Prize Purses in Ultras: Leadville 100 Next?

A few weeks ago I was running with Nick Clark in Chamonix, France when he mentioned the possibility of the Leadville 100 offering prize money next year. I’ve yet to hear any further details on the possibility, but the possibility alone highlights the increasing significance of prize money in ultrarunning. What’s particularly telling are the circumstances surrounding Leadville’s possible cash purse next year.

[Sept 8 Update from the Leadville 100:

Any speculation or rumors around prize money for any of 2012 Leadville Race Series events are just that – hearsay. The Leadville events have a long-standing tradition centered on challenging one’s limits, accomplishing a goal and celebrating with hardware once completed. There are no plans to mess with that tradition by offering a purse of any kind.]

On one hand, Leadville is one of the classic ultramarathons and is one of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning races. It’s also the largest 100 miler in the US and its fame has only increased with the race’s prominence in Born to Run.

On the other hand, it has a history of strong, but not championship level competition. I say that all due respect for a race that I actually enjoy quite a bit. However, the fact is that I’ve twice placed in the top 10 there (6th in ’06 and 10th in ’09), while never placing in the top 20 at Western States despite equally strong races there. What’s worse for Leadville is that Western States has been building its competitiveness and, now, The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is turning into the de facto 100 mile world championship only a week after Leadville with at least the latter race is drawing top competitors from Leadville.

What’s a top race to do in such a situation? If the rumors are true, then, apparently, adding a significant prize pursue is seen as a way of upping the competition in a hurry. It’s yet to be seen what that money may be. I suppose that a $1000 top prize wouldn’t change things a whole lot aside from maybe getting a few more flatland specialists to toe the line, while $10,000 would instantly bring three or more international level stars to the race.

I’ve got no dog in this fight (I’ll never contend for cash purses at an ultra) nor do I have anything in particular against Leadville adding a prize purse. In this day and age of ultrarunning, cash talks. Big money was the spark that made The North Face Endurance Challenge championships an international caliber race in just a few years. A total of $10,000 in prize money is sure helping the Ultra Race of Champions launch with an all-star field in a couple week. Even races as venerable as Western States have at least considered prize money. Then again, I feel confident that UTMB will never offer prize money so long as the Polettis are its race directors and it’s become the most competitive trail ultramarathon in the world… so maybe cash isn’t king after all.

Call for Comments
What do you think about increasing prize money in ultras? Is it a good way to support the inspiring elites in out sport? Is it counter to the roots of the sport?

Will this trend of more prize money continue? Will it manifest in even bigger purses at a few select races? Will prize money start to trickle down to smaller, local races?

Are there other likely consequences that come with prize money and, if so, how can we avoid or at least limit them?

There are 58 comments

  1. Joachim

    So I'm an unblooded newbie…

    I have come to love running greatly, and was drawn emotionally to the ultra trail scene mostly because of the ambience mentioned and the obvious cameraderie born out of shared joy evident in all the media I came accross.

    I was driving with my girlfriend between Salzburg and Vienna last weekend eulogising about the world of ultra trails and the ambience of investment in the act of running in the landscape as a near political statement about lifestyle and relative values. For me, the world of ultra trails is new, exciting and still shiny: I may be suffering from a bad case of rose coloured spectacles, but one of the points I raised had precisely to do with the sport being hardly tainted by money – and that I guess this might change as the outdoor industry drives further into sponsoring and teams.

    My instinctive response to this then, is a sinking feeling and the words "damn, once again ten years too late…" The head tries to rationalise this response, and there are a whole host of arguments as to why prize money is no bad thing.

    A german language utlra trail site put it thus: " this is not a competition, it is an event to establish which of us is faster on the day." My fear is that the money angle will turn that ethos around and undermine the essence of the shared joy in running free as being the motivation for the lifestyle.

    Maybe its just a bad case of nostalgia in advance – but you know, I once enjoyed cycle-racing… know what i mean?

  2. George Zack

    I am all for prize money in the sport of ultras. It means more competition, more chasing of fast times, and better sport exposure.

    But it will bring at least two things folks are not gonna like. More DNFs and more chatter about possible PED use.

  3. brendan t

    Well you said it yourself, Bryon. Only the top few guys in each race would ever be gunning for the $$… for the rest of us, ultrarunning is still the same, introspective activity that drew us in to begin with.

    The biggest change I see is prize money requires more outside sponsorship, which in turn leads to more corporate branding. This has already become evident from races like the TNF series. I don't think this ruins the friendly appeal of the sport.

    That said, I (sadly) have to agree with GZ on the drugs thing has a possible consequence… money attracts greed, and greed often yields to rule-breaking

  4. Tony Mollica

    Currently we have a clean sport (at least as far as I know). I hope that it stays that way with prize money coming in. I don't want our sport to turn into cycling. Currently I pay no attention to cycling because of the PED's.

  5. Dean

    I'm a newcomer to this sport. Like the first poster, I'm drawn to it by the spirit of the men and women who take part. I'm also drawn by the idea that one day (in the distant future) I will be able to test myself in the races that I read about in magazines and on-line. Races that are increasingly harder to get into.

    For me, testing myself won't mean running for the win. Or even for a top twenty. It will mean running for a finish. Time will merely be measure of my training's effectiveness.

    Having seen Bryon's coverage of the UTMB (Bryon — you rock) , it would seem to me that it isn't a question of IF prize money is coming to this sport, it is merely a question of WHEN.

    Wouldn't it be fantastic if, instead of letting the money dictate how the races change, organizers of the events can plan ahead, so that as the money did pour in, it wouldn't have has much chance to "taint" things?

    What will this mean? I'm no expert. But what comes to mind is: a structure whereby any money put into the sport is divided between the prize purse AND the race support. In other words, if North Face is going to sink money into say: the Western States… I'd sure like it if some of that money was spent so that we could expand the size of the field, perhaps holding tiered races over an entire week, thus letting in more of guys like me, in return for what will undoubtedly be loss of some of the charm of the sport's roots.

  6. Cody L. Custis

    As one of the 95% (or 99%) of runners who have no possibility of winning any prize money, why would I want race resources dedicated to prize money for the few? I don’t enter events to compete against people, I enter them to compete against nature.

  7. Art Messier

    I'm an over the hill back of the packer who's already economically comfortable so I'm sure my views are irrelevant.

    But I transitioned to ultras from climbing and fastpacking as way to gain some speed and endurance while travelling in the mountains I love. I run against myself, not against others.

    I already loathe those ultras that run around in circles just to get the mileage in, and only run races with beautiful country. Now its prize money and corporate sponsorship ?

    To each their own I guess.

    Competition seems to be human nature, and so also, it seems, is the desire to destroy the things we love.

    I can always return to fastpacking in complete solitude and anonymity if the hoopla gets to distasteful.

  8. Kieran

    I have the same likelihood of winning money at ultra events as I do of winning a Tony award, but I'm all for the idea. While GZ's concerns are true and well stated, at the moment, if you claimed all the top money for every major ultra in the country, you'd probably still be hovering around the poverty line, if you had a family. The best men and women deserve a chance to support themselves doing what they do so well. I support anything that helps them get that chance.

  9. Jenny Handy

    As a back of the packer who will likely never win any money, I think it's fine for the top guys and gals to have the chance. My only concern is that the draw of prize money will draw more people, making my chances of even getting in to races even more slim.

  10. Mike B.

    Well said Brendan, I agree.

    It doesn't change the sport for me. Running in the mountains is like going to church for me. I love running for that spiritual connection I feel when I'm running through nature.

    I would love to see the sport of ultrarunning get some TV coverage but I realize that money can and probably will lead to PED use. The guys that race for a living should be compensated for their hard work. Hard to balance the money with the spirit of the sport.

  11. Heini

    When there is prize money and there are good prizes for the top 3 i think more african runners will do ultras and over 10 year they will dominate the sport

    1. mylesmyles

      We have a FAR way to go before this becomes an issue in ultra running. Haile Galibarese(sp) got a reportd $750k appearance fee for running the ING NYC Marathon last year (and he didn't even finish), so the good money is still in marathons for the elite and semi elite guys.

      That said I think more prize money would be good for the sport. It would increase the competitive nature and bring new people into the fold.

  12. Mike Place

    The way I see all this heading is that the differences between various categories of trail running are becoming more distinct.

    The first and largest category is the traditional ultra trail race which, I think we can all see, is about to have a *lot* more cash and corporate sponsorship dumped into it. Obviously, that appeals to a lot of the top guys and gals and I'm sure it appeals to a lot of the fans as well. Plus, organized events are a great way for newcomers to trail running and ultras to get their feet wet.

    I think that what you're also seeing now is a lot of folks who have been involved in running/racing organized 50K/50M/100K/100M events for a while start to get more attracted to multi-days, adventure runs, fast-packing and chasing FKTs. Though there's the occasional (and necessary) bit of corporate sponsorship involved in some of those attempts, they seem to me to have a distinctly different flavor than racing.

    Runners have plenty of room to gravitate toward the corners of the sport that most appeals to them and avoid the parts that don't.

  13. Maurice Politis

    There should be a cure for mute discussions, "US vs EU runners", prize money, mandatory equipment, lycras or god knows what else. IMO the prize issue is ill posed to begin with since winning is by definition a prize whether adding a monetary aspect can alter some perceptions I don't think anyone would disagree that top placements are monetized indirectly in the end. Olympic games proved that admitting to the obvious and accepting that top athletes are professionals is vastly preferable to the alternative. Using performance-enhancing drugs has jack to do with pro-sports; just look up the history Giro d'Italia or Tour de France in the 20/30's. I just wish for as-safe-as-possible, well-organised events that are a joy to take part, along with the Pros in the middle of the pack. In essence we ask for the organizers to create a safety net so that we can experience adventure running in the wilderness. I am a middle-bottom of the pack runner and enjoy pushing for my own limits and comparing my efforts with that of my peers. I don't buy into arguments about "purity" and "compete with nature", in the end "if you don't play to win, why keep the score" or else if you only want to compete with nature why subject yourself to a time-trial with cut-offs, just hike it.

  14. olga

    If it comes from sponsors and advertises – sure, whatever, doesn't concern me, pays a buck to a fast dude. If it comes as part of my fee and goes to someone's pocket instead of enriching the race experience (AS's and so on) or the fee goes up due to this idea – nah, please don't.

    1. Mike Place

      This actually brings up another point.

      I can't think of any examples in which corporate sponsorship has actually lowered entrance fees for an event. Anybody checked what it costs to run the ING NYC Marathon or an official IM triathlon lately? (You don't want to know.)

      if anything, corporate sponsorship just seems to bring a whole new set of requirements for organizers to meet that ends up making everything more expensive.

      I'd be a lot more excited about the prospect of heavy corporate sponsorship if that money was being used to actually offset the cost of the event. I just don't see that happening. Instead, events grow unnecessarily larger and prices go up.

  15. Tammy Massie

    Having just run Leadville 100 as a back of the packer, I hope the race organizers use any extra funds to ensure adequate supplies at the aid stations rather than prize money.

    I arrived at the first aid station, May Queen-mile 13.5, with the expectation of refilling my bottle with sports drink.

    I was 15 minutes ahead of the cutoff so there should be sports drink, right???

    There was no sports drink! They had run out and only had water.

    From my perspective any race should not offer any prize money until they are providing all runners who have made the cutoffs with promised aid station products including beverages and food.

    I have noticed the big events with prize money running out of supplies (even for those beating the cutoffs) seems to occur with more frequency than races offering no prize money. This includes both large and small events for ultra distances (which now includes 100 milers but I have also observed this issue in 50 milers, 50 kms and marathons as a runner as well as a volunteer).

  16. Tom Caughlan

    I would personally like to see much larger prize purses in ultras in addition to making it an olympic sport. Burro racing has bigger prize purses here in CO than competitive trail/ ultra races.

    After watching the Connemara coverage I was very encouraged by how entertaining the sport is as opposed to track or road running.

    Plus, I'm tired of all the boobs in mainstream sports with 35% body fat getting paid millions of dollars. Look at some of the ridiculous olympic sports out there.

    Trail running is an absolutely raw and pure sport and no amount of corporate advertising dollars can change that. Doping doesn't appeal to any ultra/ trail runner I've ever met, hopefully the supportive community and higher character would keep cheating away.

    Bring it on, its still a race. The winner and podium should get paid for being outstanding athletes, and paid well.

    1. Art Messier

      Corporate Dollars change anything and everthing, don't be naive. They even change the inner psyche of great athletes. Not saying its bad, it just is. Money is a very sharp double edged sword, be careful.

  17. Alison

    I disagree with the idea that putting a prize purse in ultras will lead to the use of performance enhancing drugs. I really don't think that the prize purses put up for ultras will ever be near lucrative enough for athletes to be able to self-justify spending the money on the drugs. A couple thousand dollars a few times a year does not pay for that type of drug use. Large prize purses are only found in races with large numbers of participants (such as Chicago or New York marathons) or races with a large media following (such as the Tour de France). What a prize purse will do is help the top runners be able to travel to the top races and help them to work a little less in their "real" jobs and spend a bit more time training. Having come to ultras from a road racing background, I miss the prize money. I used to be able to go to a 10k or half marathon and pick up a couple of hundred dollars every month. Now I might put out a couple of hundred of dollars in entry fees to win a trophy that eventually ends up in the trash. Prize money would allow some runners who depend on that extra money to move from the roads to the trails, enhancing the competitiveness and general knowledge of our sport.

    1. George Zack

      Alison – it is know there are folks in endurance sports taking PEDs where there is NO money. In other words, they take them just to perform better and reach some level of "prestige" with that performance. If they are doing it for ZERO dollars, it will happen with a few more bucks.

      Again – as I said – I am in favor of prize money in ultras because I think the benefits outweigh the detriments.

      1. Hone

        GZ is right.

        90ish percent of the people that use steriods are common gym rats (not athletes). They are spending a lot of cash for no other reason then to look good. People will go to great lengths for the acceptance of their peers. It does not matter if money is involved.

        Does anyone really believe ultrarunning 100 percent immune to this?

  18. Jas Reeves

    So when is the last time corporate America got involved in anything and didn't foul it all up? A slippery slope indeed as Art pointed out already. If they can find a way to profit from involvement in ultra running they will do so and it will change the scenery.

  19. jeffrey

    Personally, I want "bottom line" "it's just business" corporate squares that most likely don't even run as far away from races as humanly possible. I mean, really, I can't believe this is even being considered by the same community of people that I've enjoyed being apart of for so long now. Only the smallest percentage of us even stand a remote chance to win any of these races yet there seems to be a strange interest in worrying about the financial welfare of top competitors and attracting new runners and recognition for the sport, etc… Why? Who cares. What's wrong with the way things are now(or even the way it was). Some people just can't leave a good thing alone. It's just never enough. But…I suppose the change is on it's way. The same change, brought to you by the same kind of people that brought in WalMart and killed all the mom and pop's. These people are cut from the same cloth as those who flood the roadside with billboards, tear down old growth forests to make way for resorts and vacation homes and break your bank ever time you have to go to the doctor. But I'm sure they will have our best interests at heart and would never do us the same way.

    1. Mike B.

      Some of the blame needs to be placed on the people that purchase the products and homes. If people didn't buy the homes built on those deforested lands they wouldn't do it again. It is like saying pro-ball players shouldn't be paid those huge salaries, we are the ones who are watching the sports and supporting this kind of activity.

      1. jeffrey

        Mike B, solid point. So I for one will not watch/participate/support these events once the inevitable decline takes hold. Much like I avoid pro-ball, WalMart, big city marathons, etc…These soul-sucking activities/enterprises are what drew me and many, many others to trail ultras in the first place. You give these people an inch and they take a mile. If one needs a reminder of this, go to the next big road race and absorb the negative energy surrounding the event and I think many of us will yearn for what a special thing we have(had?) at trail races.

        1. Modern Woman

          Some of these runners sacrifice a lot to get into the kind of shape it takes to compete at an elite level. I find nothing wrong with them making some cash off of their dedication. Hobby joggers do not understand this. What is wrong with them putting some coin in their pocket?

          Also save the purity BS because you are no different than everyone else. You sell out to the corporate machine every time you buy a pair of sneakers or a new North Face t-shirt. You are a parasite on this planet just like all of us.

          1. jeffrey

            Modern Woman – very true, I have purchased my fair pair of sneakers and I suppose I am a parasite just like you said. But, I do try to minimize my impact as well as find connection and meaning with my fellow parasites in experiences that are as far from "the machine" as possible. Don't worry though, you have millions of corporate dollars backing your idea and the big corporations don't seem to care much about what I have to say, lot's of suits are about to make a lot more money and us hobby joggers can go back to ridiculously seeking purity with our North Face shirts on. The trail remains the trail, regardless of whether there's a race being held, so I guess all points are moot. I guess I just thought I found something, that was a long time ago now, that I thought was gonna be different, guess not, and so it goes…

    2. John

      What is going to prevent you from just going up and running in the mountains? What will prevent you from joining your own mom and pop race or putting one on yourself? Nothing. This will change a few big events. Like it or not with the sport gaining popularity that change was already coming without prize money or corporate sponsorship being a factor.

      Why do we have an interest in the welfare of our top competitors? Because being a top competitor means you sacrifice other aspects of your life. It usually means that you have to support yourself from your athleticism…and right now that just isn't possible for a lot of ultrarunners. Having better athletes will attract more people to the sport (Which you may want but I don't mind) which can lead to improvements across the board. More dollars for conservation funds, potentially more volunteer hours out on trails, etc.

      You want it to stay the same? There will always be little mom and pop races that you can attend. Did corporate sponsorship ruin marathons? You could argue that it ruined some…but there are still PLENTY out there for the average joe to compete in without getting tied up prize money or bottom lines.

  20. Phil

    Having just completed my first Ultra ( just saying that brings a lump to my throat)I have no problem with the money thing especially if the associated advertising money is ploughed back into the sport. I too agree with another comment about the food/drink stops. I run in France and am suprised at the lack of 'endurance' food available. Surely there is room for improvement here despite the fact that we've all got our own stuff. Also I am continually suprised at the rather meek receptions I see in videos for Western,Badwater, etc. After all that effort can't the organisers do a little better? Is this a money thing? I mean you've done these things Bryon…What do you think?

  21. Kix

    I am fairly new to trail running as well, I left more organized events of triathlon and road running because of out of control attitudes, egos and aggression. I find the trail running community more about people completing the distances. I can sympathize with the position Leadville finds itself in. If people stop going to this race perhaps it will disappear and that will be bad for all of us. So, how do we keep these races around so that we can all enjoy them? I don't know. Perhaps it becomes the natural way of everything changes and nothing remains forever. I sit the fence as I do support a races need to provide money to draw participants but, I fear that same money will lead to out of control race numbers, increased race fees, lottery slots and the whole thing. I guess we do not need to travel to these events – if we feel they are becoming too corporate for our liking. We can stay away or run the same trails just not on "race" day to test ourselves or to enjoy the area.

    1. Mike B.

      Money hasn't ruined all marathons. I did the Tahoe marathon in 2010 and found it quite nice and still somewhat small. I believe that we will still be able to find fun races to do, although it will be a shame if they ruin the big races like Western States (I would like a chance to run in this race).

  22. astroyam

    The 'Comrades Marathon' in South Africa is about 54 miles long, quite hilly, and has a prize purse over $200,000. The result: average pace for the winners is about 5:52 per mile… FAST.

    And yes, drugs are in the mix like all pro sports.

  23. quosh

    I think sponsorship and prize money brings an inevitable paradigm shift towards professionalism and celebrity. There's alot of money to be made selling kit for the great outdoors. But you need to attract 'brand ambassadors'.

    I don't think professional sport is a good model for creating a) a level playing field or b) well-rounded people.

    In the UK the fell running scene manages to be competitive and well grounded. Nobody wins much other than respect and a trophy or a pair of trainers. Everybody has a beer together afterwards. And everybody has another life during the working week. It's the essense of what I think sport should be: one element of a rich and varied life.

  24. Tom Caughlan

    I would never advocate for full blown corporate involvement in trail running, but lets be honest… it already is. The Leadville 100 is owned by Bahram Akradi CEO of Lifetime Fitness. A lucrative deal or a pet project, who knows? But, the corporate guys are already in the game at every level, whether it be through providing gels and drinks during the race, providing race sponsorship, or through sponsoring athletes and ambassadors. It will change the sport and it is currently changing the sport. Look at the last half decade alone! Having participated in race directing I think that if a coporate entity is going to advertise and claim that they're putting on a race they should be giving much more than they do.

    This sport will continue to grow with or without corporate sponsors giving prize money, which they don't do now. It will always be a niche sport and there is a point of saturation, but we're not there yet.

    So, all I'm advocating for is that prize money be given. That is all. Most of the top guys are paying there own travel expenses which adds up quick. One shouldn't have to be an ascetic to succeed in this sport at a high level, unless it is their own personal philosophy of course.

  25. darthrunner

    To all the "purists", what's stopping you from running as far as you want, wherever you want on any day you want? A couple weeks ago a couple friends and I ran 100 miles through the Idaho wilderness for the fun of it. No sponsors, no spectators, one "aid station" at mile 55. It was incredible and nobody paid or won a cent. Stop whining and take a little responsibility for "your" sport. If you want a low key event then step up and organize one. Nobody is stopping you.
    That being said, I see sponsorship and prize money as the natural evolution of this or any other competition that people are willing to pay to be involved in. Its gonna happen and you have a choice to involve yourself in that or not. I've run plenty of 100s and will continue to pay to race. Heck, ill throw in a few bucks to see the fast guys (and girls) run their guts out. Ill also take plenty of long satisfying runs that have nothing to do with racing.
    Bottom line, it is what you make it. Stop whining, go run however makes YOU happy.

    1. Tom Caughlan

      Well said Darthrunner. I think that the "Fat Ass" events, which I love taking part in, are a very fun way to get a bunch of runners together for free, non-competition fun. I hope more of them pop up around the country.

  26. blabelle

    Western States did have prize money in 1984. If I recall, it was sponsored by Levi's that year, and money went at least 5 deep, plus masters. First place got $2500, second got $1500, etc. Equal for men and women. That was in 1984 dollars, so it would be about double that now. Prize money was nice to have, but I didn't give up my day job. We were there for the competition, not the money. There were several fast runners in the race – Jim King, Jim Howard, Skip Hamilton, Rae Clark, even Barney Klecker if I recall, and several other fast guys whose names I can't think of at the moment. What prize money can bring to a race is recognition, and a nod of acknowledgement to the elite runners. My feeling is that whether or not a race has prize money, what's most important is the race experience for all those who toe the line and for all those who make it happen.

  27. Jeff Noel A

    quoting from the book of CM bTr> pg 85-86:

    "Ultrarunners…had nothing to gain: no fame, no wealth, no medals..No one knew who they were, or cared for their strange rambles through the woods. THEY DIDN'T EVEN get PRIZE MONEY…all you get for winning an ultra is the same belt buckle as the guy who comes in last."

    Yes, to say this quote/lines from THAT book lured me into the beauty of the sport is such a cliche…But it just really true.. pure.. sincere… Keep it as it is. If peeps can't do Both leadville and UTMB same year, tough luck (i think that's the pseudo-argument). Let it be.

    let UROC in couple of weeks be the only one with prize money. my 2cnts

    (then catching head and heart that night.. woot woot!)

    Jeff Noel A.

    "You'll Never run Alone"

  28. Speedgoatkarl

    Here's my two cents…..On Leadville and UTMB offering prize money.

    UTMB brings in at least 1 million dollars in entry fees. Now that is freakin' huge. They do put a shitload of money towards the race, helicopters, media, it's an incredible event to put on, far greater than little Leadville. Are you telling me that they can't donate a meager 10% ($100,000) to give away for a prize. They should offer 100k easy as a purse, but nope, they keep it and put it in their pockets. They should make a few 100k for themselves for putting on a great event, that's fair. It's just ridiculous to think that it's all about finishing and getting a lousy belt buckle. Yah, it's cool, but c'mon, let the winners race for more than a cowbell and a vest. People are very naive to think that the RD's are doing it for the love of the sport. They are doing it for the love of money, but in their pockets.

    Now look at Leadville….entry fee $300 X 800 runners = $240,000. What did you get in your runner bag? A t-shirt, (that costs RD's about 6 bucks), a bunch of paper fliers, and a chance to win a belt buckle ($30), and you get a nice cotton sweatshirt (about 12 bucks). OK, now let's do the math, RD's just made 200 bucks so far. Permits, no way is it more than 10k, it's probably less than 5k. Aid station food doesn't cost much. Total profit for this race is easily in the 150k range. Why do you think lifetime fitness bought it? Cuz' they can make money.

    The sad thing is people want to keep it so pure. It's ok to be pure, but a race is just that, a race. Let the fast guys race for something more than a buckle and sweatshirt.

    It's pretty sad to think that the little Speedgoat 50k offers one of the highest purses in the sport, from one RD who gives it back, when he could easily just put it in his pocket.

    Everyone want to see a great race, why not reward the guys and gals whoh put on the show, afterall, actors make way too much money, it's pretty much the same thing….

    1. Coach Weber

      Karl has a point… and then there's Badwater. 100 runners x $995 = $99,500. It's a for-profit race for the race organizer. Prize money? Zero.

    2. Bryon Powell

      Well said, Karl. AND your Speedgoat 50k is the perfect counterpoint to those who say that prize money necessarily means corporate influence or a major attitude shift in the sport. It'd be hard to say that those "vying for the money" this year – Nick Clark, Joe Grant, Nick Pedatella, and Ben Lewis – are in the sport for the money.

  29. Jeff

    I'd make one comment in defense of commercialization. I think we all benefit in at least one respect when these events become commercialized. The more money that's in it for sponsors, the more they are likely to see ultrarunners as an important demographic, and the more likely they are to cater to our needs. As many posters have noted, this often has negative side effects, but it also has some benefits for all of us: better gear, better shoes, more books, more research into endurance training and nutrition, more blogs to read, more races, etc. It not as though these things don't exist now, but for those of us who will never compete for prize money, they offer opportunities that don't exist now.

  30. Art

    If its a for profit race, the front runners should definitely get prize money, maybe even show up money just for starting.

    But so also should the volunteers.

    If its a truly non profit event where all proceeds after race costs go to a good cause, then No.

    1. Coach Weber

      Ah, the volunteers … when I was at Leadville a few weeks ago, I had one long-time Leadville runner bring up the idea that all the volunteers from all the Leadvilles be entitled to a piece of the money that the race was sold for. He made the point that the volunteers had done much of the work over the years to build the race – to make the race possible – to the point that it became something that had real cash value and could be sold.

  31. Jim Blanchard

    I agree with darthrunner. As Ultrarunners and free spirits we can run whatever we want. Races can be great but if we're looking for purity, there are other options. Around Wis. we've had several solo adventures the past two years. Plans are made. A few emails go out. Friends come out to run with or encourage the runner. It becomes a very gratifying low cost adventure for the local Ultra tribe. I also agree that if there's big money involved then let's compensate the volunteers. We don't go to work for free do we?

  32. Fabrice

    If leadville want to runners, they would have to change the date… It is clear that the championship is UTMB. I ran both and love Leadville but chamonix is the place to be for top runners.

    That say I will be back t Leadville next summer,,, much cheaper than France vacation :-)))))

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