Mark Gillett

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UTWT – Launch Analysis

with 2 comments

Its been two days now since the launch of UTWT, UltraTrail World Tour and there has been a fair amount of discussion on the TalkUltra site of Ian Corless. Just check here http://iancorless.org/

My own assessment will not be as detailed as Ian’s and not as authoritative but based more on my last 40 years in sport. Ian spends most of his time following Ultra’s and is probably right now, even tho I hate saying it, the most clued up in this area. So take a good look at his blog too.

My involvement over the last years has been in a media capacity for some extreme events/races and also as a runner or marathons and the MDS.

As I mentioned in my last post the ultra running world is a moving feast right now… Its exciting, growing, professionalising and attracting a very high level of disciplined runner. A new breed has appeared over the last three years that even when covering the MDS you can see a noticeable difference from year to year. Stronger, faster and and harder runners are appearing from nowhere.

With this, professionalisation is inevitable. Money will flow (unless we all go to war very soon, that is) into the races. Runners will become known and branded and there will be a call for a true ranking system.

It is here that I believe the UTWT or UTW[a]T as someone called it on Facebook, will sink or swim. Right now in its current form I think it will sink, be tossed around, choke, spit, and come to the surface spewing. It will then recover, maybe with new members or even a different name and be stronger. Its what normally happens especially when you rush in. A bit like diving in at the deep end at 3 years old with no armbands.

For a start they have put commercial reasons for setting up the tour in front of progressing the world of ultra racing. This can never work. Put the races and passions first and money will come and seek out the passionate. A ranking system is a logical next step for the ultra world. Also the categorising of races who wish to be considered competitive.

At the moment there is a mix of events. Those that are more “man challenges” and those that are races. This needs sorting out. Then the two, categorising and rankings system, go hand in hand. Races begin to flourish and the the sport becomes truly competitive and effective. More people get involved on a recreational level as a result because people love to follow their heroes. Its how the world works in sport.

So for me right now the analysis is quite simple. Its a bit of a cock up that will sort itself out in time. Or someone else will come up with a better thought out version that is true to the sport, true to the events and not solely a purpose of generating revenue and increasing personal exposure.

Written by markgillett

September 3, 2013 at 12:56 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Why do you think it’s the last 3 years in particular that have seen the change? I did the MdS in 2006 and I remember thinking then that people like the Ahansal brothers were absolutely top-end athletes in a totally different league from the other 99% of us. Are there more Ahansal-standard people out there now? If so, what’s happened to attract them?

    Graham Williams

    October 8, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    • That was the year I ran it too… I think there has just been an explosion in the last few years.. Trail running is not alone. Cycling, bmx, skateboarding, you name it, people are doing extraordinary things. back in 2006 the Ahansals were something special but Mohamed ran in the Transvulcania this year and didnt even place… They are very niche in as far as the desert is concerned and more so Morocco… But even there they are being challenged now.. The top trail runners dont run the MDS as its not really trail running.. I think people are just more challenged these days…

      markgillett

      October 8, 2013 at 11:09 pm


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