Thursday, 5 September 2013

Ultra-Trail World Tour: What would be better?

Ultra-Trail World Tour (UTWT)…boy has that got some coverage- if you’re unsure on what this is still then I advise you to read IRunFar’s post and have a good blast through the comments. It’s also worth reading the views of Ultra168 and TalkUltra.

I have made my views clear on these networks, particularly the comments feed on IRunFar so this is not a rant nor argument on what it is or isn’t.

It is very easy to be negative and offer no solution, so with that thought – I propose what I would do instead. Not that it is at all valid or will it become any sort of thing, but, you know what it’s like- you have an idea so you want to share it with the people that are involved in the same community….for me that’s the ultra running community. It’s worth noting this is looking from an elite perspective but still allowing for anybody to be involved much like UTWT.

So here it is:
Firstly a ranking system would still be in force and you would still accumulate points over a series of races (perhaps 3 max) and the scoring would be an algorithm based on 2 things:

·         1: The time you run on the course in relation to the average winning time of subsequent years. I would not include the fastest ever time nor the slowest ever winning time in order to accommodate for the ‘freak’ years.

·        2:  The position you finish within the race. Yes a lack of competition in a particular race could mean people will try to ‘cherry pick’ but you have to reward racing and not just running

The races used could be any race that is willing to provide its race result data (current and historical) and promote the competition on their web page. I would not be charging 15,000 euros for them to be part of it. Why? Because genuinely quality, historical and great races don’t have that type of budget! It also means more races can be involved and more countries and increase accessibility to all nations. I guess I would look to standardise the distance however, perhaps have two categories. Long Ultra = 100miles (+/- 5%) and Short Ultra = 50miles (+/- 5%).

Imagine the long distance one where someone in Britain can run Lakeland 100, SDW100 and West Highland Way accumulate points based on finish time and position and thenl be placed in a ranking league alongside an American who has run Leadville 100, Roccy Raccoon 100 and H.U.R.T 100 or alongside an Australian who has run GNW100, Glasshouse100 and Alpine100. How cool would that be? No additional entry fees for the race director or participants, elites don’t have to be forced into racing the few events on the calendar that effectively means the little races can’t attract any competition and we could all be involved. It would be much more inclusive for everyone including back of the packers and races of all calibre’s yet at the same time still provide a kind of 100mile world champion to satisfy that curiosity.
(On second thoughts I think 100miles is so gruelling that the 3 runs can be done in an 18month period as opposed to a 12 month. So the champion would be for the 2013/14 season and then the 2014/15 season and so on.)

So that’s my idea…does it work…must be massive potential problems with that so what are they?

Perhaps I will do a self-trial of that in Britain throughout 2014/15? If runners want to be involved they simply get a google docs file to fill out- send it to me and hey presto they are now able to get ranking points on any hundo they do thoughout the next 18 months. Or I keep it to 3 races of over 50miles in 12 months?

Ultimately Ultra Running is about community and fun- any ranking should encourage that and be easy to opt in or out of. By putting in a race series that only involves a set number of races in particular venues (the ones with a 15,000 euro budget, minimum participants of 500 or a North Face race) only encourages pure elitism and a big race divide. I’m glad there are no UK races on the UTWT list, ok they can’t afford it but quite frankly we don’t need it.
Ranking can still be fun it just doesn’t need to be corporate….it should be inspiring

One guy, humble opinion, nothing more


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