The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run was very pleased with the initial impact and excitement created by the formation of the Ultra-Trail World Tour in August. Today’s announcement in New York City further reinforces this point. The Tour has profound potential to generate collective interest and participation in the world’s finest trail runs.
Given this important juncture in the evolution of our sport, Western States feels that the Ultra-Trail World Tour provides the best and most sustainable framework for the sport’s future. With 10 international and North American events scheduled to begin in January, the Ultra-Trail World Tour will provide runners of all abilities an exciting vehicle to experience the world’s finest trail events, and will bring widespread attention to core values that all of these races have come to represent. These core values are in direct alignment with Western States’ mission pillars of staging a quality and memorable event; cutting-edge medical research that works for the betterment of the sport; trail stewardship that ensures public access and careful tending of the precious trails of the natural world. Western States also believes that the Ultra-Trail World Tour provides our sport with the best competitive framework for the world’s finest trail events to determine men’s and women’s champions through a fair drug-free format that will test their abilities on a variety of terrain and course design. The “best practices” of race management and race technology will also be gathered through the Tour for the benefit of all runners. The breadth and excitement of our sport will be channeled to diverse audiences through the potential of strong and positive media exposure.
As the Ultra-Trail World Tour goes forward, it is important to note that Western States remains firmly committed to a field size that will not exceed our historic and federally determined number of approximately 369 starters. There will be no net loss of lottery spots due to our relationship with the Ultra-Trail World Tour, and our presenting sponsorship relationship with Montrail is illustrative of this commitment. Due to the re-structuring of the Montrail Ultra Cup’s (MUC’s) schedule for 2014, Western States will have six slots reserved for elite athletes competing in the UTWT. This is how the process will work: Western States will provide 30 spots (five races for top three men and top three women) to 2014 MUC qualifiers. In years past, Western States has provided 36 spots to MUC qualifiers. Thus, there is no net loss in lottery spots for the masses. It is important to note, too, that Western States will continue to serve its local constituency through 30 race “admin” spots that are awarded each year to volunteers at aid stations, trail crews, sweeps and other key contributors to Western States.
The Tour has a very big agenda to accomplish in the coming months, including formalizing plans for communication, marketing and promotion, awards structure and governance. These are important steps as the UTWT prepares for its debut in 2014. The UTWT’s formation represents a significant change in the history of the sport of ultramarathoning. Western States welcomes this start of a new era of growth, excitement and cooperation among the world’s finest trail races.