In what can only be called sad news for the world of ultra running. On Friday February 10th Coast Mountain Trail Running (CMTR) co-founders Gary Robbins and Geoff Langford issued a press release stating that due to some push back from groups in the community and more particularly Whistler Blackcomb resort owners, Vail Resorts who grants the permits. That they would be canceling the Whistler Alpine Meadows WAM 100 miler Ultra Run for 2023. And for the foreseeable future. As the press release states;
“Our time in Whistler has come to an end.” And continued on…
“After six successful editions of the race, it has become crystal clear that there is simply no path forward for us to produce races of this magnitude along the alpine terrain within the confines of Whistler. We will not be pursuing any further events within the township going forward.”
The Whistler Alpine Meadows WAM 100 Canceled for 2023 and Beyond
I know a lot of races have never heard of the WAM 100, which is a shame. Touring the remote and technical trails above Whistler British Columbia, the race has grown in popularity amongst those looking for a true challenge. With over 9,050 m / 29,700 ft of gain and no pacers allowed. The WAM 100 has become iconic for its toughness and beauty. And was one of only two Hardrock 100 Qualifiers in Canada.
And while I have never run this race, it was on my bucket list and one I featured in an article a few years ago about the toughest races you have never heard of. My plan was to head take it on next year, but sadly that won’t be the case now.
Spokesman Dane Gergovich. For Vail Resorts said; “Following the 2022 event, we identified a number of safety issues that were compounded by the lack of a medical plan that would adequately meet the needs of a race of this size and scope,”
In response WAM asked for the permits to be issued for 2023 while they enacted a new safety plan that would better meet the requests of the resort. But the resort was not willing to work with the race directors. And we are left with what we have here now, the loss of a truly great race.
Beyond the miles on the trail. The Whistler Alpine Meadows WAM is going to be missed by the local businesses. With the race bringing in an estimated $1.5 million to the Whistler economy alone. And $1.9 Million total to the Canadian economy.
This isn’t the first and likely won’t be the last race to fall victim to bureaucracy in the mountains. As more and more ranges are swallowed up by larger corporations it will become harder and harder for race directors to gain access to some of these incredible locations. And it’s a shame. Those stereotypical 80’s movies with the ski bum instructors vs the corporate fat cats taking over the mountain weren’t just comedies. It’s what happened and is happening. Race directors face a never ending battle against a lack of resources and funding against a giant like Vail Resorts. And they know this.
I’m sad to see this one go. It was a bucket list race and I had it penciled in for 2024. I wish nothing but the best of luck to the race’s founders, Coast Mountain Trail Running (CMTR), and look forward to seeing what they come up with next. I’ll be getting ready!