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(Editor’s Note: Since this article was published, Grayson Murphy had to pull out of the World Mountain & Trail Running Championships due to injury.)
Joe Gray and Grayson Murphy are finally going to get an opportunity to defend the hard-fought victories they earned three years ago in Argentina.
While it seems like forever ago, the top two U.S. mountain runners have been plenty busy racing — and often winning — a variety of events around the world since then. Back in November of 2019, the American stalwarts won the World Mountain Running Championships in Villa La Angostura, Argentina. It was the second title for Gray and the first for Grayson in her debut at international competition.
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Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and canceled the championships slated in Lanzarote, Spain. As running races were mostly on hiatus, World Athletics, the sanctioning body for international running, collaborated with the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA), International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) and International Trail Running Association (ITRA) to bring the disciplines of mountain running, vertical running and trail running together in one official championship event for the first time.
The First World Mountain & Trail Running Championships
It was no easy task, given the independent agendas of each organization. Reading between the lines, it’s easy to understand that World Athletics, the supreme ruling body of all things running, is as interested in helping off-road running grow — both in participation and monetization — as the other organizations.
It all came together in mid-2021, and despite and despite being delayed twice because of the lingering impact of COVID-19, the inaugural World Mountain & Trail Running Championships will finally be held November 4-6 in the mountains near Chiang Mai, Thailand.
While it should be an amazing spectacle of off-road running on a global scale, what it means for the Gray, 38, and Murphy, 27 is that they’ll finally have the chance to defend their mountain running titles. They’re the headliners of a very strong American team of 39 off-road runners who will be competing in one of five different races in Thailand, and both are scheduled to run the vertical and classic mountain running races.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Gray said. “It’s going to be an action-packed three days with a lot of the world’s best runners.”
The good news is that the combined championships are going forward. Next year’s World Mountain & Trail Running Championships are already being planned for Innsbruck, Austria.
“As off-road running continues to grow in popularity across the globe, and as we continually look to increase participation at all levels of our sport,” said World Athletics president Sebastian Coe. “Each of our organizations shares the common ambition of promoting running in all its guises. We are working together to create more opportunities for distance runners across the globe to compete in a range of breathtaking landscapes and take on different challenges. Chiang Mai, with its striking mountains and ancient temples, is a great place for this inaugural event.”
More than 900 elite athletes from 46 national federations are expected to race during the four-day festival, which includes 80km and 40km trail races plus 8.5km uphill mountain races for senior athletes, and 11.2km and 6.4km classic up-and-down mountain races, respectively, for senior and U20 junior athletes.
The U.S. team was selected via automatic spots earned at highly competitive U.S. selection races and résumé submissions for at-large spots.
Meet the Team
Vertical Mountain Running Race
- 8.5km uphill mountain running race with 3,280 feet of vertical gain
- Friday, November 4 (10:15 a.m. local time)
Lauren Gregory (Fayetteville, AR) – A student at the University of Arkansas, Gregory won the inaugural USATF Vertical Mountain Running Championships, has a career best of 15:48.38 at 5,000m on the track, is an NCAA silver medalist in the 3,000m (9:01.67) and won a bronze medal in the junior race at the 2017 World Mountain Running Championships.
Joseph Gray (Colorado Springs, CO) – A world-class uphill runner and two-time winner of the World Mountain Running Championships, Gray won the inaugural USATF Vertical Mountain Running Championship and Italy’s historic Challenge Stellina Mountain Race in 2022 and the 2021 Pikes Peak Ascent, just to name a few. Gray will also be racing the up/down mountain race.
Allie McLaughlin (Colorado Springs, CO) – McLaughlin won the 2021 and 2022 Broken Arrow Skyrace VK races, took first at the 2014 and 2021 Pikes Peak Ascent and was the 2014 and 2018 USATF Mountain Running Champion. She won a bronze medal at the 2014 World Mountain Running Championships and helped the U.S. women’s team take the bronze medal. She claimed a record-setting victory at the prestigious Mount Marathon in July and also holds the women’s record on the Manitou Incline route.
Cameron Smith (Crested Butte, CO) – Smith won the 2022 Broken Arrow Skyrace VK and finished third at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 26K just two days later. Cameron has also taken wins at the 2022 Run the Rut 28K, 2022 Imogene Pass Run and 2021 Kendall Mountain Run.
Rachel Tomajczyk (Williams, AZ) — Tomajczyk placed second at both the 2022 US Mountain Running Championships at the Whiteface Mountain Race in July. She also placed sixth at the Broken Arrow SkyRace Vertical K and 23km races.
Dan Curts (Norwich, VT) – A relative newcomer to mountain and trail running, Curts finished second to Joseph Gray at the 2022 USATF Vertical Mountain Running Championships, took sixth place at the 2022 Trofeo Nasego Mountain Running World Cup race in Italy. Curts also has a 3:59.2 personal best in the mile and has run 13:38 for 5,000m on the track.
40K Trail Running Race
- 40km trail running race with 9,110 feet of vertical gain
- Saturday, November 5 (7:30 a.m. local time)
Michelle Merlis (Albany, NY) – Merlis won the 2022 Breakneck Point 42K to earn her spot on the team. This year she also won New York’s famous Escarpment Trail Run and just finished second at the Flagstaff Sky Peaks 10K.
Kristina Mascarenas (Colorado Springs, CO) – In 2022, Mascarenas has won the Pikes Peak Marathon for the second time in five years, while also taking victories at the Collegiate Peaks 25 Mile Trail run and Rattler Trail Race 25K.
Stevie Kremer (Crested Butte, CO) – Among her many accomplishments on the trails, Kremer is the 2012 World Long Distance Mountain Running champion. In the past six months, she won and set course records at the Westminster Trail Half Marathon, Mountain Ridge Trail Race and Emerald Mountain Epic Marathon.
Kimber Mattox (Bend, OR) – Mattox stormed onto the trail scene back in 2015 when she finished sixth at the World Mountain Running Championships, leading the U.S. women’s team to a silver medal. That same year she won the XTERRA Trail Run World Championships in Hawaii. In the past 18 months, she won the 2021 USATF 50K Trail Championships, finished second at the Chuckanut 50K and fourth at the JFK 50 Mile.
Ashley Brasovan (Golden, CO) – Brasovan has twice raced the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships, finishing as high as eighth in 2018. She also won the 2017 USATF Half Marathon Trail Championship and 2018 USATF 30K Trail Championship. In past 18 months, she won the Speedgoat 50K, finished second at the Way Too Cool 50K and took third at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 26K.
Max King (Bend, OR) – Perhaps trail running’s most versatile athlete, King is the 2011 World Mountain Running Champion, 2014 IAU 100K World Champion and bronze medalist at the 2016 NACAC Cross Country Championships / Pan American Cross Country Cup. King punched his ticket to Thailand by winning the 2022 Breakneck Point Trail Marathon. Just over a year ago, King finished second at the USATF Mountain Running Championship.
Jonathan Aziz (Colorado Springs, CO) – Aziz earned his spot on the team by winning the 2022 Pikes Peak Marathon. He also ran 2:15:30 on the roads at Grandma’s Marathon, won the Power of Four 50K, and finished third at the JFK 50 Mile.
Noah Williams (Leadville, CO) – Williams won the Leadville Trail Marathon, Sage Burner 50K, finished eighth at the Silver Rush 50 Mile and 13th at the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run. Less than two weeks ago, he finished a close second at the Pikes Peak Marathon.
Joseph DeMoor (Carbondale, CO) – DeMoor recently won the Skyrunning World Championships VK and finished sixth in the Skyrace. He also finished seventh at the highly competitive Trofeo Nasego World Cup mountain race in Italy. He’s won a lot of races in Colorado, including the Leadville Heavy Half, America’s Uphill and Dynafit Half Marathon, and has set numerous FKTs on Colorado mountain peaks and traverses.
Zach Miller (Columbia, PA) – Miller has finished on the podium at many of the premier ultras in the country and abroad. In his quiver of victories: JFK 50 Mile, Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, CCC 100K (the little “sister” of the UTMB), Madeira Island Ultra Trail and back-to-back wins at the North Face 50 Mile Championships. In late August, Miller finished fifth at UTMB — his third top-10 finish in the world’s premier ultra-distance race.
80K Trail Running Race
- 80km trail running race with 16,404 feet of vertical gain
- Saturday, November 5 (6:30 a.m. local time)
Jennifer Lichter (Whitefish, MT) Lichter earned her spot on the team by winning the 2022 Broken Arrow Skyrace 52K. She also won the Lake Sonoma Marathon and the Run the Rut 50K in 2021 and 2022.
Brittany Charboneau (Denver, CO) – Charboneau punched her ticket to Thailand by finishing second at the 2022 Broken Arrow Skyrace 52K. She also won the 2022 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, Run Through Time Marathon and Moab Red Hot Ultra 55K. Less than two weeks ago, Charboneau finished second at the Pikes Peak Marathon.
Addie Bracy (Denver, CO) – Bracy was the 2016 and 2017 USATF Mountain Running Champion and 2016 USATF Trail Marathon Champion. She’s been a member of U.S. teams at the World Mountain Running Championships and World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships including 2017 when she helped the U.S. women’s team to a gold medal. More recently she won the 2022 Golden Gate Dirty 50K, 2021 Run Rabbit Run and 2020 Quad Rock 50 Mile.
Kaytlyn Gerbin (Issaquah, WA) – Kaytlyn just finished third at UTMB, won the Yakima Skyline Rim 50K and finished in the top 10 of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run three times, including 2018 when she was second. In 2018 she finished 10th at the Trail World Championships, helping the U.S. women to a bronze medal.
Leah Yingling (Salt Lake City, UT) – Leah has been building a solid ultra-distance race resume for a number of years. In 2022, she earned a Western States 100 Golden Ticket with a runner-up finish at the Canyons 100K Endurance Runs and worked hard to turn that into a sixth-place finish at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Yingling also finished second at the 2022 Gorge Waterfalls 50K, third at the Bandera 100K and finished second at the 2021 Bear 100 Mile.
David Sinclair (Truckee, CA) – Sinclair posted a course record at the 2022 Broken Arrow Skyrace 52K, securing a team position with the win. He took wins at the 2022 Run the Rut VK and 50K, plus the 2022 Speedgoat 50K. David returns to Team USA after helping both the U.S. Mountain Running Team and U.S. Long Distance Mountain teams to silver medal finishes on back-to-back days at the 2019 World Mountain Running Championships in Argentina, with 12th and 10th place finishes respectively.
Eric LiPuma (Richmond, VT) – LiPluma earned his team spot with his second place finish at the 2022 Broken Arrow Skyrace 52K. He took the win at the 2021 Vermont 50 Miler and was the 2018 USATF 50km champion on the roads. He has previously been on USATF teams for 50K and 100K road world championships
Adam Peterman (Missoula, MT) – Peterman made a statement by winning his debut attempt at Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in June. The Western States win came as no surprise after course record wins at Canyons 100K, Chuckanut 50K and Speedgoat 50K in the past year, plus a JFK 50 Mile win in the second-fastest time in the race’s long history.
Adam Merry (Golden, CO) – Merry will be making his first appearance on a USATF team. He grabbed wins at the 2022 Moab Red Hot 33K, the 2022 McKenzie River 50K Trail Run, the Run the Rock 50 Mile and the 2021 Silverton Alpine Marathons in Colorado.
Jeff Colt (Carbondale, CO) – Colt is also making his first appearance on a USATF team. He won the 2021 IMTUF 100 Mile, finished second at the 2021 Power of Four 50K and finished 11th at the 2022 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Jeff also posted a third-place finish at the 2022 Black Canyon 100K.
U20 Mountain Running Race
- 6.4km up/down mountain running race with 738 feet of vertical gain
- Sunday, November 6 (8 a.m. local time)
Samantha Blair (Eagle, CO) – Blair finished eighth in the junior women’s race at the 2019 World Mountain Running Championships. She also finished fifth at the 2019 International U18 Mountain Running Cup leading the U.S. women to a team bronze medal.
Oakley Olson (Boise, ID) — Olson has run 17:50 for 5K cross country, 4:57 for 1600 meters on the track and 2:18 for 800 meters on the track.
Willow Lott (Durango, CO) — Lott attends Durango High School (Colorado), ran 11:29 for 3,200 meters on the track and 18:33 for 5km in cross country.
Christian Groendyk (Fort Collins, CO) – Groendyk has run 14:48 in a 5km cross country race, has a 4:17 PR for 1,600 meters on the track, is a 3-time conference champion, 3-time all-conference, four top-10 state finishes and is ranked top 25 nationally for class of 2023 for 3,200 meters.
Ignatius Fitzgerald (Missoula, MT) – Fitzgerald has a 14:55 5km cross country PR, has run 4:12 for 1,600m, is a 2019 Footlocker Finalist, two-time state champion and 2021 NASF National Qualifier.
Michael Maiorano (Medford, OR) – Maiorano attends Gonzaga University and has a 5k cross country PR of 14:48, has run 4:06 for 1,600m and is a Stumptown Twilight Elite 3,200m race winner in 8:51.3.
Dalton Kaines (Fort Collins, CO) – Kaines has run 15:05 for a 5km cross country race and 4:15 at 1,600m on the track.
Mountain Running Race
- 10.7km up/down mountain running race with 1,558 feet of vertical gain
- Sunday, November 6 (9:45 a.m.)
Allie McLaughlin (Colorado Springs, CO) — McLaughlin, aka, “Allie Mac” is coming off a strong showing at the 2022 Golden Trail World Series event in Portugal. She also won the Broken Arrow SkyRace VK in California in June and the Mount Marathon Race in Alaska in July in record-setting time and placed fourth in the Pikes Peak Ascent in September.
Joseph Gray (Colorado Springs, CO) – Gray was the winner of the 2016 and 2019 World Mountain Running Championships and winner of multiple U.S. national titles in mountain, ultra, trail and snowshoe running.
Samantha Lewis (Moscow, ID) – Lewis finished fifth at the 2022 USATF Mountain Running Championships and was the 2019 USATF Half Marathon Trail Championship. She finished 29th at the 2019 World Mountain Running Championships in Argentina and has been a regular top finisher at USATF Mountain Running Championships and sub-ultra distance USATF Trail Championships.
Andy Wacker (Boulder, CO) – Wacker is the 2022 USATF Mountain Running Champion, winner of multiple USATF trail championships and podium finishes in recent years. He also won the 2022 Broken Arrow Skyrace 26K.
Rachel Tomajczyk (Williams, AZ) – A relative newcomer to mountain running, Tomajczyk stormed onto the scene in 2021, finishing second at the USATF Mountain Running Championships. She also finished second at the 2022 USATF Mountain Running Championships, but not before taking the top step of the podium at the 2021 USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships.
Mason Coppi (Ladera Ranch, CA) – Coppi finished fourth at the 2022 USATF Mountain Running Championships at Whiteface Mountain. He also finished 10th at the 2022 USATF Vertical Mountain Running Championships, fifth at the 2022 Breakneck Point Trail Marathon and ninth at the 2022 Chuckanut 50K.
Corey Dowe (North Conway, NH) – A regular top New Englander at mountain races in her backyard – Loon Mountain, Mount Cranmore and Waterville Valley – Dowe fought her way to a fourth-place finish at the 2022 USATF Mountain Running Championships. Earlier this month, she won the technical Kismet Cliff Run for the second time.
Morgan Elliott (Salida, CO) – Elliott earned his spot on the U.S. Team by finishing third at the 2022 USATF Mountain Running Championships at Whiteface Mountain in New York. He has also won many high-profile mountain races including the Mt. Mitchell Challenge, Georgia Death Race, Power of Four 50K and Flagstaff Sky Peaks 55K.