This Week In Running: August 16, 2021

This Week in Running Justin Mock TWIRThe U.S. Mountain Running Championships in Oregon definitely caught our attention! This week we highlight those race results, as well as the World Mountain Running Association’s World Cup race, and a few Golden Trail National Series races in Canada and the U.K.

Gnar Gnar – Mt. Hood Skibowl, Oregon

The Gnar Gnar race, hosted the U.S. Mountain Running Championships, is the first since 2019, on a six-mile up and down course. Runners went up 3.5 miles and then back down 2.5 miles in a race with 2,000 feet of elevation gain. A total prize purse of $5,000 was up for grabs, with $750 going to the winners.

Winners of the 2021 US Mountain Running Championships

The top runners (with women’s and men’s champions Grayson Murphy and Joe Gray at center) of the Gnar Gnar, hosting the 2021 U.S. Mountain Running Championships. Photo: Paul Nelson/Trail Junkie Photos

Men

Joe Gray’s longevity at the top of U.S. mountain running is incredibly impressive. Gray won this year’s race in 39:36; I believe it’s his eighth U.S. mountain running gold, and his fifth in a row. Gray is 37 years old, so that’s one amazing career.

Max King was second in 39:50, his finish equally as impressive as Gray’s, since King is 41 years old and he raced a 100 miler less than two months ago. Joseph Demoor and Edward Owens were third and fourth in 40:08 and 40:23. Owens’s name is new to this discipline – he’s coming to trail running from a steeplechase background.

In a normal year, those four would qualify for the U.S. team to race at the world championships.

This was a deep field, certainly the most competitive for a U.S. trail race this year.

5 – Andy Wacker – 40:31
6 – Eli Hemming – 40:48
7 – Meikael Beaudoin-Rousseau – 41:39
8 – Liam Meirow – 42:07
9 – Najim Mahmoud – 42:29
10 – Tyler McCandless – 42:31

And one more for Zach Miller fans, he was 12th in 42:46.

Joe Gray - 2021 US Mountain Running Champion

Joe Gray speeds along the Gnar Gnar course to win the 2021 U.S. Mountain Running Championships. Photo: Paul Nelson/Trail Junkie Photos

Women

While the men’s race was relatively close, the women’s race wasn’t at all. Grayson Murphy was the class act of the field. She won in 43:21, almost three minutes better than her other competitors. Murphy was both the 2019 U.S. and World Mountain Running champion, and she was sixth at the U.S. Olympic Trials 3,000-meter steeplechase earlier this summer.

Behind Murphy, things were a lot closer. Three runners, all new to the national team, grabbed the other presumptive team spots. Rachel JohnsonBailey Kowalczyk, and Megan Lacy sprinted to 46:09, 46:21, and 46:25 finishes. Not to overlook Kowalczyk, but both Johnson and Lacy are new to this type of race too. Johnson was a six-time NCAA Division I All-American while competing at Baylor University, and Lacy is a 2:39 marathoner.

Just like with the men, this race was deep. Several former national-team members finished outside the top four, and some even outside the top 10.

5 – Anna Gibson – 46:47
6 – Allie McLaughlin – 47:06
7 – Janelle Lincks – 47:48
8 – Sam Lewis – 48:07
9 – Anna Dalton – 48:25
10 – Kimber Mattox – 48:35

Full results.

The next USATF Mountain, Ultra, Trail national championships is the September 25 USATF Trail Half Marathon National Championships in Wisconsin.

Grayson Murphy - 2021 US Mountain Running Champion

Grayson Murphy runs the Gnar Gnar course to win the 2021 U.S. Mountain Running Championships. Photo: Paul Nelson/Trail Junkie Photos

Krkonošsky Half Marathon – Janské Lázeně, Czech Republic

The latest race in the World Mountain Running Association World Cup was 22k with 1,050 meters of elevation gain. The race happened in Janské Lázně, a world-renowned spa town that’s also home to one of the best ski resorts in the Czech Republic. The race had an 800 Euro first-place prize.

Men

Geoffrey Ndungu (Kenya) broke the tape first, pumping his fist in the air as he closed in 1:32. Timothy Kirui (Kenya) and Marek Chrascina (Czech Republic) were second and third, both in 1:33, with Chrascina winning the country’s national championship at the race. Barely a minute separated the three.

Women

Joyce Njeru ensured a Kenyan sweep of the first-place prizes. She won the women’s race in 1:50, and still had her hands on her knees as second-place Barbora Macurova (Czech Republic) finished 25 seconds later. Pavla Matyasova (Czech Republic) was third in 1:52.

Full results.

Quebec Mega Trail – Beaupré, Quebec, Canada

Wow, were there really 11 different races at the three-day Quebec Mega Trail weekend?! I think so, and the 51k race was the first of the U.S./Canada division of the Golden Trail World Series. Many of the races happened in the remote areas along the Saint Lawrence River.

Men

The top runners of the 51k men’s and women’s fields were all Canadian, and new course records were set in both races. Dany Racine was the overall winner in 4:21, followed by second- and third-place Scott Magure and Maxime Leboeuf in 4:34 and 4:36.

2012 and 2016 Olympic Marathon runner Reid Coolsaet won the 110k race in 14:24. Coolsaet was in just 52nd place at the first checkpoint after an early 10k wrong turn.

Dany Racine - 2021 Quebec Mega Trail 51k champion

Dany Racine, winner of the 2021 Quebec Mega Trail 51k. Photo: Jean-Sebastien Chartier-Plante

Women

The first three women all dipped under six hours, and barely three minutes separated the group. Katheryn Cochrane won in 5:54, and Flavie Pelletier and Amélie Gobeil Riverin finished in 5:55 and 5:57.

Full results.

Katheryn Cochrane - 2021 Quebec Mega Trail 51k champion

Katheryn Cochrane wins the 2021 Quebec Mega Trail 51k. Photo: Jean-Sebastien Chartier-Plante

Additional Races and Runs

Tierra de Gigantes – San Juan, Argentina

A number of Argentinian mountain running championships happened here this week. Hugo Rodríguez gapped the 12k field and won the men’s race in 1:08, and Chiara Milena Mainetti won the women’s race for the fourth time in 1:26. Joaquin Narvaez and Maria Paula Galindez won the 30k in 3:16 and 4:08. Full results.

Scafell Pikes Marathon – Lake District, U.K.

Tom Adams beat Andrew Douglas and Ricky Lightfoot to win in 3:32. Douglas and Lightfoot finished in 3:35 and 3:37. The race was part of the U.K.’s Golden Trail National Series. Eleanor Davis outdistanced Nichola Jackson and Georgia Tindley in the women’s race. The three finished in 4:08, 4:18, and 4:24, respectively. Full results.

Bigfoot 200 Mile – Mount St. Helens, Washington

The Bigfoot 200 Mile really runs for 206 miles, and collects 42,000 feet of elevation gain, one of the longer ultra races out there. Michael McKnight lead for the majority of the race, winning in 2 days, 10 hours, 25 minutes, five hours ahead of the next runner. Mika Thewes won the women’s race in 3 days, 4 hours, 41 minutes. Tracking with results.

Cool Moon Trail Races – Cool, California

In the 100-mile distance, Ray Sanchez was the men’s winner in 26:49. Elizabeth Omodt was women’s champion with a 24:34 finish. Eric Smeltzer and Michelle Lomeli finished first man and woman in the 100k at 16:15 and 16:22, and in the 50-mile race, Sidney Serano was first male in 12:15 while Renee Thomas Jacobs was first female in 10:44. Full results.

Lean Horse 100 Mile – Custer, South Dakota

Hans Van Zanten won the race in 17:59. We don’t often report on age-group results, but wow, 76-year-old Nick Bassett completed the 100-mile run in 25:58. It wasn’t yet clear who won the women’s race. Leave a comment to share the women’s champion! Full results (when available).

Habanero Hundred – Cat Spring, Texas

It’s the hottest race in Texas, and Matt Zmolek and Julie Kheyfets won the 100-mile race in 20:41 and 21:07. Full results.

Julie Kheyfets - 2021 Habanero Hundred champion

Women’s champion Julie Kheyfets makes her way through the 2021 Habanero Hundred course. Photo: Trail Racing Over Texas

Race Cancelations and Postponements

World Mountain and Trail Running Championships – Chiang Mai, Thailand

The November 2021 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships were going to unite several groups – the WMRA, IAU, ITRA, and IAAF – in a collective set of championships. And it still will, just not this year. Ongoing COVID-19 pandemic concerns have pushed this year’s event to 2022. Organizers are eyeing a February 2022 date.

Nifty Fifty – Juneau, Alaska

Mudslides and heavy water on the race course forced the cancellation of the Nifty Fifty 50k and 25k races.

Call for Comments

What did you find fun this weekend? Look forward to your comments below.

Justin Mock

is a family man, finance man, and former competitive runner. He gave his 20s to running, and ran as fast as 2:29 for the marathon and finished as high as fourth at the Pikes Peak Marathon. His running is now most happy with his two dogs on the trails and peaks near his home west of Denver.