Karl Meltzer Talks About His 2012 Speedgoat 50k Decision

Speedgoat 50k race director Karl Meltzer faced a difficult decision when Kilian Jornet was found to be cutting switchbacks – a nearly universal rule in American trail races that have marked routes – at Karl’s race. Below, Karl tells why, exactly, he had a tough decision to make and why he made the decision he did. Following that interview is video of the award ceremony during which Karl also offered an explanation of his decision beginning at the 2:50 mark.

[Update: We’ve not published the International Skyrunning Federation’s response.]

Karl Meltzer Post-2012 Speedgoat 50k Interview

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Karl Meltzer Post-2012 Speedgoat 50k Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell here at the finish line of the Speedgoat 50k with Karl [Meltzer, Race Director]. Karl, you were put in a tough spot today. Tell us what put you in the tough spot.

Karl Meltzer: Today was an incredibly tough spot. We had a great competitive field at the race this year. It was panning out exactly how it was supposed to pan out. Kilian Jornet and Ricky Gates were in the front, chasing the leaders up front. Rickey beat Kilian to the top, and that was great; everything was running out great. What happened though, along the route, I was descending into Mineral Basin myself, Kilian was in the lead briefly, and he cut a switchback. That was the first time we saw it happen. Ok, one little thing, no big deal. He continued on the course and he continued to cut switchbacks randomly throughout the route. There were a lot of visuals from our volunteers that saw it. So now I’m thinking, “Well, what do I do now? Do I disqualify him? Do I just let it ride?” Every other runner, not exactly every other runner, Ricky Gates who was right behind him was a little ticked off. He wasn’t liking it very much. So Ricky followed the route; he stayed on course. For Ricky, it was a closed course. As they headed into Mineral Basin, I don’t know how many switchbacks Kilian cut. I couldn’t see. But as he left Larry’s Hole he cut a few more. He was told at mile 20 that he was not supposed to cut switchbacks. Then he did it again descending Little Cloud Bowl into the finish line. So now here I am in this tough position to say, “How do I monitor this? What do I do? Do I disqualify Kilian Jornet? Do I just let it ride?”

So what I did… Kilian ended up crossing the finish line first in 5:14, which is ridiculously fast. Rickey Gates was 5:18 and change. I told Kilian when he initially crossed the line, “Hey, I may have to disqualify you because of cutting the course.” Kilian is a very gracious athlete and he said, “Yes, it’s ok. I understand. It’s ok.” I was pretty psyched about that. He was really gracious. He’s a great kid, because I’m old. At the same time, I waited a little while to decide what the final decision would be. I talked to 10 to 20 people. I got their insight and input. The most important input I got was probably was something that Pikes Peak did years ago when a few Europeans came over and they cut corners. I don’t know if they technically won the race, but they cut the corners. They didn’t disqualify them, but what they did do is they didn’t pay them the prize money. I said, “You know what? That’s probably a reasonably fair thing to do.”

To be honest with you, I hated to do this. I hate to be in this position. Some people will think I’m a bad guy for the decision that I made, but honestly, I think it was kind of the right decision. I couldn’t say “DQ. You’re out. Done. See ya next year maybe? Maybe not.” I really want this race to continue as a Skyrunning race. I want it to continue. I made the ultimate decision of going with what Pikes Peak did, and we paid Rickey Gates as the winner. Rickey also beat Kilian to the top, so he gets $1,000 bonus. He was also under the record. So Ricky gets $4,000, and, unfortunately, Kilian doesn’t get any money. I still gave Kilian Jornet the win, because as a Skyrunning Series program, I really want to keep that. I don’t want to diss him out on that whole thing. That’s kind of how they race in Europe and in all the other races, so I let that ride.

Kilian, again, was a very gracious athlete. He’s a really cool guy. Rickey felt good about it. A lot of the other spectators that know what my decision was, they thought that was good. Ultimately, the bottom line is that Rickey Gates will get the course record, technically the course record, because he followed the course. Again, it’s such a hard decision to make. Kilian was very gracious about it. So it is what it is.

iRF: Thank you for explaining it all. There are a lot of curious people out there. It was a hard decision. But overall, what an incredible day here at Snowbird!

Meltzer: It was an incredible race. Speedgoat 50k—nobody got lost, everybody stayed on track. It was a close race up front. Six guys went under the previous record and by a fair amount. It was a hot day. Kilian even mentioned, too, if it’s cloudy and if it were slightly raining, we’re talking 4:50. We’re talking under 5 hours on this course? It’s pretty darn fast.

I think the one thing I will change next year is I will make it a point to say that you cannot cut switchbacks in this race. If I say that and it happens again, then there will just be a straight up DQ, because I’ve said it and it will be up on the website of course. This year it wasn’t on the website. The first thing to do was to check if I put that on there, and I didn’t. So then I had to make this decision. I think I made the right one. And if some people don’t like that, well, that’s ultrarunning. That’s what it is.

iRF: Thanks for putting on a great race and dealing with a hard situation well.

Meltzer: It was a great race. It was fun.

iRF: Now let’s have some beers.

Meltzer: This is a good one.

iRF: This, I’m hiding because it’s not so good. Taproom.

Meltzer: Thanks for dropping this by. Bottoms up.

2012 Speedgoat 50k Awards Ceremony

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2012 Speedgoat 50k Awards Ceremony Transcript

Karl Meltzer: First, I want to explain a couple things that happened here. Our fastest guy that finished—Killian Jornet—is very gracious and is over here. Kilian cut a few of the switchbacks and cut some corners, and in Europe that’s how we race… how they race over in Europe. So it’s a really hard decision for me how to play the awards on this one.

I did not disqualify Kilian. I could have for not following all of the course. I did not disqualify him. But what I did is… I can’t really award him the money, because he didn’t really stay on the course. But being part of the World Skyrunning Series, we wanted to keep that all together and stuff. So what we’re going to do is have two first place winners here. I know I’m going to get some flack for some of this; some will like it, some will not, but that’s how it is. It was a hard decision. You know, I don’t know. Anyway, we’ll take it from there.

There are 86 comments

  1. mayayo

    Thank you very much for great journalism Bryon. Thanks Karl for your openness.

    Having run ultras both in the States and in Europe, I must confess to feeling quite surprised that "Salomon Meltzer" did cut the baby in half, so to speak. :)

    Specially if the issue had already come up before at another USA race. It should have been tackled beforehand in the rules to prevent "hating" the tough spot, I guess.

    Anyway, although it feels sad to devote time to this side issue instead of admiring the great race that all the top finishers put together, yet it also does feel necessary – I guess- to ensure that no runner, brand or organization is treated differently on course, but all answer everafter to the same rules.

    May it be so.

    BTW In Europe, running outside the marks also leads to direct DQ.

    See below copy/Paste from UTMB 2012 race rules: WAY MARKERS

    "For better night vision, the way markers include a section of yellow reflective material which will be easily visible with a head torch.

    ATTENTION: if you can not see any more markers, retrace your steps!

    With respect for the environment no paint will be used on the paths.

    It is imperative that you follow the paths with the markers without taking short cuts. In effect, short cutting the paths leads to erosion which damages the site"

    No, it is definitely not the European way to take short cuts :D

    1. chad

      You are mixing up running out of the course and running an open course. In Skyrunning they are open courses where a general course is marked but you pick the your specific route marker to marker. So you can stick to the trail or take the more direct and techinical route. Kilian thought this was an open Skyrunning course like in Euro.

      1. mayayo

        Chad, guess your personal opinion on marked course vs open course being the norm in Europe is a bit arguable.

        Enviromental protection is as relevant an argument in Europe organizations as it is in the States, hence most of the ISF ultra skyraces this year state more or less same wording as this:

        KIMA ULTRAKSYRACE RULES (Italy. Coming up 26AUG)

        "According to the ISF rules the race is classified as an “Ultra SkyMarathon®”. The race takes place on mountain paths but with demanding stretches both uphill and downhill and, in certain parts, fixed ropes, snow, exposed ledges, steep slopes and stony terrain – in other words, requiring good physical preparation and extreme caution.

        The entire course is marked with the Sentiero Roma white-red-white system; with orange fluorescent flags; and, in the lower stretches and at road crossings, with red and white tape and yellow arrows. Every pass has an information board showing the number of kilometers into the race and the number left to run.

        It’s compulsory to follow the marked course – or risk disqualification."

        1. Rick

          Thanks for posting the rule – I guess this is where it gets tricky for some – i.e. if you have markings a 1/4 mile apart, as the trail goes, would a runner still be within the course markings if they cut and took a straight line from marker to marker?

  2. Mark T

    Super sweet race Karl.

    Tough decisions have to be made.

    You will make necessary adjustments as will Kilian in the future.

    I hope Kilian comes back next year and the weather is cooler. Sub 5 would be crazy.

    Great race and great competitors at the 2012 Speedgoat. Pure awesomeness!!

  3. Bartman

    Enforcing rules is often unpleasant but the rules are in place so that everyone is competing on the same course or under the same criteria.

    Perhaps include language in the entry form stating the requirement of not cutting switchbacks/corners and doing so will results in a DQ yada-yada-yada.

    In any case I believe Karl made the right decision on the day given the facts as presented.

  4. Rick

    I think Karl made a great decision, and it was good to hear him explain. The Skyrunning series takes place in a few different countries and continents, right? Is the switch back cutting rule consistent in all the other Skyrunning races with the exception of Speedgoat? If it is, any thoughts of unifying that rule at Speedgoat to be consistent with the rest of the series next year?

    1. Mark T

      Hmmm, interessting question?

      Given the location of the race and rules regarding "off trail running/hiking", read "sensitive flora", I would think this is not a possibility?

    2. JimM

      That is a good point Mark but in my opinion Snowbird may not allow the race if cutting switchbacks is allowed. There is as much an environmental and safety aspect to the rule as just making sure everyone runs the same course. I am sure we have all seen trails that have been washed out becasue people have cut switchbacks. But then again that is just one persons opinion.

      Great race Karl and I hope we see Killian and all the sick fast racers again next year.

  5. the runner

    Nice interview. Good to hear that it wasn't a hasty decision. Good work on the race Karl. We all know you were put in a tough spot.

  6. Brett

    Someone PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell Kilian it will be the same type of course rules at Pikes Peak! I can imagine no worse situation than being a Race Director and being faced with decisions like these.

    1. Mark T

      Yea, Nothing worse than putting in a huge effort, dropping a sick fast time then being DQ'd! I think Kilian will be much more cognizant of race rules heretofore.

  7. Patrick

    You were put in an incredibly tough position, Karl, but I think you made the best decision possible. There was so much to consider; that being said, you considered everything and made a great choice. Kudos.

    I love Killian and everything he has done for the sport. I also respect everything you've accomplished as both competitor and RD. No bias here.

    Thank you, iRunFar, for the great coverage.

    PS – Any interesting notes as of yet about JFK50 in November?? I recently heard that Ellie is running. She, Max King, and Ian Sharman are listed as participants. Any rumors about other runners joining them for the 50th Anniversary?? Thank you.

  8. Mike

    "Ricky felt good about it." Ha! I bet he did, especially after you gave him $4,000.

    I think it was weak cop-out. Either DQ Killian or give him the spoils of victory ($, course record, etc.)

  9. Trail Clown

    Can't believe alot of people are sayin' Killian would have won anyway, even if he had followed the course. Sounds like his 4 minute win was directly attributable to cutting the courses in many many places. Gates should get the win, Karl should have had the guts to DQ Killian…he didn't because he wants his race to stay in good graces with the SkyRunning gods. All of it is BS, Killian knows the rules in the U.S., all of this dual 1st place stuff is to maintain harmony and keep the peace. But it is a DQ, plain and simple. Everyone feels it.

    1. Speedgoatkarl

      trail clown, Killian did not break skyrunning rules, and because in my "rules", it did not say to not cut switchbacks, so I let him run under the other rules, but in my race, he doesn't win the money because he cut corners and it was not a 50k per se. He didn't gain 4 minutes, that's doubtful, but hey, he didn't follow the route. It has nothing to do with me trying to bring the skyrunning race to my home turf. My race will always have a great purse and a fun time, which is what I seek most. If it's a Skyrunning race next year, great, if it's not, I"ll still do my best to attract the best America has to offer. Missing 3 great european runners won't change a great race. Rather, some folks will finish further up in the field.

      1. David T

        Well put, Karl.

        Your willingess to accept some of blame and to strive for fairness just boosted my already very high esteem for you.

        Well done!

      2. Trail Clown

        I know he didn't break skyrunning rules, but not only do I believe he knew the US rules beforehand, I hear he was told on the course to not do it, and yet he still did it. That just is plain wrong, the way I see the world and the way I see ultra running races. You say you won't miss 3 European runners, but c'mon, you and Roes and all the other promoters want that "3" to grow into "100", so don't act like you won't miss the Europeans if you piss them off by DQ'ing a person who deserved to get DQ'ed. It's nothing personal with me, I just hate double standards in general. Peace out, y'all (cause I know others will comment in defense of Karl)…

        1. Mt.Mutt

          Decent points,Clown,except your childish rants about Karl and Roes(?) motivations for directing races,sounds personal to me.Might want to re-evaluate your view of seeing the world,and make it less personal.

  10. footfeathers

    First, congratulations to Karl for making the Speedgoat event a true premier event in such a short time. It is definitely difficult when you're in the middle of putting on an event to have to make decisions on the spot. You came through last year by awarding extra prize money when folks in contention ran off course (but corrected themselves within the rules). Awarding KJ a finish is a mistake. He didn't run the same course as the other runners. I realize we're still in this "feel good, hold hands in a circle" stage of ultrarunning but cutting several minutes out of a race by running a short course is a DQ. It doesn't matter whether it's a neighborhood 5k or the Speedgoat 50k. It's still a competition and the competitors need to both know and adhere to rules. Don't bend to the pressure. kJ's a big boy and I'm certain he can handle a valid DQ. Mostly, I feel sorry for Gates who now gets to explain that he came in 2nd yet sort of won the race. I don't care if it was a breakdown in communication or a simple mistake on KJ's part. It's wrong to give him the finish. As Mackey adroitly pointed out to me when I whined about running off course at Red Hot, "It's the runner's responsibility to know the rules and course and to follow them." Period.

    1. chad

      Sorry footfeathers, but there have to be rules for you to know them. NO WHERE in the rules did it say it was a closed course or that you could not cut switchbacks. You can review the rules on the website or you can just listen to Karl who honestly and openly admits it.

      This is a critical point that somehow seems to get lost over and over again.

      1. Justin

        Good point Chad. You can also add that most Skyraces allow for that kind of running and since this was a skyrace and the Speedgoat rules did not forbid it, Kilian was reasonable in his assumption that it was OK.

        Karl indicated that some of the volunteers warned him after he did it the first time but that appears to have been lost in translation. In the heat of the race I don't hear anything that is yelled at me and you can add that Enlgish is not Kilian's first language.

        All-in-all I think Karl made a wise choice that was based in precedent (i.e., Pikes Peak) and which showed that Karl was willing to bear some of the responsibility since he did not, as he should have, included in the rules that it was a closed course and that cutting switchbacks was illeage.

        1. Yeti

          According to Bryon, "I don’t think the person needs to be named. I know who told Kilian and it’s someone he should trust to a very high degree. It was not a random person or even a random volunteer on the course."

          1. Justin

            You can't attempt to implement new rules during the race. i don't care if it was karl telling Kilian not to cut. The rule must be established, writen, and provided to the racers before the race starts.

            1. Yeti

              Let me get this straight, according to you(Justin), if Karl, the director of the race, were to give someone very specific instructions about a rule during the race, then that individual doesn't have to listen if it was not written down beforehand…yikes!

  11. Myles Smythe

    The great thing about being the boss (RD), you get to make the final decisions, whether people like that decision or not. At least the obvious issue was confronted right away and not later.

  12. fred p

    Good decision Karl. Although the rule wasn't published, that is a well known rule everywhere in America. Anyone who has hiked in the national forest has probably seen signs saying, "don't cut switchbacks, it causes erosion." Anyway, it is probably true that Kilian would have won anyway, hence he was awarded the win. If you didn't actually see his whole race, it's not really possible to say he gained 4 minutes from cutting a few switchbacks. But, if it was a race official who told him during the race that you couldn't cut switchbacks, and he ignored that, he should have been dqed, unless it wasn't a race official but a spectator.

  13. Michael Helton

    Killian is one of my ultra idols.

    However, if he was told to stop doing shortcuts (and it was done by someone where nothing was lost in translation) and he continued to do it, then I think he should have been DQ'd.

    It is not the proper precedent to bend the rules for one person…you might as well as throw them out.

    1. chad

      If Karl does not include something in "the rules" than it cannot be against "the rules." karl did not include this in the rules. Karl's fault NOT Kilian's.

  14. tom b

    Bryon, once again super great coverage of the race and extra drama. Thank you so much for providing this for everyone and getting these video's up so soon. Karl is the man! Great race and good leadership in decision making. For what it's worth you made the best choice you could.

  15. Graham

    Tough decision and not an easy one to make given it was not specified in the race rules about the cutting switchbacks.

    I think you just have to cut a bit of slack both ways.

    For Kilian who didn't break any race rule per se, he is one of the most genuine athletes you could find and I'm sure he wouldn't intentionally cut the switchbacks to gain an advantage. It's not the real reason why he runs.

    Also have to cut some slack for Karl because at the end of the day all we are looking at here is an even playing field for the runners. Despite not being in the race rules, out on course Kilian was told not to cut the switchbacks and continued to do so.

    Kilian has understood the decision and taken it on the chin. Lessons learned all round and time just to move on and not dwell about it.

  16. Jonathan

    Karl, you have my utmost respect. You have proven once again that old guys rule. I can't imagine the position you were put in as a RD and I'm sure no one would ever want to be in that position. You handled it well despite what all the armchair quarterbacks have posted. Look forward to seeing you at Rocky Raccoon.

  17. Brett

    Kilian, the other runners, and Karl would have rather not had this incident happen. But it did. And it was taken care of. And now for some reason the [folks on the internet] care the most…go figure.

    [Editor's note: Insulting phrase removed. Not a big deal, just trying to keep literal name calling out of this and off iRunFar.]

  18. Fred Abramowitz

    I happen to have been running down into Mineral Basin with Karl when Kilian passed us by and cut the switchbacks, directly in view of us and Ricky Gates, who was just a few seconds behind (and who stayed on the trail). I can assure you this was no easy decision for Karl, and no easy decision for Ricky Gates either. Kilian may have been following the European rules of "staying on course" as HE understood them, but it had to be a bit demoralizing for Ricky to watch Kilian pull away in that manner. And tough for him to stick to the rules as HE understood them. Lost in all this is the kudos that Gates deserves. It's called good sportsmanship.

    1. olga

      Agreed on Gates. A hell of a run for Ricky. Even more so under circumstances. A fine duel of Max and Tony. Great performances all around.

      We all have opinions. At the end of the day, it happened and over, the decision is made, and as with any business in US, while we have a freedom to voice what we want, the voting happens with wallets. Disagree – don't come. Agree – come, or speak to others for them to come.

      Bryon, thanks for updates.

      Karl, the course looks beautiful.

      All who participated – awesomely done.

      And why do we keep forgetting fantastic ladies' field? Way to run, girls!

    2. Jess

      Several have pointed out that Ricky cut too. He, of course, knew it was wrong and was therefore smart enough not to do it in front of Karl.

      1. David T

        This is a big accusation. Do you have any evidence to support this or does anyone else? I don't think we should be passing on rumor.

  19. Speedgoatkarl

    It is my fault Chad for not having "cutting switchbacks" in my race rules section, I take all blame for that. Killian ran to Skyrunning rules, which is why he did not get DQ'd. It will be repeated after me next year at the pre-race and will also be in the race rules. Blame me all you want, I like constructive criticism.

    1. stack

      yes… it is your fault karl and it will be your fault for not having 'dont ride a bike' in the rules next year if someone does that for a portion.

      seriously though… its ridiculous that anyone could say its karl's fault. ive always looked up to kilian as a runner but the fact that he was told several times in the middle of the race yet continued to do it is pretty clear to me that Kilian was at fault.

      on the ruling… Karl made the right call because its Karl's race. its easy to sit back and say he should have DQd kilian or he shouldn't have taken away the money/CR but when put in Karl's shoes I have to say it seems like a pretty darn good decision.

      i feel this does put a target on Kilian to prove that he's not a cheater. not understanding the rules and doing something is one thing but to continue to do it even after being told the rules is another thing.

      BIG KUDOS to Ricky for not just following Kilian. i've been in road races, XC races as a spectator and competitor and watched one person cut a corner inside a cone or cut a turn or something and one follows then the next then everyone. It was big of Ricky to stay on course (literally and figuratively) and run the way it was meant to be.

    2. David T

      Darn Karl, I was going to quit commenting but your just so impressive. I hope to make it out to run your race next year and get the chance to shake your hand.

      You're a big man.

  20. GMack

    Listening to Karl's interview left me thinking that Kilian's major infraction is that he disobeyed the race personnel who told him not to cut the course, not necessarily that he had cut the course prior to that. Both acts, however, violate International Skyrunning rules. The matter then should have gone to a Jury, per ISF rules. By holding a Skyrunning race, the event organizer agrees to abide by certain rules established by the ISF, one of which states that a Jury may "approve  solutions  to  conflicts,  assess  claims  and  decide  on  their  outcome,  ensure  that  races  and  rankings  are  standardised,  guarantee  sporting  fairness  and  make  decisions  about  questions  of  any  kind  which  appear  incomplete  or  unclear."

    The Jury could then have assessed a time penalty or DQ. For instance, a time penalty per ISF rules for "not following race course signage" is 3 minutes. Regardless, it doesn't seem that ithe decision was the Race Director's decision alone to make.

    1. Speedgoatkarl

      Gmack. You are correct in saying, that is skyrunning rules, the jury makes the decision, but for all the folks who don't know this. (and this is big) When I spoke initially with the Skyrunning folks,I told them the race was under my terms. I signed NO contract to have them be a jury or a decision maker on infractions. I signed no contract at all, I only said they can use my course for the skyrunning series. It's my race, and it'll always be my race. They gave me 3 days to make a decision because they were in a time constraint to advertise a race in the US. they came to me, I did not ask for this, I only gave them a chance to use my race for their series.

      Not to mention,how to you call in a jury if they are in Europe, they were not here, so it means nothing to me. Doesn't the judge make the final call sometimes. I am the judge in this case. But hey, I'm no lawyer…Bryon? :-)

      And, if I were to asses a time penalty, it would be at least 15 minutes. 3 minutes is not enough of a penalty, and I could not do that anyway, cuz' it's not in my rules.

      Lastly, I hope I set the precedent for Pikes Peak. Killian is one guy who has a chance at breaking an astounding record, one of the best ever in mountain running. I hope he does it, it'll be amazing to see.

      Killian will always be a class act, that we know for sure.

  21. Speedgoatkarl

    Trail Clown. Sure, I hope 20 fast europeans come to the Speedgoat race,but if not,so be it. It's ok, we will still have a competitive race for cash, more cash than most european races. And more cash in one silly race around Snowbird than a prize for the whole Skyrunnning series….hmmmm,how's that work.:-) I think I'll go for a run in the flowers….

  22. Roland

    The "open course" rules are cognizant of both the advantages and the disadvantages of "direct off-trail" routes. If the runner has the skill to navigate the direct route, then the decision is obvious. If a runner questions their ability to run the direct route then they stick to the trail. There are risks and rewards in both approaches- a higher probability of crashing on the direct route versus a relatively certain (but by all means not absolute) outcome by following the trail. It is no different in Ski Mountaineering, Killian's "other" sport where the consequences are substantially more grave.

    Killian has stated on numerous occasions that the Speedgoat 50km route was not "technical", at least by his definition. Perhaps he saw the best path forward to be a "direct" one given the lack of technical challenge. This combined with no pre-race statement (either verbal or written) by the race officials that the course was "closed" likely lead him to proceed as he did and he has essentially said as much.

    I think the "open course" approach to racing is flawed and should be reconsidered as it clearly does not work in all environments. Open courses in Fell racing where the fragility of the vegetation and soil is less perhaps could be justified as not sufficiently damaging to the environment. However, there exist many damaged fells in Great Britain (although not specifically due to racing) and the more fragile vegetation and soils in the alpine ecosystem really begs insistence on "closed courses". The real question here is: should "open course" races be a part of the sport?

  23. T-Bone

    Great race, well done to all of the competitors. I can see that this was a very difficult decision, but I still don't understand the dual/double standards. If the race was run under Skyrunning rules, then should not ALL the rules be followed? I thought under Skyrunning rules all racers MUST carry a windproof jacket. I don't think any of the top racers did. Similarly, "Controllers must immediately report any infractions of the rules or offences committed by competitors to race headquarters. Controllers may also convey special instructions from race headquarters to competitors (eg to wear a jacket, or that the race has been stopped etc.)." Again: "After the finish line an area with restricted access will be provided for the athletes. Their compulsory clothing and equipment will be checked here." So, it seems that many of the Skyrunning rules were not followed. So, if the race was not run under Skyrunning rules, it must have been run under Speedgoat rules. Either way, it seems like Killian and several of the other top men and women should be DQ'd. There were several who were seen cutting switchbacks (DQ under Speedgoat). However, none of them had the required gear (DQ under Skyrunning). I think a single set of rules need to be picked, and no matter how hard it is the Big Names need to be DQ'd if they don't follow them.

    It is very discouraging for newbies to get into a sport if they know the sport favors certain athletes and will work to allow them to win (or the RD and others will turn a blind eye).

    Also, I think we as a sport need to take a long look at ourselves. We started small and community based, but now are growing. With that come some pains. I've seen two other ultras this year where switchbacks were cut. As the sport grows, money starts being a factor (sponsorship or cash prizes) people will not 100% honest, and the cutting of switchbacks is just the start.

      1. Reese

        This thread is insane. I need to be a part of it. My opinion matters little. Can't we all just respect athletic performances and beautiful landscapes?

  24. Mike B

    Maybe if more people stay on course and kill it there wouldn't be a "controversy"…oh wait, someone did just that. Congratulations to Anna Frost for a strong 50K race!! No controversy there. I think some of the other theoretical things noted earlier are better pondered in the thin air of mountains – a little less oxygen will wrap this up. Anna, Karl, Kilian, Ricky – respect.

  25. Eric

    Chad-It also doesn't specify that runners must run. Would a Mt bike be allowed? KJ's raced in the US before, he cut the course, he was warned to not cut the course, and he did it again. Karl was put in a tough position and made, IMHO, the wrong decision.

  26. Doug Brandt

    This is not to criticize him, but did anyone approach Kilian Jornet after the race and ask him why he continued to cut switchbacks after being warned?

  27. Buzz

    I was at the Pikes Peak Marathon in 2004, and would like to clarify that while the course-cutting was the same, the Results were handled differently: PPM DQ'd Augusti Roc – he was not the winner – while Lauri allowed his Skyrunning points to stand – two different things. There is some rationale to this, because while course-cutting was specifically forbidden in the PP rules, it was not in the Speedgoat rules, so as Karl says, the grounds for DQ were hazy.

    BTW, for future reference it matters little how much time may have been gained, what they time gap was, what the language is, or what the expectation is … violating a written rule usually results in a DQ.

    Kilian will of course stay on trail at this years PPM. He has no need to mess around, and the PPM RD followed what transpired on Saturday, and though he would have anyway, three weeks from now the rules will be clearly stated in advance, as well as the consequence of violating them.

    The PP Directors have an interesting viewpoint: it's a Marathon; no one would ever cut the course at a road Marathon, so why would that be justified on a mountain?

  28. James

    Agreed! c'mon, if had been anyone other than kilian he would have been DQ'd. rules are rules and ignorance of the rules is never an excuse. basically a commercial decision to keep the skyrunning series – thumbs down karl. you chickened out.

  29. Mic

    This is sad. This isn't adventure racing where you can cut the trail (at your own risk) and read the rules very very carefully to get an advantage. Never in a race have I thought it was ok to cut the course. If there is a mud hole with 2 paths on either side, I'll take the shortest path but that's about it.

    It's likely intellectual dishonesty on Killian's part and a disregard/disrepect for the course marshalls warning him. Not only that but he eroded the course, eeek – he hurt the planet. :)

    But really.

    I wonder how Killian would do at The Barkley 100. I dare Killian to run the Barkley 100.


    1. Brian

      "Run" the Barkley? More like a death march up and down the hillsides. He would probably be pretty good there though…

  30. Zudnik

    I think Karl did a great job given the position he found himself in. Way to go Kilian as well for saying ok, I understand. His enthusiasm is refreshing.

    1. Zudnik

      oh, and most importantly – Thanks Bryon for keeping us updated. You keep us well informed and posting up info like this is a great service. Weather folks agree with what Karl did, don't like what Kilian did, or feel slighted for Ricky etc. You're posting it up and letting us read it. So at least we're more informed. Thanks.

  31. mayayo

    May I copy/paste it again, as some people may have missed the point:

    UTMB RULES >> ATTENTION: if you can not see any more markers, retrace your steps!

    With respect for the environment no paint will be used on the paths.

    It is imperative that you follow the paths with the markers without taking short cuts. In effect, short cutting the paths leads to erosion which damages the site”

    Once again, I insist: it is definitely not the European way to take short cuts :D

  32. Fly By Night

    Cutting a course is cheating in my book. I don't care if it's 'accepted' elsewhere in the world or not. It's dishonest and ignoble and goes against the spirit of the sport.

    However, I think Karl made a good decision in this instance.

    Respect for Karl goes up.

    Respect for Kilian goes down, way down.

  33. Gordon Wright

    We ran into this at the first Gore-Tex TransRockies run: Europeans cutting switchbacks. It's a cultural thing, and after informing them of American customs, they largely complied. As for Karl, I think he made an elegant and appropriate decision that satisfied all concerned.

  34. Wyatt Hornsby

    Elite European ultrarunners, like American elites, will go to whatever races offer cash. Speedgoat obviously has cash, so, even if Karl had DQ'd Kilian, I'll bet our friends on the other side of the pond will still be lining up at next year's Speedgoat to get a shot at Mr. Green. And who can blame them?

    It's easy to Monday Morning Quarterback this deal to death. The fact of the matter is that Karl gave his decision a ton of thought. And he had the wisdom and humility to seek input from others, as he states in his interview with Bryon. He didn't make a knee-jerk decision; he talked with others and ultimately made the best decision he could using the information he had.

  35. Patrick McKenna

    Based on the interview only, it sounds to me like Karl didn't do what he felt in his heart was right/fair. He did what he thought was best for his event's future.

    P.S. It would have been nice if KJ demanded that he be DQ'd to take the pressure off of Karl.

  36. Kokolo

    I think the main issue was that the rule wasn't estated in the Speedgoat rules and that's why Karl couldn't DQ Kilian, why?? If it wasn't written anywhere.

    Although I understand it was a tough decission, looking at the award ceremony with Kilian staring at Ricky getting all the credits, was quite ridiculous.

  37. Brian Robinson

    Agreed. IMO "pretty good" is an understatement. I think he'd make the rest of us look silly. I'd dearly love to see what he could do there.

  38. Jeff Blackwell

    I think Karl was overly gracious on his decision. Kilian has now raced in the US for several years & as far as I know (with the exception of maybe, Barkley) most, if not all, races in this country are on a closed course & with this being the normal. Should have been DQ, esp. if he continued to cut switchbacks after being warned.

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