Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Elites at The North Face Endurance Challenge SF for 2013


Earlier this week, I started asking some local elites about the remainder of their 2013 race schedule. Seeing how Kilian has tied up the Skyrunning competitions again, UROC was quite a showdown, and the 2013/14 Montrail UltraCup is still a mystery, what's left for big races/prize purses that can attract the uber-ultra-elites into some head-to-head madness? Usually there is one big one left - The North Face Challenge - San Francisco, the grand finale of TNF's year-long global competition, which often boasts a $10k winning prize. So I asked around and guess who is coming?

[Ed. Note - TNFEC-SF is now accepting elite athlete applications - if you are interested elite, please send e-mail to endurancechallenge [at] hawkeyeww.com]

So far, I can't find anyone.

From what I can tell, the elite invites that attracted 100+ from around the globe last year is mysteriously gone. The press I contacted have no info, and I didn't get a response from the race organizers. Could it be that the TNF Series has headed the route that Competitor.com took with their Rock n' Roll series, and have ended their outreach/prizes to elites? Given all the longer distances of the race are sold out for TNFC-SF, it's not like they need it to draw attention to the race. Still, that would be a bummer. It was so great to see all the international athletes in SF last year, even when the weather forced last minute course changes.

We all know that VFC, the holding company for The North Face, makes tons more money selling jackets and backpacks to everyday folks. But I've always been impressed with their use of elite runners to promote an iconism that is inspiring, and their willingness to put some money on the table to draw the greats into competition. Let's face it, there were one of a few sponsors willing to do so, and it helped pull us into the golden age of trail running. But when the financiers at the Competitor Group did the math, they felt the price of drawing elites wasn't as good as say, another rock band on the course (I mean, why draw the line at one per mile?).

Let's hope this isn't an early signal of where the TNF brand is going.

[Note - per the sleuthing of commenters below, it appears the $30k in prize money is indeed intact, and there are some elites rumored to be coming including the defending champion, Miguel Heras.]

- SD

19 comments:

  1. There's still $30,000 in prize money per the Event Weekend page (under Overall Awards). http://www.thenorthface.com/en_US/endurance-challenge/san-francisco-championship/event-weekend/?stop_mobi=yes

    While I could be wrong, last I heard on the men's side alone, Krar, Jones, Heras, D'haene, Clayton were all planning on being there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great about the prize purse! I couldn't get that page to load and feared the worst. ;-)

      If those are coming, then perhaps I am jumping to conclusions here. I had just heard that their usual outreach to elites hadn't happened.

      Delete
    2. BTW, will you be there to cover the race?

      Delete
    3. I sent an email to a TNF rep. to see about getting into the race as an "elite" after registration had filled up - he specifically told me that they weren't accepting elite registration this year and only TNF athletes would be considered to get in without going through the regular registration process.

      Krar is a TNF athlete, but Jones, Heras, and Clayton are not. If TNF stays true to what they told me, they won't be allowed in without entering the waitlist.

      Delete
    4. I sent TNF contact form an email begging for entry...haven't heard back yet.

      Delete
  2. Bryon's correct - you have to dig, but it does specify significant prize money on the web page.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I added a note in the blog post. And sent a bug report to TNF about Firefox browser loading. ;-)

      Delete
  3. scott - what is the story about the montrail ultracup? has it been cancelled? that would be a shame

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sensationalized blogging one again, ; )

    No seriously, TNF will be loaded, and I believe Anton will be running as well.

    But more importantly Scott, why arent you signed up for Lithia Loop?

    hk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Guilty as charged, hk. There's a 90% chance when you see me write a piece like this, it can be translated to "somebody is not returning phone calls". It's all good now - sensationalism removed.

      Would love to do Lithia Loop again! Unfortunately my in-laws annual family reunion keeps coming up on the same weekend. But stars will align again soon...

      Delete
  5. Hi, since we know this is not true about the TNF Champs maybe think about taking this blog post down?

    It gives folks the wrong idea!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I crossed out all the text of the story now that we've head back.

      Are you going to be at TNFEC-SF?

      Delete
    2. Stephanie, I'll back Scott and say that he was accurate in everything up until TNF announced what they did this evening. I was an athlete who was specifically told by TNF that they weren't accepting elites just for being elite - people got this idea from TNF... and many more were told the same as me.

      Posts like Scotts and challenging inquiries from the elite athletes in this case is what makes positive change!

      Delete
    3. I did get a reply from the race organizers this evening, who confirmed (a) elite athlete applications are now being accepted, (b) there will be a separate elite wave like last year, and (c) the $30k prize pool is still on for both men and women. That means the race should be as big as ever!

      Blogs and social media sure are helpful in getting these questions out, and answers communicated. It's one thing to have me blog it, and another thing to have a bunch of elites confirm they want in, which happened within minutes. Now it's all good.

      Good luck, Michael and Stephanie, and I hope to see you both at the starting line!

      SD

      Delete
  6. I just got off the phone with the event manager for TNFEC. They are now accepting entries for elite athletes. To request a spot in the elite wave send a note tl endurancechallenge@hawkeyeww.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome! Hope you'll be back, Gary.

      Delete
  7. Awesome stuff! Now, if you could find out what the new course is for this year... 2 months left to train on it!! :)

    All Day!
    ~Ken

    ReplyDelete
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