Runners Worry Prize Purses Could Spoil Trail Running’s Integrity

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Highlights from the March 2013 Trail Runner Blog Symposium


The March 2013 Trail Runner Blog Symposium topic of discussion was: Is the introduction of bigger prize purses at trail races a positive or negative thing overall?

Discussion was fiery on both sides, with excellent food for thought offered by all. Our Editor’s Choice, “Cotton, Move Over—Money is the Fabric of Our Lives,” by Trey Bailey at Uphill Running, breaks down the difference between running on trails and racing on trails. Here are some other highlights from the dialogue stirred up in the blogosphere.

Stay tuned to the March 28 Inside Dirt for next month’s Symposium topic.



Far from detracting from the sport, the influx of money allows those elites to make a living doing what they love to do.
Shameless Runner: Jamie Falk

**Editor’s Choice**
Racing isn’t for the soul-searcher. Trail races satisfy the need for trail runners to test their ego. Bigger prize purses in trail racing will bring better competition, race support, and will hopefully bring shorter races some deserved cash-flow.
—Uphill Running: Trey Bailey

I find [reading about elite runners] inspirational, and as I continue to build my endurance and flexibility, inspiration is sometimes… necessary.
—Camp Fancy Free: Kali Kirkendell

I honestly don’t see our sport getting out of control with more prize money if anything it will make it more exciting from spectators and race director’s perspective at the same to giving back to the athletes that consistently push themselves to unbelievable heights.
—Cruising the Mountains: Brandon Williams



To dangle big cash incentives as a carrot at the end of the tree branch takes something away from the purity of the sport, the reasons a lot of us got into trail running.
—Running the Passage: Sarah Young-Macdonald

By having huge prize purses we might override that spirit of freedom, the camaraderie, that is so wonderful in the trail running community
—Runner Chick

While big corporations getting involved in our sport is awesome for gear – shoes – nutrition – and progress in general, It can start to change the culture of the sport we love.
—TrailsRoc: Eric Eagan



I really do want the top trail and ultra runners to be recognized … and compensated appropriately for the hours of hard work they put in training.  But I don’t want them to become rich, famous a-holes.
—A Little Runny: Tim Mathis

While races such as the Chuckanut 50K and Speedgoat 50K have done an excellent job of using monetary prizes to bring top competition their way, not a few of the best showdowns in recent years have been at Western States, where no prize money is on offer.
—UltraPedestrian Ras

I hope that if trail running prize purses do become larger, that the sponsors, race directors, and trail running community all make a concerted effort to keep the sport pure.
—In the Moment Running: Michael Shilling

While bigger prize money may attract the attitudes I was trying to get away from I just need to be the better person and remember why I’m running … to see these amazing new places, to test my own limits, to push myself.
—CO-Running: Siobhan Pritchard

Locally, the good ol’ deserted trail has been taken over by hordes of flashy looking, fast moving two-legged mountain goats. It’s getting crowded on the singletrack.
—Stéphane Rodriguez

Amateur athletes who are accustomed to winning these races can be discouraged, since you cannot compete against professional athletes.
—Manuel Lago

Want to Know What It Takes to Finish at Western States? Just Ask Hellah Sidibe.

Find out what happened when this six-year run streaker and HOKA Global Athlete Ambassador took on an iconic ultramarathon in California's Sierra Nevada