I love what the affect (more competition) of prize money, championships, series events, or even sponsorship and team membership opportunities have on racing.
As Ultra running continues to become more competitive, the more excitement there is for fans and participants. While I believe many of the participants are affected by increasing the competitiveness of a race, it is true that only a small proportion of the participants are affected by that actual prize $$ or sponsorship potentials.
Prize $$ brings the top runners across the US and abroad, but it also has an invaluable effect on “future” or potential top Ultra runners.
Here are what I believe to be 3 things that could further “grow” Ultra running to be more competitive:
1) More events with $$, sponsorship and team opportunities
2) A SMALL (10-15%) reserve of entries for elites… just like big marathons. Just allowing winners or top ten finishers from years past stifles competition and growth.
And MOST important:
3) US championship races that are truly THE events to win in the US.
USATF Trail Ultra Championships are too diluted and numerous to foster great competition and excitement… 50K, 50M, 100K, 100M = way too many events for such a small community... and it shows!
- Drop the 50K distance, which would be considered “long trail racing” (25K and Marathon)
-Drop the 100K as it is only 12 miles different than the 50 mile
-50 Mile and 100 Mile USATF Trail Championships
These changes would further entice big name sponsors and races to compete to host the 2 Championship races.