ITRA Responds to U.S. Ultra-Trail Race Directors’ Open Letter About UTMB Qualifying

[Editors Note] The following press release is from the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) in response to an open letter from nine U.S. ultra-trail race directors published on ultrarunning.com and trailrunningmag.com. We are publishing ITRA’s response in the interest of promoting an open discussion about the role of organizations like ITRA in the U.S. trail running community. FULL DISCLOSURE: ATRA’s Director of Marketing Richard Bolt is a newly elected member of ITRA’s steering committee representing USA Track & Field.

ITRA Press Release begins below:

Reaction to the article published by 9 American organizers on ultrarunning.com and trailrunnermag.com

Following the article published on the 27th of June on ultrarunning.com and on the 29th of June on trailrunnermag.com, the ITRA wishes to answer.

1. It is written : “Catherine Poletti, who, along with her husband Michel, owns UTMB and ITRA”

No, Catherine and Michel Poletti don’t own ITRA nor UTMB®. The ITRA is an association and its governance is ensured by a Steering Committee and an Executive Board. Michel Poletti is the association’s current President elected. Catherine Poletti is one of the ITRA’s founder members, the latters don’t have any decision-making power inside the association.

The UTMB® is co-organised by the LLC Autour du Mont Blanc and Association les Trailers du Mont Blanc. Catherine and Michel Poletti are co-managers of the LLC Autour du Mont-Blanc and co-directors of UTMB®.

2. It is written : “UTMB and ITRA are strictly for-profit enterprises, with revenues estimated in the millions of Euros.”

The ITRA is a non-profit association coming under Swiss law. Its financial statement has been published during the General Meeting on the 11th of June 2017 and has been sent to all the attendees.

For more information on ITRA, including its finances, you can consult the presentation made during the General Meeting by clicking here.

The UTMB® organization’s budget is driven by the LLC Autour du Mont-Blanc whose annual accounts are filled with the French administration.

3. It is written : “UTMB requires ultra races to pay an annual fee to ITRA to earn qualifying “points.”” (see footnote #1)

No, the ITRA offers different services to runners and organizers, including races evaluation system. These services are offered to ITRA members up-to-date with their membership, and for non-members organizers interested in using them.

Each organization decides of the necessary qualification requirements to register to its races. Each organization can choose the races that will be qualifying for its races, whether or not they are evaluated by ITRA. The fact of being registered on the UTMB® qualifying list is free of charge.

4. It is written : “Kilian lacked the qualifying UTMB “points.”” (see footnote #2)

The UTMB® organization has ensured that Kilian Jornet had his points. Regarding the performances of the latter and knowing the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run and its limited number of finishers (between 110 and 125), the UTMB® has chosen to add retroactively the race, on an exceptional basis, to the list of races allowing runners to qualify (6 points). A choice approved by Dale Garland, the race director of Hardrock 100 Endurance Run. In fact, Kilian Jornet has his points to run the 2017 UTMB®.

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Following the debates caused by this article, the ITRA wishes to provide all the explanation regarding its organization and operation in order to respond to the several questions as accurately as possible.

The facts:

ITRA received an email on March, 19th 2017 from UTMB® indicating that Hardrock 100 Endurance Run accepted the UTMB® proposal to be a qualifying race.
At the same time, the UTMB® offered to the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run director to be contacted by the ITRA, in order to let the latter present its organization and operation. The proposal was agreed.

Three days later, the ITRA contacted the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run as asked and informed them by email about the global organization and the association’s missions. Since ITRA did not received any answer to the last email sent, they concluded that the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run was not interested by joining the structure. The discussions stopped there, not any reminding was done.

So far, the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run is not an ITRA member and has not been evaluated by ITRA.

About ITRA:

ITRA is an international non-profit association. If the association balance is positive, it is fully reinvested to finance the ITRA development and activities.

Its members are runners, organizers, and national athletics federations. Today it counts 14 founding members, 14 institutional members, 874 organizer members, and 3198 runner members from 84 different countries.

The organizers and the runners are represented by 86 national representatives elected for 2 years by the runner and organizer members of each country.

ITRA is directed by a Steering Committee elected democratically composed by 2 founding members, 8 institutional members, 8 organizer members and 4 runner members.

The day-to-day work is under the Executive Committee, composed by the president, the 4 vice-presidents, the secretary-general and the treasurer. The Executive Committee is elected by the Steering Committee. Michel Poletti is the current elected president.

All the ITRA elected members are volunteers: they do not receive any salary for their functions inside ITRA. The ITRA counts 4 employees in full-time or part-time.

The ITRA statutes are available here.

How ITRA is running on ?

ITRA brings some services to its members, but also offers some free services to all organizers or runners. Nowadays, we count 918 organizer accounts and 29,474 free runner accounts.

ITRA sets up many commissions to work on the different topics related with our sport:

The health commission
It gathers medicines and researchers in order to understand the trail-running effects on the health and to develop a health program for runners.

The security & safety commission
It offers solutions to help the organizers by improving the safety measures set up on their races (the security guidelines can be downloaded for free in 6 languages on the ITRA website).

The quality commission
It will soon offer to organizers a method to evaluate the global quality of their races.

The ranking and evaluation commission
It brings the ITRA Performance Index and the ITRA points’ calculation.
– Many works are carried out to improve the calculation of the quotation and the Performance Index, other factor could enter in the calculation soon.
– The race evaluations are requested from the organization account on ITRA website. The account creation is free, the organization can decide to be a member or not. In the case of membership, the annual fees cover the evaluation requests for all the year, otherwise the price for an evaluation is 100€. Only quantifiable factors are used to evaluate races, namely: the distance and the elevation gain.

The World Championships commission
It develops the technical and communication specifications and share it with the IAU and the local organizer. It works jointly with IAU and the local organizer for the World Championships’ organization.

The elite athletes commission
When the Steering Committee must take a strategic decision for the association, they asked to this commission their point of view.

For more information about ITRA, including its finances, you can consult the presentation made at the last General Assembly of ITRA, June 11, 2017 in Badia Prataglia, Italy, by clicking here.

Key information to remember

The ITRA evaluates GPS tracks of the organizers who request it.
Points awarded by the ITRA to races allow runners to register on some races that require, in their race regulation, a minimum of points (UTMF, Lavaredo Ultra-Trail, Madeira Island Ultra-Trail, UTMB, Trail Verbier Saint Bernard, Mauna to Mauna Ultra,…).

The ITRA doesn’t intervene in the organizers’ choices regarding their qualifying races. This is not ITRA’s job, it is the role of the organizers only.

(Footnote #1) “UTMB requires ultra races to pay an annual fee to ITRA to earn qualifying “points.” […]. Many other races, including Run Rabbit Run, Bighorn and Wasatch, have also been approached by UTMB/ITRA and asked to pay to qualify for UTMB “points.””

(Footnote #2) “It stated, in essence, that Kilian Jornet (defending Hardrock champion) wished to run UTMB, but since Hardrock had not paid to join ITRA, Kilian lacked the qualifying UTMB “points.””

ITRA CONTACT INFORMATION:
Tel: +41 (0) 2 15 19 02 08 – Email: contact@itra.run

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