How the TRM Trophy Series Works
TRM has partnered with race directors in the U.S. and Canada to create a six month series of races (go here for calendar), and you can race as many as you like. The TRM Trophy Series has two classes of races again, the Marathon-and-Under (for races 26.2 miles or shorter) and the Ultra category (50k’s, 50 milers, 100 milers, and 24-hour races). Points are received in your category for each mile raced, plus a multiplier for placing well in your ten year age group (go here for official rules; they promise to update the site soon). Once the points are tallied up in Oct, age group and overall champions are crowned (and prize packages shipped, hopefully with actual trophies this year), as well as the lucky soul who ran the most races getting their trip to Italy.
But before you pick your races and start booking your hotels, I should note a few things about the TRM Trophy Series calendar.
First, just because a race is on there does not guarantee that you will get points in the Series. It is each race director’s responsibility to provide TRM with the results in a timely fashion in order for them to count, and unfortunately, sometimes they flake. If you are counting on points, I would suggest you contact the race director in advance to make sure they intend to submit them. You can also check the list of the race directors who DID manage to send their races in last year - they are certainly good bets for 2005.
Second, the schedule is open to change. TRM reserves the right to add or remove races at any time. This can be a good thing – it means if you have a race you wish to be on there, you can still ask the race director to submit it to TRM for consideration. But it can make it difficult to track what your competition is doing – last year some races were submitted for points that were never on the Web version of the calendar. [Note comment below - for 2005, TRM has said they will "lock down" the schedule on March 1st, so this point is no longer valid - SD, added 2/3]
Lastly, you most likely will not know your official standings at many points in the season. TRM does not update their site weekly, and are often at the mercy of the race directors to submit results. In 2004, there was a month or two between updates on the TRM site, and many races weren’t tallied up until the very end of the season. I only say this because if you’re thinking “I’ll do three races and see where I am”, the latter could be tough to come by.
Comparing the 2004 and 2005 TRM Series
The biggest change to the 2005 Series (aside from the big new prize) is that the number of races has been reduced from about 130 down to 80. From what I hear from race directors, they were only allowed to submit three races from any local series (such as the popular DINO, Five Peaks, and Redwood Trails series). I believe they are also trying to keep it a manageable size – 2004 produced over 20,000 racers, and that’s a lot of tallying.
Some regions are going to have an easier time to compete than others in each of the categories, but it’s a bit different for each.
Colorado has the advantage in the Marathon-and-Under category, with 11 races in Colorado, 4 in Wyoming, and another 4 in Utah for a total of 19. Colorado is also “back loaded” in the sense that most of the races are at the tail end of the season (given the aspens that time of year, it should be no surprise). The Pacific Northwest (6 in BC, 2 in WA, 2 in OR for a total of 10) and California (6 in CA, 2 in OR for a total of 8) would be next.
In the Ultra category, things change quite a bit – The Pacific Northwest and California each have a large advantage (at least 9), with another strong play in the east (2 in Virginia, 2 in West Virginia, 1 in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Vermont for 7), while the Colorado area has only 1.
And if you’re in NV, AK, or one of those other trail running hot beds that don’t have a single race, sorry pal, you got the short straw in '05. Stay tuned – maybe some will get added!
So, What Does It Take To Win?
Let me preface by saying I have no idea what it will take to win any of the categories outside of a really strong and consistent season. But I’m willing to speculate in case it helps with your planning. Also be sure to take into consideration that you’re racing for the whole season on this one – if you sign up for 15 races, you should race that first one like you have 14 more to follow. This is what made the Trophy Series so fun last year - when do you go hard, and when do you just go?
Marathon-and-Under – Last year we had some crazies like Michael Robbert who traveled to 20 races, local racers who had no idea they had won (Kimberly Eytel who did 8 races in Colorado), and age group racers winning with as little as 170 points. For the 30-39 and 40-49 age groups, my guess is you would need to target at least 6-8 races to be in the running to win your age group, and placing in your age group at races a good chunk of the time. For the rest, it looks 200 points might do it – if you win your age group in a marathon early in the season, sign up for another race or two and roll the dice! For the overall, I suspect you would need 500 points to be a contender, with the likelihood that a few racers might have very consistent seasons again and hit ~700 points.
Ultra – Some of the greatest names in ultra-running find themselves in the top ranks here regularly, so if you’re unlucky enough to be in the same age group as Eric Grossman (raced and won 8 TRM Series ultras), William Emerson (17 ultra wins in 2004 alone, a world record), or Monica Scholz (Canadian 24-hour record holder, finished third overall at the Western State 100 and the Badwater Ultra in 2004), you better bring your “A” game. But you never know. If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, a solid 4-5 race season with some age group top 3’s may well put you on the podium.
Most Races – How to get to Italy? Very hard to predict. If you want to win this one, you should be ready to travel, and I imagine having at least 15 races. Remember, Michael Robbert did 20 last year, and that was BEFORE there was a trip to Italy at stake. Also note that you don’t need to finish well in this category – you could just walk them all and get your slot. As much as I’m rooting for Michael to pull it off, I also secretly hope a recently-retired trail junkie with an RV will school us youngin’s by doing some 30 races. Wouldn’t that be a great year of retirement?!?
My strategy for 2004 is similar to 2005 - find great races in awesome new places, and go long. I try to divide my season in two halves – if the first half goes well, then I keep an aggressive schedule for the second half. If not, then I rest a bit more and feel free to select races outside of TRM Trophy Series, do a triathlon, or something new. I also have some non-TRM races already on the schedule (Boston Marathon, Tahoe 50k), and would like to try a 50-miler sometime if my body is up for it.
My wife, Christi, casts her vote by picking locations that she would like to visit (such as Deadwood, ND, and Aspen, CO), and making sure I have plenty of weekends to not race and hang out in Tahoe. Lucky for me her wildlife photography often aligns our outdoor cravings. It’s much more fun when she comes, especially if Rocky the Pug can make it too.
So that’s my strategy - post a comment if you have any questions, thoughts, hypotheses, plan of your own, etc.. If you race the TRM Trophy Series, I wish you a safe and happy season and I will see you on the trails!