“We firmly believe in the value of open and constructive discussions to find solutions that benefit the entire community,” said Catherine Poletti, president of the UTMB Group, in a statement sent to AFP.
On January 9, American coach and trail runner Martin Cox posted screenshots of a long email on his Instagram account, signed by the two athletes and sent to the best runners in the community. “The current direction taken by the UTMB, the UTMB group and Ironman worries us,” write Jornet, four-time winner of the race, and Zach Miller, 2nd last year.
“There are a multitude of things that we could point to that are concerning but, above all, we have the impression that they are not managing their events in the best interest of the sport and the participants,” they said. , without explaining further.$
The two men invite the best athletes in the discipline to “take part in a different race” this year. “The absence of the first fifteen runners on the starting line would speak volumes. This would make them understand that we are not satisfied,” they said. Contacted by AFP, the Catalan runner's entourage confirmed the authenticity of the email, specifying that the star did not wish to make further comments.
On Instagram, the coach who posted the screenshots denounced the “hypocrisy” of the two runners, believing that the UTMB had allowed “Jornet and other pros” to profit for a long time from “money generated by the ultra-trail. It seems hypocritical to me to turn away from it and try to hold the race to ransom,” he added.
In recent years, criticism of the high-speed development of this race, created in 2003 and welcoming thousands of people each year, has multiplied. Athletes criticize the organizers in particular for a registration price for the main race considered too high - more than 400 euros in 2024 - as well as a desire to monopolize the market with the creation of numerous qualifying events all over the world.
In 2023, the signing of a partnership between the UTMB and the car manufacturer Dacia also gave rise to a petition signed by trail runners, including Kilian Jornet, denouncing greenwashing. Since the screenshots of the email were released, UTMB organizers have contacted Jornet and Miller “to understand their position and engage in direct dialogue,” they explained to AFP. The 21st edition of the Ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc is scheduled to begin on August 30 in Chamonix.