Glitzy Life Time Fitness Pockets Leadville: Paradigm Shift Underway. For better or for worse, the future has arrived. Here comes liquidity for trail race owners as they put cash in the treasure chest for the very creations they developed — and sweated over — t-shirts for volunteers who made it all work, and names like the Walmart Western States 100 coming to dominate the new landscape.
Now races will be a part of a portfolio, a property, just another business to take to a peak. Don’t believe it? In the press release, Ken Cooper, V-P of Life Time Fitness Athletic Events, said, “We are excited to add this renowned series to our growing Athletic Events portfolio. With our growing presence in Colorado and nationally, the Leadville Trail 100 Supports our commitment to provide Life Time Fitness members and sport enthusiasts with a wide range of world-class event opportunities.” Left unsaid — these events were already available to ‘members.’ Just enter, or in some cases, qualify and then enter.
The peace and quiet of a quiet trail endurance event is now going to resemble a dirtier version of the gigantic road marathons with bands, crowds, and glitz. Flashlights will no longer be necessary, as trails will be continuously lit in a metaphoric sense. Those wonderful middle-of-the-night homemade sandwiches, keeping one marching toward a goal of self-fulfillment, will be replaced by McDonalds’ “Royal with Cheese” as described in Pulp Fiction.
I’m a proponent of televised 10 km trail races and snowshoe races just like track events broadcast now. It just seems artificial to have a camera in the face of an ultra competitor, struggling to finish, only to be exposed as a finisher wannabe. Attempting an event that affects the person on a deep level with a finish often counting as better than a medal is a very personal occasion. It’s hard to want to share the glory of the woods, the peace and serenity found there, to be put in the glare of a glitzy event — particularly if the only film you’re going to have is as an example of “the agony of defeat.”
I can’t begin to tell of the number of changes I opposed initially, only to come back, and recognize them for the improvements made in that sport. Maybe this is just another case of that wrong headedness. Regardless, as the LTF press release stresses, “Several of the greatest endurance events in America are presented under the Life Time Fitness Leadville Trail 100 Race Series banner.” All I hope is, this is not another Pink Floyd “Brick in the Wall.”
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Founding Board Member Upper Midwest Trail Runners: www.uppermidwesttrailrunners.com
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