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?