Wednesday, April 24, 2019

UTMB: Money, Money, Money

I avoid the UTMB for several reasons, notably the crowds (how can anyone really profess to enjoy the running mountain trails - and then participate in an event where you are literally fighting for space?), but I think that what tops the list is that the organization is so transparently in it for the money and not first and foremost to provide runners with an experience.

The latest change in its qualifying system is the perfect example. The post "The ever-changing feeding of the UTMB points machine" on Ultra168 explains this well with an opinion that I share 100%.

I admire anyone who takes on the nerve-wracking, time consuming, and money-draining task of putting on a race for me to enjoy, and I don't expect them to do it purely out of the goodness of their heart. Obviously race directors are entitled to make money from a race, even find ways to make a living out of organizing events. But the foundation for doing so should come from a place of love for the sport and a desire to share that indefinable experience that is ultra running - not maximizing profits.

A good example is a race director like Mark Cockbain who organizes races evidently to provide new experiences for ultra runners. Or, from what I understand, the Centurion Running events. Even the oft-maligned Marathon des Sables is born of Patrick Bauer's desire to share the incredible adventure he had in the 1980s - and his passion for the desert and sharing this experience is still palpable, regardless of the "commercial" aspect that characterizes it (and actually always has).

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Annecy Marathon - DNS

Ah, well, I've been feeling rather off about the Annecy marathon for a while. Something about driving down there on Saturday to get the race bib, then up early and drive there on Sunday morning... And while it's only 1h away, for some reason the idea of time away from the family was getting to me. I really have a hard time going away for a race - a mix of not missing a tennis game with my son or his football/soccer match, or ping-pong with my teenage daughter who is already willing to spend more time with her parents and brother than I would have expected, and the solitude of it reinforces the rather egocentric aspect of training for and competing in ultramarathons... It's like I just want to "save up" those away moments for the really big races... On top of it, I'd just been away for the weekend on a ski touring event with Cyril, and mid-June there's a trail run with Cyril, another mid-August with Anthony and possibly again end September with Cyril (even though all of these are more like "boys weekend away" so that's fun) - not to mention the big race of the year at Swiss Peaks.

So, when I got hit by the flu last Friday, which knocked me out till yesterday Tuesday, and was offered a waiver for the registration fee at the local tennis club if I signed up for a club doubles tournament this Saturday (Geez, I just realized how "middle-aged" that sounds even though I haven't actually been a member of a tennis club or competed in a tournament since 1996! - but I'm 48 in August so what the hell, I am middle age!), I decided I'd bag the Annecy marathon coming up in a few days - and focus on the Geneva marathon for a PB instead, especially since Cyril won't be running it so I'll be on my own anyway... A few more weeks of training and trying to lose a few pounds are certainly welcome too!

While it may look like I'm over-thinking this, it's actually been a rather "follow the emotions" process. I sensed that I was trying too hard to get motivated to run a "fast" (all things relative) marathon in Annecy, while the prospect of doing so in Geneva seems easier to contemplate.

So in the middle of a very pleasant "taper" (I do not get taper tantrums for sure), it's now back to the grind!