Change was in the air at this year’s Canyons by UTMB event, held on Friday and Saturday, April 28 and 29, in Auburn, California. There was the addition of a new 100-mile race, as well as a change to a multi-looped format for both the 100-kilometer and 100-mile races, as opposed to the net uphill, point-to-point course which the 100k had traditionally followed.
The new routes for both the 100k and 100 miler promised to stay on the historic Western States Trail for at least 50% of the distance — taking in 10,500 feet and 17,000 feet of elevation gain respectively — but avoided the parts of the trail still feeling the effects of record snowfall this past winter.
The 2023 Canyons by UTMB 100k had its appeal as the final Western States 100 Golden Ticket race, where the top-two women and men earn entry into the race. The winners were Ida Nilsson, a Swede who lives in Norway, and Cole Watson, and both were successful in their second attempts at securing Golden Tickets this year.
The event was also a UTMB World Series Major, meaning the top-10 men and women in the 50k, 100k, and 100-mile races secured entry into the UTMB Worlds Series finals, held this August, in Chamonix, France. This brought some competition especially to the 2023 Canyons by UTMB 100 Mile for its promised spots on the 2023 UTMB start line, where wins were credited to Mathieu Clément, of Switzerland, and Alyssa Clark.
In this article, we first break down the 2023 Canyons by UTMB 100k, and follow it up with details from the 2023 Canyons by UTMB 100 Mile.
2023 Canyons by UTMB 100k Men’s Race
Eventual winner Cole Watson started fairly conservatively, and was still back in sixth place at the 23k Cool aid station, letting others do the leadership work. He had moved into podium position by halfway, eventually taking the lead at Drivers Flat at 78k, to win the race in a time of 8:34:39. Watson missed out on the Golden Ticket with a fourth-place finish at the Black Canyon 100k earlier this year, but has now earned his ticket to the Western States 100. From what we understand, he immediately accepted it.
Adam Merry — who formed part of the USA team who took gold at the 2022 Trail World Championships 80k — also started further back to climb up through the field, moving into second position with 10k to go. He finished second in 8:50:40, affording him the opportunity to join those gold-medal-winning teammates Adam Peterman and Jeff Colt at the Western States 100.
Justin Grunewald bounced back from a DNF at the McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50 Mile two weeks ago to take third in 8:53:30, just three minutes back from Merry, who had passed him in the race’s closing stages.
2023 Canyons by UTMB 100k Men’s Results
- Cole Watson – 8:34:38
- Adam Merry – 8:50:40
- Justin Grunewald – 8:53:30
- David Laney – 8:59:06
- David Roche – 9:36:45
2023 Canyons by UTMB 100k Women’s Race
Ida Nilsson, of Sweden but living in Norway, really wanted the Western States 100 Golden Ticket. Flying all the way to the Black Canyon 100k this past February, and missing the ticket with a fifth-place finish, she returned to the U.S. to race this event. She held off the rest of the women’s field commandingly, to cross the line in 9:51:07, and eagerly accepted that coveted Golden Ticket.
Canada’s Priscilla Forgie was the second-place woman, crossing the line some nine minutes after Nilsson. While she earned a Golden Ticket, we understand she’s taking some time to decide if she’ll accept it.
2023 Canyons by UTMB 100k Women’s Race
- Ida Nilsson (Sweden, lives in Norway) – 9:51:07
- Priscilla Forgie (Canada) – 10:00:20
- Aroa Sio (Spain) – 10:11:43
- Anna McKenna (Australia) – 10:12:59
- Addie Bracy – 10:43:34
2023 Canyons by UTMB 100 Mile Men’s Race
One thing is for sure, Mathieu Clément of Switzerland and Can-Hua Luo of China don’t do ties. Neither could shake the other until the home stretch — the actual finish chute — when Clément outsprinted Luo for the win. Both started reasonably conservatively, running in sixth and seventh respectively by the first checkpoint 5k in, before steadily climbing up the field.
Luo was the aggressor and was steadily gaining momentum for the first third of the race, before taking the lead by the first Browns Bar checkpoint, around the 30k mark.
Clément had taken a little longer to make his move, but by the second Browns Bar checkpoint at 49k, he had crept his way up the field and overtaken Luo to move into the lead, by a margin of 32 seconds. We believe that was about the biggest gap there would be between the two for the rest of the day, as Luo caught up and they mostly ran the second half of the race together until that sprint finish.
Canyon Woodward had started out ahead of the two eventual winners, running in second at the 5k mark at No Hands Bridge, and briefly held the lead at the 23k mark. He fell back as far as ninth at the Mammoth Bar checkpoint, but recovered well to take the third podium spot in 17:46:05.
2023 Canyons by UTMB 100 Mile Men’s Results
- Mathieu Clément (Switzerland) – 17:05:16
- Can-Hua Luo (China) – 17:05:16
- Canyon Woodward – 17:46:05
- Ethan Peters (Canada) – 17:59:43
- Adam Steidler – 18:52:43
2023 Canyons by UTMB 100 Mile Women’s Race
Alyssa Clark took the win in 20:13:21, having run a steady and smart race at the front of the women’s field. This continues a great run of form for Clark, who also won the 2023 Hurt 100 Mile, as well as last year’s Lake Sonoma 100k and Moab 240 Mile.
Alexis Crellin ran close to Clark all day, and just five minutes separated the two at Foresthill checkpoint at 106k, but Clark pulled away in the race’s final third. Crellin ultimately finished second in 20:55:06.
Prolific 100-mile racer Annie Hughes closed out the podium in 21:26, after running much of the race in third place. Hughes was the winner of the 2021 Leadville Trail 100 Mile, as well as the 2022 Cocodona 250 Mile and Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile.
2023 Canyons by UTMB 100 Mile Women’s Results
- Alyssa Clark – 20:13:21
- Alexis Crellin – 20:55:06
- Annie Hughes – 21:26:05
- Alex Borsuk – 22:59:02
- Lindsey Dwyer – 23:31:33