By Mathias Eichler
Winter, trails, darkness, and all the weather.
One last hurrah before the end of the year. Runners, get ready for a fun and festive holiday treat along the trails of Squaxin Park.
Alright, I completely recalculated all the entry numbers of the UTMB races of 2023. This in turn changed everything about this article. I apologize for the initially wrong assessment. I had pulled the numbers from the UTMB.Live website, but these were incomplete/incorrect.
Here it goes. UTMB is trail running’s biggest stage with the various events drawing thousands of runners into the shadow of Mont Blanc each year. This year is UTMB’s twenty year anniversary and the call to “be a door, not a mirror” continues with a brilliant campaign by Auteur Sportif which is using this big stage to launch their newly formed marketing firm.
But, I’m here with numbers. There are a ton of different races part of the UTMB event, it’s kind of mind boggling, I will try my best to break it all down for y’all. (I left off the YCC, the youth races, to keep it a bit simpler. Further the UTMB website makes it fairly challenging to figure out the gender of the various 2-3 people PTL teams, so I pulled these out into a separate column.):
Total number of runners: 12,236. Total men: 9,445. Total women: 2,790 (23%)
Comparing these numbers to last years’, a couple things jump out to me:
In 2022 there were 559 starters from the United States across all UTMB races. This year only 482 made it across the pond to Chamonix. Only the MCC and ETC races saw an increase in US participation. Overall US participation dropped from 5.6% in 2022 to 3.9% for this year.
482 American runners made it across the pond for their chance of a finish in downtown Chamonix. The two most important races in the US Western States and Hardrock100 see a combined numbers of starters of 515.
Overall starters: 482. Women: 157 (33%). This number is encouraging and especially in the longer distances lifting the overall total which is a welcoming sign.
Overall starters: 268 (2.1%). Women: 61 (23%). I don’t have much to say about these numbers as I don’t have 2022 numbers to compare it to. The women participation is lower than the US’s but in line of the overall average. Will be interesting to see how to compares to the coming year.
The numbers are just massive. Almost every break down in itself could be a race on its own. What the UTMB group built there, and operates each year is in a completely different universe compared to any other trail running event we’ve seen. But, the UTMB starting line still looks very male dominated and the gender participation breakdown shows this. While Asian runners are starting to make their way into the top 10 with some incredible performances It’s also still an incredible ‘white’ sport.
I can’t wait to get my turn on that starting line and hear that song before I head into my vision quest around Mont Blanc.