By Mathias Eichler
The Trail Running Film Festival - Back on Tour for 2023.
Mike Rogge, editor of Mountain Gazette:
Today the news came out that Warren Miller Entertainment, the company founded by the legendary filmmaker Warren Miller, is in fact not making an annual ski film.
And on Twitter (yeah, I’m still lurking on that bird side) he follows up:
… Outside Inc is axing the annual Warren Miller film. Absolutely no regard for legacy. No respect for heritage and building on something. …
I saw the latest Warren Miller film ‘Daymaker‘ a few weeks ago in town at our local theater and I walked away with mixed feelings. I didn’t think it was that great of a production, but then again I’m not a skier. The crowd loved it though and it was exciting to watch as I transition into the roll of the producer of the Trail Running Film Festival. That day I went to see Daymaker for research. I wanted to see how outdoor films on the big screen work and I wanted to see how Outside/Warren Miller was engaging with the audience. I learned a lot, and felt confident that we can pull off a similar experience for trail runners all over the world. In my conversations these last few weeks ‘Warren Miller’ was the north star. That’s what I’m trying to model our festival after. This news is devastating on many levels.
FATMAP is a subscription-based mapping tool for your outdoor adventures. Strava always had a mapping tool… but while it was the main reason many folks bought the subscription, it never really was THAT great. Hopefully we’ll see a better integration of Strata’s mapping tool with FATMAP… this might almost make the price increase for their annual subscription worth it.
The main mission of the Kilian Jornet Foundation is the preservation of mountains and their environment.
For 2023 the foundation narrowed it focus on the following pillars: Research, Education, Direct Action.
I just learned from Bono’s book ‘Surrender’ the term “spending your celebrity capital”, and I like the idea behind it. If you’re superstar there are many ways you have more than most and more than enough. And while Kilian didn’t sell as many records as U2, the idea that you can use your status to try to do good, give back, and make a difference in the world is a noble idea and something I learn to appreciate more and more.
UTMB Cares is an endowment fund and global initiative to unite trail running communities and create positive change by supporting local social and environmental causes in race destinations.
UTMB has had this program around for a few years, now it’s revamped and consolidated: If you have the cash and want to donate it to a cause you can bypass the lottery and get yourself a bib into UTMB. The expanded program now includes bibs for Lavardo and Eiger as well as UTMB. The cost is €1,000 for Lavardo and Eiger and €2,000 for UTMB. That’s just the donation, you still pay for your entry, and you still need to qualify via index and stones. The ‘donation’ goes to one of four causes UTMB:
In 2023, UTMB Cares will launch four main programs that support mountain preservation, women in trail running, transport in the mountains, as well as directly supporting race communities by working with local non-profit associations.
While folks in the Sierras are getting pummeled with snow, things look very dire in the Alps this winter. Bare slopes, green hillsides and cancelled sporting events. The bit of fake snow is just enough for a few professional events. Those are the images that make it across the internet. While a mild winter is perhaps what everyone welcomes this year, with the insane energy prices due to Putin’s war, but it’s still a somber wake up call of what the future of our mountains will look like as our planet heats up and our leaders have their heads in the tar sand. Speaking of the devils, they are all meeting right now at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. I wonder what they chat about? Sporadic and inconsistent snowfall isn’t great for the water levels that power the hydro dams, it’s not great for the permafrost and the glaciers, and it’s fatal for the tourism industry that’s build around four season visitors.
Via their Instagram page:
Women were more involved in the FKT world last year than ever before and it has been super fun to share so many of your stories!
Lots of progress has been made this past year… and a lot more will have to happen, but this has been a fascinating project to follow. Almost exactly a year ago we had cofounder of ‘Women who FKT’, Marta Fisher on Singletrack to share her hopes and vision for the project.
Is back for another season with episodes that feel very much like done in the style of Netflix’s popular Formula One docu series ‘Drive to Survive’.
There will be so much video content produced in these coming years. We’ll be drowning in it. And it will change the way we’ll experience trail racing.
So many awesome things about this Swiss website ‘Bankgeheimnisse’:
For one: The website lists benches along hiking trails all over the Swiss Alps… and beyond. I mean, this is an incredibly fun idea. Who doesn’t love a good bench to sit on? (Am I getting old?) I often find myself running along trails in our woods and wish folks would put up more benches. Sometimes they are good for just the obvious: taking a seat. But sometimes they are that focual point you can use to stop at to take off your jacket, or readjust your vest, or tighten your shoes. Benches are a great reminder that you’re not alone out there in these wild – I know some go out there to be alone – but for me it’s a nice reminder of our collective humanity.
The other awesome thing is the name. In German, the word bench translates to bank, the same word for, well, a bank you deposit your money at. Why? No idea. Perhaps taking a rest and depositing your money has some similar connotations. Either way. The name of the website, a website from Switzerland, a country known for its banking secrecy, is … bench secrets. “where the secret benches are hidden”. But, because the word for bench is the same for bank and bench… well, you get. Brilliant word play.
This was inevitable next steps after the layoffs. The more interesting part is that apparently it’s not clear by how much and in which country. DC Rainmaker has the rundown:
In short: For some people, prices will double overnight. For others, it’ll be nothing. Others still yet will split the difference on a wide-ranging scale in between those points. The determining factor? Theoretically a combination of which country you’re in, when exactly you signed up, whether you’re on annual or monthly plans, and finally, exactly what today’s date is, relative to the date of your subscription renewal. I’m not kidding, you can’t make this up
I think this is the game we’ve all been duped to join in: everything now is a subscription, and now everything is getting really really expensive. I’m sort of glad I opted for an open website and not a subscription email newsletter. I bet the churn this year is going to be brutal.
I had missed this unsurprising news from last month. Bicycle Retail resports:
Cycling app maker Strava has let go of about 15% of its staff, multiple current and former employees have confirmed to BRAIN.
The Strava layoffs affect at least 40 employees, including product designers and product managers.
So, don’t expect any new features anytime soon. Most tech companies over-hired during the pandemic and are all scaling back across the board.
Via John Lacroix’s ‘The State of our Sport‘.
Really good take by AJW for iRunFar on the High Lonesome “stand against UTMB”:
Whether intended or not, High Lonesome’s policy has the effect of dividing the running community into “UTMB runners” and “non-UTMB runners.” By forcing athletes into making this black and white choice, High Lonesome is perpetuating the divisiveness we see in so much of society today.
And his second point is even better:
How do I know that the values of UTMB and Ironman do not “reflect the values of the sport?”
There have been lot of assumption tossed around since the beginning of the UTMB/Ironman partnership. There’s talk of slippery slope, and the usual online fear mongering. Does UTMB, as the leader in the sport need to do better when it comes to diversity and inclusion, yes. And we need to hold them accountable. But so far, not a lot, or any of the things the doom sayers have been predicting have come to pass.
But clearly, it would do UTMB a ton of good if they wouldn’t just drip out faceless press releases week after week announcing their endless expansion, b ut instead put some faces to their ever-growing organization and make their moves a bit more transparent, and… well, friendly and personal to us as runners.
The Waldo 100K Trail Run used to be called “Where’s Waldo 100k”, and as you can imagine the owners of that trademark send a cease and desist letter back in 2010:
The owners of the “Where’s Waldo” storybook character claimed ownership of the name, and to avoid a legal battle, a new name had to be found.
Invite me on a run sometime and I’ll tell you a story about the name of my podcast…
Announced in a press release:
The Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji Race Committee has confirmed that the UTMB Group has filed an opposition to trademark registration for the “UTMF”, a registered trademark of the NPO Fuji Trail Runners Club which has used the name for its 100-mile race.
The Race Committee is committed to compliance and will monitor the progress of the opposition. Meanwhile, in order for runners, volunteers, sponsors, and all the other stakeholders to use a race name without worries, we have determined to change the 100-mile race name from the “UTMF” to the “FUJI”.
We’re clearly entering the “jumping the shark” territory here for UTMB. Many have predicted this would happen, still upsetting when it actually does.
Every few months the internet’s selective voices of trail running find their collective pitchforks and storm the gates of the ever-growing behemoth that is UTMB World, and increasingly I can’t blame them.
Here’s what UTMB/Ironman Group are doing wrong in their expansion, especially here in the US. Of course I am saying this, without actually know if any of this would help reduce the amount of pitchforking… this is the internet after all.
Most sporting events do. The communities have to WANT these events to occur. That’s why permits are being issues to control the crowds. But more so than the permitting, trail races rely heavily on volunteers. Locals who are willing to spend their free time helping others having a great racing experience. And I bet anyone who’s ever participated in a race and experienced the friendly helping hand is willing to help when they are called up. This all gets tricky, when the person asking for volunteers isn’t a local race director anymore but a giant out-of-town corporation. If said corporation’s brand is cool, then folks are willing to spend a weekend volunteering walking away with nothing but a free meal and a t-shirt. I assume that’s how the Olympics have been operating for decades. Thousands and thousands of volunteers enabling a giant corporation to bulldoze themselves through city after city. But, these giant corporations don’t have the best reputation anymore. And in a funny twist especially here in the US, the country that invented giant bulldozing global corporations.
So, here’s UTMB expanding and adding more and more races, but not surprisingly struggling in the US, of all places. I bet, especially if you compare it to other regions, UTMB had hoped that by now things would look differently over here in North America.
We all could foresee that this would be a bumpy road. And clearly UTMB knew this as well, otherwise they wouldn’t have partnered with Ironman for their international expansion. In fact, UTMB had tried going solo before and they weren’t able to break into the American market. Now with a partner like Ironman they are hoping for more success. But, so far the road has been just as bumpy, so it seems.
The races that UTMB has partnered with across the globe don’t give a good indication if these races are in fact sold to UTMB, or if they are indeed still a partnership between the local race organization and the UTMB group. Why not be more transparent about this?
IF! UTMB is truly, as they are saying, only taking on races they can actually buy outright that would create lots of problems locally on the ground. And, as seen in the case with Western States, UTMB has the ability to partner with a race without having to buy it. I can’t imagine that Lavardo, mozart100, or Eiger completely have sold their races to the UTMB group. So, who can get us insight on how these partnerships are spun? And NDAs be damned, I think we as local runners on the ground deserve to know how this sausage is made.
The Polettis aren’t sitting in their chalet in Chamonix filling out hundreds of land use permits for various city/state/national forest areas across the US and beyond. They need locals to understand the nuances. The permitting is done by local jurisdictions and nothing fucks up the ability for anyone to get a permit faster than a corporation acting like an elephant in a china store.
Races rely on local volunteers. No one volunteers for Walmart. One might volunteer their time for the Olympics, but that’s a once in a lifetime experience for most.
And that’s where it all can fall apart very quickly, and, I don’t know if UTMB has thought this through. They’ve already made it plenty clear that their perspective on what a trail race is, is completely different than what has grown over decades here in the US. Americans and Europeans think very differently about many things. Where does UTMB draw their volunteers from for their big dance in Chamonix? If the company is as evil as many American trail runners make them out to be, UTMB shouldn’t be able to get thousands of volunteers to ring cow bells on some col on the way into Courmayeur all night long.
American races are driven by identity, just like American politics. We know who stands at the finish line offering cheers, hugs, and that medal or buckle. If UTMB replaces the race director at their races with a corporate entity no one will come race that event. Especially not if there are other local races in the area that still offer that finish line feel.
So, especially in America trail races will only succeed if the organization has locals on the ground, understanding and respecting the permitting system. The races will need a local race director to be able to activate local participation and help in forms of lots and lots of dedicated volunteers.
If UTMB buys these races, what prompts the local race directors to stay put and continue to operate them. Are these buy out offers that generous? Are they employing race directors and staff in all these locations?
I started off telling you what I think UTMB should be doing. And in turn I asked a lot of questions.
So maybe UTMB should just answer all these questions, publicly.
Let these race directors speak and share how the arrangement has come to be for a race to be a ‘by UTMB’ race.
Give the organization in the US a face, so we know who reports to who, who we can ask questions to, and who we can blame if things go sideways. This faceless operating isn’t great for our sport and doesn’t fly in our culture.
We’re proud to announce the recipients of our first-ever Year In Sport awards!
They’re the athletes who recorded incredible performances and uploaded major wins – who entertained us with clever activity titles, creative route artwork and epic use of video – and who inspired us.
Some great categories awarded to some awesome people. Inspiring.
My favorite weather app has been discontinued. Apple bought the app a few years ago and announced that they would discontinue it at the end of 2022. Nothing unusual really, that’s how it goes in the tech world. Apple did integrate some of the features in their official Weather app, and that app definitely improved greatly with the integration. But where Dark Sky shined (shone) was in two ways:
As a trail runner knowing when it’s going to rain is pretty important. (I live in the Pacific Northwest, it rains often and a lot.) The new weather app has all that info too, baked into several other features that are also cool, but bloat the app and gum up the user experience. It just takes a lot longer to get to the info Dark Sky offered quickly at a glance. Full featured weather apps are fine, but allowing the user to customize a view or select certain features to focus on would be… nice. Will Apple ever understand that part of the user experience? I doubt it.
Singletrack – Episode 265:
Elaine Fung joins Singletrack to share how trail running changed her life. How this sport gives us big and small adventures, and allows us to join a community, during a race, while running it, or volunteering to make it happen for others.
At Rock Candy Running we don’t race t-shirts that are automatically included in the ‘swag bag’. For the past two years we’ve planted trees (or donated the equivalent of a tree per race bib) and it feels right.
A huge rockfall on Snowpatch Spire is sending shockwaves through the local and international climbing community. This will forever change this part of the Bugaboo Provincial Park and access to certain routes.
Not a single mention of ‘climate change’ in the article…?
Do check out the pics though, they are nuts.
Add an auto-posting feed to Mastodon from this website. If you’re on that service, and like to be reminded of new posts, follow Electric Cable Car there and stay up to date with all new posts. If you want to follow yours truly over there you can follow my personal account as well.
(Announcing this on the day of my 15th Anniversary on Twitter. That’s how long I lasted over there. I posted over 69,300 tweets. Time to say goodbye.)
Designer Brands Inc., one of the world’s largest designers, producers and retailers of footwear and accessories, today announced the acquisition of Topo Athletic (“Topo”).
Designer Brands owns the DSW retail stores and makes shoes for a bunch of brands like Lucky Brand and Jessica Simpson footwear.
I personally have never worn Topos or even considered wearing them, but a couple of my friends love them. It’ll be interesting to see if the brand will survive this transition.
Singletrack – Episode 264:
Jeremy Anderson is back on the show after having slayed the dragon that is Barkley Fall Classic. Yes, that race. He ran it, and he lived to tell the tale – and lucky for us, he’s sharing it with us.
Rock Candy Running’s inaugural, festive winter race happened last weekened in the newly named Squaxin Park in Olympia, Washington.
We had a total of 50 finishers at the race. 29 were women, or 58% of the total. Nice!
I previously speculated, based on a conversation with a sponsor for the 2022 Golden Trail Series that Salomon might be finished with that series and that 2022 might’ve been the final year, but, alas, I was wrong and the website is in the process of being updated… albeit slowly. The first races for the first regions have been announced and it looks like the 2023 Golden Trail Series will happen after all.
The Mammoth Trail Fest will be the host for their US stop along with the Pikes Peak Ascent.
Our 26K will serve as both a Golden Trail World Series and Golden Trail National Series race for 2023.
On the official website race dates for several European countries have been announced, including Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Amazon Jungle is the newest race to join the UTMB World Circuit. So far no official announcement on the UTMB social media feeds, but the event is happening in just a few short weeks in February and is offering the full menu of distances.
Added to the UTMB Events calendar.
Francesco Puppi on Instagram:
It’s time for the elite athletes to unite and stand for the issues they deeply care about.
To have a voice at the same level as the different stakeholders involved in the sport, not as individuals but as a structured group, united in a non-profit association.
To preserve the values which make trail running so special and to work to ensure a better future to the next generations.
This effort can become an important and invaluable pillar of our sport. Athletes need representation and what better way to have a unified voice than an association that can speak on behalf of the individuals.
Their mission focuses on:
Their first assembly was today with many of the big athletes of our sport present.
Singletrack – Episode 263:
German ultra runner and North Face athlete Ida-Sophie Hegemann joins me this week to chat about her eventful racing season. We discuss sponsorship deals, shoe choices, and what not to do with poles on race day. She’s also an ambassador for next year’s World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Innsbruck and has some suggestions on how to best kick off your summer running season in the Alps.
Just announced this morning by UTMB, the Canyons Endurance Run is Americas for Major. Congrats to Canyons of course, but it does seem a bit odd that UTMB waited so long to announce this. European and Asian Majors had been announced months ago. I wonder If UTMB had planned something different, that didn’t come through, and this was their backup plan?
Electric Cable Car’s UTMB Global Events Calendar is already updated to reflect the announcement.
Double the stones, baby!
The Trail Running Film Festival has opened submissions for the 2023 festival tour. Do you run trails? Do you love to make films? Submit them before Jan. 7th to be considered in our official selection.