The Trail Running Film Festival - Back on Tour for 2024.

The Trail Running Film Festival - Back on Tour for 2024.

What I had already noticed when I was down in Auburn running Canyons is that HOKA was everywhere. Almost so that it felt HOKA was more prominently promoted than UTMB. Much has been said about the UTMB/Partnership, and often I’ve asked about the details of that partnership, but what’s coming into view and question is the partnership HOKA has with UTMB/Ironman, and in extend Western States. Yes, they are sponsoring the respective races but there seems to be a bit more than just a sponsor contract:

Today the US ‘by UTMB’ races which are all unaffiliated with Western States ran promotional Instagram messages announcing that Grindstone, which is also a UTMB race has been selected as a Golden Ticket event for Western States. Yes, Western States is also part of the UTMB World Series, and that relationship is also somewhat murky.

So, to recap:

  • UTMB and Ironman have a partnership to build the UTMB World Series, but the details aren’t fully out in the open.
  • UTMB/Ironman partner/buy/franchise with local race directors to put on their ‘by UMTB’ events.
  • Part of that World Series is Western States, but they are NOT a ‘by UTMB race’ and have a special status, one that’s not fully explained.
  • HOKA is a sponsor of the UMTB World Series – and currently making oodles of cash, so it’s clearly paying off and they won’t be going anywhere or will be unseated anytime by a different sponsors.
  • HOKA is a sponsor of Western States and as part of that contract is sponsoring the elite entry access via the Golden Ticket races.
  • The 2024 races are announced and are almost exclusively UTMB races expect two Aravaipa events, which have also been sponsored in the past by HOKA.
  • The Instagram accounts of the ‘US UTMB events’ are promoting the HOKA Golden Ticket event in the US that’s a ‘by UTMB race’, but not the Aravaipa Golden Ticket events.

This is all so very fascinating, and something that clearly requires more insight, more background info and more scrutiny going forward.

If anyone has any insight they want to share, off or on the record, please do reach out.