Why is there a controversy over increasing cash prizes in trail running? It seems most runners I know that have a strong opinion on the matter feel that large purse prizes are only going to bring negative impacts on the trail running community at large. Their main concerns seem to lie with increased entrance fees, the fact that it will separate the running community into professionals and amateurs and the impact it may have on the environment we run in.
First off, I should probably come right and say it. The idea of large purse prizes at some races does not bother me one bit. Why would it? I like the idea that people who dedicate their lives to endurance and exploration, might be able to mildly support themselves by that which they love. That is something I feel strongly about for everyone, so why would it not encompass runners?
Trail running and ultra running, are two of the fastest growing competitive areas. With that in mind, I can’t help but feel like the scope of what it has been is bound to change. For the better or worse, who is to say ahead of time.The main change would most likely be that more and more races are going to continue to pop up. Those races are going to have a broad spectrum of entrance fees based on what goes into planning those races and how sought after they are. And yes, some of those fees are going to seem astronomical, but there are some races that already exist whose fees I have trouble wrapping my mind around. So I don’t. I choose to not participate. Maybe that will change next year, maybe it won’t. I don’t seem to find myself with long periods of time where I am not able to find a race, relatively close, that is the distance I am looking for and with a price tag I am comfortable with.
As a growing niche, we now find ourselves with athletes emerging that are truly able to rock the trail running community. Runners like Anton Krupicka and Killian Jornet that are reaching superstar status in the ultra-running community, and all the new ones that are going to emerge in the coming years. I love reading about their goals, their way of exploring and I enjoy what is being done with videography to capture the raw beauty that is what brings all mountain runners back time and time again. I find it inspirational, and as I continue to build my endurance and flexibility, inspiration is sometimes… necessary.
When it comes down to it, I honestly just don’t see the point of fighting it. If it is going to happen, and it most likely is, as the trend is already on the rise, then why let it upset you? How many people out there would start running just because there is a prize at the finish line? My guess is not many. Runners are a slightly different breed, a unique group if you will. We run… to run. We run to sync our bodies and breath. We run to stop the mind of cyclical thoughts. We run for the love of it. We do not run…for the love of money.