By Mathias Eichler
The Trail Running Film Festival - Back on Tour for 2024.
LIVE: This weekend (Mar 2, 2024) on our Global Race Series Calendar:
With the ‘Ancantilados Del Norte’ the Skyruner World Series kicks off their 2024 circuit in La Palma Island, Spain. Yes, another island race.
There race itself is sponsored by Dynafit, and the World Series announced a few heavy hitters as brand sponsors in the past few weeks, which should indicate some renewed interest in this very specific and very photogenic version of trail running.
Here’s a link to their live feed for the race, if I find an entry list I will post it here later.
Find more trail races on ECC’s Global Race Series Calendar
The lineup is live:
The Trail Running Film Festival (TRFF) is thrilled to announce the official lineup of films for the highly anticipated 2024 tour. Curated to inspire and captivate audiences worldwide, these eight films embody the adventurous spirit and triumph of trail running.
Posted today on Instagram:
The UTMB Bus Service is one of the largest transportation networks in the world of outdoor sports…
UTMB shares in this post some details on the size, scope, and investment into this operation which will help runners navigate alpine valleys and three countries around the Mont Blanc come this August. They link to their ‘plan your trip’ web page for more info.
I’m looking forward to checking this out and experiencing it myself this summer. But, this announcement does come shortly after their Tarawera event where transportation and other logistical issues where again cause for concerns. Runners, many of them international travelers who rely on a rock solid race organization, experienced supply shortages at the aid stations, and a last minute start location change which screwed people’s travel plans. If UTMB’s intention is to own their events to maintain a level of standard then they are currently clearly not delivering on that. Most of the “by UMTB” events are still operated by the local race director who initially built the event, so these misses can’t be for a lack of understanding the local requirements. If UTMB thinks kneecapping RDs in delivering a great race experience then the shortsightedness is truly staggering.
The Trail Running Film Festival dropped the trailer for their Global Tour 2024 presented by Brooks.
And with that… ladies and gentlemen and y’all, … the weekend!
When I first saw the photos of the Intuitive Machines Nova-C landing on the moon this week and noticed the Columbia branding I was all snarky and wanted to link to the Columbia layoff news from earlier this month. But, after reading up a bit I realized that there’s more to it than just an ad banner on a private spacecraft.
From Columbia’s website specifically created for this mission:
The Intuitive Machines Nova-C has landed on the Moon with our Omni-Heat™ Infinity tech protecting it from extreme temperatures in space. We’re incredibly proud to be part of this historic effort, and to be able to push our innovations even further.
Columbia is proving a heat-shield material for the space craft.
For Columbia, it is an unparalleled opportunity for exploration and discovery, paving the way for advancements in technologies and materials innovations that will enhance our products and ultimately the lives of our customers.
Alright, consider this space critic’s mind changed.
In a new post on Outside’s new ‘RUN’ platform Nick Triolo asks Anton Krupicka some questions to promote the new La Sportiva shoe drop, the Prodigio, which I saw first at TRE and can’t wait to try myself. But beyond the shoe, the questions are wide-ranging and include this gem:
“It’s all manufactured controversy. This is all just made up. So many people just want to have the magical experience of circumnavigating the mountain and doing it with others, because there’s this strong communal feeling when you’re doing it. And all the other shit? No one actually cares.”
If this would’ve been an answer on my podcast I would’ve had a million follow up questions, like:
But maybe all these questions aren’t all that important because Anton also speaks to another integral part of American culture by concluding his answer with:
And all the other shit? No one actually cares.
I just stumbled over ‘Des Bosses and Des Bulles‘ (Bumps and Bubbles) a so very French cartoon and comic strip. The creator Mattieu Forichon is from Lyon France and his style of drawing reminds me of all the great French/Belgium comics I grew up with. His main topic and subject matter: Trail running.
Des Bosses and Des Bulles’s Matthieu Forichon also created a few of the UTMB posters over the years, which in all fairness I was never fond of, but now that I am understanding the history and background gain a different appreciation for.
We often talk about culture in trail running and how important it is to project it. Through the prism of the small world we surround yourself with we often think ‘our culture’ is ‘the culture’. But here’s an excellent example of how trail running in a different country has evolved and grown and embedded itself into the culture of their country and surrounding. That does make it look and feel different, but in no way any better for worse than the culture we’ve come accustomed to. Culture is flawed, but it also is beautiful. and rich, and as long as we can move forward and embrace each other’s differences we will learn and grow and truly make this world a better place. Here’s to embracing more bumps and more bubbles.
WTM announcement on social media:
GranCanaria becomes our new official sponsor, we are so proud to be part of the GranCanariaWorldTrailMajors
Still trying to get the backstory here, but it seems that Gran Canaria, the official tourism entity jumped on board and is now sponsoring the entire global WTM series of events, not just the one race on the island of Gran Canaria. That would mean you can run a Gran Canaria race at Black Canyons in Arizona… which is kind of funny when you think about it.
The official name of the WTM is now ‘Gran Canaria World Trail Majors’.
Also, what is up with all these islands and their trail races – fascinated by this, I really am.
LIVE: This weekend (Feb 21 – 25, 2024) on our Global Race Series Calendar:
The North Face Transgrancanaria is the third race on the World Trail Major circuit on the beautiful island of Gran Canaria (part of Spain) in the Atlantic. Lots of top tier athletes, including Marcel Höche, will be at the starting line for the various distances offered.
Find more trail races on ECC’s Global Race Series Calendar
Earlier this week Marcel posted a message on his Instagram account:
22 days ago my doctor advised to take a cortisol inhaler to fight Influenza and the pretty scary cough that came with it.
Cortisol is the body‘s stress hormone.
In (short) fight or flight situations, it is quite useful as it suppresses inflammation and increases blood sugar levels that can be used to „fight harder or take flight quicker“.
In longer stressful situations, it can increase the risk of diabetes, weight gain, immune suppression and every disadvantage that come with high blood pressure, and much more.
As a steroid hormone, it is also a banned substance by the World Anti Doping Agency.
So instead of going to the pharmacy and getting what my doctor told me to do, I had a hard decision to make.
I learned that (no guarantee!) cortisone is allowed before and even during competition when inhaled. In any case, with a washout time of 3-10 days, I was gonna be clear for the TransGranCanaria in 24 days from then.
I still decided I didn’t want to manipulate my body in this way and relied on my body‘s strength.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the doping situation around Stian Angermund. As a non-elite I do not understand the realities around the pressures to perform and the dangers various substances poise. Stian’s interview makes me quickly want to jump out in support of him and his situation, like a surprising number of elite athletes did on his Instagram post. His story seems believable, even if I don’t know Stian personally, and he portrays himself as a victim of unexplainable circumstances, which seems plausible and forgivable. But! Our sport has to rely on us trusting the systems we’re putting into place to protect the integrity of the sport. If we doubt the doping controls then we don’t need them at all. And our sport hast to trust that athletes are taking the responsibility on themselves to keep themselves clean.
LIVE: This weekend (Feb 24, 2024) on our Global Race Series Calendar:
XTERRA Wellington Festival, an offroad festival packed full of goodness on and off the trails. A completely unique, off-road triathlon, duathlon and trail running experience with spectacular views, ‘the best downhill of any XTERRA on the planet’ and true Kiwi hospitality to make you feel right at home. Wellington is known for its hills, breathtaking views and rugged coastlines. This makes for one incredible XTERRA.
The event included in the ‘Trail Run World Championship’ is a Half Marathon:
A gorgeous half-marathon trail run starting and ending by the beautiful beaches of Queen Elizabeth Park.
Find more trail races on ECC’s Global Race Series Calendar.
Via press release:
Tailwind Nutrition announces its 2024 Tailwind Athlete Team which includes 21 athletes whose specialties range across the spectrum of endurance sports. The team includes Tailwind athlete and ultrarunning icon Courtney Dauwalter, who last year won the Western States 100, Hardrock 100, and Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in the span of three months.
Endurance Sportswire has the full list of athletes.
Singletrack – Episode 297:
Marcel is back! After a tumultuous winter Adidas athlete Marcel Höche joins Singletrack for a very personal conversation about the challenges of the athlete fan relationship. We take a deep dive into building a new and better running shoe, including the much hyped soon-to-be-released Adidas Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra. Of course we touch on the UTMB situation, chat about sky running and make plans to meet for a beer in Chamonix.
With the last Golden Tickets claimed at last weekend’s Black Canyons Western States has now posted the full entry list for 2024. (I guess there’s still the possibility of wait list movement as runners bow out between now and race day.) Among the many deserving things that makes Western States such an alluring story to cover is that the relatively small data set of runners each year is incredibly well displayed and documented. This event seems to be the gold standard when it comes to entry field documentation and presentation on their website. And while this might a lot harder to do for races with a much larger entry field, we in the media would love it if other events (hello UTMB!) would adopt some of these practices. Alright, with that, let’s dive into this much-praised data:
THE GENDER SPLIT FOR WESTERN STATES 2024:
Some historical comparison (and I did just pull a single year from the website, so I can’t model a direct graph here): In the 2013 running of Western States there where 80% men and 20% women at the starting line. So, this seems to be trending into the right direction: more diversity and equality.
Of the 371 total bibs assigned, 275 (74%) are going to runners from the United States and of those 88 (24%) to runners from California, the home state of Western States. 7 bibs go to German runners, which feels like an exceptional lucky year for Germans. In 2023 there was only a single runner (Janosch Kowalczyk from Stuttgart) at the starting line. A single bib, just like for the past two years, is going to a runner from Austria and again there’s no Swiss runners are at the starting line.
These data sets aren’t huge, the difference here is between a couple dozen runners, but nonetheless this would suggest that the Western States entry field is becoming more international, which is another way of expressing diversity.
(These numbers are just for the lottery registration so far. Elites still have the ability to qualify via various races at the World Series.)
Let’s look at the gender split of US runners vs. rest of the world:
I want to break this down a bit further as ‘elites’ make up a rather big percentage of the entry field at Western States.
Here’s the gender split between elites vs. regular lottery entries:
Of the 371 total entries there are 45 (12%) runners who got into Western States via a Golden Ticket, direct entry as a returning top ten runner or gunning for their tenth finish. For this exercise I call these runners the elites, which isn’t 100% complete but an easy way to separate the spreadsheet.
Of these 45 ‘elites’ there are:
So, this of course checks out as in the way I pulled these numbers Western States offers an equal number of tickets for each gender.
Of the 326 runners who I would consider ‘non-elite’ there are:
Of these ‘non-elite’ runners there are:
So, the percentage of women runners slightly dips compared to the overall numbers due to the fact that the elite numbers are close to equal and the lottery pool still has a larger percentage of men then women.
To summarize: the suggestion she made was that elites should to boycott UTMB events and Hardrock and Western States should drop the UTMB affiliate qualifiers due to her assertion that “European men are flooding the lotteries of popular US races”. Aside from the weird taste her statement left in my mouth I also don’t see these numbers I posted supporting her statement. Sure, we could go back to just regional running, but we already have this in the countless local community driven trail races put on each weekend at some trail head at the end of a dirt road. If some of our events celebrate the global trail running community, is that so bad?
I am reminded of a comment the race director of the Kullamannen by UTMB Per Sjögren made a couple of weeks ago, who suggested that one of the great things about running a big international race is getting to experience the global trail running community coming together. That’s what attracted me to trail racing. That’s my kind of adventure.
Excited to share our partners for the 2024 Global Tour of the Trail Running Film Festival:
As we’re gearing up to announce our incredible filmmakers and their projects featured in this year’s Global Tour we wanted to spend a moment thanking our sponsors helping to bring these stories to a big screen in your city.
We couldn’t do this without our partners from around the world. A huge thank you to everyone who believes in our mission to share these wonderful stories.
Title Sponsor: Brooks Running
Nonprofit Partner: Running for Public Lands
Media Support: Electric Cable Car
From me, wearing all the hats: The film selection will be announced this week. Close to 60 locations are already on board. This is going to be an incredible show. I cannot wait!
Mallorca by UTMB, a late season race is coming to one of Europe’s most popular vacation islands making it the perfect European season ender. (For folks who don’t like the adverse conditions of Kullamannen, that is.)
Registration hasn’t quite opened yet, but the event offers all the distances for changes to get your stones, for reasonably short mileages but with very serious vert.
Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, is located in the middle of the Mediterranean, offering a unique environment for runners. Supported by both the Mallorca Council and the Balearic Government, Mallorca by UTMB promises an unforgettable experience, with a very diverse route, where participants will run along vertiginous cliffs, through lush oak and pine forests, and traverse the steep peaks of the Serra de Tramuntana UNESCO World Heritage Site, from where they can admire the splendour of the Mediterranean.
I’ve pointed this out before, but I am fascinated by the UTMB marketing team highlighting the UNESCO World Heritage site locations for their races. Does the race location scouting team have a special in with UNESCO to obtain permits? Is this just happenstance, that outside the US most trails through beautiful places are located in these places? Fascinating.
Another thing that jumps out to me is that these islands must REALLY love the idea that some event organizations is bringing folks to their place. There seems to be a literal land grab going on to see who can announce a big event on an island next. I bet Ironman is feverishly working on a UTMB event in Hawaii.
All the Electric Cable Car race series calendars are updated!
Combined, the events had 4,034 racers and 3,709 finishers broken down by distance and gender:
In total the event saw 3,709 finishers, with an almost equal number (incredible!) of women (1,812 – 49%) and men (1897 – 51%) reaching the finish line, earning stones and an UTMB index or punching their ticket directly to the Finals in Chamonix.
Why do I just count finish line numbers, you ask?
The UTMB Live webpage shows these numbers easily, and I don’t want to wait until full results are posted to share these numbers.
The Kilian Jornet Foundation launches new initiative aimed at trail restoration:
From the Kilian Jornet Foundation we embark on a project of great environmental impact, directing our efforts towards the restoration of mountain trails and degraded areas. This initiative, based on four fundamental lines of work, is seen as a beacon of change in the preservation of natural mountain environments.
I like this effort, and while the announcement doesn’t highlight any particular projects it’s good for trail runners to focus their efforts on the very trails they use. The environment will benefit, and others might think of us a little bit less as lazy parasites.