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.)

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.)

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 129 comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Edu Martinell

    My take,

    Money: it's never a black or white thing. Money will come sooner than later (though it's complicated that it flows as it does in other "more spectacular and easier to film" sports). And I don't think that's bad "per se". It just needs to routed the right way and we don't have to let money control the sport, but rather add value to it. Also, WS100, UTMB, … they are never going to have cash prizes as they simply do not need that to draw the best runners and so money will not be the ultimate reason to run most of the "old" races. It will probably be for newer ones willing to quickly gain popularity. Also, the small local races will never have enough traction to reward with important cash prizes, so I think grass roots trail running should not be affected by this.

    Globalization: we all agree this is good for the sport. As fans, we love to see competitors from around the world and for the runners, well, you're not #1 until you haven't outperformed the best in your sport. It doesn't matter if your name is Roes or Heras. International fields like the one on TNF50 will definitely do good to the sport.

    Doping: controls will have to be put in the top races (UTMB already doing it), again, sooner than later. Cheating is part of life and trail running, unfortunately, won't be an exception. As per Heras, well for me this subject is simply closed for two reasons: 1) I was his roommate for the entire week, I was there and I know him 2) I've read and heard Geoff's and Dave's opinion on this. Even if I hadn't been there, that would be good enough for me. Period.

    Ed

  7. 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

  8. Gloria

    Hello, first of all, I´m sorry about my English, but I´ll try to make me understand. I´m Miguel Heras´s wife. Friends of us told us we shouldn´t read comments written on chats because we may read things that could hurt us… And they were right… Pierre, I don´t know why are you saying that kind of things. First of all, you don´t konw Miguel, I do. He has achieved all his goals just working hard. He´s not a profesional, he needs to work as you and I to earn money, sometimes 12 hours a day, and then needs to train to win races. Don´t forget that he made antidopping at many other races, it´s not his fault if here they didn´t do it. He would have prefered to do it, so that people like you couldn´t say this nonsenses. And Pierre, please… next time think what you´re talking about, you can hurt a whole familiy with your comments.

      1. ser13gio

        Don't waste your time on this; read 90% of the opinions, what his main rival -Geoff Roes- wrote in his blog, etc., they are much more serious than Andrew S. or Positive. Try to forget it, you have much more important things in life.

        s

        1. Gloria

          Thanks, ser13gio, you´re right, but…it hurts, anyway. Which it´s true is that thinking about this comments it´s not worth it, but when you are so proud about a person, because you know he deserves it, and you read all this shit… En fin, muchas gracias

          1. Ian Sharman

            Almost everyone was just very impressed by all the front runners and it didn't even cross our thoughts that there could be any doubt about the integrity of the runners. Congratulations to Miguel for a great race.

          2. Livan

            Gloria, soy aficionado a los ultramaratones y carreras por montaña, respeto y admiro a Miguel, no solo como corredor sino por su espiritu de lucha y sacrificio sacando tiempo de donde puede para entrenar. El sabado ganó el mejor, como tantas veces ha pasado este año, en las islas en los Pirineos y en Italia, pero esta vez parece que se han molestado porque ganara un "extraño". Haz saber a Miguel que tiene el apoyo de cientos de seguidores españoles. Un abrazo.

            Livan.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Gloria,

      This is Bryon Powell, the publisher of iRunFar. While I intend to write you and your husband, I wanted to publicly apologize to you and Miguel for any hurt that commentors on this website may have caused you two. I very much enjoyed meeting and spending time with Miguel this past week. Although we couldn't speak much, he was very warm and welcoming. He is also a great athlete who I hope to see at many future events. I will be honored to start the UTMB along with him next summer.

      Sincerely,

      Bryon

      1. Gloria

        Thanks, Bryon. This is not your fault, it´s a great thing having websites like this, where people can freely express themselves. It´s only that I needed to say what I think about my husband. He´s a hard-working and honest person, and I can´t understand how it´s possible to say such horrible things, if they even know Miguel! Maybe you all were surprised about his victory, not here in Europe. We knew it was going to be difficult, but we also know he could do it. I´m proud of him, no matter what other people may think.

        Thanks, again, Bryon. Best wishes from Miguel

  9. Andy Mason

    Drizzle,

    Sorry for jumping into this discussion so late, but in defense of the JFK (my all-time favorite race, which also happens to be in my backyard) I would not call this year’s JFK a second-class event.

    If you were a top finisher, you should be proud of your performance.

    In the long and storied history of the JFK, this year’s event set its record for most sub-7-hour finishers (27) and equaled its record with three sub-6 men and two sub-7 women.

    As far as “big ultra names” go: Dave Mackey won the JFK in 2003 in 5:55:30, which would have been a third-place time this year.

    Hal Koerner has run the JFK three times with a best time of 6:05:02, which would have been a fourth-place time this year.

    Superstar Scott Jurek’s 6:31:12 got him 11th place last year. That time would have been 12th this year.

    Do I think rookie Brian Dumm, this year’s JFK champ (5:52:02), would have won the North Face championship last weekend? No, I don’t.

    But I’m also not entirely convinced that either Heras or Roes or any of the other top guys from last weekend would have definitely won this year’s JFK.

    They’re different races.

    I also slightly disagree with Byron in that prize money was invaluable in making the JFK a premier event.

    The JFK is a premier event because it’s the oldest and largest ultra in the country.

    People want to win it for the same reasons they want to win Western States (no one has ever won both JFK and Western States, by the way).

    The prize money at JFK ($600, 400, 250, 150, 100) is just a nice bonus.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Sorry… I made a mistake, too! I meant the money made the TNF race a premier event. (I've now corrected it.) JFK is such a top notch because it's the oldest and largest ultra in the US.

      Don't get me wrong, I love JFK, hope to run it again, and think it's one of the top 3 50 mile races in the country. No question. It might even be number two between TNF and American River. I do, however, feel pretty strongly that the TNF field was much stronger at the very front (lots of strong guys went for it and faded unlike a typical JFK) if you take relative strengths (road vs trail) into account. Even without relative comparison, I have little doubt that if you'd have thrown the TNF field onto the JFK course there would have been a course record. There was such a diversity of talents and such depth of super elites that someone would have nailed it. Again, JFK awesome; TNF just a bit strong. That's all I mean. :-)

      1. Andy Mason

        The TNF elite field definitely was stronger than JFK's, on paper. No argument here.

        But I wouldn't be so quick to assume a course record would've been broken.

        Eric Clifton's 5:46:22 from 1994 has to be considered one of the most hallowed marks in U.S. ultrarunning. Forty-eight years and no one else has come within a thousand meters of it. I actually thought it was going to get broken this year, and I was wrong.

  10. 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.

  11. LMyles

    PCTR puts on the Headlands 100M, which is in the Marin area. But I don't think that race is anything as competitive as other 100M events.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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! :-)

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. mayayo

    Bryon, I am surprised you are not familiar with the Leadville 100 annual postrace medical survey and research.

    Happy to fill in: According to the 2009 communication, 40% of the runners reported having taken NSAIDS prior to or during the race. Those pills (mostly ibuprofen) are fully lega, yet…draw your own conclusions on pill taking and ultrarunning.

    Check the full data for 2008, 2009 and 2010 at my blog documents section: http://carrerasdemontana.wordpress.com/informes/

    As for WS100 learning from UTMB: In terms of % of runners abroad the difference is outstanding, and sure has helped to consider the Mont Blanc as the trail running world summit.I mean about popular runners, not elite ones.

    Bright future will no doubt come if both sides of the Atlantic share the best of their traditions. In my experience, both have unique features that add magic to the trails. May the perfect blend come through.

  22. Jim A

    Been following this conversation for the past week or so…my $0.02

    Prize Money:

    I think its good that events have prize money in the sport. A quick caveat, I used to work for the group that helped TNF/create the Endurance Challenge, so there may be a little bias on my end. Initially the goal was to have more of a team challenge/format, however with the current flux of teams at that time cutting their rosters, etc creating an event that would draw the top athletes made more sense both then and for the years to come.

    The best runners deserve a chance to earn some money in respect of their talents. Yes the top prize at the Endurance Challenge draws a quality field and has led to some great battles so far with Matt, Uli, Geoff, Heras et.al. Not sure about today's world, however when I was @ hawkeye TNF sponsored more than 50 events on a grassroots level as well, with prizing (footwear, clothing, etc) to help support a wide variety of people.

    However, I'm not sure to what extent an race has to get the athletes to the event. I'd like to see a set number of entries set aside for other sponsors athletes for top men/women. After that everyone is on their own. There is little to no budget for flying people in, hotel costs, etc in such as race. Remember its part of an overall series and in the end, companies such as TNF, et have a very fixed budget. Even a strong local or regional road race will provide entries but other than that its up to the competitors to pay their way.

    Ultrarunning is also in a spot where its really only the endemics that are supporting the sport on any level, whether it be in-kind or actual cash support. Bryon, when you are talking about the WS100 entry fee, the overall cash for the budget in that event comes from entries. There may be limited cash from current partners, however for many of them its easier to dump that ton of swag because it is a lasting takeway from one of the world's premier ultra events.

    I liken it to one of my other loves, which is rollerhockey. An event I work with has a pro division, however oftentimes the players still have to pay their own way as the sponsors are very similar to those in the ultra world with a limited budget, outside of picking up the cost of a hotel room.

    In 20-30 years ultra/trail may still be in the same point, it could be the equivalent of road racing with larger purses and entrants or perhaps all the trails/forests will be gone and replaced by a SuperTarget. Did we ever think that marathoners would be getting 6 figure appearance fees or that they would be filling up 25,000 + events in a matter of hours.

    One quick note on the drug testing thoughts: Just because you have testing doesn't mean you are either going to 1. discourage cheating or 2. catch them. We only need to look at any pro sport in today's world to see that be the case.

  23. Marisol Perry

    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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