The towns of Innsbruck and Stubai in Austria’s Tyrol region will hold the combined 2023 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships just eight months after the first-ever combined Trail World Championships and World Mountain Running Championships were held in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Kicking off with opening ceremonies the night of Tuesday, June 6, the Tyrolean Alps will host championships races from June 7 though June 10 under the combined auspices of World Athletics, the World Mountain Running Association, the International Trail Running Association (ITRA), and the International Association of Ultrarunners.
Our coverage and this preview will focus on the “Long Trail” race, which runs 87 kilometers (54 miles) in length, to be run on Friday, June 9.
Wow! Athletes are going to have their hands full with this course. On Sunday night, the race organization decided to run an alternate course due to snow remaining high on the intended course. This alternate route now has roughly 6,500 meters (over 21,000 feet) of climbing as it makes its way on the net-downhill course from Neustift im Stubaital to Innsbruck. Along the way there’ll be three climbs of over 1,000 meters on what all are describing as a highly technical course. We’re talking a roughly eight hours or longer men’s winning time here.
However, as race day approaches, there continue to be reports from the Plan A course that it remains quite snowy. No worries, as the local organizing committee has an alternative course lined up that shifts the prolonged higher altitude section along the west side of Grosse Ochsenwand and Marchreisenspitze to the east side of those mountains. I believe that would shorten the longest climb of the race, but, ultimately, retain nearly as much total vert (within roughly 100 meters) and lengthen the course by a kilometer and a half (a mile).
As you might suspect, we’ll cover the race live starting at 6:30 a.m. local Central European Summer Time on Friday, June 9 (10:30 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time on the evening of Thursday, June 8 in the U.S.).
What follows is a look at the couple of men we’re most likely to see atop the individual podium, what teams will be in positions to run for team podium finishes, as well as some other men to watch. Check out the full entrants’ lists for all eight races across four events.
And, be sure to see our in-depth preview of the 2023 Trail World Championships 80k women’s race.
A Look at the Top of the Field
With all the permutations that can happen in building personal race calendars alongside the complexities of being chosen to run for national teams, it’s somewhat amazing that nine out of the top-10 men from last year’s Trail World Championships 80k are scheduled to return for this year’s race. The lone missing runner is last year’s winner, American Adam Peterman, who was forgoing the race to focus on running the Western States 100 later this month before recently getting injured.
Below, we’ll dive into the nine returning men from last year’s top 10 below, looking at a few additional runners who we should be watching for in the top five.
Now, it’s time to look at the nine returning men from last year’s top 10.
No men’s runner will come into this year’s race with a stronger Trail World Championships resume than France’s Nicolas Martin (pre-race interview). He’s run this event six times, with a ninth in 2013, seventh in 2015, second in 2016, 19th in 2017, fifth in 2019, and second again in 2022. So far this year, Martin’s won the SkyTour des Matheysins. Can this be the year that he finally wins the Trail World Championships?
After taking third at last year’s Trail World Championships 80k, Italy’s Andreas Reiterer (pre-race interview) returns for this year’s race. In Reiterer’s busy 2022, he also took second at the Grossglockner Ultra-Trail, third at CCC, and fifth at MIUT. He’s raced at least five times so far in 2023, finishing on the podium at each race, including a win at Istria’s marathon race and third at the Transvulcania Ultramarathon, while also winning the Italian Championships at the Maremonte 60k in late March. While this year’s race is in neighboring Austria, Reiterer will have the advantage of living and training in South Tyrol just one hour’s drive from the course.
José Fernández does most of his racing in his home country of Spain, but his limited international racing includes taking fourth place at last year’s Trail World Championships 80k and winning the Krynicka Setka in Poland last year. This April, he ran Penyagolosa MiM for the third-straight year, running a 17-minute personal best on the 60k course en route to the win, so he’s clearly in good shape at the moment.
Fernández’s countryman Aritz Egea took fifth at last year’s Trail World Championships 80k as well as taking ninth at the CCC a few months earlier. In a light racing schedule so far this year, Egea ran a similar time at the Zegama Marathon to what he ran last year.
On what looked like a rough day for him, France’s Thibaut Garrivier finished sixth at last year’s Trail World Championships 80k. Garrivier heads into this year’s race with an ITRA ranking that trails only Hannes Namberger, who we preview below, and that sits one point higher than Reiterer, previewed above. Other highlights from last year include a second at the MIUT 115k and a 10th at UTMB. So far this year, Garrivier has won the MIUT 85k and taken second at the Trail du Ventoux.
Eric LiPuma of the U.S. had a breakout race in taking seventh at last year’s Trail World Championships 80k. As a selective racer, it appears that LiPuma has only raced the Canyons 50k and the Chuckanut 50k so far this year, placing third and fourth respectively.
Slovakia’s Peter Fraňo had his best ultrarunning season to date last year based on his fifth at CCC and eighth at the Trail World Championships 80k. Last month, Fraňo took eighth at the SkyRace des Matheysins.
We heard Didrik Hermansen’s name a lot in the middle 2010s before a quieter stretch of years for the Norwegian runner. That changed last year, when he was seventh at Transgrancanaria, second at the Nice Côte d’Azur 100k, and ninth at the Trail World Championships 80k. This April, Hermansen took 11th at Penyagolosa MiM.
Yes, the French team is returning three men from last year’s top 10 with Paul Mathou in the final spot. Aside from a go at the CCC in 2021 (25th), Mathou’s experience is almost entirely with trail races up to 50k, with last year’s Trail World Championships 80k possibly being his second longest race to date. That certainly didn’t hold him back in Thailand. Last year, Mathou was also fifth at the OCC.
Others with Top-Five Potential (Who Aren’t Noted on Teams Below)
Germany’s Hannes Namberger (pre-race interview) made himself known during his excellent 2021 season in which he won the Lavaredo Ultra Trail (Lavaredo) and MIUT 115k, took second at the Grossglockner Ultra-Trail, and finished sixth at UTMB. Last year, he followed that up with wins at Penyagolosa CSP, Lavaredo, and Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100k. This year, he’s won the Chiemgau Trail Run and been eighth at the Penyagolosa MiM. He’s got the added advantage of living 90 minutes from the course and knowing the trails well, so he’s got to be one of the favorites for the win.
Romania’s Ionel Manole is in top form, having placed fourth at the 2023 Transvulcania, third at the 2023 Penyagolosa MiM, and fourth at Ultra Pirineu in autumn 2022. With a strong finish, Manole could lead the Romania squad to a surprise in the team race.
Also keep a lookout for Switzerland’s Gian Schicktanz. He was barely 10 minutes behind Hannes Namberger in taking second at last year’s Lavaredo ahead of lots of familiar names. Although he has a limited ultrarunning resume, he also won the 2021 Swiss Alps 100k.
Pei-Quan You is China’s sole men’s runner in this year’s Trail World Championships 80k, but you should keep your eye on him. He’s won the two most recent in-person Vibram Hong Kong 100ks in 2020 and 2023 in addition to taking third at the Doi Inthanon 100k last December. Not surprisingly, he’s also won plenty of top ultramarathons in China.
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 those noted above, it’s likely that a significant percentage of the front of the men’s field will come from the top-four teams noted below.
The four teams noted in full below — France, U.S., Italy, and Spain — are the four teams whose fourth runner has an ITRA ranking of 870 or higher at the time of initial writing. (This changed with Jim Walmsley’s withdrawal due to injury.) Why look at the fourth runner when only three score? Because whether it factors in one of the top-three runners having a bad day or a fourth runner stepping up, the depth of a team often matters. Based on ITRA rankings, on paper, the French team’s fifth and sixth runners represent even more depth, while the U.S. team falls off more quickly than Spain or Italy.
In addition, each of these four teams has a full complement of six runners entered in the event at the time of writing. The two other teams at the cusp of full profiles — Switzerland and Romania — only have five men entered.
As a refresher, the most recent “Long Trail” World Championships were a 78k race run in Thailand in November 2022, with the U.S., France, and Spain finishing first through third, respectively, in the men’s team rankings.
On paper, the French are the team to beat, as they have been for nearly every Trail World Championships that iRunFar’s covered over the past decade. The team continually gets full backing of their athletics federation — I can only assume there was a French team training camp — as well as drawing top French talent to the team.
If you’re reading from the start, you’ve already read about three runners on the French team — Nicolas Martin (2nd), Thibaut Garrivier (6th), and Paul Mathou (10th) — who all finished in last year’s top 10.
Then there’s Benjamin Roubiol, who was second at the French Long Trail Championships in March before taking sixth at the SkyRace des Matheysins in May. It appears that Roubiol focused on shorter ultras and other sub-ultra trail races until last year, when he won the High Trail Valnoise as well as placing 14th overall at both CCC and Diagonale des Fous. Baptiste Chassagne beat Roubiol in winning the French Long Trail Championships in March, while also besting him with a 10th at CCC last August. Chassagne had a strong 2022 in which he also took fourth at both the Lavaredo and Transgrancanaria as well as third at La SaintéLyon.
While I believe both Roubiol and Chassagne will be making their French national team debuts, Romain Maillard has worn le bleu de France at least three times, DNFing at the Trail World Championships in 2017, taking seventh in 2018, and 47th in 2019. More recently, Maillard was sixth at last year’s Les Templiers and third behind Chassagne and Roubiol in qualifying for the national team at the French Long Trail Championships in March.
Based on ITRA scores, all six French men are ranked above the fourth man on the U.S. team and the third man on the Italian and Spanish teams.
We’ve already talked about Eric LiPuma above, who was seventh at least year’s Trail World Championships 80k. With Jim Walmsley a late scratch due to injury, it’ll take some strong efforts from the U.S. runners below to defend their team victory at last year’s championships.
Either of two additional runners could help keep the squad in contention for another round of gold medals. First up is Zach Miller (pre-race interview) who was 23rd in the Trail World Championships 40k last year, while he was eighth when the Trail World Championships were 85k in 2018. While Miller battled injuries for a couple years recently, he’s returned to top form with a win at the Trail 100 Andorra 105k and fifth at UTMB last year and a win at the Tarawera 100 Mile this February. Drew Holmen might be best known for taking third at the 2021 Western States 100 and then fifth at the same race in 2023, but last year he also took third at the Chuckanut 50k and Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100k, just six minutes behind Hannes Namberger, while winning this year’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. We’ll have to see how Holmen’s speed translates to the Alpine course in Austria.
Preston Cates has also shown he’s got speed with a third place at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile and fourth at the Way Too Cool 50k this year, a fast third at last year’s JFK 50 Mile, and second at the 2021 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. However, he didn’t fare as well in racing steeper terrain at the Stranda Fjord 25k and Sierre-Zinal last year. Caleb Olson was 13th at CCC last year and 17th in 2021, as well as taking ninth at the Speedgoat 50k last year. He also finished a spot ahead of Cates in taking second at this year’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile.
The Italian squad will be led by relative local, Andreas Reiterer, who we previewed above and who was third at last November’s Trail World Championships 80k, where the Italian team was less than seven minutes combined from bringing home the team bronze.
Davide Cheraz was the second runner on last year’s Italian team, when he took 17th. This year, Cheraz was second to Reiterer at the Italian qualifier race at the Maremonte 60k in March while later taking sixth at the Transvulcania in May.
While Italy has seven men on its team roster at the moment, only six can be designated as scorers in the race, so someone will have to be cut before race day. Presumably, it’ll be one of the following. Notably, the Italians selected their entire team from one race, the Maremonte 60k. I’ll continue to note the Italian runners in the order in which they finished that race.
Riccardo Borgialli raced for Italy at last year’s Trail World Championships 80k, finishing a few hours off the front. He’s actually had a couple tough years racing internationally, with a 12th at the 2021 CCC being a highlight. He was 23rd at the CCC last year. With Italy’s flourishing trail racing scene, Luca Arrigoni is one of the many Italians who races primarily in his home country, aside from a ninth at this year’s Istria Marathon and a sixth at the 2021 Skyrunning World Champs 68k in Argentina. Manual Bonardi is another home-country racer that makes it hard to relate him to international competition. Internally, he shaved more than 30 minutes off his Maremonte 60k time from last year to this year.
Philipp Ausserhofer has raced more internationally, but with a high proportion of DNFs. Amongst his more recent international finishes are wins at the 2021 Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun 85k, 2021 Mozart 100k, and 2022 Hochkönigman Endurance Trail, as well as a second at the 2022 Val d’Aran 105k. In case his race selection and name didn’t tip you off, Ausserhofer is from Italian South Tyrol, roughly 50k from Innsbruck-Stubai, but moved to Innsbruck to study pharmacy and now lives in Stubaital, so he’ll have a true local’s edge here. While listed last here due to his seventh place at the Italian qualifying race, Francesco Cucco was 25th at last year’s Trail World Championships 80k. Last year, Cucco was 12th at Lavaredo, while in 2021 he was fourth at Transgrancanaria, 14th at CCC, and fifth at Diagonale des Fous.
With local connections for at last Reiterer and Ausserhofer, it’s not a stretch to think of the Italian Team as almost a second home team.
To no one’s surprise, the Spaniards will once again have a strong team at the Trail World Championships 80k, led by José Fernández and Aritz Egea, who finished fourth and fifth at this event last year and are discussed above.
Marcos Ramos rounded out the scoring team at last year’s Trail World Championships 80k with his 23rd-place finish. Last year, he was also second at the Spanish Trail Championships 39k, fifth at the Val d’Aran 105k, and eighth at Penyagolosa MiM. Not far behind Ramos at last year’s Trail World Championships 80k was Ricardo Cherta, who took 26th. Still only 25, last year Cherta also won the Trail 100 Andorra 50k and was 11th at the Speedgoat 50k. Borja Fernandez took 48th as a member of last year’s Spanish team at the Trail World Championships 80k. Last year, he was also third at the Spanish Trail Championships 39k and fourth at Penyagolosa MiM. He also ran at the 2019 Trail World Championships, when it was 44k. Alejandro Mayor rounds out the Spanish team with a 14th at least year’s Ultra Pirineu and 12th at this year’s Transgrancanaria Marathon to his name.
Other Men’s Teams
Other top men’s teams to look out for are Switzerland, Romania, Japan, and the U.K.
Other Top Men to Watch
Here are some other top men running the 85k race at this year’s Trail World Championships, with a focus on taking a look at runners from around the world.
- Raul Butaci (Romania) – 4th 2023 Transgrancanaria; 13th 2022 Trail World Championships 80k; 8th 2022 CCC
- Daniel Claassen (South Africa) – 11th 2023 Transvulcania; 5th 2021 & 2022 Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100k
- Tobias Dahl (Norway) – 11th 2022 CCC; 1st Nice Côte d’Azur 100k
- Tomas Farnik (Czech Republic) – 2nd 2021 Matterhorn Ultraks; 1st 2021 Hochkönigman Marathon; 4th 2021 Trail Verbier St. Bernard X-Alpine
- George Foster (U.K.) – 1st 2023 Transgrancanaria Advanced; 2nd 2022 Mozart Ultra 75k; 12th 2021 Grand Trail des Templiers
- Jakob Herrmann (Austria) – 1st 2021 Hochkönigman Skyrace; 3rd 2021 Grossglockner Trail; 11th 2022 Transvulcania
- Alexander Hutter (Austria) – 1st 2022 Transalpine Run; 1st 2022 Hochkönigman Trail Marathon
- Harry Jones (U.K.) – 11th 2022 Trail World Championships 80k; 1st 2022 Mozart Ultra 75k; 4th 2020 Transgrancanaria
- Yuya Kawasaki (Japan) – 2nd 2023 Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji; 16th 2022 Trail World Championships 80k; 2nd 2022 Hasetsune Cup
- Kamil Leśniak (Poland) – 9th 2023 Penyagolosa MiM; 26th 2022 Trail World Championships 80k; 2nd 2022 Cami de Cavalls
- Joaquin Lopez (Ecuador) – 6th 2023 Transgrancanaria; 2nd 2022 TDS; 4th 2022 Transvulcania; 6th 2022 MIUT
- Tomáš Maceček (Czech Republic) – 1st 2023 MIUT 60k
- Ramon Manetsch (Switzerland) – 4th 2023 Penyagolosa MiM; 12th 2022 Trail World Championships 80k; 1st 2021 Trail Verbier St Bernard X-Traversée
- Walter Manser (Switzerland) – 5th 2023 MIUT
- Hirokazu Nishimura (Japan) – 3rd 2023 Penyagolosa CSP; 1st 2022 Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji; 21st 2022 Trail World Championships 80k
- André Rodrigues (Portugal) – 2nd 2023 Transvulcania 48k; 6th 2022 Penyagolosa MiM; 4th 2021 Cortina Trail
- Joshua Wade (U.K.) – 1st 2023 Ultra-Trail Snowdonia 100 Mile; 9th 2022 Transvulcania; 1st 2022 Ultra-Trail Snowdonia 100k
- Ho Chung Wong (Hong Kong) – 11th 2021 UTMB; 4th 2020 Vibram Hong Kong 100k; 6th 2019 UTMB
- Fotis Zisimopoulos (Greece) – 1st 2022 Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100 Mile; 3rd 2021 Transgrancanaria; 10th 2021 Lavaredo Ultra Trail; 1st 2022 & 2021 Spartathlon
Previously Entered, but No Longer Racing
- Jim Walmsley (U.S.)
Call for Comments
- Which runners and teams do you think we’ll see on the podium of this year’s Trail World Championships 80k race?
- Any teams or runners who you think might surprise the world?