First of all, the sixth UTMF that was held this spring was a huge success thanks to the wonderful support and enthusiasm of racers, volunteers, and sponsors. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to everyone involved in this event.
We have been organizing this event not only for the growth of trail running as a sport but also to provide an international opportunity for passionate trail runners from around the world. We are committed to keep organizing this event ten and twenty years into the future. As this is a large international event, the simultaneous implementation of both the UTMF and STY as one event has been quite difficult in regards of securing the safety of racers and the event administration.
Given such circumstances, we made drastic changes in the course and administration in the 2018 UTMF in this spring. The changes included: (1) the course did not completely circle around Mt. Fuji; and (2) both the UTMF and STY started from the same venue with a short interval. These were essential and unavoidable decisions for us to continue both races. Still, it was extremely difficult to administer the two race categories with the start and finish lines located at different venues as one event.
Therefore, we made a tough decision to discontinue the STY as of the 2019 event and organize the entire event as a single-category race of the UTMF. This decision was to ensure the stability and continuity of the event.
With this change, the total number of racers in the UTMF in 2019 will be 2,400. We have been discussing this matter for hours and hours since the end of the UTMF in this spring. We then reached a final conclusion that this was the only way to continue this event.
We have been organizing the STY as an introductory event to the Ultra-Trail for many years. We thus have a strong attachment with the race. It is absolutely heartbreaking that we have to discontinue the STY starting the next year. We would also like to specifically apologize to the fellow trail runners who are looking forward to participating in the STY.
We started organizing the UTMF to introduce 100-mile ultra-trail race to Japan and establish the event as a culture. There are only a few 100-mile races today in Japan. Also, as we all know, we cannot increase the number of racers in the UTMF from the current level for environmental reasons. We thus made this decision so that more people from Japan and around the world would have the opportunity to experience the virtue of a 100-mile race.
Again, it is a true disappointment for all of us that we have to discontinue the STY. We appreciate your understanding. Still, we are absolutely committed to bring the UTMF to the new and better stage and make it an event that everyone around the world would admire.