In the wake of the Ultra-Trail World Tour’s (UTWT) dissolution, a vision began to take shape that transcended borders and celebrated the essence of trail running.
Frustrations began growing among independent race organizers and ultra runners themselves, as the spirit of the sport was being lost to commodification by Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) and Ironman.
Leaders such as Steve Brammar and Fernando González, having been part of the UTWT, saw an opportunity to create an alliance of races that focused on the best interests of the sport.
“It was easy to unite with former members of previous tours who decided to leave that ship and shared the same life philosophy,” González said to I RUN FAR, “The journey has only just begun, and many race organizers who believe in this free and genuine philosophy of race organization are already knocking on our doors.”
There was a desire to regain the philosophy of freedom, the pure spirit that ultra-running entails.
This vision laid the groundwork for the birth of the World Trail Majors (WTM).
Lineup of Nine Unique Races
From the urban trails of Hong Kong to the challenging terrains of South Africa, the races, including the iconic Hong Kong 100k and the Quebec Mega Trail 100 Mile, promise not only a physical challenge but a cultural and authentic trail running experience.
The nine races of the 2024 World Trail Majors (WTM) include:
- Hong Kong 100k (January 18-21, Hong Kong, China)
- Black Canyon Ultras 100K (February 10-11, Phoenix, Arizona)
- Transgrancanaria 126k (February 21-25, Canary Islands, Spain)
- Mount Fuji 100k (April 26-27, Fujiyoshida, Japan)
- Madeira Island Ultra Trail 115K (April 27-28, Portugal)
- Swiss Canyon Trail 111K (June 7-9, Val de Travers, Switzerland)
- Quebec Mega Trail 160K (June 5-6, Near Quebec City, Canada)
- South Downs Way 160K (June 8, Winchester, England)
- Ultra-Trail Cape Town 166K (November 25-26, Cape Town, South Africa).
On A Mission To Preserve The Spirit Of Ultra Running
The mission of WTM is deeply rooted in preserving the sport’s core values.
Jamil Coury, founder of Aravaipa Running and owner of Black Canyon Ultras 100K, emphasizes that WTM is an association of emblematic races aimed at being a positive force for the entire trail running community.
The focus on diversity, respect for the environment, and creating unique experiences for participants underscores WTM’s commitment to trail running’s soul.
While not a direct reaction to recent controversies, WTM addresses concerns about the direction of trail running.
The founders express a desire to prevent trail running from becoming merely another commoditized activity.
Steve Brammar asserts that WTM is a proactive step to ensure the sport remains community-based, avoiding the pitfalls of commercialization that some fear may dilute its original spirit.
Emphasis On Flexibility and Inclusivity
The World Trail Majors will run as a global championship-style series where each race will be weighted equally, rather than competing at an end-of-series championship.
WTM introduces a flexible points system, allowing runners to choose their two best races, eliminating the need for a qualifier race system.
This deliberate choice aims to alleviate the pressure on athletes, encouraging a more sustainable and inclusive approach to competitive trail running.
The focus is not solely on elite athletes but on every runner contributing to the vibrant trail running tapestry.
Eliminating A Hierarchical Structure
One of the defining features of WTM is its commitment to fostering a collaborative utopia among race directors. WTM will be run by an alliance of race directors rather than an overarching corporation.
The series seeks to recreate the supportive alliance experienced in the UTWT but with a flat structure, ensuring that all races are equal.
This collaborative spirit extends beyond the competitive arena, emphasizing the importance of camaraderie, respect for nature, and a shared passion for the sport.
Navigating a New Horizon in Trail Running
As the trail-running community anticipates the inaugural WTM series in 2024, it heralds the dawn of a new era.
Beyond the physical challenges, WTM represents a collective effort to redefine the narrative of global ultrarunning.
It is a testament to the founders’ commitment to trail running’s true essence—an inclusive, diverse, and passionate community united by the love of the trail.
The debut of WTM is not just a series; it’s a proclamation that the soul of trail running will continue to thrive, forging a trailblazing path for generations to come and preserving the spirit of the sport against commercialization.
WTM organizer will be hosting an information and question session via Youtube Live Chat on November 13 at 14:00 ET