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

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

Among the endless flurries of official announcements from the UTMB press office this week is this announcement:

Building on the solid sustainability foundations and actions put in place on the Dacia UTMB® Mont-Blanc since 2003, UTMB Group has today launched a new regeneration initiative which sets out a roadmap to have a positive impact on the communities it serves, the people it touches and our planet.  

This press release is accompanied by a new webpage, (linked here) which highlights ‘three pillars’ or areas of focus for the group.


Our environment is our playground, and we are committed to its protection and regeneration. We aim to minimize our impact on the environment and support the regeneration of our mountain ecosystems. We believe that by taking decisive action today, we can ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the beauty and challenge of trail running.


We aim to leave a positive legacy at every UTMB World Series destination. We believe in supporting our host communities and promoting sustainable tourism. By engaging the UTMB family in local communities, we can create a lasting impact that goes beyond the race itself.


At UTMB, we believe in the power of inclusivity. We are committed to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our runners. We aim to increase and support female participation in the UTMB World Series and redefine trail running as a sport for all.

Here’s what these efforts come down to: UTMB knows it needs these three key ingredients to be successful today and tomorrow.

  • If they trash the environment in which they operate they might not get permits from the land owners/agencies (which could be catastrophic). The full UTMB loop takes runners through three different protected natural areas, for example. And if the perception grows within our trail running community that UTMB aren’t good stewards and ignore the realities of climate change to make ‘a quick buck’ then it would ruin their reputation in the longterm and lead to a slow death.
  • If they fuck over the locals and come across as corporate bullies it could also lead to permitting issues but equally devastating for them would be to not be able to find volunteers to help staff their events.
  • Lastly, runners who pay for race entries is their lifeblood and currently their largest income stream. Politics and worldviews are shifting fast and the French-centric organization is growing into a global player requiring an adjustment to its perspective on many issues to match that of the global running community. As the group is expanding into more regional territories this could create an interesting tension between traditional locations and modern values.

An organization of this size has lots of work to do but also has the ability to mask shortcomings in certain areas by highlighting ‘initiatives and success stories’ in the media and press. The timeline they put out with a vision for 2035 “to transform the UTMB World Series into a beacon of sustainable excellence in trail running” feels too vague and weak to me. That many years into the future I see no. reason that the UTMB group couldn’t operate as a climate neutral corporation. And yes, some of it is greenwashing and just buying carbon offsets isn’t the end-all goal either, but why not be a bit more ambitious in this area, given their current growth projections?