America's only certified Skyrace course. Race Beast of Big Creek on Mt. Ellinor in Hoodsport, WA on Aug 3rd, 2024.

America's only certified Skyrace course. Race Beast of Big Creek on Mt. Ellinor in Hoodsport, WA on Aug 3rd, 2024.

I’ve been waiting for Matt Walsh to weigh in on last week’s ‘situation’, and this weekend Trailmix finally delivered:

UTMB’s statement was the most obscure of the bunch in what is now a classic expectation from the UTMB press department. The press release sought to simply brush the email under the rug, deny that they’ve done anything wrong and offer no action plan as to how they’ll address the tension between athletes and the organisation. To call it self-serving would be harsh, but true.

I don’t find UTMB’s statement particularly obscure. As I mentioned in my summary of the official statement UTMB released, there’s a lot of gleam from. Of course they are not going to play the guessing game and publish a list of things that they think folks are mad with them about. Or do we actually believe that UTMB scrolls Instagram comments and honors these with an official response?

And on Matt’s assertion that the UTMB statement seemed ‘self-serving’: I mean, what else should an official statement by a business be? Especially in this situation where the critics (Kilian/Zach/PTRA weren’t really able to articulate what the real issues were? If they were, they would’ve said it in their respective statements. I got the sense that this meeting was more of a “getting called to the principles office” and UTMB had to play grown-ups here.

Matt calls for better journalism:

For fans, we have more PR than journalism. For athletes the only people holding the race series’ to account are themselves. Without strong governance from a professional body and a media with resources and investment, race organisations go unchecked and both fans and athletes are left frustrated and forever on a quest for understanding.

Two places to start:

  • UTMB is a French organization and the there are several local organizations that UTMB leadership gives regular interviews to. Once we go beyond the English language feed we find lots of valuable information.
  • One challenge that I haven’t really come to terms with is that as much as we make fun of UTMB needing a PR department to handle their appearance in the media, at least they as a business have one. One can reach out and get an official response. It’s harder, feels more personal and somewhat a bit invasive to email Kilian personally and ask him for a comment. Where would one even start? Slide into his DMs?

Back in October Brian Metzler had reached out to all parties asking for a statement for his article for Trailrunner Magazine after the Whistler kerfuffle. Every party involved responded but Coast Mountain Trail Running, or rather Gary who wrote about the issue on his personal blog, not the company website. On a personal level this is all totally understandable but it sort of symbolizes the issue here. The various parties involved in our sport are mostly individuals and it feels more personal to call up Kilian, or Zach, or Gary, or even Corinne and ask them for statements. But perhaps that’s where the media should do more of their homework. Not just play fans of the athletes, but check in on them, with real questions.

So, I yes. We do need better media. It will make our sport better.