Friday, February 25, 2011

New 100k "Ultra Race of Champions" Announced - Can $10k Settle It Once and For All?

When the super-elite ultrarunners blog, there are three topics that seem to always come up:
  • Why isn't there a race that can truly decide who is the best ultrarunner? (Western States doesn't allow everyone, North Face races have cash but don't seem to count towards Ultrarunner of the Year, etc, etc.)
  • Why isn't there more money in this sport so I can get P-A-I-D?
  • I win, but Dean Karnazes gets all the press. When will the world focus on the real champions? (Dean is on Regis and Kathy all month - jealous?)
Well, the folks at Trail Runner Magazine and Bad to the Bone Sports have thrown down the gauntlet and created the Ultra Race of Champions, a new 100k race in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with a $10k prize purse (see press release below). Geoff Roes has already signed on as the UROC Elite Athlete Liason, so you know he's in.

Looks like this race could address all of the above issues. It's in September (enough time away from Western States in June, TNF 50 in December, and other big races), Trail Runner Mag will certainly push the press and the UROC title, there's some decent dough-re-me, Roes can help attract a thick roster of top male and female runners, the 100k distance allows both 50-milers and 100-milers to give it a go, and Gill and Francesca at Bad to the Bone Sports certainly knows how to put on a good race.

Let the games begin!!! Can't wait to see who will be toeing the line.


[press release]

Trail Runner Magazine and Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports Announce
First Annual Trail Runner Ultra Race of Champions

February 25, 2011, Carbondale, CO, and Charlottesville, VA—Trail Runner magazine and Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports have joined forces for the first-ever ultrarunning championship race. On September 24th, 2011, the world’s best ultrarunners will race for 100 kilometers and compete for a slice of the $10,000 prize purse in the Trail Runner Ultra Race of Champions (UROC).

“Until now, there has been no definitive ultra championship race,” says current Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run record holder, Geoff Roes, also the Trail Runner UROC Elite Athlete Liaison. “Most elite runners want a race that will guarantee them a chance to run against other top runners, and those I've spoken with say they are willing to change their racing schedule for the opportunity to run the inaugural Trail Runner UROC.”

Directed by Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports, UROC is the creation of J. Russell Gill and Francesca Conte, founders of Charlottesville Running Company and Bad to the Bone. “We want this to be the event,” says Gill. “We’ve been developing the concept for several years, and are doing everything possible to bring the best of the best together for one day, while keeping Trail Runner UROC open to all runners.”

The 2011 race will take place just outside of Charlottesville, within Virginia’s scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. And while the world’s best ultrarunners will contend for a cash purse, UROC encourages runners of all abilities to come out and share the course. Trail Runner UROC strives to support the intimate “family” culture of trail and ultrarunning.

The out-and-back 100K course features 12,948 feet of elevation gain and loss, 32 miles of singletrack, 25 miles of mountain gravel roads and five miles on the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway. And for runners looking for a shorter challenge, the Great Eastern Endurance Run 50K and Half Marathon Trail Races will take place the same day and share sections of the Trail Runner UROC course.

The goal of UROC is to gather as many elite ultra runners as possible. Elite runners will be invited based on the recommendations of a Trail Runner UROC advisory panel and their performances at events such as: Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, the four Grand Slam 100-mile events (Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, Vermont 100-Mile Endurance Run, Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run and Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run) and other select ultra races around the world.

“We’re excited to partner with such experienced and respected trail runners and race directors as Gill and Francesca to promote and grow this unprecedented event,” says Michael Benge, Editor of Trail Runner magazine, the official media sponsor of UROC. “The Trail Runner UROC constitutes the first-ever formal ultrarunning championship, the veritable Superbowl of Ultrarunning.”

Registration opens March 14th, 2011, at If you are an elite runner, email J. Russell Gill at or Geoff Roes at for more information. Visit for race updates.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the Trail Runner UROC, please email J. Russell Gill at or Cynthia Bruggeman at


  1. oh snap...that race is going to sell out fast as everybody will want to rub elbows with the bigdawgs...very cool!

  2. Should be exciting. Hopefully this will pressure races like WS and Hardrock to let guys like Karl and Tony bypass the lottery politics.

  3. This is not an ultrarunning championship. You're going to need a lot more money and pub to get that done. To give just one example, Ian Sharman obliterated the field, including many of the best American ultramarathoners, at Rocky Raccoon, but was only fast enough to place 23rd at Comrades. A real ultra championship would be big enough to get the 22 who beat him to show up, too.

  4. @Kieran -- Calling it the "In A Couple of Years This Race Just May Get Enough Elite's to be Considered THE Ultrarunning Championship of the World 100k" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

    And I'd wager that none of those same 22 who beat Ian in SA would have beat him at Rocky.

    But that raises an interesting question: can there be a standard distance/surface to crown a single ultrarunning champion?

    Realistically, whatever distance or surface that is chosen to host a "championship" will no doubt favor those specialists.

    In other words, I don't think there can be such thing as a "real" ultra championship. Simply too much variety in the sport. But that doesn't make having a 100k trail championship any less exciting. :)

  5. Wheaties never took a survey before using "Breakfast of Champions"...kudos to Geoff and Bad to the Bone for shaking down sponsors to part with a big check. The more big checks that can be thrown around the more people like Ian Sharman can quit Deloitte and run 100 miles on a Tuesday. I wish this were pure and simple an attempt at creating a true championship...but its just good marketing and Geoff looking to parlay his title into well-earned coin. Same with Geoff's camps in Alaska. If this was La La Land and money was useless, he would be eating a taco running in alaska.

  6. I may be there to support it, cuz' I'm all for it, but he prize money isn't nearly big enough to attract foreigners, like Killian or Miguel. Plane fares are crazy, we still need, more money. This is a great start though, hopefully we'll get a stellar field of runners with tired legs. :-). It was a little late to announce it, but at the same time, the money isn't big enough for me to not go to France and race with the best 4 weeks earlier. In theory alot of us will be tired. Once the 10g's is available to win and 5th place makes a grand, then everyone may start showing up. The small denominations at the 3-5 place level is barely enough to even race for those places. It'll come, we just have to be patient. See you in VA, I'm there to support it.

  7. It's going to take a lot of time and more cash to get everyone to prepare solely for a race with duckets and prestige.

    The reason the other races are so coveted is because you can't get in them and they don't need any more support. But I digress.

    Roger Soler directed Sunmart for years, flying in runners, (some Comrades champions that were obliterated by US runners), hotel stays, and paying the type of prize money you speak of here. Did it attract some of the best runners, yes. All of them, no. It takes time.


  8. That race will sell out in a hurry, but I think it'll cause other issues in the long run.

  9. I am psyched about the location:)

    AJW (moving to Charlottesville in July)

  10. Scott, Will you ever do the WS again?

  11. Absolutely. If I ever get an entry, that is. :)


  12. wow! finally a carrot large enough to tempt the top runners to go into battle. It's a good start. If enough top runners do sign up every year it will grow in prestige. If you are an elite runner you can' wait until this race gets bigger, you gotta sign up to help make it bigger. It will be interesting to watch.


  13. Will be my first 100K, and to be running with the some of the best in the business, unbelievable!! Wonder what the cap will be on the 100k as far as entrants??



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