Vert.Run: An Online Community of Trail Seekers

A profile of the online coaching app and running community,

By on July 27, 2023 | Comments is the brain child of Max Keith, Moisés Jiménez, and Kirsten Kortebein, who wanted to provide an affordable coaching solution for a range of trail runners.

What started out as a simple email list has expanded to an online community spanning 100 countries and in excess of 100,000 athletes, with an app designed to provide trail runners of all levels with high-quality, personalized training plans and affordable coaching. Furthermore, recently announced a collaboration with UTMB, where they are the official coaching partner for all the UTMB Mont Blanc races and a number of UTMB World Series events. founders founders (left to right), Max Keith, Moisés Jiménez, and Kirsten Kortebein. All photos courtesy of, unless otherwise noted.

Keith, Jiménez, and Kortebein — all runners themselves, with Jiménez and Keith running for The North Face, and Kortebein running more casually alongside her career — recognized that while many runners availed of the services of a dedicated or in-person coach, there was myriad more who could benefit from the help of a simple training plan. They used their combined experience to devise a number of training plans for various levels of experience and began distributing them via an email list. As Jiménez explained, in the early days, the plans only extended to sub-ultra distances, as the team felt that in order to provide proper guidance on training for ultramarathons, more athlete feedback would be required.

Before long the demand for Keith, Jiménez, and Kortebein’s training plans grew to a level that was unsustainable with that email format, so they started looking at ways to better serve a growing community of followers — the coaching app was born.

As cofounder Jiménez explained, “Basically, the trail running community is growing exponentially, with people coming from road running, triathlon, and other sports. We believe that to have these people stick to the sport of trail running without burning themselves out, they need the right guidance and support. This is why we created ‘Vert’ — to make the sport accessible to everybody, everywhere, even if you live in the middle of a big, flat city.”

While the app in ways resembles other platforms, such as Strava and Training Peaks, one key difference is that these apps were created for cyclists and are now used by runners — whereas the app is made by runners, for runners. - app content

Some of the content on the app.

Also, as Jiménez explained, “As people are getting outside more than ever, and they are more and more discovering sports like trail running, most of the existing apps are focused on tracking rather than helping their customers improve. is changing this, with a strong community of likeminded people that enjoy running on trails and personalized training plans supported by real human coaching, at an affordable price.”

Nowadays Vert operates with the help of eight full-time coaches, with training plans designed by a host of professional athletes, and a larger team of web developers and other professionals — almost all of whom are trail runners. Upon onboarding with Vert, a new client will fill out an in-app questionnaire to gauge their level of ability, experience, and coaching needs, before being matched with one of the Vert coaches. The client can choose a broad template training plan from the many on offer — from running your first 5k to a specific plan for a mountainous 100 miler — and the plan will be tailored to suit their particular circumstances. Along the way, feedback and support will be offered by their coach, who will happily respond to questions from the athlete throughout the process. - fun run - UTMB 2022

A group run at the 2022 UTMB. Photo: Etienne Valentin

Jiménez remarked, “Sometimes people mistakenly think we are using artificial intelligence or that they are talking to a ‘bot, but our coaches are real people answering your questions in real time!” thanks their efficient operating systems and the economies of scale for allowing them to provide a complete coaching package for only $25 per month, while also continuing to offer a range of free plans. co-founder and coach, Max Keith, said: “Most people come to Vert with a specific goal in mind. Most of the time it is about training for a specific event or race. A lot of them come for “finishing their first ultra,” but we also have a lot of people coming to Vert to improve on what they already did the last time. Overall, they just want to make sure they’re doing everything they can to meet their goals — whether that’s finishing under the cutoffs or getting a personal record.”

However, as Vert grows in popularity, the team is finding more people coming to the platform without a specific goal — eager to learn and improve more generally. As Keith outlined, “We’re seeing a lot of people who are new to the sport in general and they come to Vert at the same time that they’re discovering the joy of trails and running in general. So, for them it is all about getting into the habit of running and training without getting injured and making the most out of the time they spend outdoors.”

In terms of the next step for athletes after their primary goal is achieved, Keith said: “I would say there are two classic profiles of athletes — the one that feels like taking a break from structured training (usually a couple of months until they come back for another race) and then there are the ones that immediately have another goal/race, so they feel like they should jump straight into another training block. With this latter case, as coaches we are really insistent on transmitting the importance of recovery and resting and how that is equally as important as the training itself. This is where the long-term vision, with consistency as the main pillar for the most performance-oriented athlete, comes into play.”

Vert’s in-house coaches work alongside a host of elite athlete in designing training plans which offer unique insights and race-specific expertise. In their partnership with UTMB, all of the training plans are devised in conjunction with an elite athlete with experience in that particular race. The CCC plan, for example, was designed in conjunction with 2022 CCC winner and record holder Petter Engdahl — while 2018 and 2019 winner Ruth Croft’s help was enlisted in devising the OCC plan.

Ruth Croft - 2021 Les Templiers

Ruth Croft on her way to winning the 2021 Les Templiers. Croft has worked with to design their OCC training plan. Photo: iRunFar/Kirsten Kortebein

As Kortebein explains: “The UTMB partnership, the way that it works, is either we’ve designed or we’ve designed in collaboration with a pro athlete, a training plan for each of the UTMB Mont Blanc races — so UTMB, CCC, TDS, OCC, MCC, and ETC — and then plus 13 other of the European UTMB World Series events, such as Nice Côte d’Azur by UTMB and Wildstrubel by UTMB. And for each of those we’ve designed a plan for each distance as well.”

Rather than a one-size-fits-all training plan, athletes wishing to avail of one of the UTMB-specific packages will go through the usual onboarding with and be matched with a coach. The training plan for each individual race will also include guidance on the weather to expect, the terrain, and recommended gear — everything the runner will need to be set up for success.

As well as advice on how to train, also fulfills the need for community, particularly for runners who might lack in-person training buddies.

Kortebein explained, “The community we have in the app is called The Trailhead. And it’s a place for people to all come together. The number-one thing it’s about is encouragement. So people will post their long run, or say, ‘I did my very first workout on my very first five-kilometer plan.’ It’s really just a place where people go to share what they’re doing and get encouragement from other people in the Vert community. People will ask for advice, although they often go to their coach for that. So it’s really just looking for the sense of, ‘I’m in this with you.’” - The Trailhead screenshot

An example of a post on The Trailhead,’s community platform.

The feedback from users has been resoundingly positive, and this is what keeps the founders motivated. One user, Valerie — who completed her first 60k race, having followed Hillary Allen’s 50k plan on — said: “I couldn’t have done it without’s help. You helped me keep faith in the plan, and your warmth and encouragement were very much appreciated. I never dreamed I would be able to run 60k, especially at 60 years old. But been there, done that now.”

Kortebein said, “It’s pretty crazy. This thing was borne out of our brains, and we built something that people seriously love and that’s really, really rewarding.”

Another of the exciting offerings in the pipeline for, is a set of training plans written by this year’s Western States 100 third-place woman, Eszter Csillag, offering guidance on training throughout the various stages of pregnancy and postpartum. Kortebein said, “It’s something a lot of our community members and customers asked for. Eszter’s designing three plans for us — a second trimester, third trimester, and a postpartum plan. She really helps people to understand that you can keep training through pregnancy if you’re feeling good, and if you’re not feeling good — here’s an alternative you could do. She gives a lot of great tips throughout her plans and it’s all based on her own experience.”

Eszter Csillag - 2022 UTMB - fifth place

Eszter Csillag with her daughter Emma, after taking fifth at the 2022 UTMB. Csillag also offers coaching guidance on the platform. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

As the sport of trail running continues to grow and develop, the need for different types of coaching offerings will continue to grow. The dynamic folks behind are ever ready to embrace the changes to come, and continually find new ways to serve their thriving community.

Call for Comments

  • Have you heard of
  • Does this kind of coaching platform sound like something that would work for you?
Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is Managing Editor at iRunFar. She’s been working in an editorial capacity for ten years and has been a trail runner for almost as long. Aside from iRunFar, she’s worked as an editor for various educational publishers and written race previews for Apex Running, UK, and RAW Ultra, Ireland. Based in Belfast, Ireland, Sarah is an avid mountain runner and ultrarunner and competes at distances from under 10k to over 100k. When not running, she enjoys reading, socializing, and hanging out with her dog, Angie, and cat, Judy.