On one hand, it seems that the COVID-19-induced racing lull of 2020 and early 2021 allowed a lot of runners to train hard and healthy, such that they were ready to race at a higher level post-pandemic than before, and such that we fans of the sport weren’t able to track their upward trajectories.
On the other hand, competitive American trail ultrarunning is following a trend that began just before the pandemic, where top competitors are spreading themselves across a wide array of events peppered throughout a calendar year, rather than concentrating themselves pretty thickly at three to four annual events.
Enter the 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k and its heavy-hitting entrants’ list to upset that storyline and present the deepest women’s field we’ve seen in the U.S. since the 2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile and the 2019 The North Face 50 Mile Championships.
We love this entrants list, as it’s filled with the fantastic mix that represents where American trail ultrarunning is at right now. We have the ladies who’ve been successfully ripping it at the national and international levels for approaching a decade — or more. We’ve got those somewhat newer ladies who’ve emerged from the pandemic as national-class competition. And, we’ve got a whole slew of slayers who could be this race’s breakout stars.
If you’re one of those people who’ve wondered just how the downhill-dominant Western States 100 would run if they raced the event in the uphill direction, then you’re in luck with the Canyons 100k course — to an extent. The race starts in downtown Auburn, California, close to where the Western States 100 ends, and spends its miles climbing ever higher into the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada, at times on and always near the revered Western States Trail. The Canyons 100k course is 59.3 miles long and has a remarkable 14,900 feet of elevation gain.
The race begins at 5 a.m. U.S. Pacific Daylight Time on Saturday, April 23, 2022.
As is self-evident in its name, the 100k race is part of the UTMB World Series. This is also the final race in the Western States 100 Golden Ticket Races series, so three lucky women will earn entry to the event.
In this preview, we break down the women’s competition as we see it, and you can check out the full entrants’ list, too. As always, things will change during race week and we’ll be updating this preview with who’s in and who’s out until the gun fires.
Have a look at our men’s preview, too!
iRunFar is covering the race, which means we’ll be sharing pre-race interviews with top entrants, live race-day coverage, and in-depth post-race coverage. Follow along!
Unless something strange happens, Brittany Peterson (pre-race interview) should be on the women’s podium. Brittany has twice been in the top four at the Western States 100, fourth place in 2021 and second in 2019. Also among her top finishes in the last year were a win of the 2021 Black Canyon 100k as well as second place at the 2021 Javelina Jundred Mile. While all these are more runnable trail ultras, Brittany’s running heritage is in mountain running- and skyrunning-style events. Given this is an uphill-dominant race in a landscape she’s excelled in before, you can’t help but call her for the potential win.
I think we’ve yet to see the full potential of Ladia Albertson-Junkans (pre-race interview) at trail ultrarunning, though what we have seen so far is stellar. Ladia came to trail ultrarunning with a bang from a prior road and track career circa 2017, when within a couple of months she won the spring barnburner Chuckanut 50k and took 13th at the Trail World Championships where she was the top American finisher. Now she’s fresh off a win at last month’s Chuckanut 50k. You may remember that Ladia has raced in this region before, finishing the 2019 Western States 100 off the front of the pack and in a celebration of life for her lost friend Gabe Grunewald.
It’s been so dang fun to follow Cat Bradley’s running career over the years, mostly because she marches to the beat of her own drum. Because of this, I think she’s underrated by fans of the sport, but that’s an oversight because her trail ultrarunning resume includes winning the 2017 Western States 100, going top 10 at the 2018 UTMB, and taking second at the 2019 Leadville 100 Mile. Cat championed the 2017 edition of this race, too, though the course has changed a bunch since then. She’ll contend.
When Anna Mae Flynn (pre-race interview) is on, she’s on. In the past, she’s excelled best at races around the 50-mile distance. While this race is obviously longer in distance as well as time from your typical 50 miler, we should still anticipate a podium effort from her. Her most recent top result was an eighth last fall at the 2021 JFK 50 Mile, but when we go back to pre-pandemic results we find multiple wins of the Speedgoat 50k, multiple podiums including a win at the 2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, and a top-10 finish at the Transvulcania Ultramarathon 73k. In my mind, Transvulcania and the Canyons 100k run a bit like each other, their courses holding a silly amount of vertical on largely runnable surfaces. She will be fun to watch.
Marianne Hogan is not racing as she continues to recover from an ankle sprain. [Updated: April 19]
Do we know if Canada’s Marianne Hogan is racing? She sadly posted on social media a few weeks ago that she’d sprained her ankle. If she is racing, she’s certainly one to watch for a podium finish. She has a diverse set of top race results, showing her nimbleness and adaptability to lots of different kinds of terrain and distances, including a win at the 2022 Bandera 100k earlier this year, second place at last year’s Ultra-Trail Cape Town, and a top-10 finish at the always competitive Mont-Blanc 80k back in 2017. We hope her ankle heals swiftly!
In my mind, Leah Yingling is poised for a top finish here. She’s been running ultras for a while and has numerous top finishes on tough courses around where she lives in Utah, but her upward trajectory since 2020 is pointing toward a potential podium. In 2020, she set a then-course record at the Hellgate 100k, a year ago she finished sixth at the Canyons 100k, earlier this year she took third at the 2022 Bandera 100k, and then just a couple of weekends ago she was second at the 2022 Gorge Waterfalls 50k. It’s Leah’s time.
Fast, Fast Women
Nicole Bitter has a decade worth of top racing results in trail ultrarunning. Some of her top results of the last couple of years have been a sixth at the 2021 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile, a win of the 2020 Javelina Jundred Mile, and a fourth at the 2020 Tarawera Ultramarathon 102k. She’s run in this region a number of times, as she has four finishes of the Western States 100, most recently seventh in 2019.
Sarah Biehl has leg speed in ultra distances. The last two years, she took a respective second and fifth at the 2021 and 2020 JFK 50 Mile races, the most recent a super speedy 6:22. Also last year, she was fourth at the 2021 Silver Rush 50 Mile.
Abby Levene has all the talent in the world to go big at this race. Her top results of the last couple of years are a pair of fifth places at the 2021 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile and the 2019 The North Face 50 Mile Championships.
Christi Richards has been racing ultras for over a decade, and has a fascinating running C.V. She’s a two-time finisher of the IMTUF 100 Mile, including a win in 2021 and second place in 2019. In the last five years, she’s got top finishes including wins at the Bridger Ridge Run and Old Gabe 50k, both gnarly Montana mountain races. She was also the 2018 champion of the Canadian Death Race 125k.
Monique van den Boogaart should run well here, as she holds strong performances at tough, mountainous ultramarathons. This includes a top-20 finish at the 2021 UTMB as well as a fourth-place at the 2019 Transgrancanaria 128k.
Jazmine Lowther of Canada is someone I certainly need to learn more about, as she rocketed to my attention last month with a third-place at the competitive Chuckanut 50k. Last year it looks like she took on two pretty tough races, taking second at the Sinister 7 50 Mile and eighth place at the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile.
I haven’t seen Lauren Puretz race yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Looking back at the last 15 months or so, her top finishes have been seventh at the 2022 Black Canyon 100k, fourth at the 2021 Pikes Peak Marathon, and fifth at the 2021 Bandera 100k.
Jenny Quilty of Canada will be one to watch for a top-10 finish, as well. Last month, she nabbed a ninth-place at the Chuckanut 50k, and last year she won the Ultra-Trail Harricana 125k and took second at the Canadian Death Race 125k.
Watch out for Allison Baca, who brings to this race a fresh second place at the 2022 Moab Red Hot 55k and a win at the 2019 Silver Rush 50 Mile, among other strong results.
Keep Your Eye on These Women as Well
- Megan Arauzo — 3rd 2021 Quad Dipsea
- Charlotte Cox — 1st 2021 Nine Trails 35 Mile
- Alexis Crellin — 5th 2021 Run the Rut 50k
- Abbigale Forsman — 9th 2021 Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k
- Anne George — 2nd 2019 Bear 100 Mile
- Erika Hoagland — 1st 2019 Rio del Lago 100 Mile
- Kari Laramore — 1st 2021 Upchuck 50k
- Samantha Lewis — 2nd 2021 San Juan Solstice 50 Mile
- Meghan Morgan — 4th 2022 Bandera 100k
- Lea Mulligan — 2nd 2021 Pinhoti 100 Mile
- Amy Nalven — 1st 2022 Hat Run 50k
- Luanne Park — 3rd 2021 Quicksilver 100k
- Corrine Shalvoy — 1st 2021 Silverton Alpine 50k
- Aroa Sio (Spain) — 1st 2019 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail 85k
- Denali Strabel — 2nd 2020 Kesugi Ridge Traverse
- Brigette Takeuchi — 1st 2021 Spartan Golden Gate 50k
- Amber Weibel — 4th 2021 High Lonesome 100 Mile
- Kerrie Wlad — 5th 2020 Bandera 100k
On the Entrants’ List but Not Racing
- Katie Arnold — Injury recovery
- Pam Smith — Racing the 50k instead
Call for Comments
- Who do you call for the women’s podium?
- Who will be the day’s biggest surprise?
- Anyone not on this preview who you think we all should watch for? Help us and everyone else out by sharing their details in the comments!