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Kilian Jornet And Zach Miller Call On World’s Top Trail Runners To Boycott UTMB In Leaked Email

Jornet and Miller are hoping the top athletes can go head to head at an alternative event

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In a leaked email shared on Instagram by British coach Martin Cox, elite ultra athletes Kilian Jornet and Zach Miller have called on the world’s top trail and ultra runners to boycott one of the biggest events of the year, UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc), in 2024. 

Jornet and Miller express concerns over UTMB’s management practices, prompting them to explore alternative races. The move has sparked discussions within the ultra-running community and raises questions about the impact on UTMB’s future.

Kilian Jornet And Zach Miller Call On World's Top Trail Runners To Boycott UTMB In Leaked Email 1
Photo Credit: Christian David

The leaked email, co-signed by Jornet and Miller, outlines their concerns about UTMB’s recent direction, particularly with the partnership of UTMB Group and Ironman

The athletes acknowledge UTMB’s contributions to the sport but argue that recent developments have raised significant concerns about the event’s impact on the well-being of athletes and the sport as a whole.

Jornet and Miller emphasize the importance of responsible business practices in the racing space and express their desire for UTMB to consider not only their own interests but also the betterment of the sport of ultra and trail running

They highlight the need for positive, healthy growth in the sport and criticize what they perceive as poor management decisions by UTMB, UTMB Group, and Ironman.

Kilian Jornet And Zach Miller Call On World's Top Trail Runners To Boycott UTMB In Leaked Email 2
Photo Credit: Maeve Alvaro Bello

The athletes propose a collective boycott of UTMB by the top fifteen ranked male and female runners, aiming to send a strong message to the organizers about the need for positive changes. 

They suggest attending an alternative race as a means of applying pressure on UTMB to address the concerns raised.

The leaked email has sparked reactions within the ultra-running community, with some expressing support for Jornet and Miller’s stance while others question the appropriateness of publicly boycotting UTMB. 

The discussion extends to the potential impact on other athletes’ personal and professional choices, including sponsorships and brand affiliations.

Kilian Jornet And Zach Miller Call On World's Top Trail Runners To Boycott UTMB In Leaked Email 3

The controversy surrounding UTMB is not isolated, as the event recently confirmed its first Canadian edition, Ultra Trail Whistler by UTMB, scheduled for September 28-29, 2024. 

This announcement has faced criticism from the ultra-running community, particularly due to the cancellation of the Whistler Alpine Meadows ultra marathon (WAM), an independently run event that had been hosted at the same location.

The cancellation of WAM is reportedly attributed to safety concerns and issues with Whistler Blackcomb, the ski resort where both events are held. The move by UTMB to host a World Series event at the same location has intensified accusations of over-commercialization within the sport.

Kilian Jornet And Zach Miller Call On World's Top Trail Runners To Boycott UTMB In Leaked Email 4

The call for a boycott by Kilian Jornet and Zach Miller sheds light on broader concerns within the ultra-running community regarding the commercialization and management practices of major events like UTMB. 

As discussions continue within the community, the impact of such actions on the future of UTMB and other major races remains to be seen. The controversy highlights the delicate balance between the growth of the sport and the preservation of its core values.

You can find the full leaked email from Jornet and Miller below:

Hey,

Kilian Jornet and Zach Miller here. If you are receiving this it is because you are one of the top athletes in our sport. We wanted to start with this select few so that our efforts can be a bit more focused and not so overwhelming. Having said that, what is this all about?

Well, we are writing to you to see if you might be interested in committing to racing each other at a race other than UTMB this year (2024). While we realize that many of you may have strong ties to UTMB (personal goals, incentives from sponsors, career goals, etc.) we ask that you hear us out on what we have to say here. First off, we want to acknowledge that UTMB is a great race, even though there has been a lot of drama recently, we still feel that the race and the organization have done a lot of good for the sport of ultra running.

Thanks to UTMB, we now have a world championship-esque event that draws many of the best runners in the sport as well as sponsors, media, and fans from all over the world. It has truly become the big event of the year and has really helped to put our sport on the map. Having an event like this has created a lot of opportunity for people like ourselves, as it drives a lot of money and attention to the sport. This, we feel, is a good thing.

However, while it may be good for the sport to grow and develop in these ways, it is also important that the growth occurs in a positive, healthy manner. Unfortunately, the current direction that UTMB, UTMB Group, and Ironman have taken has given us cause for concern. There are a multitude of things that we could point to that are concerning to us, but the gist of it is that we feel that they are not managing themselves and their event(s) in a way that has the best interest of the sport and its people in mind.

We understand that the racing space is a business and we are alright with the organization making money. However, we feel that there is a way to do this without treating people poorly and running over everyone who gets in your way. To put it simply, we want them to run their business well. We want them to be considerate. We want them to not only ask “what can we do to benefit ourselves?”, but also “what can we do to improve the sport of trail running as a whole?.

Unfortunately, we feel that they have not been doing a very good job with this. And while it would be nice to be able to sit down and chat with them so that we can course correct and get things back on track, we fear that they won’t really make any changes unless they feel pressured to do so. Fortunately, as elite athletes we have a voice.

Perhaps the best way to communicate our discontent and apply some pressure is to band together and all go to a different race. An absence of the top fifteen ranked male and female runners from the UTMB start line would speak volumes. It would communicate to them that we are not happy and pressure them to make some changes.

So, we would like to hear your thoughts. We have already pin-pointed a potential race that we could attend instead of UTMB, but before we get into all that, please let us know what you think. Do you have the same or similar concerns? Are you interested in competing in an alternative race? Please let us know so that we can continue the dialogue and discuss what the next steps might be. And please realize, this is not meant to be a malicious, hateful thing towards UTMB. The idea here is to find a way to apply some pressure to the UTMB/Ironman organization so that we can effect positive change. It would be great if one day we could go to UTMB and feel good about it, knowing that what they are doing is making the sport better, not worse.

Anyhow, please let us know your thoughts. You can answer at

another.way.to.run@gmail.comPerhaps we can also organize a zoom call so that anyone who is interested can discuss these things verbally.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read!

Many thanks,

Kilian Jornet and Zach Miller.

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

2 thoughts on “Kilian Jornet And Zach Miller Call On World’s Top Trail Runners To Boycott UTMB In Leaked Email”

  1. I love running and reading about it in all its forms, short track and road races, relays, triathlons and ultras. I’ve done many marathons and only one ultra.
    This email from Jornet and Miller seems rather vague about the problems with the UTMB.
    “There are a multitude of things that we could point to that are concerning to us.” Well, let me hear some of them; need some details.
    It’s hard to make a decision for or against a boycott without some substantial information. Runners who have done this race probably know about any problems, but us interested readers don’t. Looking forward to reading more on this subject.

    Reply
  2. Yeah, I agree Gary. I’ve completed a couple ultramarathons, one was UTMB organized, the other was not. Honestly, I did not see a huge difference between the two. One had a bunch of North Face logos all over the place, the other had a bunch of UTMB logos all over the place. That was the biggest difference. This email seems very vague. What exactly are the issues/demands they have? I am running at UTMB in Chamonix this year and looking forward to it, despite this email. All respect to Zach and Kilian and I imagine they didn’t want this email to leak, but they need to express themselves more articulately if they want to be taken seriously.

    Reply

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