ed note (6/29): The following was submitted as a combined statement from the board/race directors of the following events. Hardrock Hundred, Run, Rabbit, Run 50 and 100 Mile Runs, Speedgoat 50K, Wasatch Front 100, San Diego 100 Mile Run, Cascade Crest 100 Mile Run, Angeles Crest 100 Mile Run, Grindstone 100 Mile Run, Big Horn Trail Runs
Several weeks ago the Hardrock Hundred received an email from Catherine Poletti, who, along with her husband Michel, owns UTMB and ITRA. It stated, in essence, that Kilian Jornet (defending Hardrock champion) wished to run UTMB, but since Hardrock had not paid to join ITRA, Kilian lacked the qualifying UTMB “points.” So, the gist was, won’t Hardrock pay up so that Kilian could run? The answer is no. And here’s why.
For those unfamiliar with the procedure, UTMB requires ultra races to pay an annual fee to ITRA to earn qualifying “points.” The Hardrock Hundred has been clear: UTMB is welcome to use results of the HRH as qualifying for entry, but we have no interest in paying them to do so. Many other races, including Run Rabbit Run, Bighorn, and Wasatch, have also been approached by UTMB/ITRA and asked to pay to qualify for UTMB “points.”
Many of us have also been approached by runners who have been told by UTMB/ITRA to contact race directors to urge them to pony up the fee so that those runners could get “points.” Some runners have asked why many of us have refused.
First, the decision to adopt a qualifying standard based on “points” earned running one of UTMB’s races (as opposed, for example, to a lottery) was UTMB’s. We do not believe we should be required to pay for UTMB’s entry scheme. Secondly, UTMB and ITRA are strictly for-profit enterprises, with revenues estimated in the millions of Euros. It’s difficult to avoid concluding that requiring events to “pay for points” is not just another way to maximize what is already a very profitable enterprise. While we don’t fault UTMB/ITRA for seeking to maximize their profits, their “pay for points” scheme does nothing to contribute to the wellbeing of our sport. They do no inspection of any of the events to whom they award “points,” do no due diligence to ascertain whether those events are safe, well-organized or meet any other minimal standards and, to the best of our knowledge, have never declined to award “points” to any event that is willing to pay. Indeed, with more and more Americans wishing to run UTMB, some new events with little or no track record (or even a poor one) have found that “paying for points” is an easy way to garner entry fees.
Because of various federal, state and local restrictions, American ultras do not have the luxury of putting ten thousand runners on our courses as UTMB may, and thus cannot generate the revenue that UTMB can. Even if American races could, many would choose not to, considering it contrary to the spirit of ultrarunning. We recognize that as our sport grows, increasing commercialization and a desire to monetize the sport’s popularity may be inevitable, and indeed, for better or worse, UTMB and the “Ironmanization” of our great sport might be the unavoidable future. But while we certainly understand why many runners want to run UTMB, these aren’t the values that we think represent the best of our sport or that we wish to further.
We have no problem with UTMB using our races as qualifiers. But no other event – including popular and iconic events such as the Western States 100, the Hardrock Hundred, or the Boston or New York City Marathon – has then attempted to extract fees from those races in exchange for being a qualifier.
So we won’t pay. And we hope runners understand why.
Run, Rabbit, Run 50 and 100 Mile Runs
Wasatch Front 100
San Diego 100 Mile Run
Cascade Crest 100 Mile Run
Angeles Crest 100 Mile Run
Grindstone 100 Mile Run
Big Horn Trail Runs