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.

Brian Metzler for Trailrunner has some more backstory on how this UTMB-Gary-Vail-Whistler kerfuffle went down, including some valuable first person responses by spokespeople for the various entities:

UTMB’s take:

Ironman-UTMB officials who developed the new event said Friday they were surprised at Robbins’s reaction because he and his event partner Geoff Langford had voluntarily chosen to cancel its proposed September 2023 event during the application process back in February, saying on February 10 that CMTR would not pursue any further events in Whistler and, after six successful editions, there was “no path forward for us to produce races of this magnitude.” 

Keats McGonigal, Ironman’s North American vice president of operations goes further:

“It was our understanding, based on Gary’s public comments, that he was exiting the Whistler market and had no intention of ever going back,” McGonigal said. “That was our understanding based on what he had put out publicly back in February. So we were taken a little bit aback because it’s like, ‘Hey, you guys said that you were out of there and you weren’t going back. So if you’re going to leave a market, then you’re going to leave a market.”

Whistler Blackcomb on the challenges to obtain a permit which lead to CMT walking away from WAM:

“What this comes down to is we simply were not satisfied or comfortable with how Whistler Alpine Meadows planned to address safety issues from the race the year prior,” Whistler Blackcomb’s release said. “We will not compromise on safety as it is our number one priority, and we should note that our safety protocols and policies have not changed significantly year over year. We were not willing to move forward with the 2023 race without an adequate safety and medical plan, and WAM was unwilling to work with us on this.” 

This is sort of the nugget of it all:

Although CMTR announced it had permanently walked away from the event in its February 10 post on Instagram, Robbins seemed to contradict that in his blog. He wrote that, as recently as last summer, he and Langford were optimistic they would renew a dialogue with the resort for holding the WAM events in 2024 after their previous resort contact had been replaced. He even suggested that, for the past five weeks, the CMTR team had been “holding our collective breath about a hopeful surprise announcement to the community that we’d be returning to Whistler next year!” 

IF! Every person so far has spoken the truth, then this sort of comes down to a cold blooded business decision: “Hey, there’s a race course that has opened up, we’ll just grab it.” Is this fair? Is this respectful? Is it right to feel like you own a region for yourself? Could this have been handled differently and better?

Paul Huddle, Ironman’s senior director for global trail running operations concludes:

We’re all stewards of this amazing sport, and we need to band together more than go apart. But again, I get it. Ironman, UTMB, we’re the big bad wolf … we’re the corporate whatever. I understand that and I empathize with that. But I do think there’s an opportunity here for both.

You know, you don’t have to be the ‘big bad wolf’. If you represent a corporate entity you don’t have to make it so easy for everyone to hate you. You don’t have to own the title ‘big bad wolf’ by acting like one. These past 24 hours felt like the collective trail running world has announced that there shouldn’t be room for a ‘big bad wolf’. Can there be room for a global corporate entity that is good, respectful, smart and kind in our sport?

UTMB/Ironman, you get to choose what role you want to play and what names we call you as a result.