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LIVE: This weekend (May 17 – 20, 2024) on our Global Race Series Calendar:

The exciting and stunning, and still fairly new Trail Alsace Grand Est by UTMB is happening this weekend – a race that’s been on my radar since it was first announced. I always felt like Western Europe needed a big 100M event in the spring before the mountains melted out in the Alps. I had hoped this event would be in Germany, but having grown up just across the border from where Trail Alsace Grand Est is located I am just as excited about this event, in these hills, along these historic ruins, castles and beautiful vineyards. One day!

Follow the races live on the UTMB live tracking website.

Find more trail races on ECC’s Global Race Series Calendar.

LIVE: This weekend (May 16 – 19, 2024) on our Global Race Series Calendar:

Another double header in the UTMB World Series, with the Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB in Down Under.

The world’s second-largest Ultra-Trail, UTA has developed over its 15-year history to become Australia’s premier trail-running festival.

Will be fun to dive into these numbers!

Follow the races live on the UTMB live tracking website.

Find more trail races on ECC’s Global Race Series Calendar.

Coming to Toronto this Summer:

Arc’teryx wants your gear to last you a long time – a concept driving the opening of its first Alpha store in Toronto. Named after its flagship Alpha jacket, the new outpost will mark what the brand refers to as its “vertical-led strategy,” essentially its aim for customers to get maximum usage out of their buys.

At the store, Arc’teryx will house its largest repair and resale ReBIRD Service Center, where two full-time technicians can repair items on-site, replacing zippers, cords, sliders, locks and buckles, along with both internal and external patches. They’ll also conduct product assessments, such as testing its GORE-TEX for potential leakage.

Aside from the obvious focus on sustainability in addressing environment concerns this ‘service’ that Arc’teryx is providing in-house at a retail store could be the answer for outdoor shops that don’t have the service revenue component that have helped ski and bike shops thrive this past few years. (Yes, I know they are struggling now, but it’s the brands that have inventory problems post-supply-chain-issues and that trickles down to the actual bike store.) But in general with the competition of online retail stores, physical retail needs to find a ‘service component’ that can generate revenue and can’t be replicated via Amazon-like online competition.

The well-known Aid Station, right in downtown Auburn, CA along the finish line of the Canyons Endurance Runs just announced that they are closing up shop and while this is always sad to see it’s somewhat not surprising in today’s climate. Retail is hard, and it’s harder than ever with sky-high rents and endless online competition. But if a retail store has a ‘service component’: rentals, ski waxing/tuning, bike repair, etc they have a chance to generate revenue with low cost of goods and a chance to compete. For run specialty shops or stores not selling bikes/ski I’ve always wondered what that ‘service component’ could be. If higher end brands are now beginning to offer gear repairs and are making this cool, it could be a smart play and a way forward for smaller independent stores, which in many ways are still at the heart of the local outdoor community.

In a video released today on Instagram the founders of Sport Hunger, a popular German specialty online shop for the endurance world share the results of their lab test of Spring Energy’s Awesome Sauce. This is the full translation of the video (done by me – don’t use it for legal actions!) into English:

Dear friends of Sport Hunger,
We have today some upsetting news for you all. Many of you might’ve followed the discussions online that questioned the carbohydrate numbers of Spring Energy’s Awesome Sauce.
We reached out to Spring and tried to get to bottom of this, but sadly we didn’t get enough information so that we had full trust in their numbers. So we took the product off our shelves and send it to a lab to get tested. We wanted to make sure that we knew what we were dealing with and we paid out of our own pockets for this testing.

And the results are back. What the results say is that per package (of Awesome Sauce) you get 16 grams of carbs. That is of course a big difference to the promised 45 grams. And what can we say we’re shocked and disappointed.

It hurt us that you all trusted us, we’re really sorry about that. We got caught in the middle of this.
If you have any Awesome Sauce at home you are welcome to send it back. If you have further questions please send an email to jonas@sporthunger.de. We’ll respond to all inquiries.

The maker Spring Energy ensures us that they will rework their manufacturing process to ensure that they will again reliably achieve their high numbers that they declare to have.

We hope that this is really going to happen because we believe that natural food for many of our customers is a great alternative to the regular gels. Especially because there aren’t many good alternatives available. And for many it’s a great help to have these natural products.

We’re looking forward to seeing your comments and hear your thoughts about this situation. We’d really want to offer you wonderful products that might not be readily available.
Hope you all have a great weekend and hopefully have a chance to get outside.

Again apologies if I made any mistakes in the translation, this was done fast.

Here’s the context to how this mislabelling was first discovered.

I don’t often agree with folks posting on Reddit, and usually when I link to it I do so to make fun of the post, but ‘BigSpoon89’ nails this one so hard:

Under no circumstances can an aid station be forced to ration water to runners and you sure as hell can’t run out of water. Full stop. This cannot happen.

The comments on the post are sobering and paint a fairly brutal picture: Races also over, from big to small, from historic to new, from legendary to corporate have had this issue, but this cannot be an excuse and needs to be addressed and corrected.

The poster conclude:

RDs please head. It doesn’t matter how great the food is at the finish line or how cool the t shirts are if people are DNFing your races because you couldn’t supply them water.

As an RD myself, I post this as a reminder to myself and others: Water doesn’t seem the highest priority on the list of things to think about, but in the end it should probably one of the most important things – and it’s cheap – so there are no excuses.

DCRainmaker has the summary:

In total, there’s a slate of things coming, some more concrete – and some a bit more fuzzy. Here’s the quick-hit list, and then I’ll dive into the nuances a bit more down below:

– Adding new family plan for up to four family or friends in a group (except, the pricing is TBD)
– Adding mobile app ‘Dark Mode’
– Adding night heat maps to show which routes are better/safer for night workouts
– Adding new quick edit feature to edit workout details
– Adding new “Athlete Intelligence” feedback, akin to basic coaching feedback on activities
– Adding “AI-Enabled Leaderboard Integrity” to sniff out improbable uploads

Lots of folks are excited about dark mode, but I’m excited about the family plan… I have a family, this might be fun. And of course the AI-enabled leaderboard integrity: AI will detect workouts that aren’t real. If they nail this it will clean things up a lot of mess, but if I’d be Kilian I’d be worried.

Freetrail announced today ‘TrailCon: A New Trail Running Industry Conference’:

A Taste of TrailCon: The Trail Running Industry Conference kicks off on June 26th, 2024 and features panel discussions focused on four key growth areas in trail running. Feedback from this industry event will help collaboratively shape the programming for TrailCon 2025.

Spearheaded by Dylan Bowman, Brendan Madigan, Doug Emslie this teaser event is promised to be something new, big, and special. This year, for 2024 it’s a networking event with panels, smack-dab in the middle of the week between Broken Arrow and Western States, held right at Olympic Valley, California. The organizers are offering the half-day for free, knowing that this is more meant to be a marketing event for next year’s two day conference, and probably soon a full week of events bridging two of the US’s biggest trail running events, Broken Arrow and Western States.

A few thoughts on today’s fascinating announcement

This couldn’t be placed at a better time and location. When Broken Arrow first launched it was clear that their ambitions were to connect their event, held just a week prior to Western States at the starting location of the race, Olympic Valley. Now, a few years later and Broken Arrow having grown into the US’s foremost, and probably largest trail race event (that’s not a 100miler!) it’s time to take this to the next level. Olympic Valley is no Chamonix, but that’s the trajectory here, clearly. Or as Doug Emslie, the co-founder who brings the conference organization experience to the table, said in the launch video on Freetrail: “the conference is meant to be the Davos for trail running”. Not sure if that is tone deaf or overly ambitious, but I don’t think Davos, aside from being a gathering in a mountain town, conjures up images of being representative of the larger community, or open to community ideas, or accessible to the community at all. Davos is anything but, it’s full of elitist billionaires planning the destruction of the planet. But, I give them that this was a reference to a gathering of importance in a mountain town.

Speaking of importance: There has been a US Trail Running Conference, now in its 12th year, traveling to various places around the country to be accessible to folks in these places. This event, attended in the past by trail dignitaries Craig Thornley, Tim Tollefson, (also in on the speaker list for ‘TrailCon’) and Dale Garland, (and me) never really “made a dent” in the larger community and didn’t have the media attention and cheerleading surrounding it. Now TrailCon is meant to matter to the larger trail community, but it’s placing itself in a very special geographic location. The eyes of the trail running world will be in Northern California for this week, but, this new event will have to deal with the reality that trail running has unique regional flavors and there’s more to US trail running than “California carpet”.

Speaking of limited views: The three founders are all three white men. Heck, if I had been asked to join, I would’ve jumped and said yes too, but I am glad to see Brendan on the team, a guy who’s not going to lose focus of the need for diversity and to address larger accessibility issues. Having said this, this year’s conference feels very “business-focused” and trail running is certainly more than “brand, retail, and media”. This year’s focus of the half day of events, as mentioned several times in the intro video is meant to “bring the trail running community back together”. One concern the team is directly addressing is the need to move away from “unproductive online discourse” and back to “in-person conversations”. This, after the last 6-9 month of “UTMB-related kerfuffle” is welcome, but also creates exclusivity – not everyone is privileged enough to be able to travel to California for a day to chat. This is something the team will need to wrestle with. Some folks who are listed to speak on the panels are Catherine and Michel Polettis and Corrine Malcolm. That to me is a clear sign of what the focus of this year’s conference is going to be: To mend the fences between UTMB and the US trail running community. So far it has felt like the strategy of the players on the microphone has been to let its run its course, but this agenda seems to indicate that they are trying to make a move to address things – one way or another. I don’t know if it’ll work – certainly not for the edge lords online – but it’ll send a signal. And I believe that signal will be bigger than just ‘hug and make up’. When Broken Arrow first came on the scene it almost apologized for being a ‘Euro-inspired’ trail race. I ran the 52K in 2018, its second year and back in the PNW I always felt like I had to apologize of why I enjoyed racing big events like Squamish or Broken Arrow. I had to explain that events with sponsors and more than 200 runners did not automatically have no soul, that the RDs can be just as welcoming, and that the professional setup at a race can actually make one feel taken care of and looked after. Now a few years later and Broken Arrow is becoming the defining trail race in the US. This is a clear signal to me that the US trail community has embraced this “euro-style” event and folks are willing to make it the showcase of what trail racing can be in the US. Of course, this isn’t a signal to other RDs that they need to level up or “shape up or ship out”. And of course, it’s not a line in the sand that tells runners that if you don’t get $150 worth of high quality swag at a race you should stop going to trail races all together. But it’s a sign to the brands, the sponsors, and the media that there are trail runners in the US who see the same trajectory and potential for their sport as their European counterparts. The conference bills itself as an ‘industry’ conference, it’s not a cultural gathering or community council. The focus is business. I imagine that the ‘leaders in our sport’ have had many conversations in the past few months with brand representatives and other folks with checkbooks, about exactly this trajectory, its challenges, its potentials, and its opportunities. It’s not just about the money – or so I hope – but as our sport grows it offers anyone within small little universe a change to make a living, build a business, and create something sustainable for themselves. It’s the “rising tide lifts all ships”, or something like this. So, here we are in 2024 and Dylan’s Freetrail and Alpenglow (Brendan Madigan’s retail store in Tahoe City) are yet again changing the game. The speed and frequency by which these latest announcements have come and hit our community have been frenetic and breathtaking all at once. And while I sit here trying to keep up typing words every day I am glad that there’s something else to think and write about than new shoe releases and race results.

Alright, done writing, going to check for tickets to Tahoe for June.

I’ve been thinking a bit about ‘Fastest Known Time’ and its current predicament.

When I first stumbled upon the website Fastestknowntime.com and terminology FKT I was blown away by the achievements yes, but without the context of actually knowing what an average time on any give route is it was hard to quantify. So, rather than using the FKT website as a leaderboard, for me it became a travel guide. A place to learn about epic routes all over the world.
Then FKTs became popular and COVID blew the doors off of the idea of finding an iconic route, running it fast, and claiming the title. More routes were submitted and top athletes with no races to compete in, ran FKT projects and set new standards that just might keep some of the more popular routes out of reach for a long time.

On the business end, the website never turned into a profitable venture and the owners sold it to Outside Media Empire for an apple and an egg – as the German saying goes. Outside in turn acquired the property during a time when cash was plentiful and the idea of creating a giant outdoor media powerhouse seemed the thing to do. Beyond acquiring the site Outside didn’t really have any ideas for the property and so here we are in 2024 and now what?

Take the Wonderland Trail in Washington State for example

One of the most iconic ~100M routes in the world and one that was instrumental for putting the idea of FKTs on the map. In 2020 – during COVID – many of the top athletes tried themselves on that route and put up incredible new times. Since September of 2020 only one new time has been added to the ever expanding variation of the route “the mixed-gender-team” category. But overall the 2020 times still stand and looking at the athletes who put those up will most likely stand for a while. The route is still just as incredible, but no one is going to touch that leaderboard.
The leaderboard for the iconic R2R2R look similar, and there too we’ve seen now a myriad of permutations of the route just to give folks a way of standing out and getting themselves on the leaderboard. 4xR2R2R anyone?
All this reduces participation, the exact opposite of what the intend of the project was to begin with.

FKT QUO VADIS – where to go from here?

I’ve had several conversations with folks and probably have heard as many ideas about where to take it as people I talked to. It’s not an easy problem to solve. The FKT website and community has reached a scale that is requiring substantial cash to keep operating and growing. And after all these years, it never found a path to profitability outside of slapping display ads on the website. ‘R2R2R presented by HOKA’ anyone?

  • Should only to fastest time be displayed?
  • Should there be a leaderboard of really fast times as well?
  • Should there be ratings for routes?
  • Should every route someone creates be approved?
  • What makes a great route?

If top athletes aren’t doing FKTs anymore how can website serve its community of amateur enthusiasts?

Every expansion of the current model requires a serious cash infusion but with the previous model not working and Outside themselves struggling to figure out a business model the possibility that we’ll ever get an FKT2.0 is fast approaching zero.

A Reset

This might not solve all problems, and certainly won’t please everyone, but my idea is to completely reset the entire idea of ‘FKT’ as a way to talk about an iconic route.
FKT was inspired by the climbing scene and its iconic routes. “Speed climbing the Nose” has its place in Yosemite Valley but folks gather below El Cap every year for the sheer pleasure of touching that rock. Very few make the annual pilgrimage with the attempt to break any records, let alone speed records.

FKT routes need a new name. If these routes are supposed to be a tool for the community, the moniker of ‘fastest’ isn’t helpful. At the core the focus shouldn’t be speed and elite athleticism – that’s what races are for – but it should be a celebration of the adventure, the personal journey and the personal discovery in wild places. That focus can grow the community and maybe has a chance of sustaining the project.

Strip it all down

Every state/region/country gets two routes:

  • A long run >100km
  • A short run <100km
  • An extra label on these which one is more popular by annual submissions.
  • An extra label if a regional route is also significant on a global scale – think R2R2R.

What you would get is the following: A vastly reduced set of routes. The US currently has ~2,600 routes on the FKT site. With two per state you’d hover at just over 100. That reduces the need for constant admin work to review and vet new routes.
The selected routes in each region would gain more focus and become more iconic. “If you’re traveling to State X, this is the route you should be running.”
Each route could be highlighted more and celebrated as a ‘de facto’ route for any ambitious trail runner to have run at some point in their life – think bucket list routes.

Every community member is allowed to upload and share their running story on these routes. Every run is listed, not just ‘the fastest’, every story celebrated. There could be an easy engagement tool via upvote buttons to celebrate the stories submitted. There could be an easy GPS check that a certain percentage of the route should’ve been completed for the story to be included. Or let the community vote determine this too.

This “newly named running project website platform idea” should vastly reduce the administrative overhead and increase community participation, which is all good for business.
The goal is to celebrate the community enjoying running inspired by these iconic routes in wild places.

And yes, this would kill my Cushman Six route, as it’s certainly not the most iconic route in the state. Here in Washington State the long route, of course would be the Wonderland Trail, the short route would the Enchantments Loop.

Thoughts?

Holes in the thought process? What are your ideas? Would love the hear what you think.

Victoria Song for the Verge:

Strava’s new leadership is committing to accelerated product development with a bunch of new features that are coming to the fitness app later this year.

Here for it!

Camp Strava is happening right now – curious what else will be announced.

The famous and famously brutal Ultra-Trail Snowdonia by UTMB happened this past weekend (May 10-12, 2024) in LLanberis, Wales, UK. Check here for my pre-race coverage.

Below are the top runners, for full results visit UTMB live:

UTS 100M (168 KM – 4 STONES)

Women:

  1. Rachel FAWCETT – Great Britain – 34:10:57
  2. Maria PIJOAN GALL – Spain – 39:47:42
  3. Corine KAGERER – Switzerland – 41:12:05

Men:

  1. Mark DARBYSHIRE – Great Britain – 23:41:13
  2. Andy BERRY – Great Britain – 25:18:51
  3. Michael DUNSTAN – Australia – 25:45:24

UTS 100K (103 KM – 3 STONES)

Women:

  1. Aleksandra NARKOWICZ – Poland – 16:16:23
  2. Tess ELIAS – Great Britain – 17:06:28
  3. Georgina LEWIS – Great Britain – 17:57:26

Men:

  1. Daniel JUNG – Italy – 12:41:20
  2. Philipp AUSSERHOFER – Italy – 12:41:20
  3. Gautier BONNECARRERE – France -12:55:57

UTS 50K (55 KM – 2 STONES)

Women:

  1. Henriette ALBON – Norway – 06:39:54
  2. Lina EL KOTT HELANDER – Sweden – 07:35:14
  3. Sanna EL KOTT HELANDER – Sweden – 07:36:41

Men:

  1. Brennan TOWNSHEND – Great Britain – 06:01:52
  2. Michele MERIDIO – Italy – 06:08:02
  3. Harry JONES – Great Britain – 06:11:36

ERYRI 25K (25 KM – 1 STONE)

Women:

  1. Naomi EATON – Great Britain – 02:55:03
  2. Kamila FERET – Poland – 02:57:23
  3. Eleana MATOS – Great Britain – 02:58:22

Men:

  1. James TILLEY – Great Britain – 02:10:59
  2. Tom JOLY – Great Britain – 02:16:54
  3. Jack HARRIS – New Zealand – 02:19:34

Overall Ultra-Trail Snowdonia saw a total of 2,709 starters, 1,928 finishers for the for events combined. Below are the numbers broken down by distance and gender:

  • 100M Starters: 260 – DNF: 161 – Finishers: 99. Women: 8 (8%) Men: 91 (92%)
  • 100K Starters: 715 – DNF: 284 – Finishers: 431. Women: 53 (12%) Men: 378 (88%)
  • 50K Starters: 1058 – DNF: 266 – Finishers: 792. Women: 173 (22%) Men: 619 (78%)
  • 25K Starters: 676 – DNF: 69 – Finishers: 607. Women: 210 (35%) Men: 397 (65%)

In total the event saw 1,928 finishers. 444 (39%) women and 1,485 (77%) men reached the finish line and earned themselves stones and an UTMB index (or directly punched their ticket to the Finals in Chamonix for 2025).

Women participation levels for the 4 races are pretty low compared to other UTMB I’ve been tracking. This could have something to do with the notoriously hard course – the DNF rate, especially for the 100M and 100K is pretty brutal.

Next up on the UTMB World Series Calendar is another doubleheader with the amazing Trail Alsace Grand Est by UTMB in the Alsace region of France on May 17 – 20 and Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB in Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia on May 16 – 19.

One of South America’s biggest trail races, Valhöll Argentina by UTMB happened this past weekend (May 9-12, 2024) in Villa General Belgrano, Córdoba Argentina. I’m a bit late with results this week, the racing season is kicking up and things are getting busy around here.

Below are the top runners, for full results visit UTMB live:

EPIC 125K (125 KM – 4 STONES)

Women:

  1. Tara FRAGA – USA – 20:12:28
  2. Belen BARRERA – Argentina – 20:36:57
  3. Laura Emilce GORDIOLA – Argentina – 20:51:07

Men:

  1. Santos Gabriel RUEDA – Argentina – 14:27:14
  2. Ludovic POMMERET – France – 14:37:16
  3. Sergio Gustavo PEREYRA – Argentina – 14:46:18

ADVANCE 80K (80.7 KM – 3 STONES)

Women:

  1. Anabel Estefanía OVIEDO ZELARAYÁN – Argentina – 09:34:04
  2. Daniela RINCON RUBIANO – Colombia – 10:12:42
  3. Maria Ayelen SIAN – Argentina – 10:30:49

Men:

  1. Remigio HUAMAN QUISPE – Peru – 07:50:19
  2. Horacio PEÑALOZA GROSSI – Argentina – 07:59:13
  3. Patricio GONZALEZ – Argentina -07:59:13

CHALLENGE 55K (57.3 KM – 2 STONES)

Women:

  1. Maria Sol ANDREUCETTI – Argentina – 06:36:17
  2. Florencia Soledad IURNO – Argentina – 06:50:42
  3. Milagros PARERA – Argentina – 06:58:36

Men:

  1. Nicolas Ignacio BENAVIDES BOHLE Chile – 05:30:10
  2. Mauro Laureano ROMERO – Argentina – 05:47:20
  3. Luis VALLE B – Chile – 05:48:27

COURAGE 35K (37.9 KM – 2 STONES)

Women:

  1. Maria Paula GALINDEZ – Argentina – 03:35:15
  2. Maria Belen SANCHEZ RUIZ – Argentina – 03:53:59
  3. Patricia COBI – Chile – 03:56:18

Men:

  1. Javier MARIQUEO – Argentina – 03:07:34
  2. Marcelo DEL COLLADO – Argentina – 03:07:42
  3. Maikol MENDEZ – Uruguay – 03:10:59

POWER 22K (20.7 KM – 1 STONE)

Women:

  1. Paula NAZAL LABRIN – Chile – 02:06:19
  2. Olivia CASTRO GELMI – Argentina – 02:12:29
  3. Karina Paola SOSA – Argentina – 02:13:17

Men:

  1. Agustin ALANIZ – Argentina – 01:42:29
  2. Brian José PALACIOS – Argentina – 01:46:27
  3. Juan Cruz BUSTOS – Argentina – 01:50:56

* To streamline the results, going forward I am now only listing results for the “stone” races.

Overall Valhöll Argentina saw a total of 3,732 starters, 3,535 finishers for the six events combined. Below are the numbers broken down by distance and gender:

  • 125K Starters: 294 – DNF: 98 – Finishers: 196. Women: 28 (14%) Men: 168 (86%)
  • 80K Starters: 414 – DNF: 18 – Finishers: 396. Women: 79 (20%) Men: 317 (80%)
  • 55K Starters: 712 – DNF: 51 – Finishers: 662. Women: 222 (34%) Men: 440 (66%)
  • 35K Starters: 918 – DNF: 22 – Finishers: 897. Women: 373 (41%) Men: 524 (58%)
  • 22K Starters: 1,030 – DNF: 8 – Finishers: 1,022. Women: 529 (52%) Men: 493 (48%)
  • 11K Starters: 364 – DNF: 2 – Finishers: 362. Women: 221 (61%) Men: 141 (39%)

In total the event saw 3,535 finishers, and 3,173 finishers in “stone-eligible races”. 1,231 (39%) women and 1,942 (61%) men reached the finish line and earned themselves stones and an UTMB index (or directly punched their ticket to the Finals in Chamonix for 2025).

Two standout names on the scoreboard are Ludovic POMMERET from France, who travelled to Argentina to take second place in the 125K. Ludo is in his late 40’s and has been racing on the highest level for 20 years. What an incredible achievement and inspiration for old folks like me.

The second person is American Tara FRAGA from the Pacific Northwest who crushed the 125K and came in first – congrats!


I believe I am repeating myself, but I am super fascinated as I am tracking these results for UTMB events all over the world how BIG trail racing is in parts of the world I don’t have any access to. Of course, this lack of knowledge sits squarely on me, but even more so, I am excited to learn how big trail racing is, not just in “classic western trail communities”. This is in many ways what makes the UTMB World Series special. The element of travel and adventure, of camaraderie, of shared passion and joy. It’s needed more than even in our world today.

Next up on the UTMB World Series Calendar is another doubleheader with the amazing Trail Alsace Grand Est by UTMB in the Alsace region of France on May 17 – 20 and Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB in Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia on May 16 – 19.

Previous posters were very ‘cartoonish’ and stylist illustrations. This new one is “just” a stunning photo of course:

This year, the poster pays tribute to the Alpine landscapes with the Arête du Mont-Favre (Aosta Valley), an iconic landscape of the UTMB and TDS races. Some UTMB runners will traverse it under a starry sky, others early in the morning… Conversely, for TDS runners, it will be the first major challenge, a demanding warm up in the coldness of the night.

I’m ready to adventure – let’s go.

Stephen Garner for Footwear News:

In the first quarter of 2024, the Seattle-based performance running brand reported a 9 percent year-over-year increase in revenue. This marks the company’s highest quarterly results in the brand’s history, Brooks said in a statement.

And specifically the ‘trail’ category drove that growth:

Brooks also made strides in the trail running footwear category with 11 percent year-over-year revenue growth for the quarter, driven by updates to core styles including Catamount and Caldera, in addition to the launch of the Catamount Agil, a brand-new racing shoe built for distances under 50k with vertical climb.

And by the way, thank you Brooks for sponsoring the Trail Running Film Festival during that quarter.

Tailwind Nutrition launched ‘Dauwaltermelon’ as a limited edition flavor last year, but it was oh so good they are bringing it back and adding it to their permanent selection of flavors.

My favorite flavor, I very much endorse this permanent addition to Tailwind’s endurance fuel. Delicious and nutritious. Bring on summer racing!

Following the way UTMB has used their Index in the last few months to highlight registered runners ahead of a race in their press announcements I noticed an interesting side effect of the Index that I hadn’t considered before.

I only thought of the Index to rank top runners post race, and of course as a qualifying tool for upcoming events, but with races all over the world, UTMB is able to highlight top runners in countries far away from the media circus. The Index is a valuable tool to discover and highlight these athletes.

Our media landscape is very regional. German media focuses on German runners, French on French, the US on US runners. That’s not a knock, just somewhat of a reality. But this also somewhat skews what runners become known or get the attention from the media, especially if a region’s media has an outsized presence in our sport.

With this Index UMTB has a tool to watch as runners sign up for their races, check their Index, and rank them pre-race and announce and highlight these runners even if they come from countries without a big media presence in our sport.

Kinda smart.

In Matt Walsh’s latest article on his Substack ‘Trailmix’ he begins by referencing Malcolm Gladwell. Given the controversies around Gladwell over the past few years this peaked my interest beyond Matt’s usual stout observations into our sport. Walsh continues sharing a story about Cobras in Delhi, India and uses this “historical event” to build a jumping off point to ask this question:

“Are TV rights deals the only way for Trail Running to professionalise?”

I was about to answer that question in a longwinded article breaking down my views of where I see trail running as a sport and as a cultural phenomenon to be heading, but then I stopped myself. went online and searched for more information about that alleged cobra story in Delhi. You know, since Gladwell was referenced I thought it would be worth doing due diligence.

Turns out historians can’t find any references that this ‘cobra event’ actually ever happened despite economists referencing it for years. Oh so very Gladwell.

But using dubious stories that economists regularly rehash as historic realities aside, what this article left me wondering is a sentence in Matt’s last paragraph:

I think it [trail running] can grow and become a more sustainable business for athletes and organisers through other means.

A whole article decrying TV deals and then not offering any “better ideas” feels a bit cynical to me.

A couple of thoughts:

Has the Tour the France changed dramatically with it being televised?
How about Golf tournaments?
Both sports haven’t been altered to fit the “short timeframe narrative”, right? People watch tours of Tour France for days at a time. And the same with golf tournaments.

A side note:

Matt published the article on the final weekend of Cocodona, an event that that has a very dedicated media strategy at its core. I wonder if the article was a response to Cocodona and their media focus, or if Cocodona is still somewhat a regional (US centric) event and the general excited hasn’t really made it across the pond.

Singletrack – Episode 304:

Adam Lee, Mr. Community Trail Running, from beautiful Vancouver, BC is back on the show to chat about the importance of keeping ‘community’ in trail running and challenges of the ever-changing media landscape. We opine about the possibility of taking our little sport of trail running to the Olympics and I check in with Adam about his screening of the Trail Running Film Festival at the Rio in his hometown. Catch Adam and the Trail Running Film Festival in early June in several more locations all over Western Canada.

Links

LIVE: This weekend (May 10 – 12, 2024) on our Global Race Series Calendar:

The second race in this weekend’s double header of the UTMB World Series, the Ultra -Trail Snowdonia by UTMB had been until very recently the only UTMB event in Great Britain. This notoriously challenging event has been selling out in record times even pre-UTMB acquisition.

Upholding its tagline as ‘Beautiful beyond belief. Savage beyond reason’, the event promises an adventure through the Eryri/Snowdonia National Park via technical trails, across ridges and through forests.

With a large international field the races at Snowdonia are starting to offer good measurements of where some of the top runners are at leading up a hot summer of racing.

Follow the races live on the UTMB live tracking website.

Find more trail races on ECC’s Global Race Series Calendar.

LIVE: This weekend (May 9 – 12, 2024) on our Global Race Series Calendar:

The sold out Valhöll Argentina is the first UTMB event in South American of the season and the eighth of the year overall.

4,200 runners ready to discover the testing trails, cultural treasures, and epic scenery at Valhöll Argentina by UTMB.

The race initially operated as an independent race and is now, since 2023 an UTMB event. From the runner’s guide:

[Vallhöll is].. a great challenge in which runners will experience the most diverse sensations facing an unparalleled challenge in Argentina mixed with the warmth of our people. Valhöll explores exclusive mountain trails in the region that will allow runners to cross hills in contact with the most beautiful summits and in a truly unique context.

The 2024 event is affected by a general strike in Argentina, which has impacted folks trying to travel to the race. The race organization announced that if anyone can’t make it to starting line that their registration will be transferable to the following year.

Follow the races live on the UTMB live tracking website.

Find more trail races on ECC’s Global Race Series Calendar.

One of those famous island races that’s perfectly located for Europeans to travel to in the early season is happening this weekend on May 11. The field is selection of the global who’s-who in trail running including Germans Hannes Namberger and Katharina Harthmuth. Live-tracking can be found here and live screening right on their website and on YouTube.

Transvulcania made news in the fall of last year when it parted ways with UTMB and rather than joining the World Trail Majors (which at the time of departure hadn’t been announced yet) went “independent and local again”. Adidas went all in as sponsor of the event. Which seems to be a bit of a thing for Adidas. They scoop up and sponsors the big events that are still independent.

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