Running friends of mine Trey over at Uphill both ways, preferably, and Tim with his blog, A little Runny, both wrote excellent debates taking slightly different avenues but both seemed to kind of land within the same realm of each other. I didn't want my piece to be super analytical with facts to back it up, but more about my perception of how money will impact trail racing- whether it's negative or positive.
I can see why money and corporate funding can have negative repercussions, just look at major mainstream sports and even what it has done to cycling. It has impacted those sports so much that there is very little purity left in the game or sport. Everybody is chasing corporate pay day and as the money goes up so does cheating. Luckily I have not seen this in the world of running, trail or road (unless I'm completely naive and I haven't caught on to it).
Road runners, especially marathoners have been enjoying big paydays, and sponsor bonuses for a long time, which has been able to afford them a substantial life as a pro athlete where they can focus on training and racing. Trail running is just starting to scrape the surface of prize money and rightly so, top trail runners deserve a decent pay day for their insane efforts. A lot of these top performances are astounding beyond your super fast marathon. I'm not taking anything away from marathoners because holding that kind of speed for that distance is pretty insane too. For example, just last weekend Max King ran the Way to Cool 50k in 3:08 and change with 4800 ft of climbing, that is nearly elite marathon pace over uneven terrain. At the end of the day Max is still a humble, approachable athlete that likes to shoot the breeze and have a beer at the finish. So why shouldn't he deserve a decent cut to make his a life a little easier as a pro athlete?
I honestly don't see our sport getting out of control with more prize money if anything it will make it more exciting from spectators and race director's perspective at the same to giving back to the athletes that consistently push themselves to unbelievable heights. I trail run because I love to explore new wild places on foot with minimal gear, but I will never be a top athlete and that's alright because there is room for both.