The Trail Running Film Festival - Online Watch Party Get your tickets.

The Trail Running Film Festival - Online Watch Party Get your tickets.

From a much-welcomed newsletter sent to race directors by David Callahan & Jay Kelley, co-CEOs of UltraSignup:

The platform’s technical overhaul is making significant progress, setting the stage for necessary, desirable, and innovative advancements. Our vision is to continue evolving UltraSignup in a way that adds more value to both race directors and runners, specifically within the trail running niche, as
opposed to other platforms who aim to service all kinds of events and tickets. We are committed to vertical growth, focusing on our core community rather than expanding into unrelated areas.

Man, I love UltraSignup and what it has done for the ultra running community. The combination of race registration platform, calendar and historical results is unmatched. And no upshot can compete with it easily, or even slowly and meticulously, especially if you think of the database of historical results. The biggest races in the US (Western States, Hardrock, Aravaipa, Destination Trail are all still using UltraSignup). What drew me to the platform as a runner was the – what felt almost complete – racing calendar. If a race wasn’t on UltraSignup did it even exist?

So of course, when I became a race director I have never seriously considered any other platform, not even now that I’m in my sixth year doing it – even though I get the regular friendly, but persistent calls from RunSignup. UltraSignups customer service is great and the ability to relaunch an event which from the pervious year is pretty easy to do. The stickiness is real.

But, and of course there has to be a “but”, the platform is aging, glitchy and buggy in places, and with competitors offering shiny alternatives, and others jumping ship, it becomes harder and harder to justify staying.

That age-old Wayne Gretzky quote comes to mind:

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.

One of the beauties of software design is the iterative nature of development. One can constantly improve various elements on a sort of rolling approach. You don’t have to move houses if you want something better, you can refresh and improve on the same infrastructure you’ve been operating on. Of course this has limits – sometimes there’s too much technical debt, and an outdated software stack. That’s when you gotta start with a clean slate and that does take time. I just hope that when it’s time UltraSignup to unveil that new shiny race registration platform “the puck hasn’t been moved”.