I restarted blogging because I benefit in so many ways when I write. So this is an exercise for me. Practice makes perfect, write?
Secondly, I like to write about MUT running and racing because I enjoy running and running specifically on the trail. So writing about this is fun. In addition, I really like sport and the heart of competition. MUT has a healthy heart, which I really like to explore, partly because. . .
Thirdly, there is a dearth of thoughtful commentary on the interwebs or anywhere for that matter. Race reports? Those can reach analysis, but it’s pretty personal. Gobs of link curation exist and your classic one-liners about whatever list or gear review or race schedule or report on the environment/culture in and around MUT are obscenely plentiful; but the efforts to read, assimilate and offer some kind of potentially thoughtful response seem pretty meek. My theory is people don’t give a crap about the sport. They do enjoy the REI-like reviews and interviews, but analysis of the sport is in a full-blown famine event. People are pretty smart usually, so I don’t think its the brain power that’s missing. It’s that MUT, as an old friend of mine and I hypothesized some time ago, is a picnic.
I can’t stand this position.
Other than irunfar, what else is there. I remember the dingle-berries of illiteracy taking jabs at my people’s analysis as some kind of effort to make MUT a mainstream sport, so the articles were too ESPN-esque. Swing and miss. Irunfar is the ESPN of MUT. The sport needs more bloggers, more people like an Ian Corliss who has that European sport-in-my-blood approach. We need more grassroots voices, more voices period that are interested in the elite racing, in the direction of the competition, in the winning and losing.
An old site of mine used to cover these concerns of sport. There was the discussion of teams in MUT, how Salomon had literally taken over much of the bigger competitions with a spirit that few non-Salomon athletes could match. The white train at the front of the race grew strong and continues to dominate to the day. We see The North Face has managed to assemble a team and Pearl Izumi, over the last few years, seems to be representing fairly well on the “pro” circuit. Throw-in some New Balance athletes and Asics, Inov-8 and Brooks folk and, voila, there appears to be some monied interest to account for that is, undoubtedly, CRITICAL for the sake of elite competition. That’s just a fact.
Scott Sports looked like a burgeoning player in the team competitions with some serious European representation, such as the great Marco De Gasperi, along with some other players like Ian Sharman and Sage Canaday. I have yet to try the Scott shoes, but certainly this roster sample says something about the quality of the product and the commitment to the race.
However, Scott seems to have lost Sage. And (opinion alert) Sage seems to have lost his mind! (He can probably better afford to lose his mind ;)
As many of you have probably heard, Sage has joined Hoka One One. This comes with the news that Julien Chorier (who will captain the European contingent), Michael Wardian and off-road great Conrad Stoltz have also joined Deckers Outdoor Corporation, the parent company to brands like Hoka, Anhu, Ugg Australia, Teva and Sanuk. Wow.
I just said the corporate investment is CRITICAL to elite competition, or at least the quality of said competition. This is pretty big news if you ask me. Meltzer, Mackey, Canaday, Chorier, Wardian, Stoltz. Boom. This is an all-star team representing a company that seems to be going all in. This is a mission statement.
I have run in Hokas. I can see the use of such a shoe for certain kinds of runners and races and training schedules. But I’m missing the high-end racing element of Hokas. I say this with Meltzer and Mackey already shoving evidence abundance in my face. These are exceptional trail dudes who mix it up with the top of the sport with resounding success. Moreover, I like the rise of Hoka in the day of minimalism. This is congruous to my appeal to more people sharing their voices in this MUT discourse. You go, Hoka!
I assume Hoka will continue to develop their shoes to meet more variety of athlete and racing. This is a good thing. But I was surprised to see such a catch of so many big fish by this apparel industry giant. Money speaks. Let’s see how it plays out, especially in this team context. Hoka One One is a team to be reckoned with. And I think we can all agree that the team concept can really benefit athletes and their racing. Salomon and The North Face have been good examples of this point.
The latest Salomon victory of course was this past weekend with Maravilla taking the win at Bandera 100k in CR fashion. Based on the trend that’s been established, aside from celebrating a killer race by the Salomon runner, let’s keep our eye on this smiling Bay Area trail smith’s 2014. Good stuff, Jorge: certainly more to smile about.
Just as the folks in the clown shoes have plenty to smile about, as well.