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Unsanctioned Racing

Unsanctioned Racing

No official times. No logo-laden goodie bags. No fees. No permits. No red tape. Just racing.

Pearl Izumi, “not an official sponsor” of Unsanctioned Racing, has taken the trail running tradition of Fat Ass races to another level. Through the Unsanctioned Racing Facebook App anyone can easily follow the steps to create a race, plot the course and invite your Facebook friends. In doing so Pearl Izumi will then provide “Unofficial Race Packages” for any races with greater than 10 entrants (packages vary depending on the actual number of racers). The largest unofficial race package is for events with 50+ racers and includes the following:

Insanctioned Racing by Pearl Izumi

  • Customizable race bibs
  • Unsanctioned Race finish line tape
  • Pearl Izumi shirts for the top 3 finishers
  • Fitted Pearl Izumi shoes for the winner



Although relatively still under the radar there have been over 200 unsanctioned races internationally with no reported injuries or incidents (would anyone actually contact Pearl Izumi to report an owie anyway?).

Pearl Izumi is in no way trying to eliminate sanctioned racing, this initiative is just meant to help promote a really fun, informal way for runners to further engage in the sport they love by creating their own races. It’s a great way for a group of friends or a local trail running club to set up a training race for an upcoming big race, when no other sanctioned races are available on a given weekend. I’ve also heard of a race director planning an Unsanctioned Race a few months prior to their sanctioned race and only inviting his race volunteers. This is his way of testing the course for needed adjustments and markings, giving volunteers a fun way of getting to know the area and course and to show his appreciation by saying “thank you” before they get down to the hard work of taking care of sanctioned racers.

For all the good things Unsanctioned Racing is meant to be and promote it’s not without some mild controversy. Some race directors look at Unsanctioned Racing as competition instead of a compliment to their races. Other people suggest fees, permits, etc. exist for a reason and Unsanctioned Racing promotes unlawful use of private and public lands. And some comments have been made in regards to insurance liabilities for the organizers of an Unsanctioned Race.

So what do you think? If kept in perspective and used as intended by Pearl Izumi is Unsanctioned Racing really any different than the Fat Ass races we have locally, where we just meet at a trail head, voluntarily throw $5 in a pot for food and someone’s non-running spouse sets up an aide table at the half way point?

We’d really like to hear from both runners and race directors alike on experiences you’ve had with Unsanctioned Racing and/or your personal opinions on how it fits into the trail running community along with Fat Ass races, just a group of friends getting together to run and sanctioned fee based races.

Leave us your comments below and let’s get a conversation started!


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