AJW’s Five 2024 Predictions for Ultrarunning

AJW’s predictions for the world of ultrarunning in 2024.

By on December 29, 2023 | Comments

AJW's TaproomThe year 2023 was quite a year in the world of ultramarathoning, and I fully expect 2024 to be yet another eventful year.

It is in that context that, in my last column of 2023, I am sharing my five 2024 predictions for the world of ultrarunning in the year ahead.

1. Growth of Mom and Pop Events

Over the second half of 2023, there has been considerable attention paid to some of the large-scale global ultra-trail events. Much of this attention has been negative and I believe this will lead to athletes returning to small, low-key events in an effort to “vote with their wallets.”

Certainly, I don’t see the large-scale events hurting at all, but it seems to me to be a great opportunity for organizers of small events to capitalize on runners’ desire to “go small.”

Adam Merry Red Hot 55k 2022-2

Adam Merry on his way to win the 2022 Moab Red Hot 55k. Photo: Mad Moose Events

2. Professionalization of Ultramarathon Coaching

Ultramarathon coaching has come a long way since I first began coaching Western States 100 athletes in 2010. Indeed, the proliferation of coaching companies and online coaching resources has exploded along with the sport.

In 2024, I believe we will see an increase in the professionalization of ultramarathon coaching with more coaches moving to full-time coaching and more in person conferences and workshops geared specifically to coaching.

AJW's Western States 100 class of 2022

AJW with six of the eight athletes he coached for the 2022 Western States 100 (left to right): Dario Zea, Gina Harcrow, Theo Wirth, AJW, Tom Rauen, Matt Marino, and Andrew Messina. Photo courtesy of AJW.

3. Large Sponsorship Deals

Earlier this year the Hong Kong 100k, which takes place in January, announced that Anta Sports would be the new title sponsor for the event.

Anta Sports, the third largest manufacturer of sporting goods overall after Nike and Adidas, enters the ultra-sponsorship space at a time when I believe we will see more big-ticket companies jumping into sponsor events as the mainstream global reach of trail running continues to expand.

4. Extreme Weather Events

The trend of extreme weather events adversely impacting trail and ultra events has, unfortunately, been taking place for several years now.

I see this continuing in 2024 with heat, floods, fire, and other effects of climate change causing race postponements, reroutes, and cancellations around the world. Race organizers will continue to be challenged by these factors and athletes will be forced to plan for them.

2023 Vermont 100 cancelation - flood damage

Severe flood damage on the route of the Vermont 100 Mile in 2023, which led to the event’s cancellation. Photo: Vermont 100 Mile

5. Growth in the Popularity of 200-Mile and Longer Races

The 200-mile phenomenon is here to stay, with many 2024 events already sold out or growing exponentially from past years.

Now, in the year ahead, I think we’ll see a boom in events even longer than 200 miles. I am predicting 300- and even 400-mile races on the horizon as ultrarunners’ desire to push themselves harder and further continues to grow.

Sabrina Verjee on her way to winning the 2022 Tor des Géants

Sabrina Verjee on her way to winning the 2022 Tor des Géants. Photo: KnowJack Media

There you have it, my predictions for 2024 in ultrarunning.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Deschutes BreweryThis week’s beer of the week comes from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. Obsidian Stout is one of their original beers first introduced in the early 1990s. Deep and dark like the its namesake rock, Obsidian is a rich and creamy stout perfect for New Year’s Eve!

Call for Comments

  • What are your predictions for the new year?
  • And what are your own big running goals for 2024?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.