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

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

Earlier this week on Instagram Martin Cox from VO2maxCoaching shares a private email sent to various elite runners. Apparently sent from Kilian Jornet and Zach Miller asking folks to skip UTMB in 2024 and find a different race. Preferably everyone should pick the same alternate race so they have some competition and hopefully media coverage with it. Zach Miller then confirms in the comments the validity of the email.

I won’t comment on the tactfulness for taking an email that wasn’t actually addressed to Martin himself but to some of the athletes he coaches, and posting the content online. I suppose nothing new was in the email, Zach more or less posted the same sentiment on his Instagram a few weeks ago. Expect that it seems that the “anti UTMB stance” has now fully crossed the pond with Kilian now being fully on board with the “soft boycott” (most who currently openly boycotting all says they are doing it out of love and are looking forward to returning once “their demands are met”, so to speak.)

Martin in his post uses some choice words, way overboard for my taste, but one word sticks out to me. He calls the two authors of the email hypocrites. And I guess Martin refers to the question of chicken and egg and which came first: Did UTMB make Kilian’s and Zach’s careers or did Kilian’s and Zach’s commitment to race UTMB year after year help UTMB grow to its prominence in our sport and beyond. The short answer is probably a mix of both. And since I don’t want to split hair here and I don’t think we can come to a quick conclusion who made who, for me “hypocrisy”, or the possibility thereof can be measured on steps taking in the future. Let’s look at 2024 and beyond. Where will they race? And for me, what’s even more interesting and the ultimate telling piece: If Kilian boycotts racing UTMB, will his brand NNormal have a booth at the UTMB Expo in Chamonix come August? Over the last two years NNormal made a huge splash during UTMB week and sort of used the de-facto gathering of the trail running world to launch their brand. Can Kilian in good faith boycott the commercialization of UTMB on a personal level but still take advantage on a professional level? Well, I guess he definitely can do that, but in my book that would fall into what I would call hypocrisy.

I don’t want to beleaguer this much more, especially since nothing has been decided yet and all of this clearly falls into major speculation category at this point, but I want to use this moment and share a bit of my editorial philosophy for Electric Cable Car:

I won’t comment on an athlete’s and any other individual’s choices as it pertains to them personally. While athletes are influencers, and therefore their own little micro brands, it’s not for me to comment or judge someone’s personal choice. I don’t know what’s going on in their life for them to decide or choose one thing over the other. So, in the end I don’t care if you choose to run for this sponsor, or race this particular event. I might mention it, if I deem it newsworthy, but I won’t judge it.

What I will comment on, have an opinion about, and will judge is what brands are doing. Big or small organizations are doing business in our sport and affect our culture and it’s fair game for me to point out their decisions, possible shortcomings, or where I am at odds with them on how I see our world. These brands are run by people too, but I won’t attack, or publicly out, or point the finger at an individual making these decision (with a few exceptions for real egregious behavior).

I believe there’s a bit of wiggle room here for some light ribbing of folks and of course, quoting someone’s exact words also allows for a bit of commentary and interpretation.

I might be adding more to this as my thoughts evolve, but for now this explains my stance quite well – I hope.