After two pandemic postponements spanning two years, Chiang Mai, Thailand, will host the first-ever combined Trail World Championships and World Mountain Running Championships, now called the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships, from November 4 to 6, 2022, in a series of eight races under the combined auspices of World Athletics, the World Mountain Running Association, the International Trail Running Association, and the International Association of Ultrarunners.
While the vast majority of the field will be well qualified to tackle the distance and terrain in the mountains above Chiang Mai, this location will throw the combined challenge of heat and humidity at the runners. High temperatures come race day should be roughly 90 Fahrenheit (32 C) and, while northern Thailand has entered its dry season, the dew point is still around 70F (22 C), so it’ll likely feel more like 94 F (34 C) by midday. Any sections of the course with direct sunlight will feel all the more oppressive.
For iRunFar, the challenge is choosing which race to cover from the eight world championships races being run in the span of three days. The long story short is that our coverage is best suited for the longer trail races as opposed to the shorter mountain races. And with similar levels of competition in the simultaneously run 38-kilometer and 78k races, we’ll focus our in-depth coverage on the 78k race, which we’ll round to 80k for simplicity. Still, we hope to provide more limited coverage for some of the other races being run in Chiang Mai in the coming days.
As for the race, the 78k (48.5 miles) will see a massive 4,807 meters (15,771 feet) of climbing and an equal amount of descent starting in the outskirts of Chiang Mai before spending most of the race in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.
As you might suspect, we’ll cover the race live starting at 6:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, November 5, which is 5:30 p.m. on Friday, November 4, in U.S. Mountain Time.
What follows is a look at the couple of men we’re most likely to see atop the individual podium, as well as what teams will be in positions to run for team podium finishes. Check out the full entrants’ lists for all eight races.
Don’t miss our in-depth Trail World Championships women’s preview as well.
Top Contenders for the Individual Men’s Win
While anything can happen on race day, four men stand out as top contenders to win this year’s individual 80k Trail World Championships based on both a look at their recent results and their International Trail Running Association (ITRA) rankings.
The U.S.’s Adam Peterman (pre-race interview) has started five ultramarathons and won all of them. That includes last year’s Speedgoat by UTMB 50k and JFK 50 Mile (in the historic race’s second fastest time ever) and this year’s Chuckanut 50k, Canyons by UTMB 100k, and Western States 100. Although not off the charts in terms of heat, Peterman’s run at the Western States 100 showed he can handle hot temperatures plenty well.
Tom Evans of Great Britain is no longer racing. [Updated 31 October]
Since taking third at the 85k Trail World Championships at Penyagolosa Trails in 2018, Tom Evans of Great Britain has won the CCC in 2018, taken third at the 2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile and 2019 Western States 100, and finished third at this year’s UTMB. This year, Evans has also won shorter races at the Transgrancanaria Advanced 60k and Madeira Island Ultra-Trail 85k.
Germany’s Hannes Namberger is no longer running. [Updated 29 October]
has had a spectacular last two years. In 2021, he won the Lavaredo Ultra Trail by UTMB 120k and Madeira Island Ultra-Trail 115k along with taking sixth at UTMB. This year, he again won Lavaredo, this time after winning the Penyagolosa CSP 106k in April. Namberger’s lone blemish over the past two seasons was a DNF at this year’s UTMB.
Recency counts for something, and that factors favorably for France’s Thibaut Garrivier. Last year, he won the CCC, while this year he was fourth at the Trail du Ventoux 46k, second to Hannes Namberger at the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail 115k, and 10th at UTMB. Such success isn’t new for Garrivier, as he was third at the Transvulcania by UTMB 73k in 2018 followed by a win in 2019, along with a second at the CCC and third at The North Face 50 Mile Championships in 2019.
Three additional men — Italy’s Andreas Reiterer, France’s Nicholas Martin, and Switzerland’s Martin Anthamatten — rank above 900 in ITRA’s index, and we’ll cover them in the Expected Top Teams section below.
Expected Top Teams
Before jumping into the expected top teams, a quick word on how they’ll be ranked. It’ll be based on the cumulative time of each team’s top-three finishers with up to six runners competing per team. Aside from Hannes Namberger noted above, it’s likely that a significant percentage of the front of the men’s field will come from the top seven teams noted below.
As a refresher, the most recent Trail World Championships were a 44k race run in Portugal in June 2019, with France, Great Britain, and Spain finishing first through third, respectively, in the men’s team rankings. While we still await some of the Asian team lists, there appear to be seven top men’s teams that could figure high in the team results — France (15th), Italy (16th), Norway (22nd), Spain (23rd), Great Britain (24th), Switzerland (29th), and the USA (56th) – with the parenthetical number reflecting the team’s third runner’s seeding based on the ITRA ranking as provided by ITRA.
Team France are the men’s reigning team world champions and it would be safe to say they’re the favorites once again this year. Not only is France full of top trail ultrarunners, but many of its top runners are also drawn to compete in their national blue jerseys while, perhaps not coincidentally, France’s federation routinely provides arguably the best support of any national team at the Trail World Championships. For instance, this year the French trail team had training camps in both June and October.
As noted above, Thibaut Garrivier should provide strength up front for the French squad with Ludovic Pommeret and Nicolas Martin backing him up with tons of experience.
It’s official, after his sixth place at the Western States 100 and win at TDS this year and fourth at UTMB last year, nominally 47-year-old Ludovic Pommeret (pre-race interview) is ageless. In addition to his 2016 win at UTMB, Ludo has run on the French national team at the Trail World Championships at least five times, taking fifth in 2015, fifth in 2016, sixth in 2017, fifth in 2018, and seventh in 2019. As for dealing with heat, Ludo tied for the win at the Diagonale des Fous in 2021 and placed second three times (2009, 2014, and 2019).
If I’m counting correctly, Nicolas Martin has run in five Trail World Championships with a ninth in 2013, seventh in 2015, second in 2016, 19th in 2017, and fifth in 2019. Over the past few years, Martin has taken fourth at last year’s Grand Trail des Templiers 80k and sixth at OCC as well as fifth at the Trail du Ventoux 46k this year in March.
If that’s not enough talent on the French team, there’s up-and-comer Arthur Joyeux-Bouillon who was third at last year’s TDS before taking seventh at UTMB this year. On the other hand, he’s twice attempted Diagonale des Fous, taking 24th last year after DNFing in 2019. And the French team talent keeps rolling with Martin Kern, who won the Marathon du Mont-Blanc 90k last year and was fourth at this year’s TDS.
In 2019, Kern was 12th at UTMB before placing fifth in the heat at Diagonale des Fous. Besides Joyeux-Bouillon, Paul Mathou offers another bit of youth to Team France but with plenty of experience, if mostly at shorter distances. His best races might be a fourth at OCC in 2019 and a fifth at the same race this year. Mathou ran CCC last year, taking 25th.
Italy’s Andreas Reiterer (pre-race interview) is the real deal, even if he’s a bit hit or miss. On the upside, he’s finished third at the CCC, fifth at the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail 115k this year, and fourth at CCC last year. Riccardo Montani was 14th at the 2019 OCC, seventh at the 2021 CCC, and won the Swissalpine 68k in 2020. Riccardo Borgialli was 23rd at this year’s CCC after taking 12th last year. Last year, Borgialli won the Ultra Trail Lago d’Orta 100k in Italy. Yet another Italian with a top-20 run at last year’s CCC is Francesco Cucco, who was 14th. Last year, Cucco was also fourth at the Transgrancanaria 129k, while he was fifth at the Marathon du Mont-Blanc 90k in 2019.
Of races that we routinely reference, Davide Cheraz was fifth at the 2020 Trail du Ventoux 46k, 25th at the 2019 Pikes Peak Marathon, and 51st at the 2019 Trail World Championships 44k. Matteo Anselmi has won plenty of races in Italy over the past two years, the most notable of which might be at the Lavaredo UltraDolomites 80k, part of the Lavaredo Ultra Trail by UTMB event. Italy does benefit from being one of only two top men’s teams with a full complement of six men entered in the race.
Fielding five of six possible entrants, the Norwegian team could be sneaky good. Norway’s Erik-Sebastian Krogvig had a breakout season in 2021 when he took third at the Lavaredo Ultra Trail by UTMB 120k and won TDS, although, to be fair, he also took third at Lavaredo in 2017. Krogvig placed 41st at the 85k Trail World Championships at Penyagolosa Trails in 2018.
The Norwegian men’s runner with the most international racing experience is Didrik Hermansen, who was a fixture on the now-defunct Ultra-Trail World Tour for a number of years with wins at Lavaredo Ultra Trail by UTMB 120k (2015) and the Transgrancanaria 129k (2016) as well as a second at the Western States 100 (2016). Hermansen was seventh at this year’s Transgrancanaria 129k and second to countryman Tobias Dahl Fenre (see below) at the Nice Côte d’Azur by UTMB 108k.
So far this year, Tom Erik Halvorsen has racked up a couple of wins in Norway, but, more relevantly, he was fifth at the Penyagolosa CSP 107k last year while placing 14th at the Trail World Championships when they were run on an 85k course at Penyagolosa Trails in 2018. I’m seeing Tobias Dahl Fenre’s lone international race finishes both coming this year with an 11th at the CCC followed by a win at the Nice Côte d’Azur by UTMB 108k a month later. He also had a DNF back in June at the Mozart by UTMB 105k. Anders Kjærevik sure has raced a ton in 2022 with results including a third at Penyagolosa MiM 60k, a 17th at both the Zegama Marathon and CCC, and 64th at Sierre-Zinal.
Team Great Britain
Although Tom Evans, previewed above, is the headliner on the Great Britain team, he has some good company.
Harry Jones has strong international experience including a 15th at UTMB and seventh at the Lavaredo Ultra Trail by UTMB 120k in 2019 and a fourth at the Transgrancanaria 129k in 2020. George Foster has seen recent success across various settings, winning the Lakeland Trails 100k last year, taking second at the Matterhorn Ultraks 32k in 2020, and finishing second behind teammate Harry Jones at the Mozart by UTMB 75k this year along with a 12th at the Grand Trail des Templiers 80k a year ago.
U.S. resident Ryan Smith rounds out the four-man Great Britain team with his extensive resume. Over just the past few years, he’s won the 2019 Leadville 100 Mile and been third at the 2021 Hardrock 100. Back in 2018, Smith took 16th at the 85k Trail World Championships in Penyagolosa, Spain.
Spain brought a full, star-studded team to recent Trail World Championships, but, this year, it registered only four runners with less star power than we’re used to for this squad. The most notable absence is multiple-time trail world champion Luis Alberto Hernando.
The clear leader of the Spanish team is Aritz Egea, who’s been trail racing around the world for the past decade. Long a stud at roughly marathon and shorter races, particularly on the Skyrunner World Series and Golden Trail World Series circuits, he’s started moving up in distance in recent years, taking 10th at the Ultra Pirineu 100k last year and ninth at the CCC this year. As I’ll soon mention, this year’s Penyagolosa MiM 60k race for some of the other Spanish runners, I’ll point out that Egea was second there.
Jose Fernandez was fifth at this year’s Penyagolosa MiM 60k after taking second at the race last year. Among Marcos Ramos’s top finishes of late are a 10th at the 2020 Transgrancanaria 129k, a fifth at least year’s TDS, and a ninth at the 2022 European Athletics Off-Road Championships 47k. Ramos was also second at this year’s Spanish Trail National Championships 39k race. Borja Fernandez finished one place behind teammate Marcos Ramos at the Spanish Trail National Championships in April, while taking fourth at the Penyagolosa MiM 60k race a few weeks later. Fernandez was 145th at the Trail World Championships 44k in Portugal in 2019.
With David Sinclair recently coming off the entrants’ list, the U.S. team is down to four men registered to run. That means for the Americans to place well as a team, they’ll need two of Eric LiPuma, Jeff Colt, and Adam Merry to step up alongside Team USA’s headliner Adam Peterman, who is previewed above.
Eric LiPuma has raced numerous U.S. national championships and at least the IAU 100k World Championships this year. He’s also had one of his better stretches of ultrarunning over the past year, highlighted by placing a close second to David Sinclair at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k in June and a third place at the JFK 50 Mile in 5:39 last November. Like teammate Eric LiPuma, Jeff Colt is currently seeing one of the best stretches of his ultra career, winning the IMTUF 100 Mile in September 2021, taking third at the Black Canyon 100k in February 2022, and finishing 11th at the Western States 100 this past June. Adam Merry rounds out the team having recently taken seventh at the Way Too Cool 50k in March and third at the Gorge Waterfalls 50k in April.
Switzerland has only three men entered in the race. Martin Anthamatten is top-ranked with strong finishes in various races at the Matterhorn Ultraks through the years, including a second at the 23k Extreme race last year. It’s worth noting that Martin is also entered in the simultaneous marathon-length race and we don’t know which event he’s actually planning to race. Ramon Manetsch won last year’s Trail Verbier St Bernard by UTMB 76k and was 11th at the European Athletics Off-Road Championships 47k in July. After taking second to teammate Ramon Manetsch at the Trail Verbier St Bernard by UTMB 76k last year, Martin Lustenberger won it this year.
Other Top Men
Here are some other top men running the 78k race at this year’s Trail World Championships, with a focus on taking a look at runners from around the world.
- Miguel Arsénio (Portugal) – 2nd 2022 Lavaredo Cortina Trail 48k; 5th 2021 Portuguese Trail National Championships 35k
- Raul Butaci (Romania) – 8th 2022 CCC; 9th 2021 & 5th 2018 Ultra Pirineu 100k; 19th 2021 OCC
- Peter Fraňo (Slovakia) – 5th 2022 CCC; 7th 2021 OCC; 5th 2019 Hamperokken Skyrace 57k
- Hugo Gonçalves (Portugal) – 21st 2021 CCC; 10th 2019 Ultra Pirineu 100k; 31st 2018 UTMB
- Weston Hill (New Zealand) – 15th 2022 Hochkongman 32k; 14th 2019 Transvulcania by UTMB 73k; 13th 2018 CCC
- Benedikt Hoffmann (Germany) – 1st 2019 Zermatt Marathon; 9th 2021 Grand Trail des Templiers 80k; 3rd 2022 Mozart by UTMB 100k
- Thorbergur Jonsson (Iceland) – 9th 2015 Trail World Championships 82k; 32nd 2022 OCC; 17th 2019 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail 115k
- Jantaraboon Kiangchaipaiphana (Thailand) – 5th 2018 Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji; 47th 2019 & 55th 2022 UTMB
- Kamil Leśniak (Poland) – 25th 2022 UTMB; 6th 2022 Mozart by UTMB 100k; 19th 2020 Transgrancanaria 129k
- Hirokazu Nishimura (Japan) – 34th 2022 UTMB; 1st 2022 Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji
- Patrick O’Leary (Ireland) –44th 2022 & 43rd 2021 CCC; 8th 2021 Canyons by UTMB 100k; 11th 2019 Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100k
- John Ray Onifa (Philippines) – 79th 2022 UTMB; 68th 2022 Val d’Aran by UTMB 105k; 33rd 2019 CCC; 25th 2019 Vibram Hong Kong 100k
- Juuso Simpanen (Finland) – 31st 2022 UTMB; 11th 2022 Lavaredo Ultra Trail by UTMB 120k; 37th 2019 Trail World Championships 44k
- Bruno Sousa (Portugal) – 22nd 2022 UTMB; 72nd 2019 Trail World Championships 44k
- Simen Hjalmar Wästlund (Sweden) – 1st 2019 Stranda Fjord 48k; 12th 2021 Transgrancanaria 129k
- Ho Chung Wong (Hong Kong) – 33rd 2022 & 11th 2021 UTMB; 4th 2020 Vibram Hong Kong 100k
Call for Comments
- Which runners and teams do you think we’ll see on the podium of this year’s Trail World Championships 78k race?
- Any teams or runners who you think might surprise the world?