UTMB Announces Cash-For-Points Program

AJW's TaproomIn a surprise announcement this morning, UTMB organizer Catherine Poletti announced a new initiative in which the organization will pay athletes cash in exchange for the forfeiture of their UTMB points. In essence, this will allow runners to cash in on their results, trade them with the organization, and sign up for other races they’ll actually be chosen for. The specific details of the programme are still being worked out, but UTMB race director Catherine Poletti hailed the decision.

“We’ve realized over the past few years that we have too many runners who have too many points.  So, this new scheme will help us to reduce both. Now, with this cash-for-points program, we can reduce the number of people entering our lotteries who will inevitably feel peril and despair upon not being chosen… again. All we wanted to do was have a race, but instead we created depressed runners with unused UTMB points. Since our bank accounts are already overfilled, we thought this might cheer everyone up.”

Topher Gaylord, Western States 100 Board Member and multiple-time UTMB finisher, also applauded the decision, saying, “Look, this is great. I’ve been patiently accumulating my points, and entering the UTMB lottery without success. Now I can take the cash and run. Who wouldn’t want that?”

In just the few hours since the announcement, the UTMB website has been inundated with requests for cash redemptions as athletes who’ve accumulated UTMB points over the years seek the opportunity reinvest their funds in other race entries.

Other long-time ultramarathon supporters were a bit more skeptical of the announcement. Gary Towle, aka G-Money, who has served as the Western States 100 treasurer for over 35 years, suggested that, “This decision by UTMB could backfire. While I certainly understand how challenging it can be for a race to deal with an excess of runners who never get into their dream race, there may be more thoughtful and sustainable ways to relieve themselves of that burden than paying runners.”

When pressed for examples, Towle referred us to long-time Western States Board Member Tim Twietmeyer, who said,  “If we were in a similar situation of being the creators and destroyers of so many runners’ dreams per year—and I’m not saying we are—we sure as heck wouldn’t pay them off. That’s just the kind of race we are!”

In spite of these criticisms, UTMB remains steadfast. Catherine Poletti was adamant in her follow-up comments after the announcement, “Our focus has always been ‘for runners and by runners.’ And to be frank, we’ve never fully understood our points system either. If a runner wants money instead of the points they never get to use because they never get chosen in our lottery, c’est la vie!”

Former Hardrock 100 Board President and long-time skeptic of, well, many things, Blake Wood, was unavailable for comment, saying something about “important business underground at The Lab.”

Bottoms up!

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Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Will you trade your UTMB points for cash?
  • And with your cash back, what races will you instead enter?

There are 8 comments

  1. Stephen

    I was hoping IRF would be reporting about Western States’ new lottery that winners win a “Fast Pass” to the race beginning at the Last Chance aid station. They will be renaming the aid station to “Your Only Chance”.

  2. Eva

    Costs of traveling racing rack up quickly, so for those on lower incomes who carefully plan out the financial logistics of competing in points races only to be unlucky in the draw, this is awesome. I certainly don’t see it as “being paid off” to not feel bad, but rather being beneficial for the athlete, facilitating their accumulation of race experience elsewhere.

  3. KenZ

    I hope to use my UTMB cash payoff towards a Barkley entry, so that I can creatively move from a race I can’t get in, to a race I can’t finish. The leftover funds will be used to buy Laz more socks.

  4. Andy

    You know the entire lottery and point system is an exercise in frustration tolerance for so many when an April fool’s post like this has such wish-fulfilling appeal. I’m sure it was born out of a “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if …” moment over a few cold ones :)

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