The 2022 Black Canyon 100k kicked off on Saturday, February 12, on a sunny and soon-to-be hot day in Arizona, with temperatures quickly climbing into the upper 60s Fahrenheit by mid-morning. The point-to-point course, which runs along the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, weaves up, down, and around the foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains. Conditions, which can be variable, were notably dry this year. The first of the route’s multiple water crossings didn’t even have any water for racers to navigate.
The Black Canyon 100k course winds through the Sonoran Desert, an area notably short on shade and thick on saguaros. In addition to the exposure, racers have to manage rolling ups and downs with technical terrain as well as a few big, quad-busting downhills.
A glance at the course’s elevation profile might trick one into thinking this is a fast, predominantly downhill race. But mixed in there are a lot of rollers and rugged terrain as well as two unforgiving climbs in the latter half of the race. When combined with hot weather and Arizona’s hydration-sapping sun, all that together reminds runners that this isn’t a course to be taken lightly.
Spicing up an competitive field, this year’s Black Canyon 100k, which was already a Western States 100 Golden Ticket Race, was awarded two more golden ticket slots — one for the women and one for the men — when the Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB 102k was canceled earlier this month due to COVID-19. Thus, three men and three women would be leaving the Black Canyon 100k having punched their Western States ticket.
2022 Black Canyon 100k Men’s Results
In the men’s race, Trueheart Brown took the lead early and pushed the pace from the get-go. At the Gloriana Mine checkpoint, Brown was on pace to break the course record. At the halfway point at Soap Creek, Brown’s gap on the course record had dwindled, though he was still comfortably maintaining his lead over the chase pack, which started to string out after the halfway point.
Ultimately, Brown was able to maintain his lead, finishing in 7:57:27. This improves upon the 41-year-old master runner’s 2020 finish at this same race by some 75 minutes.
Scott Traer put in a rock solid start-to-finish effort, moving up as the elements and competition go to other racers, to claim the runner-up slot in 8:03:07, and Jeffrey Colt ran strong all day to finish in 8:05:14 to round out the top three and claim the final Western States golden ticket on the men’s side.
Men’s Top-Five Finishers:
- Trueheart Brown — 7:57:27
- Scott Traer — 8:03:07
- Jeffrey Colt — 8:05:14
- Makai Clemons — 8:18:32
- Anthony Costales — 8:25:28
2022 Black Canyon 100k Women’s Results
On the women’s side, Dominika Stelmach (Poland) was the one to push the pace early and hard. Stelmach, who holds the 100k European record and is incredibly proven at the flat-and-fast road ultramarathon side of the sport, established an early lead, stringing out the chase pack of more than a dozen women who were all running within a couple of minutes of podium position.
At the halfway point, Stelmach continued to put down solid splits. But even as Bracy and Yanko faded, and the runners in the chase pack switched up and strung out, Clare Gallagher, who at one point was nearly 30 minutes behind Stelmach, appeared in the mix. Over the last leg of the race, Gallagher would run down Stelmach, take the lead, and continue on to victory in 9:06:21.
Stelmach, despite her blistering early pace, finished strong as well, running 9:10:52 for the runner-up slot, well clear of the rest of the field. Anne-Marie Madden (Canada) made her move to claim third in 9:23:53, finishing with a comfortable cushion over fourth-place finisher Taylor Nowlin, who crossed the line in 9:44:14.
At the finish line, Gallagher declined her golden ticket, while Stelmach, Madden, and Nowlin all accepted.
Women’s Top-Five Finishers:
- Clare Gallagher — 9:06:21
- Dominika Stelmach (Poland) — 9:10:52
- Anne-Marie Madden (Canada) — 9:23:53
- Taylor Nowlin — 9:44:14
- Brianna Grigsby — 9:49:43