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Open Letter to the Trail Running Community

To the Trail Running Community –

After spending time speaking with runners, media, race directors, and industry leaders directly to share how the launch of this event came to be, we want to also speak more broadly to the global trail running community.

We have the utmost respect for the values of the trail running community and believe that all event organizers contribute to the growth of our sport. Many of those we work with not only put on events with us, but also other events of their own, which are just as important to the overall health of the sport. This was a reason we engaged with Coast Mountain Trail Running (CMTR), among numerous other race organizers across North America and specifically in Canada, as we sought opportunities to offer high-quality racing experiences closer to home for runners who dream of getting to the UTMB World Series Finals in Chamonix.

We understand people are trying to make sense of what took place, however, the mischaracterization of our goals, methods, and importantly, our people – suggesting unethical behavior and dishonesty – has come as an unpleasant surprise to us.

We, like most in our community, learned through social and traditional media on Feb. 11, 2023 that CMTR was parting ways with Whistler. CMTR was emphatic in their social media announcement that WAM would not be returning to Whistler. We don’t know why CMTR/WAM and Whistler Blackcomb parted ways -- we were not privy to their conversations -- but to us, their statement left no doubt that they were leaving Whistler and not intending to return.

Having a local relationship from their race directing days with IRONMAN Canada in Whistler, one of our long-time staff members, contacted the Whistler Municipality (RMOW) later in February to understand whether they were still interested in hosting a trail running event despite the announcement from CMTR. Whistler said that they were. Based on their direction, we followed their new event protocol and completed an online application, just like anyone else applying for a permit. It was not until June that we had our first discussion with Whistler Blackcomb regarding the possibility of creating a new event.

The first site visit took place on August 29-31 and the event details were finalized in October before the event announcement.

In retrospect, we should have kept the lines of communication open between us and CMTR to inform them, as a courtesy, of our conversations; perhaps this would have made a difference. We will never know whether the outcome of the partnership announcement would have been different, but we could have, and should have, been better here.

We hope that in time there is a realization that our people who make up the Ultra Trail Whistler by UTMB team are passionate trail running enthusiasts who share the moral and ethical values held dear by the trail running community. We believe that all events are important for the growth of the sport and we welcome continued dialogue from race organizers and operators throughout North America in the collective desire to share the positive benefits of the sport.

Paul Huddle
Senior Director, Global Trail Running
Ultra Trail Whistler by UTMB organizing team lead

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