seconds in the pre-dawn hours Saturday morning.

Personally, I prefer to race a conservative, well-paced effort, but there’s inherent excitement in everyone throwing down until all but one guy or gal blows up. Runners two through twenty might be far off their fastest possible time for the day, but you know with little doubt that at some point along their course they hit their limit. They failed, but in failing learned about themselves. For example, it was damn cool seeing young Dakota Jones racing side-by-side with Geoff Roes at mile 30 before seeing him spent and in fourth place at both mile 45 and the finish.

Dakota Jones TNF EC Championships 2010

An exhausted Dakota Jones getting a hug at the end of the TNF EC Championships.

The Globalization of  Ultrarunning
The most exciting development in ultrarunning in the past year or two might be the globalization of the sport. Though, perhaps, globalizaion is wrong word, as Europe and Japan seem to have been integrated for a while. No, the big thing is the integration of the International (and, particularly, the European) and American ultrarunning scenes.

In 2009, Tsuyoshi Kaburaki and Jez Bragg finished second and third at Western States. In 2010, three of the top eight men at Western States were foreign with Kilian Jornet of Spain second, Gary Robbins of Canada fifth, and Ian Sharman of the UK eighth. (There were actually four if you count Glen Redpath, a Canadian living in the US, who finished seventh.) The women’s Western States champ? Tracy Garneau of Canada. Don’t worry, this street goes both ways with Krissy Moehl winning the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, the premier 100 miler outside the US, in 2009. This year, American Mike Wolfe finished second at the improvised UTMB, while he and Geoff Roes were running strong at the front of the canceled version of this year’s race.

Here at the end of 2010, two foreigners – Anna Frost of New Zealand and Miguel Heras – won the one of the most competitive trail ultras ever run on US soil. Foreign men also took sixth (Jez Bragg, UK), eighth (Thomas Lorblanchet, France), eleventh (Christophe Malarde, France), and twelfth… sort of (Uli Steidl, Germany became a US citizen this year). Behind Frost, foreign women took second (Lizzy Hawker, UK), eighth (Marlene Flores Paredes, Chile), ninth (Kasia Zajac, Poland), eleventh (Tamsin Anstey, Canada), and twelfth (Cristina Carvalho, Brazil). Injuries and travel problems took out other top foreigners, including Tsuyoshi Kaburaki, Jonathan Wyatt, Sebastien Chaigneau, Ellie Greenwood, and Tracy Garneau.

Anna Frost Lizzy Hawker TNF Championships 2010

Anna Frost (NZ) and Lizzy Hawker (UK) after placing first and second at the 2010 TNF EC Championships. (Photo Stephan Gripmaster. http://www.gripmastertrails.com/)

The point of those long lists above is to show that ultrarunning is now a truly global sport. No, it’s not likely that the speedy Frenchman are going to destroy your local 50k course record next year. The mixing will be limited primarily to marquee events due to funding, but you can count on world-wide showdowns at future Western States, UTMBs, TNF EC Championships, and a few other races.

I think this globalization is fantastic. It’s great fun to watch the world’s best go head-to-head. From talking with the top runners from both sides of the Atlantic, I can tell you that most feel the same way. They want to race the very best runners in the world, regardless of where those competitors reside. On the flip side, I’ve seen nothing but respect, admiration, and cordiality between international competitors the past two years.

It’s yet to be seen how long this unification will last. At least here in America, many of the best ultrarunners have focused on athletic pursuits and/or the enjoyment of life rather than maximizing potential employment income. That’s what makes many of them such damn cool people. However, that leaves many dependent on sponsor support to attend distant races. It’s encouraging to see such support in these less than stellar economic times. I think the marked upswing in the popularity of trail running is partly responsible. Regardless of the cause, I hope sponsors continue to lend such support. For what it’s worth, I’ve heard rumblings of additional American sponsors sending top runners to UTMB in 2011.

Ahead at the Headlands
Just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, the Marin Headlands host numerous races every year with the Miwok 100k and TNF Championships being the most notable. The never flat, but rarely technical terrain appears to uniquely favor … or disfavor certain athletes.

Before the TNF Championships, Sean Meissner pointed out that Kami Semick had never lost in the Headlands. That streak ended when Anna Frost crossed the line ahead of her. Still, she ran a stellar race that was just three minutes slower than her win in 2008, which covered a faster course than the one run this past Saturday.

In contrast to Kami, Geoff Roes remains winless in five tries in the Headlands. Other than getting lost while leading Way Too Cool this year, Roes has never lost an ultra outside the Headlands. His second place finishes the past two years at the TNF Championships show that he’s no slouch in Marin, but others are able to run faster. Perhaps, the trails aren’t steep or technical enough to suit Roes’s strengths. Whatever the reason, we hope to see him give himself another shot or two for a Headlands victory in 2011.

Geoff Roes Dakota Jones TNF EC Championships 2010

Geoff Roes leads Dakota Jones during the 2010 TNF EC Championships. (Photo Stephan Gripmaster. http://www.gripmastertrails.com/)

Call for Comments
I’ve braced myself, so feel free to comment away.

  • What do you think about prize money in ultras?
  • Do you enjoy the globalization of ultrarunning? What are its upsides and downsides? Any matchups that you’re particularly interested in? (I can’t get the thought of Roes, Krupicka, Jornet and Heras at UTMB 2011 out of my head)
  • What makes the Headlands such a unique place with regard to racing?

There are 51 comments

  1. Trail Clown

    First of all, great coverage, it just keeps getting better. Second, keep the editorials coming, you should include one after every major event you cover. Third, great photos in this editorial, love the shot of Roes looking back at the comp (and/or photographer). Fourth, this editorial touches upon the major evil in any endeavor, and so, good choice on the editorial! As for my two cents on the topic, I believe it is a necessary evil, in order to expand the sport (which I think would be an awesome thing, for people's health, for awareness of environmental issues, etc. etc.). I do think the top dogs in ultrarunning are going to be vulnerable to suffering the same plight as other sports stars, however, in that they will be over-extended, over-exposed, over-judged, over-idolized, etc. Their personal lives may suffer–but that might have happened even without the increased publicity, money, global opportunities, etc, simply because of their unwavering dedication to the activity. So my hope is that the top performers keep that "enjoyment of life" perspective you mentioned. But overall, this trend has been going on for some time now, and the result is millions more people involved in trail running, many more trail races being launched (aren't there close to one hundred 100 mile races now in North America alone?) and now, thanks to irunfar.com, people get to start their day watching some really cool videos/interviews of the sport they love. For those of us who in the past always started the day reading our favorite trail running magazine, this new development makes every day like Christmas! And the global competition/rivalries, that just makes for great drama. Make sure you keep learning as many foreign languages as you can, especially Spanish, so you can interview Heras next time!

  2. ScottTomKretz

    Bryon,

    Excellent editorial here; and I think if anyone is qualified to bring these topics up, it's probably you.

    That being said, I was thinking about the whole prize money thing myself while sitting on the edge of my seat and following Twitter. Even via 140 character or less snippits of information, the race was tremendously exciting, due no doubt to the fact that so many top runners came out for a piece of the prize purse. But while that did draw some competitors who may not have otherwise showed up, I think a look back at Western States this year point to a phenomenon in ultra-running that you won't find in road racing up to the marathon distance. Western States drew a great deal of amazing talent, and at least from my outsider's view it didn't seem to be about the money, but rather about the opporunity for the top 100-mile runners in the world to duke it out with each other.

    However, in road races, if there's no fairly large sum of cast at stake, big names aren't likely to show up. I'll use this year's Denver marathon as an example. Olympian Datahn Ritzenhein had made late plans to run the half marathon there to get a good, competitive effort in before the NY marathon, but even with his name being thrown into the hat, the race couldn't draw any more upper-level elite runners against whom Ritzenhein felt he could get in a good race against.

    So while I think the money has and will continue to play a role in drawing a large field of elite ultra runners, I think there's ultra runners are inclined to show up and face other top ultra runners for the sake of testing their own limits rather than for the sake of taking home money. But, if large purses start to crop up at more races, that could change.

    All the best in training for what sounds like an awesome year, Bryon.

    Scott

  3. Dave

    Thanks for bringing up the sensitive subjects Bryon. My two cents..

    Why I run, in order of importance

    1) for the sake or running itself

    2) love of the outdoors

    3) to test what my mind and body can do

    4) to compete

    5) money

    Money does not bring the best out of everyone, nor is it "evil" to have in a race. I have busted my butt just as hard as this past weekend at TNF 50 as at other races in Marin (and a billion other non-money locations), just for the pure thrill of seeing what my body and mind could accomplish in a beautiful place. Miwok 100k 2008 I feel I ran my best race ever, and that was without competition and money, and most races are just like this. You won't see the trail elites out there to make a big living of the sport; the ones who make any significant living, like Dean, do so from marketing themselves, not from winning prize purses. And it is safe to say that Dean has done great things for the sport of running without affecting grass roots experience.

    People who think money is bad for the sport have irrational fears about "impurifying" of the sport. This is hogwash and for runners/races of a very traditional mindset (western states 100 comes to mind; ironically they are a big money for-profit business and not as grassrootsy as you may think, and they offer no prize money at all). I love the small non-prize races just as much as races that have money, and for all of us %95 of races in the US and internationally will never have prize money, which is fine, so we can get whatever experience we want on any given weekend. The rare prize money is sometimes the last carrot draw the best to come to some races (JFK included), but mostly the top guys and gals just want to duke it out and have a good time doing it in a spectacular setting.

  4. Ben Nephew

    I have no issues with prize money. I really don't see any downsides, and it will lead to improved performances by all, which is exciting. One negative change I've seen that is independent of the money is the growth of trail running, and how it has impacted a lot of races. I miss being able to show up at a race and register. As races have gotten bigger, the fees have gotten larger while at the same time you have to register months in advance. Most of the growth of the NF races is not attributable to the money, it's intense advertising. Don't get me wrong, I love that more and more people are trail running, and hope it continues. I just don't want Bear Mountain to turn into the Boston Marathon. I mean, we had to take a bus to the start this year??

    I don't agree that money changes tactics either. The way a race unfolds is an organic development that is directly a result of the field. At Bear Mountain 2009, everyone took off like it was a 10k. It was faster than the start of the IAU trail challenge in Serre Chevalier. The inefficient pacing of so many ultra runners is something I don't understand (time in the bank??), but recently people have been running more evenly. At Bear Mountain 2010, with Roes and Parr there, the start was much slower, and the same was true of NF DC last year with Wardian setting the pace at the start. I'm not sure all those guys that went out too hard learned something new last weekend. Most probably knew they were going too fast.

    I hope that the trail companies put more money into competitive races, possibly working with USATF or the IAU. Neither organization is perfect, but look at what the USATF MUT has done with US mountain running over the last decade. In my two IAU races, I've been incredibly impressed with the organization at both events. Even the world road 50k is only a few years old, I think the Galway race was the second most competitive 50k behind Two Oceans this year. It is unlikely that most trail and ultra runners will make a lot of money from the sport, so national or international funding will be extremely helpful in creating the most competitive championship races possible.

    The Headlands is an incredible place to run, but it's not very technical. You can run many trails while looking around, or even with your eyes closed. If people want to distance trail races from road ultrarunners and marathoners, more technical races may be needed. However, the hills of the Headlands compensate for the lack of technical trails to some extent. Many people that have done well there can handle tough trails. The most unique challenge in my opinion are the runnable downhills. Even if you can find similar terrain to train on, I don't know how many people practice running downhill that hard at the end of long runs. I think running well on that course requires some very specific training, similar to the Boston marathon.

  5. KenZ

    ——

    MONEY

    ——

    I'm rather new to ultras, but my perspective on the money thing seems relatively in line with others.

    My impression from the four that I've run (3×50, 1×100) is that there are like 5-8 people in a race of hundreds who actually care about place. The rest of us just love the personal challenge and the social companionship. I don't see money changing that for us crowds.

    For the front runners, will $ change it? Sure. Maybe they can eek out a living. Maybe more top runners will show up for the money races. Maybe it'll defray entry costs. And yes, maybe there will someday be cheating, but not by the current crop of leaders from what I've seen. It's not in their nature. So if there is cheating, then as someone earlier said, that'll sort itself out, with drug tests, and/or GPS tags so that post-race their course adherence can be verified. Maybe the extra money will change the atmosphere a bit, but there will ALWAYS be low key races without it. Like Marathons: Don't like the crowds at Boston? Run a local trail one with a bunch of friendly no-names. No problem.

    More money also brings in more research. Research into best feeding and hydration practices. Training methodologies. Injury avoidance. Lighter gear. Whatever. And us in the masses can choose whether or not to listen, learn, and/or buy, or not.

    So really, money may change things, but you'll always be able to find a place where it's not changed.

    ——–

    MONEY AND THE INSANE STARTING PACE

    ——–

    I've seen it oft-noted that one of the possible reasons older men and women do well in these things as compared to (most) young males is less testosterone (clearly tons of other physiological reasons as well). I just chuckle at the beginning of these races I'm in watching all these people, mostly younger and male, launch off at paces that CLEARLY they aren't going to be able to sustain. And then it's fun the second half to always pass, and never be passed. Will money change/influence this? Only for the ones that weren't going to win anyway! Like you say Brian, they should come away from these a bit wiser. Terrain being equal, marathons are generally run faster with a negative split. Not sure how that holds up for 50s, but the point is that early pacing at a measured pace for your ability is key to your own personal best time. So one must by strong AND wise to win. Money does not make you wiser. Or stronger.

  6. Bryon Powell

    Scott, while it's a whole different subject, I think that the ultra racing scene risks becoming too fractionated. The sport is growing tremendously and countless new races are popping up… and many of them are quite good. That's spreading the talent out to a wide group of races. I think it's good that a couple races will put significant money out to draw all of the elites to a single event to duke it out. (By significant, I mean well over $1,000. Anything less barely covers travel and lost work unless you're local.)

  7. Bryon Powell

    Mark, thanks for the too kind words. I agree about Gripmaster. He's the man. I need to hire him for a quick shoot the next time we're together.

    As for your second paragraph, both Western States and the TNF Championships are pretty darn egalitarian. WS lets in a small number of runners via the Montrail Ultra Cup. I've tracked the entrants in the TNF Championships and elites around the world need to enter before it fills just like anyone else. Anita Ortiz couldn't get in last year and David James only got in last minute off the waitlist. I think a few TNF athletes may have entered after the field was closed, but I'd rather have a main sponsor let its healthy athletes in last minute than fill 15 spots only to have 7 or 8 race.

    Don't ever count on prize money at Western States or UTMB. It won't happen until race leadership changes.

  8. Bryon Powell

    Going forward White River will no longer by the USATF 50 mile trail championship. While there are some notable exceptions, White River's great fields of the past were actually largely regional runners from Washington, Oregon, and BC. Neither the marginal cash not the more marginal prestige of a USATF championship were enough to draw top competitors even on a national level.

  9. Bryon Powell

    I agree that there will always be grassroots race and events in ultrarunning. In fact, the vast majority of ultra races will stay grassroots…. and if there's plenty of grassroots events why would we get upset if there are championship level events. To put this in road running terms, if every small town has a 5k spring run and 10k turkey trot, should the local runners get upset that the Olympics are contested? I think not.

  10. Bryon Powell

    Mackey, you've hit the nail on head… or a whole deck's worth of nails on the head. I'm no elite, but I'm excited to run Western States and UTMB next year. You know what? I'm also excited as hell to be running the Red Hot Moab, Antelope Island Buffalo Run, and Rocky Mountain Double Marathon. Each race on my calendar will be quite different, but I'm looking forward to them all.

  11. Bryon Powell

    If Krissy Moehl can't even get into the race without earning a Montrail Ultra Cup spot, then I know the race directors aren't playing any favorites. The $370 is well over a week's earnings for me this year, but I'll gladly pay it…. but if I win a silver buckle next year, I still might give it back in hopes of a cheap entry fee in 2012.

      1. Bryon Powell

        It'd be interesting to see which out of the top 10 get their entries covered by sponsors. I'd guess at least 4-5 of last's year's top were covered then and for a return trip this year. On the women's side, two of last year's top 10 were certainly covered for the 2010 race, and I'd say at least 3 are covered for next year (if they return) with maybe 2 additional women covered.

  12. Bryon Powell

    Scott, I'd love to chat with you about your comping experiences. I had to pay for a hotel the first night I was in the Bay Area covering the race. That kinda guaranteed that I'd end up in the hole for the weekend.

    No complaints here if more money spilled over into supporting the media. At various times, I've received some support from companies to cover races (not necessarily even races they sponsor), but, to date, only two companies have provided any significant cash backing for iRunFar. I dream of a day when I can put together a proposal for a year's worth of iRunFar coverage to a confederation of Salomon, The North Face, Montrail/Mountain Hardwear, La Sportiva, and others. Trust me, I'm thankful for what I have and the support I've received, but this ain't an easy row to hoe.

  13. Morgan Williams

    Bryon

    The UK experience is this. We used to have 2 systems in fell running; professional (also known as "guides") and amateur. The pro races were long established and generally organised around village fairs, fetes and the like. As well as prize money there was betting, certainly in the early part of the 20th century. They tended to be short up and down races.

    The amateur races grew up from the late 60s and early 70s and tended to be longer. Slowly the number of amateur races grew, the Fell Runners asssociation was formed and there are now over 500 races on the calendar of all distances and types. Prizes are very rarely cash, usually gear, booze or food.

    The 2 codes didn't really mix.

    The pro races were and are organised by the British Open Fell Running Association. One of the greatest ever guides races, Kenny Stuart, won 32 out of 33 starts in (I think) 1982 and won £1,200. This, I would guess, didn't even cover his gas bills to travel up and down the country racing. (He subsequently was reinstated as an amateur.

    Bizarely, in the mid 1980s we had a crisis. Over the winter, BOFRA always organised (and still do) a series of races to help the pros keep fit over the dark months. No prizes; just results.

    The amateur code was under the wing of the Amateur Athletic Association (now replaced by UK Athletics). The codes were not allowed to mix; amateurs were not allowed to "consort with professionals".

    A few amateurs, needing races between November and February, competed in some of the Winter League races. Within weeks they were banned from all competition for the heinous "crime" of consorting with professionals.

    (It's worth noting that at the time Coe, Ovett and Cram were competing regularly for multiple tens of thousands of pounds which went into their trust funds, but somehow retained their amateur status.)

    People took sides for a period of time. Families were split. Blood was almost spilt.

    Eventually the FRA and BOFRA sat down and sorted the mess out. Now fell running is an "open" sport and anyone can compete in any kind of race without sanction. The BOFRA races still give cash prizes, but the values are small.

    A small core of runners do the BOFRA (pro) races now. The vast bulk do the FRA (amateur) races (of which there are a much greater number) and that includes all our ultra events.

    Basically, our ethos here is that we don't race for money. Prizes are gearally modest. Fields are big and getting bigger. I don't see that changing any time soon.

    So, I'm not best placed to comment on whether or not £££s in ultras is a good or a bad thing. Most fell runners in the UK run the fells because they love it. They don't make any money doing it, and probably spend a fair sum each year pursuing their passion.

    Because of our ethos, if there was ever significant prize money over here, I suspect quite a few would walk away from the sport, or more likely would try and recreate the amateur code to which we are so wedded.

    Morgan

  14. Mark

    Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else- Vince Lombardi

    Is this not the essence of ultrarunning? Men will continue to toe the line and give all they have. Lets support their accomplishments. This is their finest hour. We would expect the same.

  15. Bryon Powell

    Matt,

    Even some who are undoubtedly out there for the love of the trails and competing contemplated the money aspect. The following is a comment Anton Krupicka left on George Zack's blog last week:

    Excellent comment, Nick [Clark]. You've voiced exactly what almost all of the current top dudes think about the sport. I think/know we all "get it" wrt the grassroots nature of ultras and the inherent value in that sort of experience–and I think all of us still love running for running's sake–but it's just a little bit absurd when a race like WS enjoys the hype and astronomical entry fees that come with every fast dude in the country/world wanting to be in the race and doesn't reward the resultant performances in any way. Especially when the folks making that decision (about prize money) are taking home a not insubstantial paycheck.

    Two other things in a similar vein:

    1) Why the hell hasn't TNF ponied up serious prize money at UTMB yet? All this talk about a need for a 100 mile championship…well, UTMB seems like the perfect already-existing event. It's at a moderate altitude, the course is classic, the competition is there and the organization and hype is off the charts.

    2) I would very much like to see TNF (or anyone who awards a bunch of prize money) pay the extra money to require drug-testing for the top three finishers. I'm not accusing anyone, because I honestly believe the top-3 finishers on Saturday were clean, but $10K is a lot of money and someone will always be tempted at some point in the future.

  16. Bryon Powell

    Pablo, I hate to burst your bubble, but Tony, Geoff, and Nick certainly consider the money in addition to honour and glory. Tony and Nick spoke out about the lack of prize money just last week http://georgezack.blogspot.com/2010/12/monday-120610.html and I'm fairly certain that Geoff has considered the money in entering the TNF Championships the past three years and in racing two TNF regional races this year.

    I hope you get a chance to race against a top international ultra trail field in the near future.

    While I think doping controls may be necessary at some point, it'd be a close call right now with the quite limited yearly potential winnings. I don't think doping controls are needed at an ultra offering a $1,000 purse. Unless local runners want to dope for $1,000, I can imagine folks would travel very fair and race 50-100 miles for a couple $100 after travel expenses.

    Many thanks for your kind words, Pablo. I am doing my best to promote the sport… and to do so globally. I want to see the top runners from Boulder, USA; Mardid, Spain; Tokyo, Japan; or wherever squaring off against one another.

  17. Ben Nephew

    Drizzle,

    I agree with the comment on the race strategy and prize money, but you are selling JFK short. While it can be hard to compare times from year to year at many races, everyone knows that sub 6 at JFK is fast, no matter who is there. It's obviously ideal if you can also beat a strong field, but the history at JFK allows for fast times to receive considerable recognition.

    The argument for fast marathoners effectively transitioning to fast ultras is more likely to hold for road events than trails. There are dozens of stories of fast marathoners getting beat at trail ultras by guys they would destroy on the roads.

    Back in the 70's and 80's, fast road guys ran ultras much more frequently, and those ultra times were much faster than the times being run today (with the exception of 50k's which weren't really popular back then). The few fast marathoners that have gotten into trail ultras haven't run as fast as I would have guessed. I don't know if faster times will come from road marathoners moving to trails as a result of more prize money.

  18. Bryon Powell

    Terri,

    Thanks for offering up a parallel example with triathlons. I have no perspective there, but I've certainly seen prize money create interest in the trail community. Prize money has consolidated competition, which creates marquee events for the public and the media to focus on. If it weren't for the competition, I wouldn't be writing a story about the race for Trail Runner Mag for the second year in a row.

    Glad you are liking the site and my work. I'll be doing more of the same in 2011. … Oh, and returning to racing, too. Thanks for the well wishes! :-)

  19. Bryon Powell

    Mayayo, I'm unfamiliar with the Leadville 100 info. I've never heard of folks taking salt, anti-inflammatories, or maybe caffeine, but only on the scale of a cup of coffee or two, which is well inside international competition criteria. The caffeine folks are just trying to stay awake, not boost their endurance capabilities.

    I'm not sure WS100 will "learn" anything from UTMB. The race has an entirely different ethos. Having such a small race field and the desire to let the common man have his or her chance to run, they simply don't and won't let all the top talents, foreign or domestic, into the race.

  20. Bryon Powell

    I wouldn't hold my breathe looking for the USATF to provide significant championship funding for ultra prize purses. The USATF hasn't even provided the 100k national team with sufficient funds to travel to the world championships. They might be onto Mountain Running, but not ultras. I won't speculate as to the how or why, but I don't see ultras' inclusion in the USATF as a positive at the moment.

  21. Bryon Powell

    KenZ, great comments and perspective. The one thing I'll respond with is that the growth of the sport and the interaction of companies and their elite sponsored athletes will result in some ridiculously light and high performing products in the coming years.

  22. Bryon Powell

    Will, I agree that TNF might have been a watershed event… even having watch WS and UTMB this year. There were four possible winners at WS and more than that at TNF, not to mention a much more international field.

  23. Bryon Powell

    Ed, I agree that WS and UTMB will not have prize money, but think it's more because of the philosophies of the organizers than the lack of a "need" of prize money to draw top runners. The TNF Championships are the best example of your "new race" comment. They wanted an exciting race and built one very quickly with the sport's biggest prize purse, at least in the US.

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