Monday, July 11, 2011

Julien Chorier Keeps The Ball Rolling

European runners are hitting the US ultrarunning scene hard nowadays. It seemed to kind of start with Kilian's strong showing at Western States last year, and since then European runners have won several of the top races in this country. If you also look at European natives living in North America you can then include folks like Ian Sharman, Nick Clark, and Ellie Greenwood in this conversation. Good thing Dave Mackey isn't Euro or it might seem like Americans never win big ultras anymore.

I for one think this is an awesome development in the sport. The European runners who I've had the pleasure to race against have all been fun, talented, and humble folks. To this point they have had more recent success in "our" races than we've had in "theirs", but I think this will only motivate and encourage runners all over the world to push even harder to compete at a top level in races throughout the world. The number of top level American runners heading over to UTMB this year is very impressive, and I would guess this number will only grow in the coming years. The success that European runners have had in our big races in the past year has been a huge part of this interest in American runners heading over to more and more of the world's big races. Who knows, maybe we'll even start to win some of the big ones across the pond, and that will make things even that much more exciting.

21 comments:

Footfeathers said...

It's not surprizing. The Euro scene is more organized, focused, and funded. It seems similar to the line of thinking back when Americans were standing around wondering why Kenyans were levels faster at marathons than Americans.

People can make fun of the tight euro-esque outfits but the folks in those outfits bring the game hard.

fabrice said...

Salomon and Buff are doing a lot of good for ultrarunning in Europe. But the main reason is European like the outdoor a lot and like sport in general. If you look at the Tour de France people would wait the all day to see the rider some even camp 3 days before in the Alpes. And when UTMB start it is on national TV and they even talk about the Us runner.

Here WS 100, Hardrock, Badwater and ESPN nothing!!!

Freebird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wes at East Coasters said...

UTMB is on TV? That's so cool...

I'm just getting back into ultras after a 10 yr break. The sport has changed a lot. I'm excited to see how things go!

Fixated on the Trail said...

Like you Geoff, I think it is great for the sport. Great for the outdoors in general. Fabrice is correct to say that in general European's are more active. Where as the average American is most happy watching a baseball, football or basketball game.

eric said...

more wine, less beer?

cycling, for example, is a endurance sport that has been absolutely dominated by europeans for it's entire history. only recently are americans starting to break into the elite ranks.

i don't find anything strange about perceived shift... i honestly think it's more a matter of MORE exposure in general rather than a european insurgency. i don't think there were as many viable ultra-marathoners at the elite level back in the earlier days; maybe a a tribute to great ambassadors of the sport like yourself geoff that more people are getting into it!!

(hopefully, not resulting in more injured runners, but that's another story)

Wyatt Hornsby said...

To me it was kind of sad that an American didn't win Western States or Hardrock. But, from what I've seen, Kilian and Julien are super guys and so we're all one, big, happy family under the ever-expanding ultrarunning tent.

Ultrarunning is never going to gain mainstream traction in the US. It's just a cultural thing. I'm actually shocked that the Tour de France gets the coverage that it does here in the US, thanks to Versus. But that's a niche market that Versus is serving, and the same would be said of ultrarunning if the big races ever got aired here. Americans want to sit in their recliner and watch big men run into each other really hard. If we're going to watch a race, it needs to be 100 meters or else we're going to lose interest.

Salomon is obviously putting a lot of money into the Kilian brand and they also have Julien in the mix. Here in the US, what is New Balance, for example, doing to really market Tony to the big audience? Really nothing that could be described as mainstream. What is North Face doing to really market its athletes? Dean Karnazes is the closest any ultrarunner has ever gotten to cross-over appeal, and we all know what that's led to....

Dave Mackey said...

In favor of individualism, the French are not always the best team players; think men's world cup soccer this past year. Regarding cycling, a team sport, Americans have been cranking in the scene for years.. think Greg Lemonds three TDF wins and of course Lance's seven consecutive wins. Funny but it has been decades (1985) since a Frenchman has won the TDF. (The sport is riddled with dopers throughout so it is difficult to factor this into the equation.)
I think it is very cool the Euros come on over and win, but Roesy stick it to 'em at UTMB!

mi55ter said...

I agree with you about the wine, eric. I'm teaching english over here in Spain and dropping by the gas station to pick up a gran reserva for a couple of euros has become a integral part of my training, lol

paul reynolds said...

Ultra running in the US is growing bigger by the day, FACT. Killian has started the European interest in the US racing scene by racing there, without a doubt. Not if, but when big prize money comes into play, how long will it take for the Africans to completely dominate the sport?

Eric B said...

I tend to look at ultra runners as I do with mountaineers. To me its the performance,effort and how that person carries themselves, not where they came from. That being said, I'll be rooting for a certain runner from Juneau next month.

Wyatt Hornsby said...

Dave: Thanks for pointing out the truth--that Americans have been on the pro cycling scene hardcore for about 25 years now. Greg LeMond didn't just "happen" out of no where. US cycling had been building up to that point and then he took it to a new level.

Paul: I do not think Africans would necessarily dominate all ultrarunning distances. Do I think they'd dominate 50K and 50-mile road? Hell yes. Would they dominate 100K road? Most likely but not necessarily. Would they dominate hardcore 100-mile mountain races like Hardrock and Wasatch? Not sure. Those races are less about speed and more about strength and experience. 100 miles has a way of equalizing things.

Japan also has some pretty darm good ultrarunners.

Here in the US, ultrarunning is totally grassroots. We have no developmental programs that I know of. That said, Dave Horton has certainly produced more than a few good ultrarunners.

eric said...

i certainly recognize the accomplishments of americans in cycling.. i have even been on the champs supporting them!! my point was related to sheer numbers of participants... that in cycling, the vast majority of riders are from europe.

i think the variety in ultra running winners comes from more and more people getting into it; which was my point.

anyway, Geoff, enjoy the crow pass run and all eyes on UTMB. you've got loads of support!!

ruggedstickman said...

Impressive runs by two men from the Mediterranean, the double trouble Brit and Levy for that matter.

However, I still think we hold a slight edge (US vs Euro). Mike Wolfe showed that he is a force to be reckoned with and gave Killian a run for his money (only 4 minutes back and put time into Killian in the last few miles)...and we still have Roes (now) and Anton (for 2012).

Love to see the sport widening internationally, but I still like the American top 3 vs any group of Euro runners.

Can't wait to UTMB...gonna be an epic showdown.

fabrice said...

So much bitterness from many!!!! It look like many of you guys are forgetting about running a bit.. I really like you Dave before but you comment about sticking what ever### hope they do not>>> at the CCC and you win.

At the end we are all a little bit to slow for the king of ultra that has been always forgotten: Yannis the god of running
http://www.yianniskouros.com/

PS: About Euro vs US a Mexican runner just got the win at Badwater :-) Ah Ah

No matter where you come from this is just about a RUN

The Woods Frog Blog said...

The competition is what you make it. The lack of officiality of this sport is what makes it beautiful and defiant in this age of teams, sides and differences. Running is universal and individual. Runners with the same sponsors run head to head against each other all the time. Home turf is one thing, but 'us' vs 'them' is another. Let's let this sport evolve globally without the ethnocentric undertones that other major sports carry with burden.

Speedgoat Karl said...

have fun at UTMB boys, not looking good right now for me....:-(

Speedgoat Karl said...

Have fun at UTMB boys, this kid is likely out....:-(

Jason Schlarb said...

The international participation, here, Europe, New Zealand, Japan, etc... that is AWESOME. This creates a new level of competition, but also, it really creates an international friendship through sport. Those friendships are priceless.

On the flip side, there is nothing wrong with wanting your country men to win and represent the US, it's competition! I'll be proud when Geoff wins UTMB and I'm bummed when when a foreigner win's our big races here.

Matt said...

Since there is more money involved in the Euro ultra scene, how long before doping and testing becomes a concern? Even though the prize money isn't there (yet), getting and keeping a generous sponsor requires delivering wins. This isn't an accusation, but one has to wonder what lengths some racers/sponsors would go to to secure the top spot on the podium.

Hone said...

Have fun this weekend. I am jealous.

Also try not to get smoked climbing up to the pass by Strabel again this year. HA!