The Ultra Trail Whistler by UTMB is set to grace the picturesque landscapes of Whistler, British Columbia, on September 28-29, 2024. On the surface, this event promises an exciting opportunity for trail runners to experience the natural beauty of the Sea-to-Sky corridor, all while celebrating the culture of the indigenous Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation. However, there’s more to this story than meets the eye. A closer look at the backstory reveals a web of questionable tactics that led to the arrival of this new race, with a chilling effect on the local trail racing community.
- Gary Robbins expresses frustration with the UTMB – Ironman announcement for a race in Whistler and their false claims of collaboration.
- Vail Resorts gave away Gary Robbins’ historical race weekend to another organization without notice, leading to challenges and obstacles.
- Despite successful races in 2022, Vail Resorts began ghosting Gary Robbins’ team, pushing them out through a convoluted event approval process.
- The events manager at Vail Resorts was fired, raising hopes for a potential return of Gary Robbins’ races in Whistler.
- Gary Robbins was caught off guard by the UTMB – Ironman announcement, which was kept under wraps, indicating a lack of consultation or notification.
- Gary Robbins previously considered selling their races to IM-UTMB but had non-negotiables in mind, and discussions with the group stalled.
- Coast Mountain Trail Running plans to launch a BC race in competition with the UTMB event in September 2024.
- An economic impact study revealed the significant financial contributions of Gary Robbins’ races to British Columbia and Whistler.
- Gary Robbins expresses gratitude for the community’s support and highlights that the UTMB’s new structure goes against the ethos of the sport.
- You can read Gary’s blog post about the situation here.
- And you can read the post I did about the news of the cancelation of WAM earlier this year here.
Questionable Tactics In Whistler Uncovered
The introduction of the Ultra Trail Whistler by UTMB seemed like a promising development for the trail running world. With picturesque landscapes and the promise of showcasing the indigenous cultures of the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation, it appeared to be a harmonious endeavor. However, after receiving a few emails and comments, a deeper dive into the situation reveals a stark contrast.
In a blog post shared by Gary Robbins, owner of the Whistler Alpine Meadows (WAM) race series, offers a candid and critical perspective. The UTMB-Ironman organization’s tactics in securing the Whistler race are questionable. It appears that they failed to consult or notify key stakeholders, including the existing trail race organizers. In fact, the UTMB-Ironman’s actions seemed to have occurred without the knowledge of Vail Resorts and Whistler Blackcomb, the entities responsible for managing the Whistler region. This lack of transparency raises significant concerns about the organization’s intentions and integrity.
Furthermore, Gary Robbins provides insight into the challenges he faced in the past when dealing with Vail Resorts, the former partner of the WAM races. The disputes surrounding race weekend scheduling, false claims about medical plans, and ongoing obstacles created an atmosphere of frustration and uncertainty.
Perhaps most strikingly, Gary Robbins reveals that he was approached by UTMB-Ironman to discuss the acquisition of his Squamish50 races. Although he initially declined their offer, he highlights concerns about the intentions and values of the organization. The lack of clarity about non-negotiable aspects and their decision to “pause” discussions created unease about the potential consequences of partnering with UTMB-Ironman.
1. Lack of Transparency:
A blog post authored by race director Gary Robbins, the owner of a renowned trail the Whistler Alpine Meadows 100 (WAM) in the area that was pushed out, unveils a shocking lack of transparency in UTMB – Ironman’s approach to establishing their event. Robbins claims he had no prior knowledge of the UTMB Whistler endeavor until the night before it was launched. This lack of communication raises concerns about their true intentions and commitment to collaboration.
2. A Troubled History:
The controversy extends beyond UTMB – Ironman’s recent arrival. In the past, Vail Resorts and Whistler Blackcomb (WB) had given away the WAM100’s race weekends to other organizations, undermining local trail races’ historical significance. These actions indicate a pattern of disregard for established events, making it difficult to trust their intentions.
3. Opaque Decision-Making:
Robbins recounts his experiences with Vail Resorts, the parent company of Whistler Blackcomb, who seemingly ghosted his race, offered vague explanations, and introduced new hurdles for event approval. And then after receiving notice that the resort would be eagerly open to the event returning in 2024, left the race director on the hook before partnering with UTMB – Ironman. These actions raise concerns about a lack of fair play and their willingness to work with the existing trail racing community.
4. The Unveiling of UTMB – Ironman’s True Colors:
What adds an extra layer of complexity to this story is UTMB – Ironman’s attempt to acquire Robbins’ Squamish50 races. Although no deal was struck, the attempt raises questions about their motivations and priorities in the trail racing world. As they quickly moved in to take the place of WAM, who just prior was told by the Vail Resorts and Whistler Blackcomb (WB) that they wanted the race to return for 2024. Only to go with UTMB – Ironman’s event without any notice.
5. Economic Impact:
The economic impact of local trail races is significant, as seen through an economic impact study commissioned by Robbins’ race. However, Vail Resorts seemed indifferent to this data, suggesting a disregard for the economic contributions of these events to the Whistler community.
Closing Summary and Opinion:
The arrival of the Ultra Trail Whistler by UTMB has brought to light a troubling narrative of questionable tactics and a lack of transparency in the trail racing world. It casts a shadow over the intentions of UTMB – Ironman, Vail Resorts, and Whistler Blackcomb, raising questions about their commitment to the local trail racing community. It’s disheartening to witness a historic race being pushed out while a new event is introduced with little consultation or regard for existing stakeholders.
FAQs About the Situation
What is the Ultra Trail Whistler by UTMB?
It’s a new trail running event set to debut in Whistler, British Columbia, in 2024, offering various race distances and promising stunning natural beauty in the Sea-to-Sky corridor.
What are the questionable tactics surrounding its arrival?
UTMB – Ironman’s lack of transparency, a history of giving away race weekends, and a lack of communication with existing trail races have raised concerns about their intentions.
How have Vail Resorts and Whistler Blackcomb been involved?
They have been accused of undermining existing races by giving away race weekends, introducing obstacles for event approval, and failing to recognize the economic contributions of local trail races.
What does the attempt to acquire Squamish50 races reveal?
UTMB – Ironman’s attempt to acquire local races suggests they may prioritize their interests over the values and community support programs of existing events.
What is the impact of this controversy on the trail racing community?
The controversy has left a shadow over the trail racing community, with many questioning the fairness and transparency of UTMB – Ironman’s actions, and an upcoming race is being planned in direct competition with the UTMB event in 2024.