Friday, July 19, 2024

The Soul of the Sport – iRunFar


AJW's TaproomI just lately turned conscious of a qualification coverage applied by the Excessive Lonesome 100 Mile race group in 2021. The coverage, which identifies the races that function qualifiers for Excessive Lonesome, states that so as  to qualify for the 2023 version, runners want to fulfill one of many following 4 requirements:

  1. End a 50-mile or 100-kilometer path race between 1/1/2022 and 12/31/2022 (No UTMB races allowed.)
  2. End a 100-plus-mile path race between 01/01/2020 and 12/31/2022 (No UTMB races allowed.)
  3. End the 2022 Sawatch 50/50.
  4. Attain at the very least Hancock through the 2022 Excessive Lonesome 100 Mile underneath cutoffs.

The coverage goes on to supply an evidence of why the occasion excludes UTMB races from their qualifying occasions:

“Because of UTMB’s partnership with Ironman, we now not really feel that their firm or races replicate the values of this sport. Moreover, they persistently fail to take motion on key wants within the sport, specifically round gender fairness, being pregnant deferrals, and transgender/non-binary entries. For a race with thousands and thousands of {dollars} and platform on the prime of our sport, they regularly reveal that their priorities are out of contact with the game. As such, we is not going to acknowledge any UTMB finishes as qualifiers and encourage runners to hunt out races that prioritize the group, sport, and setting as a substitute of these whose sole goal is maximizing income.”

Maggie Guterl - Zach Miller - 2021 High Lonesome - mountains

Zach Miller pacing Maggie Guterl through the 2021 Excessive Lonesome 100 Mile. Picture: Hilary Matheson

As somebody who has been across the sport now for over three many years, I perceive that race organizers could make any choice they want concerning the principles surrounding their occasions and, certainly, prior to now, occasions have excluded different occasions for a complete host of causes. That stated, I discover this coverage significantly intriguing and provocative.

There isn’t a doubt that UTMB — and your entire sequence of races that it has spawned — is massive enterprise. The cash concerned in producing these occasions have to be extraordinary. Moreover, many within the ultrarunning group have felt trigger to query the motives behind UTMB’s partnership with the Ironman Group, which was initiated in 2021. Excessive Lonesome’s coverage is clearly an instance of this.

From my perspective, nonetheless, I’ve a few issues with respect to this coverage and doubtlessly the others which will emerge from it.

First, it’s divisive. Whether or not meant or not, Excessive Lonesome’s coverage has the impact of dividing the operating group into “UTMB runners” and “non-UTMB runners.” By forcing athletes into making this black and white selection, Excessive Lonesome is perpetuating the divisiveness we see in a lot of society at this time. Who’s to say that the random 100k path race that I select to run as my Excessive Lonesome qualifier is 100% reflective of the values of the game? Why not, as a substitute of pointing fingers particularly at a single group of races, simply present a listing of accepted qualifiers like Western States 100 and Hardrock 100 does? That may be far much less pointed and would enable runners to make their very own choices with out biasing them in a technique or one other.

2022 UTMB mens podium - Kilian Jornet - Matthieu Blanchard - Tom Evans

The 2022 UTMB males’s podium (l-to-r): 2. Matthieu Blanchard, 1. Kilian Jornet, and three. Tom Evans. Picture: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Second, it’s assumptive. How do I do know that the values of UTMB and Ironman don’t “replicate the values of the game?” I perceive that from the skin wanting in, the UTMB/Ironman partnership seems, to some, like an try to extend commercialization within the sport and permit for-profit races to prosper whereas the little man suffers. However, ultimately, how will we really know that this method will essentially compromise the values of the game? Actually, is it potential it might even improve them?

Let’s take the instance of the Grindstone 100 Mile in Virginia, which just lately introduced that it was turning into the Grindstone Operating Competition by UTMB. I’ve been round Grindstone as a runner and volunteer for over a decade and I can say with certainty that it’s about as down house as they arrive. Race director Clark Zealand and his workforce create a memorable and significant occasion for lots of of individuals yearly within the true “spirit of extremely.” Partaking the area people within the race, caring for the dear setting the race passes via, and treating each runner equally are all signature hallmarks of Grindstone. As a substitute of instantly labeling Grindstone a sell-out and banning it from a qualifying listing, how about we give it an opportunity? Maybe an opportunity to redefine what a “by UTMB” race is and could possibly be? Wouldn’t that be in line with our sport’s values — to be as inclusive as potential?

Kathleen Cusick - 2017 Grindstone 100 Mile champion

Kathleen Cusick, 2017 Grindstone 100 Mile champion. Picture: Eco-X Sports activities

Maybe I’m naïve, however I envision UTMB/Ironman saying to Clark, “Hey Clark, that is your race and we need to study from you.” Certain, I believe that they may convey of their advertising and manufacturing groups and all that entails, however I can also’t think about Clark agreeing to grow to be a UTMB race with out sure expectations that the race is allowed to keep up the integrity he has constructed up through the years.

I firmly imagine that it behooves us all to be affected person, like all profitable ultrarunners are, and to let this play out earlier than speeding to judgement and forcing folks to take sides. An excessive amount of of the world is split into rival camps today. I prefer to suppose that, no matter motives or appearances, our sport can transcend this societal tendency and discover peace within the center — supplied we give it an opportunity.

Bottoms up!

Jia-Ju Zhao - 2022 Doi Inthanon Thailand by UTMB 100 Mile men's winner

Jia-Ju Zhao, males’s winner of the 2022 Doi Inthanon Thailand by UTMB — one of many multitude of various occasions that kind the UTMB World Sequence. Picture: Doi Inthanon Thailand by UTMB

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Primary Metropolis Beer Firm in Waynesboro, Virginia. It’s not usually you discover a traditional British beer in an American craft brewhouse today however at Primary Metropolis you’ll find Uncle Jim’s Tavern Ale ESB. An additional particular ale that brings me again to my days learning in Yorkshire, Uncle Jim’s is a heat conventional model Ale made with 100% British substances. Nicely value a cease if you happen to’re passing via Waynesboro on the way in which to Grindstone.

Name for Feedback

  • What are your ideas?
  • Do you agree with the qualification coverage of Excessive Lonesome and its reasoning?
  • Or do you agree with the creator that maybe a bit extra time and dialog is likely to be wanted on this difficulty?
  • Do you suppose it’s potential that we as a group may have the ability to discover a approach towards a shared set of values current in all path races and ultramarathons, no matter their possession and operation?


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