After last year’s event in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the 2023 Trail World Championships 80k, now part of the combined World Mountain and Trail Running Championships, returned to Europe and the Tyrolean Alps, with the event jointly hosted by the village of Neustift im Stubaital and the city of Innsbruck, Austria.
With too much snow on the original course, organizers made a last-minute change to an alternate course that routed the middle part of the course over lower mountains between the start in Neustift in the Stubai Valley and the finish in Innsbruck. The change didn’t seem to affect the character of the course or reduce its difficulty. Deemed one of the most, if not the most, technical course that the Trail World Championships has dished up, times were relatively slow for the 80-kilometer (actually 87k/54 miles) course which had 6,500 meters (21,000 feet) of climbing and even more descending over trails that were slower than many others normally used in European ultramarathon races.
On the men’s side, the event had nine out of the top-10 men from last year’s Trail World Championships 80k returning, with only the defending champion missing from the lineup. This means that last year’s second- and third-place men in France’s Nicolas Martin (pre-race interview) and Italy’s Andreas Reiterer (pre-race and post-race interviews) were returning just seven months after their podium finishes. After several big results in 2021 and 2022, Germany’s Hannes Namberger (pre-race interview) came in as one to watch.
The women similarly returned two top runners from last year’s Trail World Championships 80k, including reigning world champion Blandine L’Hirondel of France (pre-race interview) and Gemma Arenas of Spain, who was third in 2022 and would be running her sixth Trail World Championships.
But, as racing tends to go, nothing turned out as expected. In the end, it was Benjamin Roubiol (post-race interview) and Marion Delespierre (post-race interview), both of France, reaching the Innsbruck finish line first after a day of close racing and frequent lead changes. Roubiol waited until the final climb to put the pressure on a tiring Reiterer, who’d spent much of the race in the lead.
The women’s race was equally close with the top-three women coming into the base of the final climb at 66k within two minutes of each other. After racing a very patient and smart race, Delespierre had enough in the tank to pull away from Katharina Hartmuth (post-race interview) of Germany and Manon Bohard Cailler (post-race interview) of France on the final climb and descent.
There were no surprises in the winners of the team competition, with France walking away with both the men’s and women’s titles, although the U.S. men made it a close call!
Be sure to also check out our 2023 World Mountain Running Championships Uphill results article, 2023 Trail World Championships 40k results article, and 2023 World Mountain Running Championships Up and Down results article.
2023 Trail World Championships 80k Men’s Race
Starting under cool and clear skies in Neustift, the men’s race went out fast up the “starting loop,” which happened to feature a 1,200-meter (4,000 feet) climb over 8.2 kilometers straight out of the starting gate. While things hadn’t split up significantly over the first climb, both Zach Miller (pre-race interview) of the U.S. and Andreas Reiterer (pre-race interview) of Italy came across the top in the top 10, clearly stating their intents for the day.
Back down in the valley, the two chased Baptiste Chassagne of France as the top three, as the race left the Stubai Valley and headed back up into the mountains toward Innsbruck. Benjamin Roubiol of France, Peter Fraňo of Slovakia, Aritz Egea of Spain, and Thibaut Garrivier of France all ran comfortably in the top 10, though Garrivier looked noticeably distressed compared to the others. Pre-race favorite, Nicolas Martin (pre-race interview) of France, was not in contention and would eventually drop after the halfway point due to knee pain.
By the 36k mark, Reiterer had taken over the lead from Chassagne as they went over the biggest climb of the day, tallied at 1,400 meters (4,600 feet). From an outside observer’s perspective, Reiterer looked incredibly comfortable, running well within himself and appearing to have everything under control. Egea, Miller, Roubiol, Garrivier, and Fraňo all stayed in the top 10, all within 10 minutes of each other, biding their time.
Over the course of the next three major climbs, all around 600 meters (2,000 feet), high in the mountains between the two host cities, Reiterer continued to lead the slowly stretching field. The steep trails were no barrier to his steady effort and the race’s cameraman was seen breathing harder than he was. Roubiol followed about six minutes back over the top of the last climb in the series, with Fraňo, Egea, and Garrivier completing the top five, still within 10 minutes of each other. Miller continued to hold on in sixth.
More than halfway now, the runners bombed down into the village of Grinzens in the valley at 54k, now back to their original starting elevation, except on the other side of the mountains, with more descending to go before the final climb and descent into Innsbruck. Reiterer and Roubiol maintained their top-two positions while the rest of the top 10 continued to shuffle amongst themselves with Garrivier continuing to move up in the field and Miller dropping another place into seventh. Miller, looking spry and claiming that he still had legs, continued to keep tabs on the men in front of him, clearly intent on reeling them in.
Continuing down to the low point of the course in Kranebritten at 66k, the top five looked like Reiterer, Roubiol, Fraňo, Garrivier, and Tomáš Fárník of the Czech Republic. Now, all that stood between the front end of the race and the finish was a final 1,000-meter (3,400 feet) climb and a wild drop back down into Innsbruck. While anything could happen, with more than a four-minute lead, it seemed like it was Reiterer’s lead to lose.
But on the final climb of the race, the ever-patient Roubiol made his move, surging into the lead at Aspachhütte at 71k, and opening a four-minute gap on a fading Reiterer. Roubiol looked incredibly focused as he made his way up the mountain. Fraňo and Garrivier remained solid in third and fourth, and Miller started to make good on his promise of still having legs, moving into fifth. The gap between Roubiol and Reiterer only continued to grow, eight minutes at 73k, and nine minutes at 75k, as they made their way to the top of the final climb. Fraňo stayed strong in third, Garrivier in fourth, and Miller and Fárník continued to battle for fifth, 25 minutes off the lead.
From there, it was all downhill to the finish. Benjamin Roubiol flew down the final descent to win the 2023 Trail World Championships 80k in 9:52:59. Reiterer followed just under eight minutes back, the gap holding steady the whole descent. Fraňo and Garrivier both held onto their places to finish third and fourth. Behind them, U.S. teammates Drew Holmen and Eric LiPuma made a strong push to catch up to their teammate Miller. Holmen would out sprint Miller at the line, and the two were followed less a minute later by LiPuma, the trio taking fifth through seventh.
For the team competition, Chassagne would be the third French finisher in 17th place, securing the team victory for France. The strong fifth through seventh finishes of the U.S. men slotted them into second in the team competition, just over five minutes behind the French in over 30 hours of cumulative racing. Reiterer would lead the Italian team to a third-place finish.
2023 Trail World Championships 80k Men’s Results
- Benjamin Roubiol (France) – 9:52:59 (post-race interview)
- Andreas Reiterer (Italy) – 10:00:46 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Peter Fraňo (Slovakia) – 10:02:10
- Thibaut Garrivier (France) – 10:14:29
- Drew Holmen (U.S.) – 10:15:40
- Zach Miller (U.S.) – 10:15:45
- Eric LiPuma (U.S.) – 10:16:52
- Ramon Manetsch (Switzerland) – 10:17:13
- Tomás Farník (Czech Republic) – 10:18:02
- Walter Manser (Switzerland) – 10:19:19
- France – 30:43:09
- United States – 30:48:17
- Italy – 31:29:55
2023 Trail World Championships 80k Women’s Race
As with the men’s race, some of the pre-race favorites bowed out of the race early on with Blandine L’Hirondel (pre-race interview) dropping on the “start loop” out of Neustift due to foot pain from an existing injury. The rest of the field charged on, led up the first climb by Marcela Vašínová (pre-race interview) of the Czech Republic, Martina Valmassoi (pre-race interview) of Italy, and Akiyama Honoka of Japan.
The top five, made up of Allison Baca of the U.S., Vašínová, Azara García of Spain, Valmassoi, and Honoka, all came back through the village of Neustift at 18k and headed out into the mountains toward Innsbruck within two and a half minutes of each other.
The front of the race continued to reshuffle up the day’s biggest climb, that 1,400-meter (4,600 feet) doozy. Vašínová continued to lead with a smile, opening up a sizable gap to Germany’s Katharina Hartmuth and Valmassoi, who were running within a minute of each other 36k into the race. Baca and Rosanna Buchauer of Germany rounded out the top five as the race approached the halfway point.
Vašínová’s and Valmassoi’s fast start seemed to take a toll on the two women as they traversed the following three climbs and descents high in the mountains, with Vašínová looking noticeably rougher than the quickly closing Hartmuth, who looked downright comfortable. By the top of the final 600-meter (2,000 feet) climb in the middle section of the course, the two women had dropped back in the standings with Hartmuth taking over the lead with a five-minute gap over second-place Manon Bohard Cailler of France. Buchauer and Marion Delespierre of France trailed second by less than half a minute now, 49k into the race and only one major climb left to go. Pre-race favorite Gemma Arenas of Spain continued to work her way up the field after a slow start and ran just inside the top 10 in ninth place.
The top five remained mostly unchanged except for a slight shuffle after the dramatic drop into Grinzens village at 54k, with Bohard Cailler, Delespierre, and Buchauer all running within 20 seconds of each other, four minutes behind Hartmuth, who continued to lead and look strong. She was clearly enjoying her day out in the mountains, but the descent seemed to take its toll. Bohard Cailler and Delespierre, who’d been chasing together after dropping Buchauer, finally closed the gap to the leader into the final drop to the town of Kranebritten at 66k. Now, with the top-three women within two minutes of each other with one massive climb to go, it was anyone’s race and all three started up the final incline focused and silent.
Delespierre seemed to be the one with the most gas in the tank for the final kilometers and huge climb as she quickly opened a three-minute gap on Hartmuth at 73k. The gap stayed steady over the top of the climb at 75k, with Hartmuth fighting hard to catch the leader on the final downhill run in to the finish. Bohard Cailler was a further six minutes behind at the top. From there, the gap opened significantly to Buchauer and Valmassoi.
The top-two women looked to be moving incredibly strongly on the final descent, but the distance to close the gap was rapidly running out for anyone giving chase. In the end, no one could touch a flying Marion Delespierre who would cross the finish line in first to win the 2023 Trail World Championships 80k. Hartmuth and Bohard Cailler held onto their respective positions about seven and 12 minutes back, and an elated Valmassoi finished fourth. Buchauer ran strong from start to finish to round out the women’s top five.
2023 Trail World Championships 80k Women’s Results
- Marion Delespierre (France) – 11:22:31 (post-race interview)
- Katharina Hartmuth (Germany) – 11:29:14 (post-race interview)
- Manon Bohard Cailler (France) – 11:34:22 (post-race interview)
- Martina Valmassoi (Italy) – 11:44:50 (pre-race interview)
- Rosanna Buchauer (Germany) – 11:45:48
- Allison Baca (U.S.) – 11:56:21
- Emily Schmitz (U.S.) – 11:58:31
- Mari Klakegg Fenre (Norway) – 12:00:57
- Akiyama Honoka (Japan) – 12:01:23
- Audrey Tanguy (France) – 12:01:30
- France – 34:58:23
- Germany – 35:32:01
- Italy – 36:20:08
Thanks so much to Philipp Oestreich for helping us cover this event on his home trails!