UTMB Group statement following productive exchanges with Kilian Jornet, Zach Miller, and PTRA
The management of UTMB Group, represented by Catherine and Michel Poletti, Co-Founders, Frédéric Lénart, CEO, and Marie Sammons, Elites and Teams Manager, met Kilian Jornet, Zach Miller, and representatives of the Pro Trail Running Association (PTRA) executive office on the 23 January 2024 via videoconference.
Initiated by UTMB Group, this exchange followed the publication on social networks on the 9 January 2024 of the private email sent by Zach Miller and Kilian Jornet to a small group of elite athletes.
As an introduction, Zach Miller and Kilian Jornet expressed, in their name as well as in the name of certain elite athletes, their concerns and questions regarding the direction taken by UTMB Group over the last two years through the development of the UTMB World Series, which was launched in 2022.
Zach Miller and Kilian Jornet also clarified:
- The private email revealed by the press was not intended to be malicious towards the UTMB, but was intended to open dialogue with professional athletes on the subject of the development of sport, while respecting all of those involved;
- This email was not intended to be revealed publicly, through social networks;
- They had not called for a boycott of the UTMB, as was wrongly interpreted by some media;
- They strongly believe that UTMB had contributed greatly to the development and media profile of the discipline and its athletes over the past 20 years.
The PTRA would like to clarify that, contrary to what appeared in the press, it was in no way involved in the initiative of Kilian Jornet and Zach Miller.
UTMB Group, through its representatives, was able to provide Zach Miller and Kilian Jornet with more precise and factual explanations on certain subjects.
The development of the UTMB World Series
The UTMB World Series has grown considerably over the last two years, going from around 20 races in 2022 to 37 races at the end of 2023. We are now in a much more stable growth period in 2024, with 41 races confirmed. This means the Series can offer a broader range of events close to the main running communities in the world.
The UTMB representatives understand that this very rapid development could have created misunderstandings and even concerns among certain audiences or territories. Specific examples were mentioned, and UTMB Group representatives were able to explain the circumstances in which these events were incorporated into, or removed from, the UTMB World Series.
In addition, the model of organization and promotion of UTMB World Series events was clarified: certain events are managed directly by UTMB Group, others by The IRONMAN Group, and a number are operated within the framework of a license. Whatever the model, all events are managed and promoted by teams located in the event territory, who are in permanent contact with the local community in order to listen, understand, interact on a daily basis and respond as best as possible to requests and specificities related to local issues.
The sporting rules of the UTMB World Series
UTMB Group representatives also listened to Zach Miller and Kilian Jornet on their questions regarding sporting rules. The athletes expressed that some of these rules were not yet clear enough for some elite runners and that this deserved further explanation.
UTMB Group reminded those on the call that they had entered into conversation with the PTRA in March 2023 in order to discuss and amend the sporting rules of the circuit. This included the qualification rules for the UTMB World Series Finals, as well as rules related to inclusiveness, including the pregnancy policy, which has been modified and was received extremely positively.
Exchange with communities
Zach and Kilian expressed their concern that exchanges between the UTMB and the trail running community lack transparency. They would like communication to be more open and more direct with the entire community with more regular exchanges.
UTMB Group representatives took note of their observations and assured them of their desire to improve on this point.
The representatives of UTMB Group finally took the opportunity to remind those on the call that UTMB Group is a company created in Chamonix (France) in 2003 under the leadership of Catherine and Michel Poletti, and a group of friends. The company is still managed from Chamonix, at Maison UTMB, with Isabelle and David Poletti in the management teams. The IRONMAN Group took a minority stake in 2021 to contribute to the development of the UTMB World Series.
At the end of the meeting, everyone expressed the wish to continue this discussion to make it a fruitful collaboration for the benefit and development of trail running and its communities in the coming years.
For UTMB Group:
- Catherine and Michel Poletti, Co-Founders
- Frédéric Lénart, CEO
- Marie Sammons, Elites and Teams Manager