Moises Jimenez Aims to Connect the Trail Running World One Runner at a Time
Moises Jimenez wants to make the world a smaller place for trail runners.
Jimenez knows a thing about trail running from a global perspective. He’s a 31-year-old ultrarunner who hails from Maracay, Venezuela, and formerly lived in Santiago, Chile, but now trains in Annecy, France. Soon, he hopes to relocate to Colorado, where he’s visited numerous times. In each place , he ran trails, participated in races and connected with runners curious about how to get more involved in the sport.
He started trail running 10 years ago and has known about the connective powers of the sport since meeting Chilean runner Max Keith while they each got lost running a 50K race. After connecting with American photojournalist Kirsten Kortebein — who honed her professional chops photographing races for the New York Times and other major publications around the world — and realizing they all shared similar passion for ultra-distance trail running, they wanted to put their energies together to start something new for the sport. Jimenez and Kortebein found that they shared even more outside of trail running and got married in 2019!
What they came up with is Vert Run: an online coaching service, virtual meeting place and content site for all levels of trail runners from all around the world. With a huge boom in trail running growth since the COVID-19 pandemic — and now an estimated 20 million trail runners worldwide — their creation came at an opportune time.
“We wanted to innovate something in trail running that would help connect people and create community,” Jimenez says. “Our mission is to make trail running accessible and affordable to everyone, everywhere.”
Connecting Trail Runners
Vert Run began offering free trail running plans to runners in 2018, sending out coaching advice, training schedules and other information in an email newsletter. After they quickly developed a following of 7,000 subscribers, they launched the Vert Run app with the ability to cater affordably priced plans to meet individual runners’ needs — based on their training, their race goals and where they live — with the addition of semi-customized coaching that includes training plans developed with elite athletes from around the world including Ryan Sandes, Dylan Bowman and Hillary Allen.
Within the app, Vert Run also offers challenges and maintains a Facebook group that allows participants to share their journeys, ask questions and use a GPS tracker that connects to Garmin, Strava and Suunto.
It’s the community aspect that seems to be most rewarding for Vert Run users. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided and more runners are traveling to events, Vert Run participants are regularly reporting that they’ve met up with other users at races around the world. Simply put, it allows a trail runner training for his or her first 50K anywhere in the world — no matter if those runners are in Santiago, Chamonix or San Francisco, for example — to connect with other runners in the same situation and gain knowledge from experienced runners from around the world.
Vert Run has filled a void in the trail running world with authentic coaching, insights and content. It now has more than 50,000 subscribers in more than 100 countries.
“We believe that trail running is everywhere. If you’re in a city or if you’re in the mountains, we’re all in for the same stuff, which is running on trails,” Keith says. “It’s not hard to find like-minded people on social media, but it’s the stories and interaction people share in the community of Vert Run that are so amazing. People who connect on the app are now meeting at races and that includes some of our coaches. So they connect virtually on the app and then they meet in person and share their experiences and become friends. That’s the direction the sport is heading.”
The three founding members of Vert Run, as well as their five additional team members are all active trail runners in various places around the world — New York City, Costa Rica, Italy, Venezuela and France. This week, they’ll meet in person for the first time in Chamonix, France during the biggest and most prestigious trail running race in the world — the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB).
Tackling the Next Challenge
On August 26, Jimenez, a professional runner for The North Face, will run a race that not only sends runners on a grueling 171.5 km loop (106.5-miles) around the Mont Blanc massif, with nearly 33,000 feet of vertical gain, but also brings together the deepest international field of the year, with more hype and media attention—including epic coverage and commentary via livestream—than any other event in the world by far.
The UTMB is the Super Bowl of ultra-trail running and has been since its inception in 2003, but especially since it has grown to include eight races during a weeklong festival of trail running. It’s largely considered the de facto world championship of ultra-distance running because it routinely draws an extremely deep field of runners from around the planet.
Jimenez finished 36th in the CCC 100K race (62.13 miles) in 2017 and 11th in the TDS 120K race (74.56 miles) in 2018. He made his first attempt at the full-distance UTMB in 2019 and ran remarkably, placing 16th overall. He returned last year but had a rough go of it and had to drop out, so this year he’s back for redemption.
“I hope to finish in the top 10 this year,” Jimenez says. “Trail running is more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle. We do it and we live it every day, and we allow the people who are on our app to have a place where they can live the full life of ultrarunning. The community of runners visiting Chamonix this week is a great example of what we’re trying to do by connecting runners virtually every day. It’s very powerful.”
Vert Run was just accepted into a business development program of a Silicon Valley business accelerator, something that should allow it to grow and expand in even more dynamic ways. One of those ways is through the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) that will help automate some of the process of getting appropriate content and training plans to subscribers based on their specific variables.
“Everything we’re doing is to improve trail running, to improve the ability of people to reach their goals,” Jimenez says. “There are hundreds of thousands of people coming to this sport every year. A lot of them are lost on how to get started. They don’t have community, they don’t know how they’re going to achieve their next goal, which is often about how to become an ultrarunner. We want to help make their journey easier and better.”