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Kilian Jornet clarifies ‘boycott’ rumours after holding talks with UTMB Board

Tomos Land
Staff Reporter
Updated on

After rumours started to circulate about an email allegedly sent out by professional ultra runners Kilian Jornet and Zach Miller late last week, calling on their fellow professionals to ‘boycott’ UTMB in 2024, Jornet has spoken out about the controversy.

Taking to social media yesterday, Jornet has said that his intention was not to organise a boycott against the organisation, but instead to raise awareness about the key issues that athletes are concerned about.

Acknowledging his position as an influential figure in the sport, the 36-year-old said he felt it was necessary to speak out and engage with the UTMB Board in an open and meaningful manner.

“There has been an increasing concern for many”

In a balanced post explaining his thoughts, Jornet took the time to credit UTMB for the good it has done for the sport, whilst also raising his concerns with some of the organisations recent decisions.

Kilian Jornet wins UTMB 2022 copyright UTMB
Kilian Jornet wins UTMB 2022 [Photo credit: UTMB]

“From its inception, UTMB has been a trailblazing and unifying force in the trail running community. Michel, Catherine and their team actively engaged with the community, as key advocates for the sport and its values.

“However, since they launched UTMB World Series in partnership with Ironman, there has been an increasing concern from many perceiving that the sport’s essence and its community was being overlooked.

“With the aim of starting productive discussions as well as showing our discontent as athletes, we initiated discussions to realign with community expectations.”

Jornet, keen to emphasise his intentions, underlined that these discussions “involved mobilising athletes to express concerns, not to boycott but to raise awareness”, as the multiple time UTMB champion acknowledged the email that had been sent.

“Growth should be thoughtful”

Despite the growth of the sport, which UTMB has played a key role in, benefitting the professional side of ultra running and athletes such as himself, Jornet called for a more thought out approach to future major decisions.

Francoise D'Haene and Kilian Jornet after the 2017 UTMB
Francoise D’Haene and Kilian Jornet after the 2017 UTMB [Photo credit: UTMB]

“Trail running evolution, partly thanks to UTMB, has brought positives like competitive races, prize money, antidoping, media coverage and sponsorships.

“These developments are, in many ways, beneficial to the sport. Nonetheless, growth should be thoughtful. Lately, the aforementioned progress seems to have been marred by missteps.

“This has included controversial race acquisitions, neglecting or unhearing the community in what we believe are important subjects such as environmental impacts or accessibility. The UTMB board stated that some were due to misinformation and misunderstandings.”

Having recently met with the UTMB Board and discussed some of his concerns, the Catalan said that he hopes to see some positive developments moving forward.

“After a January 23 meeting with the UTMB Board, I’m hopeful for stronger, open communication between the community, including elite athletes represented by PTRA, and UTMB focusing on the sport development with its values at the center.”

The importance of speaking out

Whilst its impact may take time to come to fruition, Jornet says that his and Miller’s decision to take action and speak out felt like a necessity, as they strive to ensure the sport grows without losing touch with its values.

“As an athlete in a privileged position, staying silent would be easier, but given the community’s concerns, speaking out felt necessary.

“By mobilising elite trail runners, together with @zachmiller38, we aimed to foster collaboration between race boards and runners, finding common ground for the sport betterment.

“This isn’t about creating discord but about fostering constructive dialogue to preserve our sport’s integrity and values. By speaking up and engaging in these conversations, we strive to collaboratively grow the sport while honouring its heritage and future.”

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.

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