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Top Stories of 2016

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Over the past year, a lot has happened in our not-so-little world of trail running. Here are just a few of the biggest news stories from 2016 (quantified by number of page views). It’s a list that’s got a little bit of everything: new faces, new speed records, epic finish-line moments and remembrances of those we’ve lost.

See a story that you think is missing? Feel free to share it in the comments below!

1. Karl Meltzer Breaks Appalachian Trail Speed Record

For ultra veteran Karl Meltzer, when it came to the Appalachian Trail Speed Record, the third time was the charm. After two previous attempts, the 48-year-old Utah resident set a new speed record of 45 days 22 hours 38 minutes, besting previous record holder Scott Jurek’s time by 9 hours 29 minutes.

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Kilian Jornet (left) and Jason Schlarb after finishing the Hardrock 100 together, in first place. Photo by Alex Kurt

2.   Jornet, Schlarb Call It a Draw at Hardrock, Becoming Co-Champions

For the firs time since 1997, Colorado’s infamously difficult Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run ended in a tie. Spanish mountain runner Kilian Jornet and local Coloradan Schlarb kissed the white rock together early on the morning of July 16. They ran an unofficial time of 22 hours 59 minutes, missing Jornet’s clockwise record by just under 20 minutes.

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3. Beloved Oregon Runner Todd Ragsdale Found Dead After Trail Run

In February, the community of Ashland, Oregon, was devastated by the death of local runner Todd Ragsdale. Ragsdale, known for his sense of humor and love of running in costumes, had been reported missing when he didn’t return home from a run.

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4. Runner Dies During Ultra Fiord Patagonia

In April, a Mexican runner named Arturo Héctor Martínez Rueda passed away during the Ultra Fiord. The race, held in Chilean Patagonia, was in its second edition, and the cause of death was presumed to be hypothermia. The incident spurred debate among the ultra trail community regarding negligence on the part of the race organization.

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Hayden Hawkes after besting a strong field at the Speedgoat 50K. Photo by Alex Kurt

5. Hayden Hawkes Crashes Speedgoat

By now the name Hayden Hawkes is practically household. But in July, when the 25-year-old flew across the finish line of the Speedgoat 50K for the win, he was an unknown. The former All-American cross-country star came to trail running after falling short on his goal to make Olympic Qualifiers in the 10K. “I guess I thought I could do pretty well at trail running,” Hawks said in an interview with Trail Runner after Speedgoat, which was his first 50K race. “But I didn’t know I could do this well.”

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6. The Fastest Trail Runner You’ve Never Heard Of

Tristan Williams, 29, is a carpenter with the Appalachian Mountain Club Construction Crew. He’s also one of the best mountain runners on the East Coast. He routinely finishes races in the top-20, just behind the likes of Sage Canaday and Rickey Gates. He helped pace Scott Jurek through the White Mountains on his 2015 record-setting run. But you’ve probably never heard of him.

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7. Kilian Jornet Abandons Everest Attempt, Citing Weather

This year, Kilian Jornet’s “Summits of My Life” project took him to Mount Everest, and the trail-running world waited for weeks to see if the Spanish mountain runner and ski mountaineer could really pull off a speed record. Three weeks in, Jornet abandoned the attempt due to poor weather conditions.

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Courtesy of Jared Campbell

8. Catching Up With Jared Campbell, Only Three-Time Barkley Finisher

In April, Jared Campbell became the first person to finish the infamous Barkley Marathons three times. He was also the only finisher of this year’s race. Trail Runner caught up with Campbell to discuss Barkley, training and what big adventures he’s planning next.

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9. How an Insanely Busy Married Couple Swept the Way Too Cool 50K

This summer, David and Megan Roche won both the men’s and women’s races at the Way Too Cool 50K in Cool, California. To call them a trail-running power couple is probably an understatement. The two have been dominating shorter distance trail racing for several years now. On the side, David works as an attorney with the Environmental Law Institute, while Megan is a full-time medical student at Stanford University. Trail Runner caught up with the Roches to talk about how they manage their busy schedules with the demands of being professional athletes.

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10. Fifth-Place UTMB Finisher Disqualified After Testing Positive for EPO

In July, news was release that fifth-place finisher from the 2015 Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc, Gonzalo Calisto of Ecuador, was disqualified after drug tests came back positive for EPO.

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