Prepare for an electrifying chapter in the realm of trail running as the World Trail Majors (WTM) makes its debut in 2024. This series, comprising a minimum of nine ultramarathons scattered across the globe, signals a nostalgic return, bringing back the essence of cherished races once part of the now-defunct Ultra-Trail World Tour.
Among the core races constituting the WTM are the Hong Kong 100k, Transgrancanaria, Mt. Fuji 100 Mile, Madeira Island Ultra-Trail, Ultra-Trail Cape Town, and the Black Canyon 100k by Aravaipa Running, all previous participants in the Ultra-Trail World Tour. These races have now come together to form the backbone of the much-anticipated WTM.
Defining the World Trail Majors
The WTM embodies an alliance of iconic races aiming to foster a positive impact on the sport by uniting runners, communities, and cultures worldwide. It distinguishes itself from other global tours by placing equal emphasis on elite athletes and all runners, preserving each race’s unique identity while encouraging collaboration. At its core lies a celebration of the vibrant trail running community, a fundamental element of the WTM’s ethos.
Jamil Coury, the visionary behind Aravaipa Running, draws parallels between this series and the World Marathon Majors, defining it as a compendium of top-tier races that resonate as a collective aspiration for enthusiasts. Fernando González, director of Arista Eventos responsible for Transgrancanaria, envisions the WTM as a lifeline for those embracing the pure and liberating essence of trail running.
Unraveling the Motivation Behind the New Series
Independence and collaboration emerge as foundational principles propelling the formation of the WTM, resonating with the authentic spirit of trail running. Post the dissolution of the Ultra-Trail World Tour, organizers longed for the camaraderie among race directors, fueling the inception of this new global series.
Coury emphasizes the absence of a global platform for independent ultras, emphasizing the desire to partake in a larger collective beyond individual events. The longing for connections across diverse events, cultures, and backgrounds motivated their involvement in shaping the WTM.
González underlines the pivotal role of alliances in fostering growth, emphasizing the significance of passion in race organizations. In the world of mountains and races, camaraderie, respect for nature, and love among runners stand as foundational philosophies, integral to the WTM’s fabric.
The Genesis of the World Trail Majors
The idea behind the WTM germinated from a collective aspiration among race directors, many of whom were part of UTWT, to create a structure centered around the sport’s best interests. Sustainability, inclusivity, and enhancing the runner experience emerged as key priorities shaping this alliance.
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Brammar and González, instrumental in the founding process, meticulously selected races showcasing the pinnacle of trail running across diverse landscapes. Collaborative engagements among races like Swiss Canyon Trail, Québec Mega Trail, and South Downs Way 100 Mile solidified their inclusion in the WTM.
Organizational Framework of the WTM
Unlike tours governed by global corporations, the WTM functions on a democratic, non-hierarchical structure where all races stand as equals. Shared resources facilitate communication, marketing, and coordination across the series.
While challenges persist in maintaining a horizontal structure, organizers affirm their commitment to humility and camaraderie, drawing from past experiences in navigating diverse interests within trail running organizations.
A Glimpse into the Competitive Arena
The competitive format of the WTM prioritizes flexibility, enabling athletes to select races without a mandatory qualifier system. The scoring system emphasizes an athlete’s two best races annually, aiming for equal scoring across events, albeit with an undecided prize purse.
González stresses the significance of offering memorable experiences, transcending monetary incentives for elite runners. While acknowledging the necessity of monetary rewards and travel assistance, the WTM aims to anchor its appeal in the sport’s authentic philosophy.
A Platform for All Participants
The WTM aims to attract both elite and grassroots trail runners by upholding authenticity, community spirit, and a genuine trail running experience. While acknowledging the significance of elite athletes, the series primarily caters to the larger community that fuels the sport’s passion year-round.
The WTM Calendar for 2024
- Jan 20 – Hong Kong 100k – Hong Kong
- Feb 10 – Black Canyon Ultras 100k – U.S.
- Feb 24 – Transgrancanaria 126k – Spain
- April 26 – Mt. Fuji 100 Mile – Japan
- April 27 – Madeira Island Ultra-Trail 115k – Portugal
- June 8 – Swiss Canyon Trail 111k – Switzerland
- June 8 – South Downs Way 100 Mile – U.K.
- July 5 – Quebec Mega Trail 100 Mile – Canada
- Nov 22 – Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100 Mile – South Africa
In summary, the 2024 World Trail Majors heralds a new era in trail running, uniting races and communities under a shared ethos, promising unforgettable experiences for enthusiasts worldwide.