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New UTMB Whistler race causes uproar in path group

On Thursday, UTMB/Ironman introduced that the primary Canadian addition to their UTMB World Collection could be held in Whistler in September 2024, a month when Gary Robbins had historically hosted the extensively revered Whistler Alpine Meadows occasion. UTMB Whistler organizers couldn’t have anticipated the widespread response of shock that despatched shockwaves by the trail-running group and picked up velocity on social media over the next days.

In February of 2023, Robbins introduced that it had change into more and more tough for Coast Mountain Path Working (CMTR) to carry Whistler Alpine Meadows, a preferred occasion with a wide range of races, from a vertical kilometre to a 100-miler. The occasion was completely cancelled. Whereas Robbins didn’t give specifics, many athletes speculated that Vail Resorts, the workforce that owns Whistler Blackcomb (ski resort), had made it inconceivable for CMTR to proceed. In response to UTMB’s announcement on Thursday, Robbins wrote a blog post, titled ‘What Actually Went Down in Whistler with the WAM Races’ and the Web erupted.

Gary Robbins. Picture: Brice Ferre

Robbins is the director (with accomplice Geoff Langford) of CMTR and their races have attracted most of the huge names in ultra-trail, together with Courtney Dauwalter, Dakota Jones and Mike Wardian. Identified for greeting each single runner at his occasions with a hug or high-five on the end line, Robbins and his races symbolize all one of the best components of path working to many athletes–widespread group involvement, help for native companies and a give attention to sustainability.

Canadian path icon Ellie Greenwood (and former Western States 100 course file holder) was one of many first to share her dismay towards UTMB, whose title prior to now few years has not solely represented the favored 171K extremely in Chamonix, but additionally stands for a mega-buck enterprise partnership (as of 2021) with Ironman.

Ellie Greenwood
Ellie Greenwood on the Buckin’ Hell 2017, a part of the Coast Mountain Path Collection. Picture: Scott Robarts.

“NO. We had an alpine playground earlier than you, UTMB,” Greenwood shared on Twitter. “Our native devoted race administrators (Coast Mountain Path) had a brilliant VK, 25k, 50k, 110k and 100 miler however obtained pushed out final yr. Good luck getting locals to volunteer, we’ll be serving to on the different tremendous CMTR occasions as a substitute.”

Greenwood’s response has been echoed all through the group, from common runners to one of the best within the sport. Course file holder and 2023 UTMB champion, Jim Walmsley, shared a Strava exercise titled “So what will we race subsequent yr then?”

UTMB and CMTR aren’t strangers: they met on a video name in September 2022, after the ultimate version of Whistler Alpine Meadows, to debate the potential of UTMB buying one in all CMTR’s races. Each side are tied in an NDA, however Robbins says that he shared some non-negotiables in the course of the assembly with UTMB: “our group help packages, our volunteer appreciation packages, and so forth.” Robbins was advised that these points have been a dialog for an additional time and wrote that he had not heard again from UTMB since June.

Robbins says he’s now grateful the dialog with UTMB didn’t progress. “I used to be giving them the good thing about the doubt, however in my coronary heart I at all times knew higher,” he wrote. “I’m embarrassed to should admit that I nearly let a fox within the hen home.”

Whistler to get Canada’s first UTMB race in 2024

Robbins cites a extreme lack of communication on the a part of Vail Resorts, who personal Whistler Blackcomb, as a part of the issue, in addition to unreasonable requests relating to permits supposed to make it inconceivable for CMTR to proceed internet hosting Whistler Alpine Meadows. In a press release to Canadian Working, Vail acknowledges the breakdown in communication on their finish however sticks to their line that the choice to cancel WAM was completely the selection of CMTR. “We weren’t prepared to maneuver ahead with the 2023 race with out an satisfactory security and medical plan, and WAM was unwilling to work with us on this,” they stated.

Robbins says Vail’s new necessities have been inconceivable to fulfill. “The brand new permits included issues like a steep new working charge, technical and security necessities utterly unrelated to a path working occasion, and a bunch of different objects that’d by no means been there earlier than,” he shares in his weblog.

UTMB is adamant that they didn’t got down to compete with Robbins, and  UTMB and Vail have each said that negotiations solely started as soon as Gary made the general public announcement that he was completed with Whistler and Vail. UTMB Whistler race director Christine Cogger believes there may be area for a couple of occasion inside the group. “I believe Gary has carried out an excellent job. We didn’t get up seeking to wreck the Canadian path working group,” she advised Canadian Working.

Paul Huddle, director of worldwide path working operations for UTMB, says the group response was stunning however not surprising. “I do know Gary could be very passionate and places on wonderful races. A race is your child, it’s a whole lot of work,” Huddle stated. “His notion [is] that one in all his infants was stolen and placed on by anyone else–I get that.” 

Revered names within the path group, like former obstacle-racing champion Amelia Boone, have steered the state of affairs with UTMB ought to encourage a brand new path ahead within the sport. On X, Boone known as the talk “a broader dialog of what we wish for the game of path working.” She added: “If we don’t desire a UTMB/IM mannequin, then we have to change the inducement construction, which comes at sponsor stage.”

Robbins and CMTR aren’t taking the hit calmly, and have introduced a brand new race to be hosted on the identical weekend as UTMB Whistler, in September 2024. “I want to take the time now to say that we are formally asserting our intentions of launching a BC race in direct competitors with this occasion, in September 2024,” Robbins stated. His announcement has garnered the help of athletes on social media, and Dominic Gross and Andy Pearson, hosts of the ultrarunning comedy podcast Between Two Pines, have created a Go Fund Me, comically titled ‘Assist Gary Robbins Purchase UTMB.’

UTMB responded to CMTR’s race announcement. “We wish all path races to succeed. For that race and all of Gary’s races, we wish them to achieve success,” they said. 

Whereas it stays to be seen how September 2024 will unfold, the path group seems to be overwhelmingly unified of their help of CMTR and grassroots racing occasions. “I couldn’t be extra pleased with our group proper now,” Greenwood commented on X. “We are going to combat to the tip for what we love, for what we’ve got labored so arduous for and for what we’ve got supported for therefore lengthy.”

“We’re overwhelmed by the response and the wonderful help from our group, each domestically and at giant,” Robbin’s spouse, Linda Barton-Robbins, shared with Canadian Working. “Path runners, hey? They’re one thing else. It introduced tears to our eyes so many instances yesterday. We’re simply so grateful.”

New UTMB Whistler race causes uproar in path group Source link New UTMB Whistler race causes uproar in path group

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