As many of you will know, the Fellsman has been a qualifying race for the UTMB since 2007 and has been proud to feature amongst some of the world’s most renowned races during these 7 years. This year, the ITRA (International Trail Running Association) has taken over responsibility for the organization of races wanting to be qualifiers for the UTMB. As part of this takeover, they have altered the rules surrounding the types of event which are allowed to be qualifiers and this has had a significant impact on the Fellsman……
After many emails to the UTMB organisers, we received the following communication from them this month:
‘As you know evaluation process changed this year, we do not deal with it anymore. ITRA is now responsible of race evaluation and route certification, in order to give a more global service to runners and to organizers too. It is not our job as organizer to “judge” difficulty of other races, we did it because we had to. That’s why we follow their evaluation without questionning it.
ITRA need the GPS track in order to evaluate the difficulty of the route, and furthermore orientation races do not fit in their definition of trail-running. For these reasons, they won’t evaluate your race from now.
That’s why THE FELLSMAN won’t be in our list of qualifying races from your 2015 edition.
Best wishes for 2015 to you and the organization team!’
We have explained to them that we could supply a GPS ‘route’ to them but, due to the nature of the navigation exercise that forms a large part of the attraction of the Fellsman, it would only be one person’s route. We had hoped that this would allow us to continue to be a qualifier but, as you can see, they are no longer including ANY navigation exercises as qualifiers:
‘ITRA need the GPS track in order to evaluate the difficulty of the route, and furthermore orientation races do not fit in their definition of trail-running.’
We of course questioned the fact that navigation races don’t fit the criteria (they went on to talk about how the races had to have a certain level of toughness) stating that the Fellsman is one of the toughest ultra distance (navigation) events in the UK, which initiated the following response:
‘About navigation event not “hard enough”, it is really not the point. We know very well here how challenging is this kind of event, and we know yours as you are are part of our qualifying races since 2007.
ITRA decided not to include those races for the very simple reason that it is not possible to evaluate the difficulty with objective criterias as there is no gps track, to pre-determined route. That’s the only reason.’
So, reluctantly, we must inform all our entrants that the 2015 (and subsequent) Fellsman events will no longer be qualifiers for the 2016 (or subsequent) UTMB events. We are sorry it has taken such a long time to ascertain this information – our correspondent at the UTMB did apologise:
‘Sorry for the delay, we have been very busy because of our registration and the draw……… You are totally right, this was quite confusing even to us. This year of transition was necessary but I agree we could have been better about communication. I’m very sorry this caused you trouble, we do apologize about this.’
For those of you who completed the 2014 Fellsman, fear not – you will still be able to use the points gained on that towards the 2015 or 2016 UTMB. At least there is a little bit of a silver lining inside this cloud……!