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For Outside Andy Cochrane chats with Catherine Poletti, UTMB President and Founder, and Andrew Messick, CEO of Ironman. These “business” articles, sharing some behind the scene maneuvering always read very scary and imposing.

Messick:

“Trail running looks identical to triathlons 30 years ago. Lots of races and events created by small groups of very passionate people, but most of these people don’t want the risk or work of scaling up. The natural step is being acquired by a company like ours.”

Ironman big bet wasn’t predicated on the long term growth of trail running at all, but instead on a monopoly of the market today. With UTMB as a partner, they have the ability to drive both demand and supply. They don’t need a quantum leap in the market cap to see a return on their investment if they can capture what already sits in front of them.

At the heart of it all, they get why people love trail running:

Trail running offers something everyone needs right now: freedom. In a world more and more crowded every day, Messick wants to capitalize on our collective need for an escape.

If and how they might succeed in molding our sport into their vision waits to be seen. No business can be succeed off of a spreadsheet exclusively. If the UTMB races turn into a fast food chain cookie cutter experience, then people will turn away and find other ways to enjoy the mountains.

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