The Answer to the $100K Question? The Run, Rabbit, Run 100 Mile!

Run Rabbit Run 100Steamboat Springs, Colorado’s Run, Rabbit, Run 50 Mile Run has added a 100-mile race to be held on Friday, September 14, 2012 (the day before the Run, Rabbit, Run 50 miler).  What will be unique about the Run, Rabbit, Run 100 is that it aims to provide prize money an order of magnitude above the largest current purse for a 100 miler.

Those who have run the Run, Rabbit, Run 50 or who have read the race reports about it, know that it is one the most beautiful, best run, and most fun ultramarathons in the country and it’s put on by and for runners.  The 50 is an old school ultra, where the goal is to put on a first-class, well-organized race and give money in excess of expenses to local charities.  The race’s popularity led to a long waitlist for the 50 miler this year.  Past winners of the RRR50 include Geoff Roes, Joelle Vaught, and Ryan Burch.  This year, Nick Clark finished second to Zeke Tiernan, who also won the race’s inaugural running in 2007.

The objective of the new Run, Rabbit, Run 100 is to attract the best field of ultrarunners in the world to Steamboat Springs.  How?  By offering real prize money.  The goal is to offer $100,000.  Run, Rabbit, Run has the ability to do that, and still put on a first class event, and still donate to charity, because of the incredible support of the Steamboat community, and because the organizers are willing to donate an awful lot of their time to give something back to the sport they love.

The idea is to have two classes of runners – Rabbits and Turtles.  Rabbits will run for 90% of the purse, with the Turtles, who are the rest of us, going for the remainder, through age group awards, fun lotteries for cash, or whatnot.  Rabbits will be running for money only and will be subject to strict rules – no pacers, no trekking poles, and strictly limited crew access.  They won’t receive buckles or win anything at the massive pre-race swag drawing.  This will direct more non-prize purse resources into making the Run, Rabbit, Run 100 a top-notch race for the vast majority of runners who opt out of running for the big prize money.  Says RD Fred Abramowitz, “We will do our darndest to make it the RRR100 a first class race for everyone, better than any other 100 at a comparable entry fee.  And just like anyone who has run the 50 knows, we put on a fun event.”

The prize money is contingent upon entrants and sponsors.  The website will feature a “Bunny Money Meter” showing where the prize money stands.  The race organizers are putting up $10,000 to start the meter running and are shooting for $100,000. [April ’12 Update: The prize purse now sits at $30,000.] The depth of the prize money will depend on the total size of the prize purse.

The Turtles will get a 4 or so hour head start and, with a few out-and-backs of the course, they will be in a unique position to see how the race unfolds among the Rabbits.  The Turtles will start around midday with the Rabbits starting in the afternoon.

The course has largely been determined, although some tweaking may happen.  The route has been designed to be at once challenging – with about 18,000’ of climbing, much of it at 10,000’ – and to be accessible to increase its attractiveness to spectators, the press, the running world at-large, and, as a result, to potential sponsors.

Steamboat Rabbit Ears

The race's namesake Rabbit Ears.

The ultrarunning world is constantly evolving.  (What isn’t?)  In the context of the sport’s current state and its recent growth trajectory, it appears to be akin to road racing three decades ago and triathlons a bit more recently.  Runners and races are going to make money.  There’s nothing wrong with that… so long as two things don’t significantly change.

First, for the spirit of the sport to continue without radical alteration, the sport’s top runners must continue to race for the love of running and competition with prize purses being a way to support their running lives.  If you’d seen the top dogs throw down at the TNF 50 last weekend, this very much remains the case.

Second, organizers must continue to put on races that cater to the main body of the sport while meeting or exceeding those runners’ expectations. That’s not all, those race organizations must continue to be based on passion for that is the source of the je ne sais quoi that you see at Hardrock and Wasatch and Massanutten and Stone Cat and Speedgoat and Chuckanut and all of the many other events that stir emotion in those who’ve experienced such a race, be it as racer, crew, volunteer, or spectator.  From all I’ve heard, the Run, Rabbit, Run folks put on exactly this type of race.

The website is now live. (Updated website status) Registration for the Run, Rabbit, Run 50 mile and 100 mile opens on December 15. The 100-mile entry fee will be $275.

Call for Comments

  • With significant prize money already available at for 50 mile and 100k events, are you excited to see what might happen at a 100 miler with a big purse?
  • Do you think a big prize money 100 miler will draw a competitive field akin to Western States and UTMB? Can it do so in its first year?
  • Top men and women who’re reading this… are you interested in racing the Run, Rabbit, Run 100 next year? Why or why not?
  • The elites will have to choose between the competitive fields and cash purses of the Run, Rabbit, Run 100 and the UROC 100k. Is this likely divide the field based on skill sets? UROC’s been working on next year’s field for a while with some great runners already lining up. Are elites more likely to flock toward the strong field already assembling for UROC (and guaranteed $20k purse) or set out for what could be a much larger payday?
  • How should the prize money be divvied up if the total purse is $20k? $50k? $100k?
  • If you wouldn’t be in the hunt for prize money, would you be excited to see elites battling while you were racing on the same course?

There are 232 comments

  1. Cade Pearson

    As a RRR50 finisher last year, that race is great and well supported. The weather turned dangerous and all runners made it home safe and sound. I assume the 100 will be equally well ran. My opinion, let the entries (and the ultrarunning community) speak for themselves. The race will either be successful or not.

    Fred, good job running the 50 last year look forward to seeing you for the 50 again this year. Wish I could work the 100 into my racing schedule.

  2. Coach Cash

    I just signed up 3 Kenyans … elementary students, well, middle school actually (the high schoolers won't race for anything under 250 K – dollars not kilometers). I think that sows up the top three spots … you Americans better plan on that UROC things to get some sock money.

  3. Brett

    "I’m pretty open about admitting my pace. I have no issue with it. Never have.. never will."

    Didn't you just write a blog entry complaining about how you didn't get into the Hardrock lottery and you saw several people slower than you that did?

  4. Mike McM

    I think the staggered start could be pretty sweet, as long as (like some have mentioned) it doesn't get in the way of and become a burden to those competing at the front. I went to UROC in September and did the 50K sister race, which started an hour after the 100K. I didn't know this was going to happen, but on an out-and-back section somewhere around mile 13 or 15 my friend and I got to see a couple big names coming the opposite direction in the 100K. The elite men's race had already passed this part by the time we got there, but we did cross paths with a couple elite women, and David Goggins, which was awesome. It was singletrack where these encounters took place, where the trail dropped off or sloped upward to either side, and my friend and I had zero qualms stepping to the side to let them pass.

    It was also really cool, then, after the race, to be able to hang around, eat some food and relax with other 50K runners and all those elite folks at the same time.

    So I definitely like what the RD is going for. If it would work logistically and entrants decide for themselves which start time they take, I think it'd enhance the experience for everyone.

  5. derrick

    I don't really have anything to add that hasn't already been said. I'm just posting to receive future comments by email :)

    But now that I'm here I applaud the RD for trying to help take ultra running to the next level. There is a need and obviously a demand. Nothing wrong with that. I have a hard time stomaching the comments made about what is moral and what isn't. RDing is a lot of very, very hard work and I don't think that one approach should be shat on over another.

    Ok, continue on.

  6. Ben Nephew

    The point is that the race is at altitude, and this should affect the decision to attend for some runners. Comparing runners that train at altitude with those that do not in a race at sea level is entirely different. Sure, there is a good reason why runners altitude train, but I could spend all day listing race results where both groups perform similarly at sea level. 12 days may work for some in terms of doing well, but I am talking about the lead runners. a 1-2% difference in blood O2 is not a big deal in most situations, but it is probably be the difference between being near the lead and being in the middle of the pack at this 100.

    Although the start is at 7k, isn't most of the 50 mile course above 8 or 9k?

    Although I have no regrets, I ran the IAU Trail Championship 50 mile in 2009 in Serre Chevalier and finished 90 minutes behind a guy by the name of Dachiri Sherpa. That race was between 6500 and 9500 ft, and I felt like I had a good race. I was clearly slightly delusional thinking that the elevation would not be a significant issue. I ran 50 miles in 5:47 the fall after that race.

    This summer I beat Mr. Sherpa by 10 minutes at the IAU trail race in Connemara, and there are several other similar comparisons I could make with other runners. I can now say I beat a guy with the last name of Sherpa. This particular Sherpa has done well at a few other European ultras, and has quads the size of my torso. I ran 5:56 this fall for 50 miles.

    The objective of my post was to prevent runners from making the wrong choice between UROC or some other race and the RRR100. If you are not acclimated, you have a better chance of winning the NYC marathon than the RRR100. Two weeks at altitude is unlikely to get anyone close to the same physiological level as the many Western runners who live at altitude. Neal Gorman acclimated for 4 weeks for Leadville this year.

    I hate to see runners that live low train hard for months and months for a race at altitude where they will not be acclimated. It's like training for a marathon in race shoes, and then racing in combat boots. You are training for a goal race where you will have a signficant disadvantage.

    1. Fred Abramowitz

      To answer your question, without having calculated it, I would guess the "average" elevation of the course is close to 8500. It will run through town a number of times (elevation about 6700) and will hit 10,500 3 times (top of Mt Werner, top of Buff Pass). The 25 mile single track through Emerald is stunning, but never goes much above 8,000 feet. Elevation wise- maybe like Wasatch?

  7. Coach $$$$ Cash

    … Karl, what you don't understand is these boys have to run 43 miles one way to get to track practice (and then another 43 to get home) … 100 miles in a day without pushing my fat ass up the mountain in the jeep (great training technique and I spend way less on gas)will be a picnic.

    1. Coach $$$$ Cash

      On RRR100 raceday, they'll be wondering why they didn't have to do 20 x 1000 meter repeats at mile 43, then run home 43 miles afterwards (then do chores).

      1. Coach $$$$ Cash

        AJW could assemble a fine team of Tarahumara with his beer stories and a few bushels of pinole. Either way w/ Kenyans or Tarahumara in the mix, Americans go home penniless.

        1. Speedgoatkarl

          I do believe, the Tarahumara aren't any faster at Copper Canyon. :-)

          Coach cash, reveal your name man, c'mon, you might as well be the anonymous naysayer. It'll be a great race with or without them.

  8. Bryon Powell

    Anonymous, thanks for your well-considered reply as well as the civil tone of your original comment. You were not trolling and I appreciate that. At the moment, I'm having a significant problem with that… as you might have guessed.

    More generally, in recent months I've repeated tried to dissuade folks from posting anonymously. I allow it as I appreciate simplicity and very much dislike having to sign in other websites with a name, password, and, possibly, Captcha. I have continued to allow such commenting for that ease of use rather than to promote an absolutely free, unattributed commenting. That's a side effect that creates numerous problems. There have been folks in the the "civil" ultra community (BTW, that "civil" was not meant to imply you weren't. That's not the case, but others haven't been here and elsewhere.)

    So long as I allow anonymous commenting, anyone is free to do so. If someone flagrantly abused that opportunity by routinely trolling or insulting or the like, I would bar them. You're the furthest thing from that list. :-)

    On thing I'd suggest might promote discourse on difficult topics for those who feel the need to remain anonymous would by to use a consistent pseudonym. At the very least, it avoids the whole Anonymous, Anonymous 1, Anonymous 2, etc situation.

    Thanks again.

  9. Bryon Powell

    FYI for other folks, Sherpa John and I talked offsite and cleared this up a bit. In my mind, it would have been ideal had SJ's friend posted under something like "SJ's friend" rather than Anonymous, but that's ok.

    I shouldn't have let my comment come across as being so insinuating. I recognized internally and presented externally that someone in SJ's proximity could be posting, but could have done that in better ways in these comments or done so entirely offsite.

    There were some personal insults directed at SJ earlier. I regret that've I've had no more than a few minutes at my computer (other than to edit and post this article, AJW's taproom, and Dakota's race report) in the past few days as I'm attending a convention. I've cleared up those incidents.

  10. Bryon Powell

    Actually, Scout provided an email address and used a pseudonym. Their real name might not be public, but can be engaged in discussion through a pseudonym and is accountable to me by leaving their email address. There are plenty of regulars on iRunFar who don't use their real or full name and that's 100% fine. Actually, it's the rare minority that use their full name. You're using a pseudonym. Long ago, I went by Trail Goat on iRunFar and other blogs.

  11. Riga

    All interesting including SJ and his colorful respondents, but really, "Show me the money." A pic with a pile o' cash will quiet the doubters. How bout a pic of th3 promoter's 10 grand to start?

  12. Fred Abramowitz

    Ok. You've all convinced me. It's Tortoises and Hares. And we'll rethink the start times. But I like the split start, and I think so will you.

  13. GoneDaddyGone

    I wonder how Montrail feels about this. Won't this take away from the Ultra Cup?

    Why 2 fields? To make the elite's race that much easier to have roadkills deeper into thier race? I can see using a race of lesser distance in this manner but using 100mile runners as bait is poor taste in my opinion. Also, these "rabbits" although may not be running to place but I'm sure many of these people have goals and would like to see how they stack against an entire field. Ultra with corrals… hum…

    As for the purse and where the sport is going… If people love to run ultras than the sport will grow and change. Just be happy that you are experiencing it for what it is now.

    Just would like to state that I appreciate the work involved in putting on any race. At the end of the day only the runner will decide where he wants to pound ground.

    1. Fred Abramowitz

      No matter what, we are grateful to Montrail for all they've done to support the RRR50. And we don't think it will detract from the MUC. Western States is at the other end of the ultra season. We hope they see that anything that promotes our sport is good for them.

      As for the 2 fields, I've tried to answer this elsewhere. We are trying to focus this as much as we can on the Tortoises. A lot of folks -not all, but a lot of folks – really enjoy watching an ultra race develop, whether while participating, or not. I know I do. Giving the Tortoises (and you've all convinced me it should be Tortoises and Hares) a head start of a few hours, plus the out and backs we've put it in will allow most runners watch the race unfold practically to the end. A mass start and the faster runners are gone. Plus, I like the idea of finishing at a similar time, and enjoying the post race party together.

      That said, we're not wedded to anything. The race is 9 months away. We welcome comments and suggestions. Just check out our website.

      If we can ever find the time to get it up and running …lol

  14. Lance

    Anyone who does not think this will bring out the Kenyans is foolish. Running for them is a way to provide for their families. The only problem is that there are so few opportunities to win major money these days. To win a major marathon you have to be a 2:05-2:06 caliber marathon runner, but if you talk to those guys you hear them explain how they are very fortunate to be able to come to America/Europe to race because there are so many 2:08 guys.

    If those guys got the chance to run in a race like this for say, a 40K purse, I doubt they would pass up that chance. Similar prize money at Western States and they would be running under 14 hours.

    That said I think it would be great to have their competition. Better competition brings out the best in all of us, and ultimately isn't that what we are looking for on race day?

    1. Spike

      I would not be surprised at all if some kenyans would show up and but there is no guarantee that they are going to win and be running WS in under 14 hours. I remember reading about a 50k that Tony Krupicka ran and a kenyan that had enough talent to win some pretty big st. louis marathon finished 20 minutes behind him, kyle skaggs, and another guy despite there being $1000 on the line. $1000 would go a very long way in kenya.

      1. Lance

        I'm not trying to belittle your point Spike, but $1000 when you consider travel costs and such is not very much. I am not talking about the type of talent to win a St. Louis marathon, I'm talking about the kinds of guys who are on the fringe of just not being good enough to travel to a world marathon majors race (hence 2:08).

        1. Spike

          That is a good point. Just thinking through this, do you have any ideas why none of these 2:08 guys tried out the Xterra trail world championships for a shot at 10 grand?

      2. Mike Place

        I suspect that there's a really simple reason why you'll never see elite marathoners in ultras: it's too disruptive on their training and racing schedule.

        Racing a 100 miler and then getting up and training again on Monday might be possible for Karl and a few other supermen and superwomen, but why on earth would an elite marathoner take the time to train/taper/recover for a race like this? It would pretty much have to be their goal race for the year to be worth it and if that's the case, what are they doing as an elite road marathoner to begin with?

        This whole discussion has already taken place years ago when people worried that putting money into mountain biking was going to draw elite riders away from road racing. Did it? Not really. A few road riders showed up at an event or two, got their asses promptly handed to them by guys who rode in the mountains all day, every day and that was pretty much that.

        1. Doug (aka Snurfer)

          I agree about the disruption to their training. I also think many of them wouldn't risk getting injured in a trail 100. Running in mountains all-day and night is way different than running through downtown streets for two hours…

  15. Runforthelove

    Coach Cash- Obviously your the reason why Ultra RD's are so hesistant to give cash prizes. Don't give our sport a bad name. We run ultras because we love it and it makes us better people, the cash prize helps us do what we love. Seriously Coach, get your priorities straight.

  16. Tony

    I wonder how many of the Ultra running "elites" who continually criticize the likes of Dean Karnazes for capitalizing on his Ultra running accomplishments, will enter to try and make money, off the sport.

      1. Speedgoatkarl

        well said Kieth, Dean is a cool dude, has done a ton for the sport of ultrarunning. I applaud that in a big way. I know just about all the elite runners in the US, some in Europe as well, and not once has DK's name come up in a bad light. He is a star in my opinion, and I hope he continues to be one.

        I also think and know that DK knows he is not the fastest or "greatest ultrarunner". If he was he would hold a record. He would be the first person to say so.

        Also, from a competitive standpoint, he has no chance to win money in Steamboat, just reality. I don't consider myself a real contender to win money in Steamboat either, even being the all-time 100 mile winner. It'll be fast and furious, with lots of carnage to prove it. Gonna be a blast.

          1. Z

            That was a long time ago. Besides, that was Scott's opinion, and Dean never claimed to be the fastest (like Karl says). If you read Dean's books you'd see that he was just lucky (and grateful) to make a living running. It just so happens he didn't make a living running by winning races, but rather by telling stories and trying to get folks off the couch. Scott is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever, but he is well past his prime now (by his own admission and by his results). Besides, I think Dean is nearly 50. He won't be winning any major ultras anytime soon and he wouldn't even try to win at this point.

  17. Randy

    Not sure if i subscribe to the theory of the Kenyans trying ultras and being as dominate as road marathons.Alot more factors come into play in ultras,and the competition nowadays is so much more advanced than just a few years ago(with a few exceptions,Trason,Kouros,etc),road speed is great to run a strong overall pace,but pushing yourself on really tough courses,changing weather,nutrition,dark,long miles and time,all come into play,and top guys and gals now are making ultras a specific skill that pure road runners will be hard pressed to just "run away" from them.

  18. Al Glenn

    The speed (Kenyans or other 26.2 road specialists) will come eventually, after this event or others establish themselves for several years as a true payday. It stands to reason that there are enough 2:08- 2:15 marathoners out there that with some specific focus and training that in several years, times we now know will continue to be bettered. Good for the sport? I think so. Any time you can expand the talent pool inevitably competition will push new boundries. I really don't think this will hurt the back of the pack participation as only the true big money events would attract any kind of named field (as it is now). Fred, great idea and hope you can bring it to fruition.

  19. Mackey

    The whole prize money debate and its supposed effect on ultra runners' experiences befuddles me somewhat. We're all grinding it out day after day on the trails or roads, with dreams of that day sometime in the next few months when we can all race a ridiculous distance over mountains. Prize money? That can't affect the motivation, soul and character to complete these races. At the end of the race everyone, citizen and elite, will still be cracking sodas and sharing war stories, and the experience of pushing oneself and competing in such a difficult sport will never be blemished by modest prize money.

    As far as fast road guys (no matter where they're from) they've had their chance over the years at races such as the North Face 50, which pays well. Did they come out in droves? No, a few very fast 14 minute 5K guys did, and they didn't finish particularly well. The closest to fast international marathoners were Uli Steidl, Mike Wardian, and Matt Flaherty. And Uli is the only one who has been on the podium, and that was after years of dabbling in ultras. It will take quantum sea change to truly affect ultra running, and we're light years away from that day.

    Man, what a great dialogue though. Thanks for hosting it, irunfar!

    1. Ben Nephew

      I think you are right about the effect of money on the vast majority of ultrarunners and races, but it could have a night and day effect on individual races. It is surprising that the NF50 hasn't attracted more road guys given the money, but maybe it is not enough, or not well enough known outside the ultra community?

      The point about the relative success of fast road guys makes it clear that it will take a large influx of faster runners to make a large impact, although I think some of the faster performances have gotten many racers thinking more about speed training. Maybe that would have happened without road runners.

      For a night and day effect on a single race, look at the Obudu mountain race.

      Top European runners rarely even bother trying to win money at that race these days. Look at the women's times, Anna Pichrtova is a former WMRA champ. The top place individuals and teams at the WMRA Championships saw a somewhat similar rapid change with a few African teams, and it would probably have been night and day if the purse at the WMRA race was similar to the Obudu race.

      30k for first at the RRR100 could at the very least bring over a pile of fast European 100 mile runners, who have had a good amount of recent success over here.

      The possibility of many races offered substantial money seems low, though. Another mechanism for a faster rate of change to competitive ultrarunning would be several companies offering major sponsorships. Probably as unlikely as several big money races, though.

      1. Shastafarian Runner

        I wonder how the RRR100 can possibly get close to 100 k of prize money. The previous discussion about WS100 indicated that the grandaddy of 100s breaks about even (albeit while paying the RD a modest salary) and I assume they have a about the best sponsorship money on the American ultra scene. Could even WS100 raise another 100 k on top of what they already generate?(I realize they can't offer prize money … but if they could where would it come from?)

        If RRR100 can pay the bills AND raise another 100 K, well, they will have done something no other American ultra has done.

        I personally would not want to see the majority of the field basically paying for the prize money (and can't see how that would be possible anyway and still put on a quality race for everyone).

        I also wonder what happens when the prize money goes away … yep, thse sponsors are fickle … North Face used to be a title sponsor of Leadville until they decided to put on their own races.

        1. Anonymous

          I think there can be a huge difference in cost of "logistics". Certainly a multiple-loop race is way cheaper than a point-to-point race. I did not study in detail what WS100 pays for, but helping with organizing one event myself I can see some "potential" for big bucks only if everything works in your favor and you hit a jackpot with some sponsors. Our event is 50M and some shorter distances. The 50M is the most "expensive" – 75$. In total we get about 35k$ from signup fee, another 2k$ cash from sponsors plus about 5k$ from sponsors in terms of goods – drinks, gels, bagels, etc. Our RD does everything for free and we have in total about 150 volunteers – each of them getting nothing but a T-shirt. There is no cash purse, and last time I talked to our RD, there are no plans to have any in the future. Last year we donated more than 10k$ to local nonprofits. Our course is a single loop and we were sold-out. Overall, I can hardly see getting more cash from "regular" sponsors (perhaps 5k$ cash, and maybe some more swag, but certainly nothing in order of tens of thousand of dollars), but in terms of pure economics, I think our gross margin is still pretty good.

          1. Ben Nephew

            From what I have read, even with the limited field at WS, adding up the RD salary and the money spent on research gets you 75-80k in cash.

    2. Fred Abramowitz

      I'm enjoying this dialogue too. All I can say is support our race by entering it and encouraging others to do so, encouraging sponsors to support it, help us get volunteers because we are a volunteer driven race (and be kind to us if we screw up a bit) and we may actually get an answer to some of these questions..

  20. slimside

    Being new to ultra's (running my first 50M in July) I find this discussion fascinating. I like the idea of the split start if it can be coordinated to keep the first and last finishers closer together. As for the money…..I believe that ultras are, for the most part, free of the doping issues we see in other sports. But once you have big prize money on the line do not be surprised when one of the beloved stars of our sport falls from grace. Although, it would take multiple races every year with enough total prize money to make the tempation worth the risk.

    No matter what happens with the money or the start times I love trail running and the people I have met during my first year of ultras. And as long as that part doesn't change, not sure how important the other stuff really is.

  21. Mackey

    I really don't have anything important to add..just trying to get irunfar to that coveted 200 comments mark on this post (and of course avoiding other responsibilities by reading blogs of course)

    If there were no prize money at ultras.. good question. I would still race if only to seek out competition and check out new courses and distances, or run courses perennially to try for PRs. Don't need no money to pull me out into the woods. As for others, the Greenwoods, Sharmans, Kimballs, Clarks of the world would still be busting out too I am guessing. Did it take money at RR 100 for Ian to run sub 13 hrs? What about Kyle's HR or Matt's Leadville? Were they trying to please sponsors? Nope, it was all heart and guts that made the best efforts happen in this sport, and that won't change.

    1. Fred Abramowitz

      I agree completely, and very classy indeed. And that may well be why the top road racers, Kenyan or otherwise, won't be as competitive as some folks think. They just may not have the passion for running in the mountains and woods – their passion may be running the roads, the challenge of the clock.

  22. Randy

    Well said Mackey and Fred,the path to doing your best in ultras is a long,committed journey,which makes that passion you speak of Fred such an essential ingredient to the mix.No doubt the young guns of today will still be battling each other and the courses 30 years from now,though it's kinda hard to imagine an over 50 Dakota and Killian pushing each other to yet another FKT in the Big Ditch,and Dakota still will probably be asked for his I.D. at the bar afterwards!

  23. Anonymous

    OK, I'm going to offer my 2 cents and not pull any punches. I think it's offensive to classify non-elites as "turtles." And, for that matter, why are non-elites called turtles and not tortoises? In the story of the tortoise and hare, didn't the tortoise win? All of that's to say it will be HILARIOUS when/if a "turtle" wins this race. I could totally see it happen and it would be awesome.

    Second, the late start for "elites" so that the "turtles" can watch the race develop is kind of insulting to the non-elites. When I'm in a 100, the last thing I'm really thinking about is what the elites in front of me are doing. I'm focused on my own race and objectives. I'll bet it's that way for most ultrarunners. I couldn't care less about what's happening up front while I'm in the race.

    Third, I'm all for big cash purses. The best in the sport should have an opportunity to get some pay for their effort. I applaud the vision for a $100,000 purse, but from what I heard only about 10% of that has been secured. What is going to compel sponsors to shell out $90K more? It's easy to say at this point that your "goal" is to have a $100,000 purse, but making that happen is another issue altogether. It'll be interesting to see if the $100K happens.

    Last, if big purses become a part of ultrarunning, East African elites, who will be ultra-trained, may start showing up. It would be interesting to see what would then transpire. My guess is that course records would go down left and right. Just a hunch, but I think ultra-trained East Africans would destroy many existing course records.

    1. Fred Abramowitz

      I already surrendered on a previous post. It's Tortoises and Hares. And yup, in the fable, the Tortoise did win. And no question the way it may play out is that the winning time by the Tortoise may be faster than the winning time by the Hare. And I'll be howling with you.

      I'm sorry you feel it insulting that there may be separate start times. I understand you have no interest in watching the race by the faster runners develop. My experience is an awful lot of runners do, and it isn't inconsistent with focussing on their own race, and I don't think it will detract from it.

      What is important to me about the purse, and I do think it's inevitable and I think lots of sponsors know it, is also something more fundamental – many of us do these ultras to test our personal limits of endurance, and grit, even though we have no chance of winning. That's why I do them. But a real purse – which will attract the very best, whether they be East African or whatever, will really allow us to see what the limits of human endurance and grit are. And that alone is reason to do it.

      1. Mike Hinterberg

        Great dialog above.

        I was initially against the split start times, but Fred's discussion brought me around a bit on that.


        Tortoise is better than Turtle. I was thinking "Wave 1" and "Wave 2" might be less offensive, but "Tortoise and Hare" handicapped races are a historic part of running, and the Rabbit (Ears) is part of Steamboat. I don't like "elite" and neither do some admittedly "elite" runners, so with that agreement, maybe that word won't appear anywhere on the website? ;)

        Staggered Start:

        I'm starting to come around more about the *advantages* of Fred's setup as well. Typically, wave starts put the fast people in the front, so minutes later, they're in the clear and gone for good. With the reverse setup here, tortoises get to start earlier, which I would prefer and would consider an advantage.

        Also, a lot of classy top runners hang out and cheer on later finishers, but they can't do that all day/night, so I can truly see how it might be more conducive toward everyone hanging out and sharing a beer together. Personally, I would only be slightly curious about how the top runners are doing while focused on my own race — but, I can see the advantage and motivation of trying to stay ahead of those guys, and also having some of them come up with a fresh, fast pace late in the race. I think that might share some energy all around.


        I don't care if some of my own entry would go to the purse, as long as the event is well-executed (as I expect it to be), and I'd be one of those guys looking for a sweet buckle instead. But since the price is still right, I don't feel like too much money is being taken away.

        I would love to see international runners be motivated to compete, and I think some of them might crush it, while others might blow up. I am intrigued to see what the best can do.


        So thanks, Fred, looking forward to this being a new Colorado tradition!

  24. Patrick

    Just a random thought about entry fees and prize money. Any thought to having two entry fees? Rabbits could pay more and help build up the prize money themselves (risk/reward). Doing this also pacifies those who don't want their entry fee going towards the elites (perception for some).

    1. Fred Abramowitz

      Patrick: It's sort of a chicken and egg problem. Most sponsors understand the inevitability of prize money in ultras – the sport is just growing so fast and garnering so much mainstream interest. While most of them have a genuine commitment to our sport they are also a business – and what determines whether or not they advance money is whether they think it makes financial sense to do so, and THAT depends on whether they think the event will generate enough interest in the tv press and newspapers and magazines and the general public. And THAT depends largely on whether we have a real top notch field (one reason I like all the talk about the East Africans). I could see a situation where the "elites" (and I hate that word) are more than paying their way. Those who think their entry fee is in part going to the "elites" should want to encourage top runners to enter, not discourage them by making them pay higher fees. Bottom line, folks should enter our race because we will put on a first class, fun event.

      1. Patrick

        Fred – I was picturing the increase (mind you a small increase) as a sort-of side bet between the elites/rabbits as it would generate additional prize money. But I see what you're saying and I would not want runners to be discouraged by having to pay higher fees. I just imagined a bit of trash talk after someone walks away with the win AND their competitors cash!

        Anyway, I wish you and the event a lot of luck. I think the elites (I don't hate the word) are long over-due for being paid.

  25. Gary Gellin

    How would you determine who is qualified to be seeded in a separate elite field? Elite status in this sport is still a somewhat nebulous term.

    I do support the concept of this event. The hype around races like TNFEC hasn't really alienated all of the purists and traditionalists, some of whom I know personally.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Gary, I'll chime in with what I think is the correct answer. Folks will decide which field they want to run in. If you want to run with the Rabbits, you sign up as such with no buckle and no swag, a later start time, and a chance for big money. If you want a pacer, the chance for a buckle and swag, and an earlier start time, you sign up as a tortoise…. but you don't have a chance to win the big money even if you run faster than the big boys and girls.

  26. Mike McM

    I, too, would be stoked to have some hares come cruising by me on the trails. I'd be curious to see a quick snapshot of how the race was going up front, and I think it'd motivate me quite a bit.

    This isn't really any different than having early starters like at JFK50, is it? JFK has a 5:00am start for people who WANT and think they need an extra 2 hours to make the cut-off time. The rest of the field starts at 7:00am and many of the 7:00am starters, including all of the front runners, pass the 5:00am starters on the rocky singletrack Appalachian Trail. Perhaps it is out there somewhere, but I've never heard any gripe about the early start at JFK. And in my experience, the early starters don't mind getting out of the way for passing runners.

    Also, I kinda liked Rabbits and Turtles, but I guess that's just me. (Coming from a would-be Turtle..)

  27. jeffrey

    Hmmm..a faster group of runners merging with a slower group of runners with little or no room to pass, hope it doesn't turn out like the recent Vegas marathon

  28. Randy

    You seem to have good connections Fred,how about a raffle,maybe $20 for a chance at Bryon's book signed by past(Trason,Skaggs,etc),and present stars of our sport,just an idea for adding to the Bunny purse.

    1. Fred Abramowitz

      We are looking at all possible options for how to distribute the "Tortoise Money." But, what do you say, Bryon?

      Website will be on line tomorrow and hopefully will answer a lot of questions.

  29. Ben Nephew

    While you are right that fast marathons don't predict fast ultras, and may be right about the passion about mountains and woods, there are certainly other reasons that most Americans runners can't relate to. Passion for any aspect of running is not needed if you running to support your family.

    I ran a 50k in the Netherlands this year and met two Africans that came to the race thinking they were going to have a chance to win some prize money. There was significant money at the similar race in Ireland in 2010. One of them won, and was quite upset when he realized he wasn't going to have anything to bring home.

    When people ask why Africans don't show up to a race with money, it is probably because they don't know about the race. XTERRA is not all that well known, and the Africans at the European 50k's I have run were invited.

  30. fredp

    Good comments. I don't understand the people that are against prize money. I mean, this is America and people can do whatever they want. Beyond silly are these purists who think it will ruin the sport, and feel it is up to them to decide if prize money is appropriate. That being said, I will not enter because I don't want my money to go to the elites (a small few of whom are rather sanctimonious about their entitlement to earn money running). I think it is up to commercial companies that are trying to make money to pony up the sponsorship. Simple business, if the elites are moving product, real sponsors will step up. As to PED's, yes money will increase their use, but anyone who has been among the rabid 'sub-elite,' of many other sports knows that a big (fragile) ego is all the motivation needed for using PEDs.

    1. Speedgoatkarl

      where would you rather see the money go Fred? to the race organization, perhaps like a few other races in CO? Do the math, Leadville gets 800 runners X 300. That's 240k. Lifetime Fitness makes a killing and offers no prize money. Hmmmm.

      At least at Steamboat, it's on paper where the money is going. And he more coorporate sponsors that kick down, the more money will go to charity.

      BAsically, you dont' support ultrarunning and competition, which is fine I guess.

      Working with Mackey to get those 200 comments….:-)

    2. Fred Abramowitz

      It is true that some of the entry fee might go to the "elites" (instead of to the race organization), assuming those sponsors don't pony up money. It's also true that, should they pony up money (and I think they will, if not this year, then down the road) that they will do so only because a race with prize money will attract those same "elites" and the marketing opportunities that go with having a highly competitive field. And if that's the case, the average runner will benefit, thanks to those very "elites" and the money from sponsors that they draw. And while there's a limit to how much volunteer time we (me) can put into putting on a race like this, I'm a lucky fellow and not looking to make money off of the race – and I have no problem with the vast majority of races where the race organization does makes money. It's hard work. But I think people need to think long term, and in the long term, attracting an "elite" field helps the average runner. And that's why we're hoping people like you will support our race.

      I'm working with Karl and Mackey too… 200 comments

  31. George Zack

    Comment number 185 …

    I can't understand why it is an expectation that a dime goes to charity.

    When I buy a meal at a restaurant, do I assume or require the owner must donate some amount of their profit to a charity?

    Certainly if they do, that might inspire me to attend that restaurant more often. But frankly if the food is crap, the prices are too high, or the service sucks, I ain't going REGARDLESS if they donate to charity or not.

    An RD is effectively a business owner.

    1. StephenJ

      In some cases I would rather any extra money goes into to the pocket of the RD or for cool swag for the aid station volunteers. Sometimes I kind of feel guilty at the aid stations. I'm out having a wonderful time running to my hearts content, and they are at an aid station cheering people on, and actually grabbing my sweaty, stinky pack and refilling in with water. I would hope that their bag 'o goodies is better than mine since I'm the one having the most fun.

      There was a certain 100 mile race that I was on the fence about. Then I saw that the charity the race was supporting was some 4×4 off road group that supports more motorized trails and the lack of wilderness.

  32. Tim

    I think I have read all 185 comments. There are a lot of different opinions on all topics from what to call the groups, start times, money, swag, CEO challenge (I laughed at this), where the money should go, how to raise more money, you get my point.

    Anyway, I defended Fred A. along time ago comment, when Sherpa John was chimming in.

    The point I wanted to make was this, regardless where you stand on the issue of prize money being offered or not if this was just another 100, I doubt it would have generated 185 comments. Because there is money being attached it has clearily sparked interest. The one commonality that I think we all share, is that we love running, pushing ourselves, seeing what we can accomplish. We all at one point tried doing an ultra and it manifested from there. What I am trying to say, is if we didn't try something, where would we all be? Let's just try to see what happens with RRR100 and where it goes. Fred A. is a smart intelligent guy, takes feedback, listens, makes necessary changes and ultimately tries to make the experience for ALL involved better. Its a great concept for all the pros and cons that have been raised but at the end of the day you have to give it a go.

  33. Beat Jegerlehner

    Ok we gotta get this up to 200 comments!

    I can't believe people are discussing if it's ok for entry fees to go to the elite purse. Seriously? Even though I never bought a ticket to a football game or such, come on … it's not like those guys are overpaid. If you don't like it, pick one of the other 150+ races out there (not only US anymore either …). I am not even against the organizers making money because in the end, they provide us with the opportunity to have some fun (as questionable as it may be). Now financial transparency is always welcome – and it seems we get that here. What's not to like?

    People also shouldn't take themselves too seriously when it comes to being called a turtle (or chicked for that matter). Most of us are slow. On the flipside though, turtles are a lot tougher than rabbits. They rarely quit, for example. Or get eaten. That works for me. At least Fred isn't calling us "People who don't train enough or lack talent or both", which would be more accurate. Face it.

    Re commercialization … if you look at cycling for example, which has a well established elite system and is highly commercialized, you can still have all the fun in the world at your local bike race (and even find some where you have a shot at winning), or crazy-ass insane bike adventure that's so tough no elite dares touching it. I don't think this would change anything, really. Other than open up more possibilities. If anything, maybe people won't equate ultrarunners to crack addicts anymore …

    Seems like a total no-brainer. Btw, for all the people who bitch and whine about races and their oh-so-unfair rules/lotteries/flaws/…, seriously: Shut up and put in the immense effort to organize one yourself. Then maybe you'll realize how inappropriate it is. I'm just glad to have one more race to choose from.

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