For 13 years, The North Face Endurance Challenge was a staple of American trail- and ultrarunning – including the past three years in Massachusetts. The 2019 races were the last for the series, however. This morning, Friday, Dec. 20, The North Face announced the series is being canceled and hinted that a new format will follow.
“While it’s hard to see something you love change, we’re excited to share that, after thirteen incredible long years, we will be breathing fresh life into the existing Endurance Challenge Series and relaunching the event in 2020,” the brand said in a press release.
The North Face Endurance Challenge Series launched in 2007 and steadily grew in popularity, expanding to include events throughout North America and globally. Its annual Championship Race in California at the end of the year featured some of the best ultrarunners in the world while its regional races throughout the year helped grow the sport’s popularity. In addition to the Championship Race in San Francisco, the series also included races in Bear Mountain, N.Y.; Park City, Utah; Eagle, Wisc.; Washington, D.C; and Ontario, Canada. Previous Endurance Challenge Series races included a trail event at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park in Georgia from 2010-2013, and a road version of the series in 2011 and 2012 in Kansas City, Mo.
In 2017, the Endurance Challenge Series expanded to Massachusetts where it enjoyed a three-year run at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton. It featured two ultramarathon races, a 50-miler and a 50K, on the rocky, technical trails, as well as a marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, 10K and 5K.
While the event was popular, it won’t leave a major hole on what has been a rapidly growing Massachusetts ultramarathon schedule. The 2019 event at Wachusett Mountain was held on June 8. It was one of three June ultramarathons in the state, and it followed five ultramarathon events in April and another three in May, and it was followed by two more ultras in June.
What that relaunch of the Endurance Challenge Series will look like remains unclear, as does an exact timetable for when it will be announced and if Massachusetts will be a part of those plans.
“Looking forward to the next decade, we see tremendous opportunity to offer you and the trail running community trail racing opportunities that push the boundaries of the sport and introduce even more runners to the community,” the release said. “2020 will mark an exciting new chapter in our brand’s long history of trail running and we can’t wait to show you what’s to come.
“As we gear up for this transition, we wanted to pause, reflect, and thank each of you for the last thirteen years. We know that this new event format will bring you something truly unique. Stay tuned for an update on our 2020 event location and details.”