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.

Albert Jorquera for Runedia (and translated into English with the Safari autotranslate tool):

The UTMB group announced today, Wednesday, that the Transvulcania ceases to be part of the UTMB World Series and, therefore, to carry the nickname ‘by UTMB’. Both parties signed a concession in 2022 for two years, extendable for two more, according to which UTMB Iberia managed a good part of the race and it became part of the world circuit. At the time, the decision of the previous government team of the Cabildo de La Palma (which has changed in June 2023) had the opposition of certain popular sectors of the island, while UTMB also had to adapt part of its policy in Spain, that of prioritizing the creation of events themselves, instead of managing concessions. 

This is obviously huge blockbuster news. After months of relentless growth and acquisition we see the first race drop out of the World Series, and a well-known race with big history, that is. One of their achilles heels for UTMB/Ironman (and something I mentioned in my conversation with UTMB CEO Frederic Lenard) is that this ‘corporate expansion’ sits on very thin footing when land owners/permit agencies/volunteers can just stop showing up and stop giving in to this relentless growth.

I wonder how many of these contracts that have been written by UTMB to ‘purchase and takeover’ these races essentially hold a ‘withdrawal option’ where the race organizer can pull back, drop the ‘by UTMB’ marketing and continue their event. Of course, what UTMB sells beyond prestige (stones, index, access to race in Chamonix) can’t be replicated and there is a chance for a big drop in participation, but if the race was successful before (by whatever ways measured) it’s might be possible to continue in that fashion on its own.

The media and (influencers with opinions) will have a feast with this news, cheering on the stumble of the giant, but I actually think this shows how precarious the position is UTMB is in. A lot of their marketing flex is skin-deep, many of these partnerships can cease at a moments notice, and this ‘giant tentacle of a World Series’ is more fluid and races will join and drop out in the coming years. This might just be a really good thing for our sport overall.

The Electric Cable Car UTMB World Series Events Calendar is updated to reflect this news.