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.
UTMB Index Races are independently organized races that register with UTMB, submit the results after the conclusion of the event and runners receive an index based on their performance. My Beast of Big Creek race is an Index race and runners running the sky race are receiving an Index for the 20km distance:
The UTMB Index is composed of 1000’s of independent races from all across the world. Upon completing a UTMB Index race runners will be awarded their UTMB Index.
In the aftermath of the ‘Whistler kerfuffle’ (and I do hope I can stop talking about it at some point, or maybe I like it, who knows) several race directors have chosen not to renew their inclusion in the index and taken their races out.
Jason Reathaford of the Badger Mountain Challenge in southwest Washington mentioned on social media that he will not include his races in the Index anymore (sorry, I couldn’t find the link to the comment he posted). I suppose running Squamish 50 won’t give you an index anymore. One of the most well-known East Coast races ‘Eastern States‘ in Waterville, PA announced on their Facebook page:
As of this morning, Eastern States 100 and the Eastern States Trail-Endurance Alliance have cut ties with UTMB. We are ending our status as an “Index Race”, and will no longer be associated in any way with the UTMB/Ironman organization. We make this decision with sadness and disappointment, but it is the right thing to do, and we hope that other race organizations, businesses, and individuals will do the same.
I actually expect there to be a significant drop in Index races in North America. It’s just so easy for RDs to not renew their participation.
The race director Jeff Calvert adds a longer explanation on his Substack:
I see this as an intervention, something you do for a loved one who has gone astray. Saying that “UTMB has lost its way” implies that it might find its way back.
I want this be much less “we hate you and everything you touch” and much more “we love you, man, but what you’re doing right now is not acceptable”.
Jeff Calvert ran UTMB himself in 2016 and knows that the event has been part of the fabric of trail and ultra running for twenty years and counting. And he still has some hope:
But that brings me back to my hope, that this incident — and our response to it — might be a wake-up call, both for us as a sport and a community, and for whatever is left of Old UTMB within New UTMB.
Sending a message is good, and high time. And that message needs to be addressed to UTMB, “New UTMB” as he calls it. The organization that’s currently missing the beat of what our community is all about. Sending that message to the runners, who are deciding which races to run and dreams to chase might be the wrong message. Deciding for runners, by taking an opportunity away from folks to get their index points isn’t great.