29 Apr New ITRA certification and new qualifications criteria for UTMB. What is going to happen
The 57, 164 and Ipertrail Corsa della Bora races are UTMB qualifiers
We want to share with you our analysis resulting from the study of the number of qualifying races, the ITRA scores, the number of members and the new UTMB qualification system. We hope this article will help you to better understand what will happen in practice from 2020 on.
Considering the data published by UTMB and by carefully reading the new qualification process, we come to the conclusion that the number of available bibs for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, deriving from Ultra Trail World Tour and ByUTMB races, is capable to almost saturate the total number of the bibs available to participate in the Chamonix competition.
If this assumption is correct, these are the possible consequences:
- To participate in the “Mont Blanc” it will be necessary not much to accumulate points with high scoring competitions and to hope for a lottery with several possibilities of extraction, but it will be almost essential to take part of the Ultra Trail World Tour and ByUTMB races.
- The qualification points for the “non-UTWT and not ByUTMB“ races, will not only decrease with the new system, but also lose any real value as they give access to a lottery with reduced possibilities of extraction.
- One of the many possible scenarios, will see the organizers UTWT and ByUTMB, on one hand to be favored as the runners will have to register for their competions to participate in the “Mont Blanc”, on the other, most likely, they will see an increase of the affiliation cost and / or the number of races on the circuit. This will inevitably lead to lower profits for them or, more likely, to further increases in runner fees.
- The “First Class” UTWT races will ideally be downgraded to “Second Class” , if compared to ByUTMB. From this it also derives that we will see the number of “ByUTMB” events to increase.
- The so-called “adventure travels” and the “travel-races” around the world organized by small independent organizers will be the most penalized. If an ultra trailer does several ultra trails every year in its area of origin, very few are those that make more than “a long journey” per year, and this will be preferentially for a “ByUTMB”. In addition to this, not only the small organizers, but also the organizers of the Ultra Trail World Tour will also be penalized.
A practical example: Giuseppe can spend only for one trip in the world per year and wants to do the UTMB. Giuseppe, preferentially choose a ByUTMB race compared to an Ultra Trail World Tour race or a simple qualifying race, as this is the one that will guarantee most likely to access to the Chamonix competition
Points and Running Stones
It makes little sense to stop and talk about the difference between “points” and “stones”, in fact, what matters is the type of race in which you participate.
Imagine being in front of the airport 5 minutes before the gate is closed: the qualifying races are the access with regular security check and with 100 people waiting in line. The VIP lane are the UTWT races and the ByUTMB races are a private flight.
The “stones”, in this metaphor, are the “5 minutes”.
So it doesn’t matter how you figure out the number of stones.
Only matters in what line you can be.
Here’s how the new ITRA race certification system involved S1 races
We would not like this article to be interpreted as a note to ITRA and a criticism of their systems. Much less as an official ITRA communication.
ITRA is doing an excellent job, but it is still a relatively young association, and the system adopted has been weighted to evaluate competitions in the Alpine area.
This system hardly adapts to particular conditions such as the ones you will find in Trieste, but also in many other cases these parameters are “busted”, such as for competitions in deserts, jungles, cold areas or where there are particularly difficult soils without having significant heights.
ITRA in recent years has introduced a growing attention to the evaluation of the tracks, requiring more accuracy from the organizers and checking the cartography. This is still an “evaluation on paper” which has plus of the objective parameters, the negative side of the absence of variables that are often more decisive and relevant.
In general, for all the races, not only ours, we found that the new algorithm tends to decrease the km and increase the elevation gain, if compared to the previous calculation system.
To read clearly and understand how a race is certified, it is necessary to understand the ITRA certification system. The complete and detailed explanation can be found on the ITRA official website at this link
Simplifying as much as possible, we will briefly explain how to read the “points” that ITRA assigns to each race.
“Endurance Level”: near the ITRA sign, you can find a number from 0 to 6. This number indicates how “hard” a race is. In essence, the distance in kilometers is added to the difference in height in meters and divided by 100. So this datum speaks of a “hardness” expressed only and only in terms of km and meters of climb, not of difficulty, characteristics of the terrain and environmental conditions.
Mountain level: that is how much the race has objective mountain characteristics on a scale of 1 to 12. The following parameters are taken into consideration: longer ascent, average altitude, total ascent. This is a parameter that in the case of the Cora della Bora can give “surprises”. In Trieste we do not have long ascents and we are at low altitudes. This significantly lowers the “mountain level” and therefore tends to mislead runners who base the evaluation on this data. The terrain of the Corsa della Bora is indeed very mountainous, steep and technical in many passages but the algorithm does not take them into consideration. On the other hand, a race that takes place on a high plateau, with a long climb along a comfortable dirt road, would receive a higher “mountain level” for the same total height difference. So look at this parameter. Not in general, but for sure in Trieste the “Mountain level” is totally unreliable.
“Finisher criteria”: This parameter is very interesting. Each runner can check, if he has participated in at least one ITRA event, his/her performance index from this page. By comparing this the performance index to the “finisher criteria” the runner can know if that race is within his reach.
Example: If a race has criteria 400 as finisher criteria, your performance index should be at least 400 to have good chances to finish the race.
Here is the analysis on our races:
Sprint 16 km – Half 21 km – Trail 57 km – Ultra 164 km e Ipertrail 173 km
New in 2020. We have no references with previous editions.
First “surprise” for 2020. This race remains the same in 2020 if compared to 2019 and with the same track, even with the same GPX file, that’s what happened: in 2019 this distance was certified with 21.7 km with 530 meters of climb, in 2020 the S1 Half becomes 20.6 km with 640 D +
They took away 1 km and added 100 meters of climb.
The “Mountain level” 3 normally indicates the hilly races, but the Karst terrain and the final beach are certainly not as easy as the soft Apennine hills or the Highlands. So be careful, don’t expect a hilly race going downhill. S1 Half is also suitable for beginners, but there are points that are not hilly at all. There are no dangerous or exposed sections. The challenging stretches are all manned by staff from the Mountain Rescue or our organization.
To recap: those who do not have a great experience in the trail running can participate, but do not expect a cross-country or hilly race.
As can be seen from the elevation profile, the route has changed if compared to 2019. We have added 300 meters of elevation gain, but ITRA has taken away 300 meters of climb. The race last year was 57.5 km and 2630 D + in 2020 becomes 56.5 km with 2380 D + but with a climb from 300 meters more.
So 1 km less, 300 meters less on the paper. In reality 300 D + toast more! This means that you will find 600 D+ more than the declared.
Here, too, do not be mislead by the low “mountain level”, we will cross areas that were “training gyms” for the greatest climbers of the 900, such as Emilio Comici, on very steep but not exposed screes and stretches. Don’t underestimate this race. Always get an idea of the route by looking at the photos or write to us if you have any questions, do not rely on the ITRA data.
Another interesting thing that is noted in the profile, is the double ending in red. If you do not arrive in time at the time barrier at 6.00 pm in Santa Croce, you will cover the last few kilometers on a detour track, a very smooth stretch without the beach, receiving a discount in terms of difficulty, but an extra hour on the stopwatch. The decision was taken to allow all those who would have finished the race in 11-12-13 hours to reach the finish line safely.
On the S1 Ultra it is definitely difficult to make comparisons with 2019, as the course has changed at various points. In 2019 the track was 164.2 km with 6720 D + and in 2020 it became 168.3 km with 7110 D +. However, evaluating the new track with the old parameters we get 165 km and 6900 D +. In summary, in 2020 we have eliminated a stretch of asphalt with a descent and ascent of 300 meters, to then add them back in a new section that also affects the 57 km race: the race is slightly harder than 2019 but definitely more beautiful and scenic. Keep also in consideration the “Mountain level” and the “finisher criteria”. The winter conditions, the night and the Karst terrain are not considered in these data, so do not underestimate the race. We recommend a “performance index” of at least 450 to participate, ideal for 500, perfect 600 or more.
The route changes at each edition, so it makes no sense to make comparisons. However, we have calculated altitude and distance using the old ITRA algorithm and we have obtained 174 km and 10.680 D +. The difference is considerable compared to the ITRA certification of 172.7 and 8730 D +.
During the year we will make new route surveys trying to compare the tracks recorded with GPS, GPS + GLONASS and GPS + GALILEO. The altitudes used for the calculation are those of the official cartography and not the barometric or GPS ones. Since there is no precedent, it is reasonable to think of an effective distance of 173 km and about 9900 D +
The 2020 edition includes winter sections at the altitude of 1200 meters, a Vertical climb of 4.4, km with 1070 D + and sections exposed to strong winds. ITRA’s “Finisher Criteria” and “Mountain Level” are totally inappropriate. Do you think that being in broad daylight on a sunny day in July at 2500 meters is more challenging than being alone at night at 1200 meters in winter with Bora blowing at 100 km / h? According to us, it is not so, according to the algorithms of ITRA yes. You decide who to listen to.
In addition, GPS navigation and the “boxed refreshments” system make the race even more different from the ITRA evaluation criteria.
L’edizione 2020 include tratti invernali sui i 1200 metri, un Vertical di 4,4, km con 1070 D+ e tratti esposti al vento forte. Totalmente inappropriati i “Finisher Criteria” e “Mountain Level” di ITRA. Volete pensare forse che essere in pieno giorno in una giornata di sole di luglio a 2500 metri sia più impegnativo che trovarsi da soli di notte a 1200 metri in pieno inverno con Bora che soffia a 100 km/h? Secono noi non è così, secondo gli algortmi di ITRA sì. Decidete voi a chi dare ascolto.
Inoltre la navigazione GPS e il sistema dei ristori a casse rendono la gara ancora più discostante dai criteri di valutazione ITRA.
If we talk about Ipetrail and the ITRA parameters, for his race they must be completely ignored. This is why those who participate in this race do an interview before registering. It is possible to request the interview call from this link