By Mathias Eichler
A few notes:
“Mountain Festival” what a perfect name and idea to extend the trail races beyond just the races.
Check the sponsors at the bottom of the website. This festival is very much instigated and supported by the local municipalities. What a different approach to the way things are in the US. We all know that Western States finished in Auburn, but there’s no connection to the city and it’s community beyond the location of the finish line being at Placer High School track.
Vall de Boí is a municipality consisting of eight small villages with a population of between 9 and 200 inhabitants. Its high mountain environment and extreme weather contributed to the isolation of the valley for many centuries. This, together with the nature of its people, their customs and traditions and an economy based for centuries on subsistence farming, has managed to preserve the territory and its natural and cultural riches almost intact.
I’d run here, and take my family:
The main attractions of the valley are the Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, the Baths of Caldes de Boí, the ski runs of Boí-Taüll Resort and the ensemble of Romanesque churches which have been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The 42km race will be streamed live.
On Saturday the 2nd July at 9.30 a.m, visit this page to watch the GARMIN® Epic Trail 42K – Memorial Joan Rojas race live and direct.
Will be interesting to tune in and compare to WS coverage from last week.
Also: Didn’t know Garmin was still into this ‘sponsoring outdoor sports thing’.
Now that the Western States media hubbub is slowly subsiding it’s time to turn our heads to the next BIG race in the US. The Hardrock 100 in Silverton, Colorado.
According to official 2022 Entrants List there are 145 starters total. (According to numbers pulled from UltraSignup.)
Not great… not great at all.
But! Their pregnancy deferral policy is clearly spelled out and simple.
Eligibility: Any woman who has been selected for the entrants list of the Hardrock Hundred and becomes pregnant prior to run day.
After deferral, the entrant will be able to re-join the accepted entrants list on any one of the three years following the deferral.
Kudos to that!
Project cofounder Marta Fisher crunched the numbers so far:
As of June 13th, more women than men have set FKTs in Oregon and Washington! WHAT!! 53% of the FKTs set in this region were set by women, and that’s incredible!
I had missed this announcement earlier this month. Marta was on Singletrack at the beginning of the year (on episode 217) and she shared the inspiration for the project and her ambitious goals. Now, just halfway through the year women have already eclipsed men in setting FKTs in the PNW and the project has gained huge media attention. Love everything about it.
Natalie Compton for Washington Post:
More than 150 rafters and backcountry campers who visited the Grand Canyon in April and May reported symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness, the National Park Service said this week.
It’s summer time anyways, and therefore too hot for an R2R2R attempt, but you might want to hold on to make any plans crossing the canyon until this is resolved.
In this episode of Singletrack I am chatting with Tomasz Drybala from Poland. He’s a long, long, long distance runner, motivational speaker and book author. Searching for a new direction, Tomasz discovered running, and through it a new perspective on life, while covering huge distances in Asia, the UK, and Poland.
Scott Kummer, host of the Ten Junk Miles podcast on his Substack:
But here’s the thing. Western States and its coverage can’t be a sacred cow.
We can’t just take what we’re given and talk about how awesome it is no matter what.
The problem I see is that many of the current voices and leaders in our sport are still relying on personal sponsors, and are or have been previously semi-professional athletes. These folks aren’t in a position to speak their mind, thus creating an environment of endless cheering and smiling.
It can’t just be about the elites. And it can’t only be about the rest of us once the elites are done.
Here’s the dirty little secret. There’s a golden hour at every single aid station. There’s agony, defeat, suffering and failure at every single aid station.
The focus on covering just the elites during a race lasting many hours probably came from the necessity of iRunFar’s shoestring operation. This is not a a criticism at all! If you have a small team and and even smaller budget, you do what you can to chase the race leaders from aid station to aid station.
But perhaps therein lies the chance for our sport. Perhaps we need to field test and proof a different concept. Can folks who wish for different coverage find a model, and sponsors, to head to Auburn next time, and rather than focusing on the pros, find the stories of the every-day-runner. It’s not been done before, live. We won’t really know how popular this will be. It might be a runaway success and will change our reporting and media coverage going forward.
Folks like Dylan Bowman have been talking at length how our sport is the best and how we need to preserve the community spirit. This might just be how we do it.
I should probably also mention that I’m a fan too.
A new video (podcast/Youtube/Zoom?!?!) series from the International Trail Running Association (ITRA):
A video session with recognized experts on each topic will be made available to all our community after being recorded. We want you to be part of this new initiative, and so every time we launch a new session, we will be asking you to share with us beforehand the questions you would like to ask our guests!
Topic of the first session: How to prepare well for your next ultra
This is about as big, vague, wide and open of a topic ITRA could’ve possibly picked.
Amidst the hubbub of last week I forgot to highlight this unique and incredible looking sky running race.
Europe’s highest race celebrates a big come-back in the Italian Alps, the birthplace of skyrunning where it all began back in 1992. The successful 2021 edition saw 558 world class athletes from 36 countries retrace the original course to the summit of Monte Rosa at 4,554m altitude.
This unique event in true skyrunning style traverses moraine, snow fields and glaciers for 35 kilometres with a gruelling 7,000m ascent and descent. The athletes race in teams of two, roped together for safety.
Addendum: I debated if I should convert all distances/temperatures/speeds to be easier to understand here on Electric Cable Car. But I decided it’s easiest for me, and best for you dear reader if you get familiar with the metric system and the imperial system, for that matter. So, in that spirit, the numbers above translate to a shit-ton of vert in a relatively short distance. You are welcome.
Remember that statistic I posted a few days ago?
This is only one very obvious reminder that our races aren’t fully equitable to everyone and men still dominate our sport, just like they dominate almost every aspect of our lives.
Sophie is the trail runner and mom who ran UTMB and breastfed at an aid station a few years ago. Here’s how that came to be:
I was famously photographed racing the UTMB, a 106 mile mountain race whilst breastfeeding my 3 month old baby. I wanted to defer my place until I was fully fit but whilst the organisation will defer places for injury, for them pregnancy is seen as a choice. Completing the UTMB was a dream for me, and having already lost a hard won place whilst pregnant with my first son I chose to race. Many women lose out on that opportunity.
This photo captured a moment. Since then there’s been an effort made bringing equality to our races and events. Trail Sister here in the US has been championing for this for many years and many races have adopted or changed their policies to be more inclusive. Several others have ways to go.
From what I can tell, here’s UTMB’s policy on this matter:
Runners who cancel their registration or do not participate in the race they registered for will benefit from no advantage in the following year’s lottery.
UTMB offers a race cancelation insurance runners can purchase as an add-on. This will give people their used running stones back and their entry fee, or a portion of each, depending when they cancel their entry. But their ‘lottery win’ is lost and they have to go back into the general lottery and get back at keeping up UTMB Index points.
We still have so far to go. And some days, especially like these last couple of weeks, it feels we are slipping backwards.
Writing for Trail Runner, David writes about the media coverage at Western States and Broken Arrow:
Prediction: the trail world is going to undergo a fundamental shift in the next 10 years as media companies realize that trail running coverage has the drama and visuals of an episode of Planet Earth, including all of the chase scenes (but unfortunately none of the f**king unless a broadcaster gets really creative).
David on increased corporate investment into the sport:
Just remember that the change we are seeing is what happens when a sport progresses to a wider audience, and that progress will bring more opportunities for everyone.
The sport is changing. And it’s so freaking fun to try to keep up.
We’re here for it. Literally, this is why Electric Cable Car exists.
Outside the UTMB weekend this last weekend might be trail and ultra running’s biggest race weekend of the entire year? There were several key races happening in Europe and the US as the mountains are melting out and the summer heat isn’t yet too intense.
Of course, at any given weekend there are dozens of grassroots community events happening all across the globe and I am not discounting any of these. I’m just looking at the big picture and development of our mountain sport.
Western States with a small field, good PR communication, and just offering a single event is easy to follow for the fans and the media. It’s nice to have things packaged so neatly.
In Europe events offer races in varied distances and spreadsheets of athletes and finishers are harder to find. The number of runners for each event is staggering. In the same weekend all of the US was glued to Youtube following just over 300 runners at the WS coverage, in Europe over 12,000 trail runners finished a race in one of just 3 events.
Ultrarunning History has a great post debunking some of the popular stories floating around about this iconic race.
Davy Crockett writes:
With such a rich and long history that has been told and retold over the years, it is not surprising that folklore has crept in, and historic errors introduced by mistake or on purpose, making the legend of Western States and its origin story even more compelling.
Myth #8: Gordy Ainsleigh was the first to cover the Western States Trail Ride on foot during the Western States Trail Ride.
Myth #13: Western States is the world’s first 100-mile trail race.
And my favorite is that the course wasn’t 100 miles until 1985.
Read this post and show off on your next group run.
According to official 2022 Entrants List there are 384 starters total.
Not great, not great at all.
In comparison, Lavaredo 2022 has combined across their four races: 4688 starters total.
Which is, surprisingly, the same percentage. But in their longest distance, the Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120K, the total number of women runners drops to 189 from a total of 1596, which is an abysmal 12%. What a sausage fest.
In their shortest distance, the Cortina Skyrace 20K, the percentage of women runners is 48%.
The beautiful Dolomites in the Italian Alps are hosting the Lavaredo Ultra Trail this weekend. While situated in the same mountain range as the Mont Blanc, the Italian races over in Cortina seem to be unaffected by the weather that’s affecting several events in Chamonix, and are on schedule.
Game on, Hannes.
Announcement by the race organization:
The situation announced in the Haute-Savoie department and more particularly in the Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley from Friday June 24 at midday indicates:
– Heavy and continuous rain
– Wind gusts of 80 to 100km/h at all altitudes
– Major storm disturbances (hail, thunder, lightning)
– Temperature dropping to 5°C at 2000m
In light of this information, the safety commission, in agreement with the organising committee, has taken this decision in order to preserve the physical integrity of the runners, their companions and all the members of the organisation (volunteers, first aiders, service providers…).
All options for maintaining the race have been considered, including that of a possible postponement. Unfortunately, due to the density of this weekend’s events, the unavailability of the organisation teams leaves us no option but to cancel the event.
As climate change continues to intensify it will become the biggest threat to the growth of mountain sports globally. Not that it isn’t already the biggest threat to our life in general.
The Vertical Kilometer race had to be postponed until Saturday as well. No other races are supposed to be affected by this.
Doug Mayer on the Run the Alps Blog:
Up close, Alps trail running is often very different than how it appears from a distant horizon. The fact is, most trail running in the Alps isn’t made up of marquee brands like Ultraks, Golden Trail, Skyrunning, or UTMB Mont Blanc. Much of it is very much like in the US, where I first started trail running. It’s volunteer-organized, locally based, low-key and very much a good time.
Wherever you go, at the heart of our sport are still small community-based trail races that are welcoming to everyone. All you need is a pair of sneakers and any excitement for adventure.
Historian, Bavarian, author and ultra runner Andrea Löw joins Singletrack to talk about running as balance to lots of work and a full life. She shares adventure stories from multi-day races in Mozambique and Australia, the festival feeling at UTMB – CCC and the joy of spontaneously signing up for a local overnight 50 Miler.
Trueheart Brown earned a Golden Ticket to Western States Endurance Run by coming in first in the 2022 Black Canyon Ultras 100k. He was training for WSER but unfortunately was forced to bow out and decline his entry. His reason is heroic and honorable. He spent the final 2 weeks, as a firefighter, fighting a 30,000 acre wildfire that threatened the town and people of Flagstaff, Az. It would be unfair to require him to hope for a lottery draw or to take his chances and have to win another Golden Ticket.
Ultrarunnerpod on Twitter:
Interesting predicament for @wser. If I’m understanding this correctly, pregnant women get a deferral but first responders do not?
After years of pretty much zero tolerance policy Western States loosened it stands and allowed deferral for pregnancy, which seems more than reasonable, but of course, now the floodgates open.
Western States does have a board and can give out entries under “special consideration”. This might be a way out of their predicament here?
Also: Why did we need a Change.org petition for this? This might already be solved in private between the runner and the race organization.
Tim Newcomb for Forbes:
While Arc’teryx has had footwear in its catalog for years, by opening a Portland office solely focused on the category, the brand aims to create new mountain-ready offerings and craft footwear silhouettes that become as iconic as the Alpha jacket.
The goal of Arc’teryx is to look and feel different in the outdoor space, bringing together a “very aesthetically beautiful and functional product.” The footwear will take cues from the brand’s design, separating itself from the previous offerings created with the help of sister brand Solomon.
Previous Arc’teryx shoes have been over-engineered, ugly, and expensive. But with new shoe brands pushing the price point upwards, there’s an opening for Arc’teryx to be the premium Salomon brand.
Adam Campbell, professional mountain runner, world champion medalist and Arc’teryx athlete since 2007, now lives in Squamish, B.C., and will head the product testing team. His job is to explain his playground and pass along his needs, letting the designers then get to work.
First “pro” and influencer lined up to promote the shoes on Instagram.
As if this weekend couldn’t get any fuller the Golden Trail World Series has their second race of the season in Chamonix on June 26th, after the season opener in Zegema last month: The Marathon du Mont-Blanc
The 42km du Mont-Blanc is the legendary race to run at least once in your life! As much acclaimed by the best athletes in the world who dream of adding their name on the list of winners as by amateur trail runners, this race with its dream landscapes, its festive atmosphere and a finish line in the center of Chamonix for the first time in 2022 is essential in the life of a trail runner!
So, weekend long runs are skipped, just sit on the couch and watch Lavaredo Ultra Trail, Marathon du Mont-Blanc and Western States coverage all weekend. Who doesn’t love shakes Go Pro footage on Youtube and the frantic refreshing of live GPS maps?
Making sure this is not getting drowned out by all the Western States coverage this week: The Lavaredo Ultra Trail is happening this weekend as well.
This is my dream race, due the the part of the Alps this race is held at. A few years ago I had gotten into the lottery but had to decline do to work issues. Ugh, what a missed opportunity.
Current champion and course record holder Hannes Namberger, guest on Singletrack #229,announced that just last week he’s going to be running Lavardo after he previously wanted to run mozart100. Hannes had gotten COVID-19 and his training plans got messed up, so he pushed his race start out a week. Hope he’s fully recovered and can crush it over there in the beautiful Dolomites.
So. Much. Coverage. This year. So much.
It seems every outlet is jumping on covering the top athletes… is anyone covering the stories of the rest of the field?
I’d love to see a story: ‘Cool stories to follow at this year’s Western States from folks who aren’t top contenders.’
The 2022 PTL itinerary has just been released, and this year it definitely has a little “je ne sais quoi”: it will be the first time that a UTMB race will pass that close from the Mont-Blanc.
Love that UTMB is still offering the PTL race as part of there ever-growing event series.
Steve Larese for Outside Business Journal:
After turning down large acquisition offers in the past, CLIF has now signed a deal to sell to the owner of Oreo, Toblerone, and other international snack brands.
Mondelēz International is the snack food arm of what was previously Kraft which also owns Milka, one of my favorite brands of my childhood.
Bummer to see the cool little indie brands getting swallowed by the big behemoths. Cool to see some founders cashing in to the tune of $2.9 Billion.
The Broken Arrow Skyrace came and went. What a weekend. What a celebration of the trail running community. Love everything about this event. Everything but their slogan and marketing hashtag #ringdasbell.
I got questions. Is the DAS supposed to be German? Is it the article for Bell? If so, Bell is Glocke and Glocke is female and not neutral, therefore it would be Die Glocke and not Das Glocke. I mean, perhaps the crew is already super progressive and removing the gendered article from the word. But as it stands today in the German language it would be RingDieBell. Yes, I understand that ‘die’ means something in English and therefore isn’t a good use for a marketing slogan, but DAS is the wrong one. I got no answer for this one, just questions.
Why this question?
Corrine Malcolm dives into this topic on IRunFar.
In the conclusion she writes:
However, take care of your teeth, and go light on the carbonated water.
According to my quick online sleuthing this conclusion doesn’t really match any science. According to medical research done in Germany the carbonation is too light to attack your teeth.
So drink your La Croix guilt free! How nice.
Navin Singh Khadka Environment correspondent for BBC World Service:
Nepal is preparing to move its Everest base camp because global warming and human activity are making it unsafe.
Everything is changing.
The camp currently sits at an altitude of 5,364m. The new one will be 200m to 400m lower.
How much longer until some of our most iconic mountain climbing routes will be impossible to climb?
While on social media it might look like everyone’s wearing HOKA’s these days, toeing the line at a trail race still shows a very different picture. I’ve always been fascinated how diverse the gear, and especially the shoe selection still is among trail runners of all shapes and sizes.
Today’s announcement by Jason Schlarb is just the latest in a string of new to the scene shoes makers pushing into the trail space with new gear, marketed by pro athletes and often sold at an eye-popping price previously not seen in trail running shops.
Here’s the current rundown of athletes running (literally) on new shoe sponsors:
Did I miss anyone?
I have been fascinated, and a bit worried about that development.
Getting new brands established in our sport is a very good thing. New companies means new cash for athletes, new stories told from different perspectives, and new possibilities for better gear (innovation!)
Established brands2 seem to struggle with innovation on top of their customer’s expectation.
The marketing around these new shoes relies heavily on athlete/influencer social media promotions. This to me seems to be a clear acknowledgment how effective this type of marketing in our sport is, and probably also how reasonably inexpensive. Vying for prominent shelf space will require a more longterm effort. And sponsoring events might also be more of a longterm deal/has lower ROI?
The prices of these shoes – and the limited availability – are currently distorting the market. At twice the price of shoes previously worn by top athletes it creates a huge price ceiling. If these new companies are even a slight bit successful in changing the customer expectations we can expect price increases among our current shoe providers and thus making our sport unnecessarily more expensive. And this is more than just the inflation everyone talks about, this is turning an accessible sport into a luxury sport. If an athlete won races in $200 shoes the $375 shoe doesn’t make the difference.
I updated the ‘feed‘ section of this website to include all relevant information and links to subscribe to Electric Cable Car and never miss an update. Do it!
Richard Bolt for ATRA:
Active at Altitude, organizers of the US Trail Running Conference, have announced that the first day of the industry-leading 2022 event, Wednesday October 19, 2022, will be dedicated to business and community.