Bad Boy Running

Ep 520 | Trail Runner Magazine Founder Brian Metzler

December 10, 2023
Bad Boy Running
Ep 520 | Trail Runner Magazine Founder Brian Metzler
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered what happens when you blend the thrill of trail running, insights from a seasoned expert, and the pulsating world of social media? We sat down with Brian Metzler, a trail running maestro and the founder of Trail Runner magazine, to navigate this intriguing blend. Brian takes us from the heart of a dispute between Gary Robbins and UTMB, through the evolution of trail running and media coverage, to his humanitarian trip to Cuba. His intricate storytelling skills paint a vivid picture of the sport's history and culture, guaranteed to leave you fascinated.

We journey across the globe, examining the sport's evolution and the ever-changing landscape of trail running gear. The conversation takes an exciting turn as we navigate controversial stories and controversies involving trail and ultra running. With the recent surge in popularity during the pandemic, we look at the complexities and controversies that come with competition. From the impact of the internet and social media in content creation to the duality of trail running growth, this chat dives deep into the intricacies of the sport.

As we wrap up, we ponder on the future of pro trail running and its impact on the sport. We critically examine the current state of trail running and ultra running and the opposing forces driving its growth. Considering how these changes will shape the industry's future, we invoke our listeners to share their recommendations for future episodes. We encourage reviews to help us continue bringing outstanding guests like Brian. Get ready for a detailed exploration that leaves you with a deeper understanding of the world of trail running.

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Speaker 1:

Hello, dupada, and welcome to Bad Boy Running. I've just finished up our interview with Brian, who I've been on tour with for the most part of this year. Really really interesting conversation. He started Trail Runner. He knows more about Trail Running than pretty much anyone else on earth. During this episode we go into not only him being caught in the middle of a bit of a battle between Gary Robbins and UTMB and over the most recent race we're talking about the future of Trail Running but also how Trail has changed, how the media around Trail has changed and how the art of storytelling and Trail Running has changed over that time. Really cool episode. You're going to love it. You're going to find out so much about Trail history, so strap in Hope you enjoy. They're bad, they're boys and occasionally they talk about running.

Speaker 2:

Yes, it's the Bad Boy Running podcast with your hosts Jody Rainsford and David Heller.

Speaker 1:

So do bad. As our next guest I met for the first time in actually, I kind of remember where it was Was it Switzerland, somewhere like that, Maybe Italy? And he was introduced me as, like you know, that is like Trail Running royalty set up Trail Running magazine and still writes for them and outside magazine has been on tour with Gone Trail for many of the races this season Absolute legend. Welcome to the podcast, Brian Metzler.

Speaker 2:

Hey man, Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1:

Oh mate, absolute pleasure. Yeah, and if anyone is not watching the video, because we don't really publish our videos, brian is sat in front of an amazing array of objects he's got signed Usain Bolt shoe. Is that a hula girl at the top? Some medals.

Speaker 2:

That is a hula girl. There's some race entries, there's a lot of media tags there, there's a picture of me running in Chile and also there. And then this is a mock up of a cover for a magazine I used to work for, called competitor, which has Mike Wardian you lose that, mike.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I could say.

Speaker 2:

We were to Cuba. We were to Cuba in 2016 and kind of told a story about running kind of where the Cuban revolution took place, where Fidel Castro hung out in the mountains and stuff like that, and so it was an interesting adventure for sure.

Speaker 1:

How did like I, because I wouldn't say fully understand America's relationship with Cuba. Still Like how did that story go down, given that it seems to be not fully kind of outworn? Yeah?

Speaker 2:

It's still a challenging relationship. I mean, the embargo against Cuba dates back to the 60s, when they had communist involvement, right, and so everything was cut off between it's, only 90 miles from Florida, and everything was cut off generally, politically, commercially, and as Castro developed his communist government, which you know I'm not a fan of. I think that's, you know, talk for another day. But essentially the embargo is still in place. But during the Obama administration there was a more humanitarian opening between the countries and for years journalists could go down there and there was other humanitarian like ways to interact with the people there. And then during the Obama administration obviously Obama had gone down there there was more, a little bit more opening, right, the Rolling Stones played there, for example. But we went down there on a humanitarian mission and brought shoes and then engaged with grade school, middle school runners. We put on a little track meet for them. They had 100 meter dash long, jump, 400 meters and a couple other things. And then we had all these shoes we had brought from the US, some new, some donated, and then we gave them awards. We gave them like pencils and notebooks, school supplies as awards, you know. So it was a really good experience. And then while we were down there we were able to connect with a lot of locals, we ran some trails and everything else, and so I think that part of it was well received. Obviously, the whole you know Castro and the government, everything else is still a pretty sticky area. And then, obviously, as our administration changed here for the worst, obviously it's been a little bit darker in a lot of ways, but the Cuban people are wonderful people. They were very warm and very receptive and obviously athletics is part of their culture for sure, and so that's really how we engaged and the kids are just beautiful. You know, kids are just full of joy and you know seeing them run and everything was a beautiful experience.

Speaker 1:

Oh, fantastic. So let's take it back to when this journalism began then, because it was was Trail Running Magazine your first step into kind of running journalism.

Speaker 2:

Generally, yes, I had been a journalist in my 20s and was actually started, started Trail Runner in my late 20s. I'd been, I'd worked for newspapers, like everyone did, in journals, and you know a few magazine pieces here and there. I was keen on running. I understood running. You know, as with a lot of big city daily newspapers, everyone knows the big sports. You know football, soccer, basketball, you know, and you know it was always good for me to write about running because I knew about running. So when there was a 10k in town or whatever, I could write about that pretty well. And then I just found more opportunities being in Boulder, I moved here in my early 20s to be able to to write about running in runners. There were so many runners here in town, you know, and so that just kind of became a natural fit. And then I was writing about running and then this, this rock climbing magazine in Boulder, wanted to start a trail running magazine because it was a natural fit for what they were doing in the outdoors and kind of we met a bunch of times and then you know that was that was basically day one. And then, you know, within it, within probably eight months, we launched the first issue of the magazine and you know, obviously it's. You know, back then trail running wasn't a real kind of known sport but you know it's still maybe kind of sort of on the fringe of mainstream and we see it, we know it, we think it's an everyday thing and obviously if you pull back to you know your friends in the cities they don't really understand it as much. But certainly back then it was, you know, the early, the early days of trail running, even though there was a history that goes back further than that. But you know I did my first trail races in the mid 90s and you know it was trail running quite a bit in Boulder and yet you know, I know that like in a bigger picture, it wasn't yet established. So by the 2000s obviously got more growth. We saw more, more growth in trail running brands and such and it's kind of taken off there Now obviously there's a lot of content, a lot of excitement, a lot of races, a lot of gear built for trail running. So that's kind of my quick evolution of me as a journalist, but also me as a runner and kind of a passionate fan of the sport.

Speaker 1:

Because these first few, these articles, would you? What would you say the main content was Were you talking about races? Were you talking about athletes? Were you talking about locations, different countries, Like? What was the balance of articles?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think that, like you know, it was still to those involved, it was still, it was already a sport, right. I mean, like at that point, the Western States 100, for example, had been going on for 25 years, right, but, like, we certainly did talk about athletes and races, a lot of it was ultra focused, if only because that's what the identity was of the sport. I think back then, when we even know a lot of my runs in Boulder were, you know, you know, 5k to 10K Johnson and mountains here, right, and that was very much trail running. But, like most of the sport, most of the community around trail back then in America was very ultra based. You know a lot of ultra races. So it kind of that's kind of where it started.

Speaker 1:

And do you think the, the identity was caught up with the ultra is because Western States was almost first of all of the big races and therefore that's where people started and therefore assumed that was the norm.

Speaker 2:

I think. So I mean, I think that there was always a lot of other shorter races, you know, hill climbs and little mountain races, and you know we didn't have quite the culture that the UK has around around fell running, but we did have some of those races, but they're all very regional in pocket. So a lot of, a lot of our mountain towns, a lot of our ski towns there was always, you know, dating back to the, you know, the early 1970s. There was a lot of either fundraiser runs or just fun summer runs where people would say, oh, let's run to this peak and back right and like, but very regional in nature and like. Obviously every one of these towns has some characters that have been doing crazy things for a long time and that's kind of where that evolved. But in terms of developing a community or developing kind of an understanding of what this was or something to train for, western States was probably the first kind of, you know, piece on the map that really said, okay, here's what this sport is and people you know would train for it or want to be next to it or, you know, aspire to go to it, and then certainly the legend of that brew in those first, you know, in the 1970s and through the 80s, and then when we first had some some, some TV coverage, you know there was a there used to be a show called the wide world of sports on every weekend and they would, they would do that, you know, kind of a more obscure sports and a couple of those had, like the lead bill, 100, I think Western States was on there, iron man was on there, and so when people got a glimpse of those from a national audience, they're like what? What is that Right? And it was just so fascinating because it was these people doing these extraordinary things. You know, the whole concept of running 100 miles back then was, you know, it was still as the most people, but we know it's a little bit more common now. But that's that's kind of what set all that in motion and it also kept it very niche because even with that audience seeing 100 mile run, most people were never going to do that. They were going to, they were going to see that and be overwhelmed but and think it was cool. But obviously even through the years it's taken a long time to get growth into that and still we're. You know it's a small sport relative to people that are doing hundreds and now 200s and everything else. Yeah, I think especially pre internet as well.

Speaker 1:

If you say you were even a marathon runner, the distance between the gulf of how it feels between that and 100 mile trail run when you can't just go online and see all these people training, you can't find all these training plans easily. It must have felt like another world, given that the likelihood is they'd all be from different locations anyway, and because I know when. Last year this year, sierra is now 50th anniversary and there were some pretty big names from America coming over to race and and you're doing really well winning. When when would you say when would you say you? From your perspective, trail running was actually a global, more of a global sport that someone in one area who was good would be aware of the other races.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think that didn't really take place until gosh, the early 2000s, and I want to say that maybe 2004 or five, some really good runners from from Boulder started to go over and compete in European races and I think, combined with the internet, certainly that was those two things went hand in hand. There were athletes top, you know, mountain athletes from Colorado, from USA, that would compete in Europe, but on a very niche level, like there was a guy named J Johnson, who was a Boulder guy who I think was like a, might have been like a World Cup winner back in 1990, which was, I think it predated World Cup races, predated the World Mountain Running Association, the World Mountain Championships, which was called the World Mountain Trophy, I think, for a part of time. And so there was people, there was runner back then that went over there and did well, but at a very kind of tiny level. Eventually, I think, with with more runners going over there to compete and compete well, and then the internet obviously you know broadcasting, that news became a thing and then I think certainly you know you know there was always great races and as some overseas runners came to the western states, right, that was a thing You'd notice, you know, a British runner, a Japanese runner, you know, finding a way into the process and then getting into the race became a big thing and so that's the trickle back and forth started, started to happen for sure, probably in the early 2000s, on a scale of which it was noticeable. And then, I think around that same time, obviously, utmb was launched in 2003. And you know, chrissy Mail was over there, brandon Szebrowski, a Topper Gaylord, were prominent in the first race and I think you know then other Americans started to follow over there, although it didn't really become a thing over here, even for me in the running media until much later, I had known Chrissy back then she told me about it and I know you took the Topper and they had told me about it, but it still didn't catch on because it was such a you know, oh, it's happening over there kind of thing. And but during that early 2000s, like 2003, four, five, six is when it really started to happen, I think that the opportunity to race overseas in different places certainly became more of a thing, right?

Speaker 1:

And because now we've seen, like you know, Jim's moved over and he spent a year or so in well, more than a year in Chamonix to try and win UTMB. You get people typically traveling for the 100s in a six weeks in advance at least to get to know the courses. When there was suddenly more of crossover, were we seeing athletes being able to perform because even the local athletes didn't know actually how to properly approach their local race, or did we see, well, most people taking a beating whenever they traveled?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean, I think it took a lot to adapt. I think that even though Chrissy Maill did well she won it twice and actually a lot of American women did well upon arriving and certainly getting there early was a big part of that I think a lot of American men failed kind of famously. Scott Jurick went there, anton Kropitschka, I mean a lot of athletes went over there to run. Hal Kerner was a famous one, I think, in 2011. It took him, I think he got through the course in Chamonix in like 44 hours or something crazy like that. But, that being said, it wasn't for a lack of being skilled or talented or well-trained, I think, going anywhere to a course it even Kylian didn't fare as well as he did in his first Western states, right, coming back this way. So I think what we know with ultra it's certainly course specific, it's weather specific, it's almost like culture specific too. Right, understanding the vibe of the race and kind of how it plays out where, historically, runners have done well, kind of where the course dominates the runners, where the runners can dominate the course. I think all those nuances are certainly a big part of every single race and, let's face it, traveling on an eight hour flight to a place that maybe you don't speak the language, you're not familiar with, the food or the customs, I think certainly is a big thing and not even remotely the same thing as traveling from Chicago to London to run the marathon right, it's just night and day difference. I think that there's just so many new nuances and details that come into that, and certainly I think runners have learned yet to show up in a place, as you said, six weeks or so more to learn the course, but also to immerse into local running culture. Right, when Francois DeHaine has come to Hard Rock or Killian has come to Hard Rock in Colorado, it's one thing to run the course, but it's also he's running with locals. He's running with people, other Americans, people who run the course, chatting over a meal, over a beer, about this part of the course, this section, what happens after dark, things like that. And I think you learn a lot from that cultural interaction in the sport, which maybe you don't get in like you know, opposing teams don't get in football or basketball but you definitely get that in our sport because the community is so close, and so I think those pieces have allowed the internationalization to become more complete now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely, and especially when you do get tools. Now, where people are actually racing, it's changing in 100 miles, given that you can have Courtney winning three, which is insane, but you're more likely to see people throughout the year, whereas previously you'd almost meet the big ones and like, when you look back though, what would you say have been the big changes, like the big seismic shifts in trail and in either the races or the individuals or the kits that actually really helped grow the sport?

Speaker 2:

I think you know, as I said earlier, there's been runners that have been running trails, you know, in mass since the 70s and 80s at certain places. I think that the biggest couple of things that have changed I mean certainly that community that started swirling around that and people were inspired to do that was always growing. I think at the time, in the late 90s, there weren't a lot of great trail running shoes, you know, and it varied, you know, around the world. You know there's certain brands I know I had some of the Walshroners right for fell running, but they were very specific for fell running and then there was a bunch of brands that were US based and some more European based brands that were kind of figuring out how to build shoes right based on the background of that brand. So Las Sportiva, which is a great Italian climbing and mountaineering brand, started from their own point of view right. Nike and Brooks and all these other brands started from a road running background and, like a lot of the other boot brands you know, vask and Merrill, you know brands we know for hiking came in from their point of view. And so even in the early 2000s there weren't, you know, great trail running shoes as we know now. And what do I mean by great trail running shoes? Two things. One, they were runnable you could actually run in them, right. And two, they had enough trail specific kind of protection or smarts, I would say, that allowed you to run specific types of trails, right. So you know, running in a road shoe on trails we all know it's kind of awkward, it can be damaging, you can hurt your feet, whatever else. You don't have that much traction. And so by the early 2000s, 2003 or so, there was a few models, but they still weren't as evolved as they are now, and so now I think fast forward. Now the biggest change in running shoes is we have shoes that are specific to different types of terrain, right, if you want to run through muddy, sloppy terrain, there's a lot of great shoes with a really good kind of pleated outsole, like, you know, knobby outsole. And then we also have shoes that are great for running on hard rocks and everything else, and obviously, in the last couple of years, we have these really super performance shoes that have these great foams and carbon fiber plates, right. Whether everyone needs one of those or not, you know, remains to be seen. But so the shoes have evolved to be very specific to how we actually run, as opposed to in the early 2000s. We were running the same way we are now, but we deal with the awkwardness. Like there were shoes that I would run try to run fast and steep and on a lot of twisty, turny stuff but the shoes were just awkward. Right, they weren't built for that. But there were certain aspects that were good, but then there were certain aspects that were bad. There was a lot of shoes that you'd run, you know, three or four hours in and your feet would just hurt because they just weren't, they weren't built for low runs. So that's the biggest thing, I think. I think the kit, I think certainly when Solomon developed their first trail running vest, I think that was a big thing. I was, like you know, in the early 2000s still in a variety of other you know, hydration kind of related things. Certainly nutrition has evolved to be portable nutrition, on the fly, knowing that you know, as opposed to even like a marathon where marathoners rely on aid stations. You know the aid stations in trail running races are often, you know, hours apart. So having that portable nutrition that's not only accessible but obviously you know, smart in terms of how you rehydrate, how quickly it gets into your system. That's a big thing. You know headlamps, obviously, if you're bald, there used to be a lot of bulky headlamps that were really heavy with battery packs, and now they're light, much more powerful. So I think the gear for sure the shoes and the kit has definitely been a big thing to allow people to run how they want to run, how they need to run. And then obviously, the other part is that there's more people involved in the sport now, there's more races and it's more of a community. Certainly the community was always there but tiny, but now it's much bigger and just I think to know how the understanding of inspiration is just much wider, which is great.

Speaker 1:

And because there's been a few times where there's been like a running boom or there's been a marathon boom. You know the 80s, we've had Kipchak, he's sub, two things like that and have you seen that whenever there's a running boom or there's a marathon, focus kind of exposure increase that actually, that then automatically feeds into an increase in trail runners, or do they actually fight each other in some regards?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think they used to fight each other for sure. I think in the 90s there was definitely we're road runners and we're trail runners kind of an opposite polar kind of attraction and maybe still there's still some of that. I think now it's a little bit more blended. I think, like you know, in the 90s there was a big, another big marathon boom, probably the second big marathon boom when Oprah ran a marathon. Oprah Winfrey ran a marathon, but then other celebrities started to run marathons, right, and again, that was maybe early internet or pre-internet, but certainly that's when running became this mainstream thing where you'd see those things on a TV or on a front cover or page six of the newspaper, right, where like, oh you know, like if that person can run a marathon, I can run a marathon, and. But then with trail, it was always a thing, like you know, we'd go off in the woods and into mountains and do our trail thing and we didn't want that exposure, right. And when I say we, I mean like we as a community, we were like doing our own thing and we were happy without that exposure. But there have been several booms of trail and ultra. I think you know the first, you know that 70s and 80s I'm not sure that was a boom, but that was a thing. But I think that again, after, like you know, when the internet became more, everyone had more bandwidth, both mentally and also on their computers. I think there was more to see and more to do and more to be inspired about, and so that became a thing, I think in the early 2000s. And then as technology advanced, as you know, as smartphones became a thing and you know, I think I had my first iPhone in 2007. So that's a point at which more content was on my phone. I was regularly seeing more content as various social media platforms took off and people were, you know, posting about their own adventure. I think that has been a boom since then, for sure. And then the more obvious, the most obvious recent one was post pandemic, I think. During the pandemic, obviously we were all shuttered inside and whatever we were doing and however we were doing, it stopped immediately. And then we quickly had to rethink, like I have to do something right, I can't stay inside all the time and one of the obvious things that happened was people got out and found running, but also found trails, you know. I think that during the pandemic and not to speak globally. But I think during the pandemic people needed to get out right, and getting out into the urban and suburban places was not as appealing as finding that trail because the trail which we know even big cities have trails but that offered a different sense of freedom and adventure and I think a lot of people were hiking and then learning like, oh, we can run these, or a lot of runners were then going to trails, and so I think that was a great conversion and exposure to people that, like you know, hey, I want to do this. And then, obviously, once the pandemic subsided, then it was that kind of personal interaction of how you spent your time with this whole new world of, oh hey, there are races out there, hey, this looks cool, I could do this. And then now we're seeing the fruits of that in that, you know, we're seeing more excitement, more exposure on all levels. So with technology, with shoes, with brands, with athletes, we're just seeing more of everything and more people seem to be getting out there, and that includes a new boom in the marathon, which I think is happening right now, but also especially with trail and with ultra.

Speaker 1:

And even a little bit with track, I think, with Ingebrigtsen coming along and the shoes and just the rethinking of how trading potentially is done, it has got a lot of attention into a sport that was dying on its ass. To be fair, right, right.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I'm a huge track fan. I'm a huge track fan, but like, even for me every four years, like, oh, here's what's happening, and like I would follow the US races and stuff, but like, but I agree, since the pandemic, because, too, that, like those athletes too were doing some cool things, like there was a lot of, you know, there was no meets, but then there was a lot of time trials that people were doing and people were training very hard, and then, all of a sudden, you'd see this, you know an Instagram video of a bunch of guys going sub 13 and a 5K and like you were excited again, right, and so I think that is definitely spurred new excitement in track and field. And great, because obviously this generation of track and field athletes is amazing, as we've seen in the last three years.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely. And in terms of then, the stories over the time, what would you say have been the biggest stories that have come out that surprised you, or what have been like the biggest controversies that you've covered in that time?

Speaker 2:

And recently or just in the scope of my career.

Speaker 1:

Just in the scope of your career, yeah, what are the ones we might have been aware of? Or are schools in particular like dug out and really researched hard?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean, I think that one of the first big stories was maybe not a controversy, but what kind of change. You know, running was like here was like through the 90s like trail running, off running was kind of like a middle-aged sport. Right, there was a lot of guys running in their 40s and winning races, right, and they're a good athlete, they're a great athlete. And there weren't many women, right. But so I was at. One of the first races I was ever at was the 1994 Leadbill 100. And Ann Trason, famous American ultra athlete, was there and she was racing against the more or less against these Tata Hamara runners from Mexico that this American promoter brought up and I think they were there in back to back years. But you know it's crazy, ann ran really well. I think she was second overall, and some of the Tata Hamara did really well and then some didn't do so well at all, you know, and they're running in their Hirachi sandals, everything else, and so and that was way before kind of a lot of this stuff was exposed. But that was always memorable to me and I think I wrote about it then and you know, ann's record still stands in the Leadbill 100. It's one of the longest standing records. And you know it shows two things One, what a great, amazing outlier of an athlete than Ann was, but also kind of how this cool cultural connection was happening way back then. Right, and then you know, like you know seeing, like Scott Jurek, who was young at the time, like in his early 20s, when you know Western states, his first year he won it, which I think was 99, that changed the course of running and brought, you know it was initially, a whole new generation of runners in it and then, and then he obviously won it seven years in a row, and so those were similar moments, I guess, and kind of how the sport changed things. And like in news items and yeah, I mean, yeah, this was like a lot of crazy stories, I mean, like you know, from kind of kind of cult, kind of cult running organizations. There was a big cult here in Boulder that would do like these crazy long runs with no sustenance, you know, and then they didn't have this, you know a bunch of liquor at the end of it and everything else was crazy. You know crazy stuff that people were doing tied to ultra running, right, and like there was there was like no kind of normal approach to it. In a lot of ways, you know what was, what was that called. Yeah, they called it the community. It was called Divine Madness by name. They called themselves the community, but it was known as Divine Madness. And yeah, they would do these crazy long runs like on the dirt roads and trails here, like, like you know, a couple of hour runs, and they'd wind up at a party and dancing and have liquor and you know probably some intimate relations, as it's been known, but that kind of disbanded. I think a lot of people are still in therapy, unfortunately, because that didn't really go well. But but that group produced a lot of really good trail runners and ultra runners, which you know because of the essence. They were doing some really long training runs, you know. But yeah, there's been crazy stories, you know, all through the sport and people doing kind of kind of nutty things and you know, certainly, certainly we see some of those characters now. But I mean, that's a beauty of this sport though too. It's got some, you know, some really kind of kind of in the weeds kind of stories that come out, you know.

Speaker 1:

Because, yeah, we love stories along those lines, but I'm gonna try and research that out actually and try and get someone who is at the heart of it, who's only just to come through their therapy, to come back and tell us actually what happened in that community and then I can definitely connect you with a couple of names and you can probably get some good interviews for sure. And with Scott, because you know Scott's office. For me Scott is the first name that we knew in trail running, like the first superstar of trail running. Do you think now because especially you know he's tried UTMB but actually even then UTMB wasn't what it is now and it's grown and it's grown and it's grown, and arguably now because of the structure of the organisation is the biggest trail race in the world, overtaking Western states? Do you think? I know that's a bit of a controversy there, but that's how I'd view it from a hopefully a relatively objective perspective. But do you think now that race is growing and growing in statuette? Do you think that makes it almost worse for him the fact that he hasn't won that one?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't know. I think that I agree that it wasn't back then what it is now. He definitely came over and tried, you know, a couple of times, to run it and I think he was. I think he was top 10 once, but I only saw him run it once, I think in 2011, where a bunch of Americans were in and just didn't have a really good experience. But I think too, that was the whole notion of it, was a different kind of experience, you know. It was a different kind of course, with the competitive balance was certainly part of it, and so the main pack off the front running together pretty fast for the conditions was different than American races where there was never that kind of mass pack like a hard rock 100, it's usually one or two runners at most right Western states things kind of spread out quite a bit, even though you know Western's a faster race. But I think the notion of how deep the front pack was at UTMB, even back then, was a game changer for the sport. All of a sudden it was like almost like a marathon mentality of like you had to be there, you had to run with these guys and then whoever blew up last or whoever was strongest obviously would survive, and that's still a case. I mean, when you watch races and now you see strategy built against that or with it, you know, like when Zach Miller was over there and went off the front several times to run away from that pack, that was his way of, you know, doing that, or with Kylian just sitting back and holding, you know. So that whole kind of competitive balance that UTMB brought was a big thing that changed the sport and certainly, I think, was also a factor that people don't talk about as much as to why some of these American men didn't have success over there. You know, and other reasons too. Anton was running a great race and in the lead, I think, through Triant one time and then obviously had stomach problems and what have you. But it also doesn't explain why so many American women have done so well over there as well. However, I will say that that same competitive balance obviously isn't necessarily present in the women's race or hasn't been because of depth. Right, there hasn't been the depth, and so, believe me, kudos to every woman who's run that race and run well. My point is more that, like you know, the men's race would often have the first, you know, through Le Contamine, you know, 10 or 20 runners within a minute or two, you know, and whereas the women are much more spread out, so it wasn't that pack mentality of kind of survival, it was more these great women were emerging and then by you know, by Koma'er obviously were already running solo, whereas the men's was more of a deeper thing. And so, and we're seeing that more in women's, although Courtney is an outlier to that too, because and I'll take it aside here Courtney, who's a friend in a neighbor, is just a crazy outlier at a time when women's ultra, women's trail has never been deeper or more competitive or more exposed. And so people have asked me about is she the next Anne Trason? And Anne Trason was an outlier before the sport really existed, right, she was way out front. But Courtney is that same outlier, maybe even more, when the sport has never been deeper from a women's point of view or women's depth. So that's pretty impressive to think about.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean it's absolutely insane. And with, do you think, with the that clump of people at the front, do you think it was that the American runners weren't mentally prepared for being in someone else's pace, surrounded by people? Or do you think they weren't physically prepared for taking off at that pace, on that type of course?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, maybe both, maybe both. And I think that I think again, like if you're thinking back to the early 2000s in American ultras, even through like 2010, yeah, I mean, like it'd be rare to find an event where there was maybe more than three or four people through the first quarter of the race that were really either competitive or you knew we were gonna stick around. I remember being at like the 2002 White River 50, which is a big race outside of Seattle here and it was a USA national championship, the White River 50 and a really good race and you know, and Jerrick was there and a bunch of other people, but like through, say, 10k, there was a big pack of people right, the trail was smooth enough and allowed for that before the climbing really came into place, but then once you reach mile 20, it was all single file and strung out. So it was a different mentality mentally, physically, probably emotionally to be in a race. You could trust your talents and your experience and that would get you pretty far in a race and then put you in a place you were comfortable with, even if you were alone or in strung out single file fashion, whereas I think going to Chaminie for UTMB in those. You know those. You know the first years when Americans were trying to really kind of make a statement there. I think you're right. I think that you know, physically they had to question were they prepared for the steep climbs? You know, in the steep descents, which was different than most races in USA, I think you know. You know, emotionally and mentally, yeah, to be, you know to be this great runner from you know USA, who won all these races and to go over there and realize you're one of 20, you know that are running competitively. You know it was a certain thing and so that's a credit to the sport and obviously the European culture of the sport that had already existed, or the depth even, you know which. The depth didn't exist here, even though there was prominent races and athletes here.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, it's interesting and I've been even seeing the Americans come over and win Sierra's an hour and things like that. It's fairly semi-regularly and yeah, it's that going up to that ultra distance was the hard one In terms of the like, because in the UK the running magazine industry has been fairly decimated by the internet and a lot of the time of magazines. You need that critical size, that critical mass, to be able to be able to cover your base costs, which America, you know five times the size, thankfully has that have you. But with trail runner and outside magazine, have you what would you say? The big changes you've had to make and that you've seen in terms of the content or how you've operated because of the internet?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I tell people that in 2000, when we launched the first issues of trail runner magazine, we produced six issues a year, right, so that's every two months. And within each issue, if you counted you know the short and the long stories, there might have been, say, 20 pieces of content, right, just on average, right. So 20 pieces of content every two months was really the cadence of content back then. Other bigger running magazines, like Runner's World, didn't really cover trail here at all and there was no other place to find trail running. Social media didn't exist yet and there were message boards I think there was some early, you know, website of clubs and races, but there wasn't really a lot of content and there was no other place to find it. So, 20 pieces of content. When you got the magazine, people were like excited for it, right, and that would sustain, you know, probably that gap of every two months. And then, as the internet developed and as more kind of electronic publishing became, you know less dark ages and more modern, and then also the biggest thing was social media. Obviously, as social media emerged and the ability for anybody to share their own content kind of really changed everything. And now, if you think about. You know, my day today, scrolling through my phone when I woke up. I've already read many stories, many athlete points of view, many photos. There was a lot of reactions from the new series that was launched yesterday, but I've probably already seen easily 25 to 30 pieces of content on my phone right. So you know that's within 40 minutes or so and you know. Going back to what I said before, where there was 20 pieces of content every two months, all right, just from a cadence point of view, you know 20 pieces of content every two months, that's all that existed right. And now again you can scroll through your phone and see that in a short bit of time. And so also the access that everyone has again, races, race and records athletes. You know, you and me, the buddies you ran with this morning. You know I often find it fascinating that when I go on an early morning trail run and we see a sunrise and somebody's there taking photos and you don't really think about it right away, but obviously some people are posting right away to social media and then by the time you get back and you know you're showering, you start your workday, you've already seen photos of yourself or your buddies, or the sunrise, and like, wow, like you know that's, you know it happens, but like there's two different experiences of the experience of actually doing it right, and then there's the experience of seeing it later, and so content content in all forms, you know, written photographs, videos, however they're disseminated have become content, has become a thing right. And there's again there's our experiences of running and how we felt, physically, emotionally, on the trail, and then you see it later and then, oh, hopefully you're inspired, or you see things, or you want to do something because of what you've seen, or you just relish in it. You see the oh, my buddy posted a photo. That's a beautiful photo, right, and so. But it's become much more pervasive, it's embedded in everything we do, and you can be, you can run a great run in the morning, and then you can be in a work meeting or a family event and see a photo later, and then you know you're still connected to that moment or you're still inspired by that moment. So it's 24, seven now, really.

Speaker 1:

But how's that changed the type of content? Because then you obviously have to. You've always got to create something that is beyond or different or contrasting. You've got to create that value right. So how has that impacted on the stories that you then seek out?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I think that to that point, you know certainly more unique stories. You know stories that you know. For me, as a journalist, I think certainly that allows me to, or forces me to, dig deeper into stories that people aren't going to see, right, or to find a really unique bit and bring it out to a bigger audience. You know, I think the common thing you see on social media is you know beautiful shots and photos and everything else, which is great, and that I think digging deeper into kind of you know just kind of unique stories about how you know how athletes and how people are approaching running, I think their, their personal stories, come out better. Certainly, a personal story can come out on Instagram, but to tell it in a more broad, based spectrum, for a wider audience, certainly as a journalist, as a content producer, on a commercial basis, you know that's kind of where I look to tell, to tell stories that are maybe uniquely small but have some buzz to it, and then they make it bigger, right. I think that's that's a key thing. I think that Certainly, certainly, we see a lot of commentary on a great podcast, you know. So there's, there's tons of commentary out there and then, but then telling stories from again, again, a more journalistic point of view, a more unique point of view, I think, are certainly some of the key ways so to really make content still exist and have a place.

Speaker 1:

And do you think that the balance between people seeking performance content and entertainment content in trailers has changed?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think for sure. I think that I think we're still in the evolution of training for alphas and training for trails. I think that there was in the early 2000s, a lot of it was brought over from road running or just you know, kind of winging it. I think there was a lot of people that that love, love the idea of just you know, taking what you know or what you're doing, and racing on trails. Right, it was very raw, very, very pure, but also maybe not as scientifically proven as what we know now is like different training techniques and understandings of that. So I think that there is a certain Consumer that is looking for that, both you know, at the elite end, but also for that age group runner who wants to run 100 miles or a trail marathon better, right, and understand the differences and kind of how they need to train, where they need to build strength or aerobic strength. I think is a big thing. And then, but that's also still tied to this notion of freedom and escape, right, I mean, trails are always going to offer that freedom and escape and I think that at some point there's got to be a balance within every runner to understand that, like we know, the freedom and escape and the joy Balance as well against the intensity and the competitiveness, and that's why a lot of people are running trails as opposed to running more marathons and road races, for example, and so I think, I think that there are certainly More coaches, more understandings of how to train, more performance, nutrition, things like that, but at the same time, I think we all, we all, we all go off into the trails, whether it's an easy, rolling, fun trail or a hard, grueling, steep trail or a long run. We will always have that essence of being out, the outdoors and getting away and all that and and so there's always going to be that balance. But I think that there is, there is content being made on both sides that that hopefully inspire Performance as well as like the need to get out and kind of explore.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because, because my slight fear is that we as consumers I'd say people are prepared to train possibly harder than they ever have as a non-high-level athlete to do 100 miles. But then actually the distance between Someone like let's take a killing or a Courtney and you've got a kip chagi who can run a super fast math and running, let's say, 80 hundred miles a week to 120 miles a week, and actually we we can see, we can look at the physiology. Some people can get up to that when they're working and suddenly put out an amazing time. But actually it's only recently that we're Someone like Courtney or Killian was seeing them actually back to back hundred miles. And when no one's really studied or understands how the body adapts to a hard hundred mile race, and the fact that it does seem that the rules are changing in these athletes in what they're able to do. That has never been done before. But I don't think you can get to that position very easily without. I don't think someone will come into the sport and be able To do these back to back hundred miles. So my fear is that actually the perception of what's possible Was is growing and growing and growing. But actually the distance between how long it takes to actually achieve that From where you start as a non like heavy trainer is getting further and further without people realizing that.

Speaker 2:

I Agree, I think if you look at like the bell curve in the marathon versus the bell curve in Ultrarite, I mean like even in the 70s there was there was fast runners that came from a track and field for athletics, that that took to the marathon and there was more of an understanding right away, even if primitive, of how to train for a marathon and I think that most people went into the marathon, even age groupers, with that same or similar mentality. Right, and initially the the marathon in those first running rooms was all about how fast can everyone run it. So everyone was kind of more in a kind of the mode of like improving your time over the course of the marathon, whereas ultra, I think Because it's such a big, unwieldy task for anybody to run a hundred miles, for example, it's, it's, it's both Kind of always been a survival mode, right at one level from the age groupers and it and even a lot of the elite athletes that initially emerged Either had special talents or were training better and were outliers to everyone else. And there wasn't, there wasn't as much about competitive kind of collection of people In one region around the world. Right, there was outliers. And then, to your point, I mean like the science is still in its early phases right of coaches who understand it. Obviously, as the sport has evolved, as more athletes, as more brands, as more coaches have gotten ball, there's more understanding, more competitiveness too, and so that's all kind of work together to fuel Either new ways or better ways to understand it. And you know, I think there's been a handful of studies. I think just in group, an American coach has just published a bunch of online kind of science related things that are really smart and yet there's not a lot of science in it because, you know, still also running, as we know it is not a broad-based Kind of activity. We know there's there's more training studies tied to training for athletics track and field, the marathon, because that's more more widely understood. There's more Universities, there's more coaches, there's more brands interested in that right. But I think I think we are seeing, certainly, athletes that are training better, training differently, recovering better. I think it's a big thing too nutrition Infueling better. These are all parts of the equation, right, and it's not. It's, it's not and it probably will never be an exact science, because everything that happens To an individual over the course of 100 miles, right over the course of a marathon we pretty much kind of understand, kind of how someone's heart rate, blood sugar or metabolism, all these things are acting in a very consistent way, right, if you look at all the data, whereas you know 100 miler it's, it's there's so many different factors, right, there's just so many different factors and certainly, certainly it takes, it takes that physical, mental, emotional kind of Joint effort and then there's probably, like this, this special factor we don't know yet you know, like what makes Courtney so incredibly good, right, or killing it, right, we've seen them compete against other great athletes who we think we know are great athletes, right. And yet, you know, if we use Killian and Courtney as like these models of Superstars, they, they also bring something else to the table, right, and you know Courtney can talk about her pain cave and widening her pain cave, and obviously, if you've seen Courtney at a race or an aid station, or Killian too, they're very much at ease, right, they're very much happy, go lucky and different than most people, and what that is, it's hard to put a finger on it, but obviously is a special element that maybe all, all elite athletes have like. If you look at the elite athletes in any sport, when someone excels you know again in football and basketball and in track and swimming there's always this element of something different, something special that makes them excel, because everybody on the starting line is an elite, well trained, fit athlete, and yet the ones that excel repeatedly are are special in different ways.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, true, yeah, I mean my fear is that they're now excelling so much that people are going to come into the sport and just injure themselves trying to replicate what they're doing, because they haven't got that, that awareness of of how long it takes. But, um, conscious of time, um, but we've been gossiping obviously Off-lied quite a bit about the new series that's just been announced about. I mean, I was intrigued with grand canary pulled out of utmb as well, but last five years we've seen, as in lots of industries, bigger and bigger companies coming in fighting for turf, whether that's sparta and utmb gold trail, that will. How, how do you see? How do you see kind of trail running and octra running progressing and do you think, like the emergence of strong brands is is better for the sport or potentially more damaging than good for the sport?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's a that's a pretty open question there. But, uh, my, my take is that, like it's certainly a double-edged sword if you look at it that way, but I also think that it's like there's certainly two yeah, maybe polar opposite kind of things fueling the sport right now. Right, I think on one end, certainly, yeah, we've had more, um, as you said, globalization, internationalization and competitiveness. That is fueling the need or the desire, both within the sport but also within the industry, of creating, you know, bigger races, championship races, um of which, you know, sponsorship can get behind or brands can get behind. That's, and that's a big thing in the evolution of any business or sport. And so With that comes more exposure, right, and that's, in theory at least, you know, uh, the base level, good for the sport, because more people see it, more people get involved, more brands get involved. And then there's more athletes who are actually making a living at the sport. They do, um, you know, back in the early 2000s and I, everyone was doing it on their own right. They were working full-time jobs on their own and they were running, and even now a lot of athletes still do that Um, so whether that's good or bad, I'm not gonna. I don't have an opinion on it. I mean, it's certainly what's happened Um and with with the the running industry that's gotten behind trail running. We've seen better shoes, better gear, more races, more high level content produced, uh, you know, uh, live streams have become, you know, certainly out of this world. You can watch great races from around the world. Certainly that's all funded by this whole thing, right, and that wouldn't, that didn't come out of the ether, that came out of, certainly, ingenuity, but someone's paying for this things to happen, right, so that's, that's. That's one side of the other side. But we know, and I said, that trail running, ultra running, has always been about this pure escape, this freedom, right, and a very grassroots feeling. And so to run a fell race in the lakes district or To run an ultra race anywhere in the world, right, you, you feel that um, sense of your personal Kind of immersion in in the environment, whatever it is mountains or deserts or trails or whatever, and there's a beauty to that that then creates community, because we're all out there doing this for our own personal reasons, but also Both suffering and engaging and enjoying this with the people around us the few people that are around us doing this Because it's a rare thing, obviously, and so, unlike the marathon, the marathon has its own community, but it's different because it's much more accessible, it's much more in front of you, whereas to do trail running, on ultra running, you feel a bond with people because, whether you're the fastest or the very last person, we're all doing the same thing and we all appreciate everyone else. And so, from that level, from that very grassroots level, the sport is also growing and also very Vibrant, more vibrant than it's ever been. At the other end, obviously, you have this, what people call the, the running industrial complex, right when, where brands are getting involved again, trying to promote it, and so, whether it's, you know, golden trail or utmb, or even this new world trail majors, um, which which, to a different level, maybe isn't is a commercial yet, um, but but, but obviously still trying to put a Kind of a shell, kind of a brand around something. Um, you know, in in the middle, is everyone else is in the middle, is all the runner right, and that's where there's been conflict and tension based on, you know, things that happen and you know the whole thing in whistler was unfortunate and you know there was a local race director, gary Robbins, that that came in and had a race at whistler and then obviously it appears that UTMB uh kind of worked behind the scenes maybe and and he was ousted right, and I don't have an opinion on that either. I got a lot of abuse for writing a balanced story about it, but it just shows I did see that the tensions around the sport certainly um Are twofold. As much as we love Killian and Jim and and and Courtney and they're they're obviously well paid, professional athletes that are pushing the sport Um, we know they couldn't do that without that support from the brands that they're with the hokers, the solomans Um, and now normal, obviously killian's brand, but like those brands are only possible and the growth and the marketing does Only possible and the growth and the marketing dollars only possible Uh, and the athlete contracts are only possible because of the bigger exposure Uh, the more investment from brands, both endemic, and then we'll see non-endemic brands Hopefully get involved Um, because of that growth right. So that growth which is, you know, worldwide now it's, it's obviously all over europe, it's usa, north america, it's also very much growing in southeast asia. So lots of money coming into the sport I know the brands are making, especially In the last five years, making a ton of money in china, because that's like a new frontier, um, and and so the question will be kind of how that growth Um Is sustainable, um, you know where runners kind of you know fall in line. Do they want to do only grassroots races? Do they want to do a bigger international race that is kind of part of a branded tour, um, that's. We're definitely at a crossroads.

Speaker 1:

Do you feel because I mean, I know, I know from for meetings during golden trail or from speaking to various athletes or the the fact that they've set up a professional trail runners association which has pretty much all the trail runs in there who seem to be um Impactful in the community Do you think there is a danger of any of these race series losing the community?

Speaker 2:

Oh, for sure, I think that I mean, I think the pro trail runners is a really great thing, um, and for the first time since they Um establish themselves over the last two years, they've really been able to put the necessary input from an athlete point of view into races, into the industry. Um, because prior to that it was happening without the athletes, uh, involvement, you'd show up at a race and this is how it is, these are the rules, these are whatever, and so to have athlete interaction is important, because the athletes are the ones that are really, uh, it's a lifeblood of the sport, and how the sport is evolving as opposed to how events are evolving right, and so I think that's been a huge thing. Do I think it's possible that an event or series can lose the public for sure, and I guess that's going to be a ratio of how much growth is still happening versus how much the core of the sport, whatever we envision that to be the core of the sport, obviously the elite athletes, the pro athletes how much that pull goes the other way, like, if there's a certain kind of pull toward integrity or the soul of the sport, which we heard yesterday in the World Trail Majors broadcast. I think that that's a very big part of the sport in which I think it's great and that will certainly take a lot of runners down that path who again tied to that purity, tied to that community. And then there's the growth. There's the tourism running, there's a more mainstream runner who might pop out of a marathon running London or Chicago, and then I want to try that. And they see a race at some point around the world. They want to try that and they enter that race. We're not really, maybe, knowing the history of the politics of that. So what we're seeing is that the fringe growth that is coming in droves right now from the mainstream is a big part of this. How long that kind of growth can be sustained versus the core growth and the core interests and the core values is what we're seeing the conflict between right now. So it's going to be an interesting couple of years to see how this plays out.

Speaker 1:

And with the new series? Because, for example, when Britain left Brexit, there was a fear within the EU that it was going to show a blueprint for other countries to potentially follow suit. Do you think with the new series that similarly it will change substantially the relationship between UTMB and its races? Because the races suddenly feel like there are alternatives and maybe feel like they've got a bit more power than they used to.

Speaker 2:

What I will say is this I said all this growth is happening. It's going to force everyone to be better, and so, from a grassroots point of view, there's a lot of races everywhere that you and I could start a race and have it in our backyard and call it a thing and get 100 people. It's going to force every one of those races to be better, meaning safety and a good course and good A stations, all that stuff, and it'd be true to that event. It's also going to force the UTMBs, the Golden Trails, the bigger, more organized events, to be better too, because, if not, whenever there's a crack in the system, wherever there's poor quality or whatever else, it's going to lessen everything else. But so, certainly as a business, I would think those bigger races, those models, are going to be hopefully charged with understanding, like they're not only about growth, but they're about growth that brings quality. And certainly on a smaller level, same thing If a small race director all of a sudden gets too big and things become unwieldy, that's going to be a challenge there too. So I think that I think we're at this crossroads right now of understanding. We're all living off this fantastic growth and so we all have customers coming in from all sides, meaning the bigger races and the smaller races, and we'll see over the long term of how this plays out. I think that in the evolution of sport, certainly most sports that evolve, obviously, if you take basketball, the NBA is a very high level and yet there's still plenty of university or club or recreational aspects of basketball that exist very well, and the NBA is an elite thing that you and I could never play in right, but if we wanted to we could join a three on three tournament or a local club team and everything else, and so that's an extreme example. But I think that certainly there is going to be that separation, certainly of high level, expensive or whatever races that come down to that, and there's also ones that are going to probably be for the soul of the sport. I think the World Trail majors is interesting because as much as they're trying to offer independent races tied to these values, they're also still an international circuit that requires travel, they're not inexpensive and they don't really have a true championship built up. So we're still in this early phase. I really think the next three or five years will be interesting as to how all this plays out for the sport.

Speaker 1:

And then just going back to what you were saying before, because I did see with the article that was written about Whistler and Gary that you were accused of being a partisan because of the link of the organization and the magazine to the bigger organization. Have you been accused of that before and, as a journalist who's so well established in the sport, like, how was that for you?

Speaker 2:

It was interesting because when I actually was on a trip I was with Dylan Bowman when that broke. We were both caught off guard by the news, both when the new Whistler race emerged and also when we saw the post by Gary Robbins, and so obviously there was a story there From my point of view. There was a story there, I think from everyone's point of view. There were some interests there, and so I actually reached out to Gary in three different ways and I think he was traveling that week and I didn't hear back from him. I reached out to him by DM and by emails and all these different things, and then after that I reached out to the Whistler and Ironman people to get their point of view and they certainly gave me interviews and everything else and I wrote a story trying to include both Gary's points and what he said in his blog and then also certainly what the Ironman Whistler people were saying about how they came into it. And if you read between the lines you can see there's two different, conflicting points of view and understandings which still don't line up. And then if you hear some things behind the scenes, there's more to it than that. So I don't think either side was entirely transparent. Each side was telling their version of the story and as much as we know, that truth is universal. This isn't about that. This is about their interpretation of how things came to be and I think both sides had their own angle to it and I have no opinion on it. I think that I got a lot of views just because I wrote the story that maybe tried to tell both sides. I think if I would have written a story before that came about, it would have been more like oh wow, this is a story, and that might have gotten more credit for telling the story. But I think because I wrote the story after Gary came out with his blog post the core of the community, the grassroots community maybe that was leaning against UTMB anyway certainly was in Gary's favor understandably so and then just saw me as a catalyst fuel on the fire, and so I took a lot of abuse for that. But my only intent was ever to tell both sides of the story and again, I was hopeful to tell more of Gary's story. And the following Tuesday he got back to me after he had been on a podcast. I'm cool with Gary. I've known Gary and his partner Jeff in the races they've done through various publishing things I've done since the early 2000s, so I know what he does. I appreciate his running, his events and all that. But pulling back from all that, this is just an example of where we're at as a sport in the bigger picture of yeah, as we talk about this, it's kind of polar opposite sides of the sport that are growing. And again, that's where we are and I called it growing pains in my article and people obviously didn't like that. They got fat with some of the social media posts. But this is the definition of growing pains, right, because we all love that. Courtney and Killian and Jim are full-time athletes doing these great things. We see all this exposure and we also love the tiny little race that you and I could do, the 50K in our neighborhood. But the growing pains are somewhere in the middle where these things are happening, right. So it's a tough place to be, but it's also a true sign of the growth we're going through.

Speaker 1:

But did it irky somewhat Like, was it a little bit insulting on your personality and your character?

Speaker 2:

Yes and no, but I honestly think I never had a problem with it because I knew what my intent was and so I was a little bit surprised. So at the time, ironically, I was down in Arizona covering Jamil Khoury's the Arab-Arabic hobbling 100, right. And while all this stuff was blowing up against me on social media, I'm at the grassroots level interviewing. I spent sleepless nights interviewing people, taking photos at this event, trying to tell this story, and the whole thing is blowing up around me, and even people were there. I saw Billy Yang there and he's like oh, you're getting a lot of abuse on social media. I said I know, I know, but again I was OK with it. I mean, again, even as it was happening, I was there doing my thing for this passion that is tied to what I consider the purity of the sport, but also through my journalistic lens, right, and you know. And I got back from that and I wrote the story about Javalina and it was totally independent of the story I wrote about Whistler. But I think it's a nature of social media. Social media has created this platform for anybody to share their opinion, which is great, but also people don't wanna feel like they're wrong or people don't wanna have a dialogue. They wanna have their viewpoint out there and whatever they post is what they believe and there's no way to have an open dialogue about things. And that's the unfortunate part of social media, because it's created a real diversion among people and anything you talk about whether it be sport or politics or just human nature right, and that's the dangerous place we're in in the world right now, because people get violently upset about when people are challenging their own opinion or belief system. That's probably been at the core of human existence for 2000 years, but certainly now it's so exposed because we can see it on a daily basis on our phones, you know.

Speaker 1:

And also we can evaluate it based off number of likes for one comment versus another and the popularity review and all those things. Yeah, and where do you see in terms of Trail Runner and Outside Magazine? I'll leave you with the last question, like where do you see them kind of going to in the future? Do you think that there's always gonna be an issue with number of readers as free content continues, or do you think actually the growth of the sport could actually change the nature of it and have more readers and be a stronger magazine in the future?

Speaker 2:

I think that publishing has been in a curious place for the last 10 years, especially Publishing in all formats. Right. Print for sure is a challenge thing because the immediacy of content rules today, you know. But print obviously is a much more expensive business model for the time being. Right, and the business model changed when marketers, when brands that were advertising, suddenly found the ability to track with data how successful their ads were. Right, and whether that's entirely true or not. Obviously there's a lot of bots, there's a lot of false numbers out there, but when marketing directors for brands could say I'll place an ad here and I can see the direct result of the number of people we had looking at our ad and potentially ways to increase that right Change from buying a beautiful print ad in a magazine or a newspaper, right, and so that's what's changed publishing in the last 10 to 15 years especially. The other thing that's changed is there's a lot more content out there, right, like this amazing podcast, bad Boy Running emerged and is telling really true stories. Right, and there's a lot of great other content contributors in the trail space, billy Yang Billy Yang has put out some great videos, right. Single track podcast you know Debo's free trail, right, and so there's a lot of things going on around the world that are producing content on a kind of startup, entrepreneurial level that could be small but impactful, right. And so you know, outside, famously, has bought a lot of publications in the US and is trying a different model to consolidate numbers and audience and then using that platform with a wide range of viewers to be able to obviously maximize content optimization that way. And so certainly there's again two different extremes, so to speak, but obviously a whole kind of green field in the middle that exists, based on, I think, still, good content. Good content is king, right, and so you know, there's a lot of rules today when you have a good story or a good story to tell. Even among podcasts, the best ones are the ones that tell good stories, right. And so, pulling back to me, that's always been my goal to tell good stories right. And I think my journalistic background and my connection to the sport, both knowing the athletes, being at the races, running the races myself, certainly gives me that opportunity. And you know, everybody comes from a different way. You know, somebody might be a video storyteller, like Billy Yang. I come from a more writing background, but I think that everyone has their own way of telling stories, and you included you know, debo included. I think it's an exciting time because there is so much content.

Speaker 1:

And for the listener at home who, if they don't follow you already or they haven't read all of your articles, is there one article out there on the internet that people can see that you'd say this is the one that I think is the best story I've ever crafted to get people in.

Speaker 2:

Well, I'd like to say I haven't written that story yet, right? I mean like, and so I'm not sure you've had to answer that, because you know the whole 10,000 hours theory applies to me. I've probably written 10,000 articles, right, a lot of which are about running and trail running, and so I'd like to say that, like, I'm working on a couple right now that will come out in the next week or two weeks that are, I think, at the essence of the best work I've done. I wrote this piece last Friday for Outside about this Max Vert Challenge where this guy got 5,000, or 506,000 feet of vert in one month, right, and the crazy story's behind it and all that stuff. So that's a story. There's another story I wrote a story about this guy who ran this 50 mile world record yesterday and then, like I'm working on a story that's going to launch soon about this base jumping world record that's tied to this trail running, like this guy, you know, went up and down. He ran more vertical than UTMB while base jumping 102 times, and like stories like that Is that the one Allie's going for. Allie's in the story, but she wants to do the record as well, but this guy just blew it out of the water. But that story will be published soon. So I think that, like the essence of everything I do, certainly, I think, is tied to a lot of articles I put out, and so you can. You know, you can find my social media or my website, and there's a bunch of articles linked there. But I think that I'm always working on that. Next thing, I think, you know, I like to think that what inspires me is I haven't done my best work yet, you know, and I think that, like I'm always eager to tell stories and like I've got a really good one that you know is gonna it's coming out soon that I can't even talk about because I don't want to give it away, but it'll come out in the next couple of weeks and it's, you know, it's a crazy story but tied to running, and you know the people that are involved. So, anyway, that's what fuels me, just telling good stories.

Speaker 1:

And if people want to follow on socials, what's the best handle for you?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, brian underscore Metzler on Instagram is the biggest one Probably. I post some stuff there and then my website is bryanmetzlercom. But yeah, and then of course, all the outside channel. I write a lot for outside online trailrunnermagcom. So those are the biggest ones. But you know, come spend a day with me and you can probably learn more about me or the sport than you'll ever want to know.

Speaker 1:

Amazing. Well, thank you so much for coming to the podcast. I can't wait to be seeing you. I hope you get the run show in Boston but on tour next year as well, and if there's anything we can do as a podcast to help you with anything in the future, let me know.

Speaker 2:

I will say two things. One, it's been fascinating to meet you and obviously connect with you, and certainly I love your podcast. Caffeine Bull is a big thing to my heart because I'm a huge caffeine fan. I'm holding up a Red Bull right now. I live on caffeine, but yeah, it's been fun to engage because I think that certainly you bring great stories as well. I love your character, your personality, and so, yeah, I look forward to more interactions with you as soon as we can.

Speaker 1:

And next time in Parsi, free London, let me know, because we've got spare bedrooms and we need to get a drink in London style.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, and next time you're in Colorado we can go donkey racing, which we didn't even talk about. We can go donkey racing here in Colorado. I've needed that, but that's the story for the day.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, and I've heard some good stories to do with Salomon and that, but also Christopher McDougal talked about it when he did an episode about that. It sounds incredible. Well, thank you so much again, and we'll be singing, surely? Cheers, brian.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for having me Cheers.

Speaker 1:

Well, there you go, dude. Bad as it was just me today, because I know Brian so well, I thought we'd be a bit of a loving, but really, really interesting because there's there's not many people on earth who understand trail running and ultra running, particularly America, american ultra running. You know America trail as much as Brian and, to be fair, most times of me with him we just have chas like that down the pub for hours, and so hopefully that's been quite insightful to you. And yeah, it is really going to be interesting to see how the spectrum of races and series changes over these next three years, because there is a lot of money coming into the sport, a lot of new sponsors that I don't think has even filtered down yet or was perceived by the population as much as we're noticing in terms of contracts, new teams emerging, new kit and stuff, and so with all that money flooding in, that's going to have even more of an impact on these races and hopefully the challenge will be is hopefully we can maintain that community and maintain that integrity as well within the sport whilst also bringing on new people without diminishing the the impact of the other races and the feeling of those races. So, but do bad, as if you like this episode, try to give other good episodes to. To listen to Alex Alex, what's Alex's surname? From outside magazine and then he wrote the book in jaw. I should know his name off the top of my head, but we spoke to him about writing some of his articles for outside magazine. We've done an episode with women's running which we recorded in a brew dog. That was super fun. That was a live episode where they their train was delayed, so JD and I got a little bit tipsy before they arrived and then all hell broke loose. That's another one I'd recommend. And on top of that and one other episode that is from a long time ago, episode 117 with Ralu Was that Ralu's surname? Who was the? The editor of the running bug, ralu Alahand, and we talked all about real buzz, the rise of these online at the time, running magazine style websites along the closed, and I'm really talking about the transition from old media to new media Really really interesting. And she is super fun. Talks about a story when she's running in Romania and wakes up in a random guy's house being fed soup. None of them could speak English, but thanks for listening, guys. If there's any recommendations of guests, subjects, topics, races, things for us to talk about. The message meet David at badboyrunningcom or message on Instagram. And, as we always ask, please do reviews on either Spotify, itunes, wherever it is, because it really helps with the profile of the podcast and it helps us get great guests like Brian in the future. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next time, but a bye, bye, bye, bye, but a bye, bye, bye, bye, but a bye, bye, bye, bye, but a bye, bye, bye, bye. I must admit I was a clown to be messing around.

Speaker 2:

But that doesn't mean that you have to leave town. Come back.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and give me one more try, because I love like this. Should I never, ever die? Come back, fuck you, buddy.

The Evolution of Trail Running Journalism
The Globalization of Trail Running
Evolution and Growth of Trail Running
Trail Running's Evolution and Controversies
Competitive Balance and American Success
Internet's Impact on Content
Ultrarunning Performance
The Duality of Trail Running Growth
Trail Running
Future of Publishing and Social Media
Importance of Good Storytelling in Content
Requesting Recommendations and Promoting Podcast Review