This Week In Running: February 26, 2024

This Week in Running’s trail and ultra recap for February 26, 2024.

By on February 26, 2024 | Comments

This Week in Running Justin Mock TWIRMount Ida, Mount Cheaha, and Mount Mitchell are all here, and so too are Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Wherever you go, we’ll find you.

Happy Monday, trail running and ultrarunning fans, let’s dive in.

Transgrancanaria – Gran Canaria, Spain

It was the event’s 25th edition and with some 4,500 runners across all of its races. Title sponsor The North Face brought a bunch of their athletes to the race and the 126k Classic race was the year’s third World Trail Majors event.

KV El Gigante

The Giant! It kind of sounds like more fun than Classic or Advanced. The vertical kilometer opened the multi-day event on Wednesday, February 21, and went up 1,060 meters over 5.5 kilometers. Runners took off every 40 seconds to stretch the pack out. Uphill ace Henri Aymonod (Italy) summited the fastest, going up in 39:19. Skyrunning pro Frederic Tranchand (France) was next in 40:43, and Alvaro Escuela (Spain) was third in 41:56.

Henri Aymonod - 2024 Transgrancanaria KV El Gigante champion

Henri Aymonod, 2024 Transgrancanaria KV El Gigante champion. Photo: Transgrancanaria/Carlos Díaz-Recio

Katie Schide (U.S.) was a runaway winner in the women’s race at 47:31. Lena Laukner (Germany) and Moana Lilly Kehres (Spain) were second and third in 50:45 and 50:55, respectively.

Katie Schide - 2024 Transgrancanaria KV El Gigante champion

Katie Schide on her way to winning the 2024 Transgrancanaria KV El Gigante. Photo: Transgrancanaria/Carlos Díaz-Recio

Starter 21k

The Thursday half marathon gained 1,400 meters (4,593 feet) of elevation. Only the first three men went under two hours with Antonio Martínez (Spain) winning in 1:52. Yoel De Paz (Spain) and Anartz Artola (Spain) were second and third in 1:54 and 1:55, and the first five finishers were all Spanish.

Katarzyna Solińska (Poland) took the women’s win in 2:18. Brittany Charboneau (U.S.) came next in 2:22, and Flavia Stutz (Switzerland) was third up the podium in 2:24.

Marathon 46k

At 46k, the Friday race was just longer than the standard marathon distance. Robert Pkemoi Matayango (Kenya) won for the second straight year. His 3:31 finish was six minutes back of last year’s time. Juho Ylinen (Finland) and Tiago Vieira (Portugal) were second and third in 3:38 and 3:39.

Robert Pkemoi Matayango - 2024 Transgrancanaria Marathon winner

Robert Pkemoi Matayango, the 2024 Transgrancanaria Marathon winner, for the second year in a row. Photo: Transgrancanaria/The Adventure Bakery

Jennifer Lichter (U.S.) was victorious in the women’s race in 4:18. Spanish runners Greta García and Rosa Maria Lara joined her on the podium with 4:27 and 4:30 marks.

Jennifer Lichter - 2024 Transgrancanaria Marathon winner

Jennifer Lichter running for the win at the 2024 Transgrancanaria Marathon. Photo: Transgrancanaria/The Adventure Bakery

Classic 126k

iRunFar earlier shared details on the race. This one was 78 miles and it started at midnight on Friday night, running into Saturday. It featured heinous weather, with rain and wind, in the night before yielding to sunny skies and hot temperatures by afternoon on Saturday.

Not many bettors would’ve gotten the men’s podium even close to right. Two Romanians finished in the top three. Raul Butaci (Romania, lives in Spain) won the race in 13:22 and Miguel Heras (Spain) was second in 13:32. Butaci was fourth here in 2023, finishing in 14:15, and raced often in 2023 with a best finish at the Val d’Aran by UTMB 100k, which he won. Heras, at age 48, continues to run among the world’s best. He first won the now defunct The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships way back in 2010. Third-place Ionel Manole (Romania, lives in Spain) finished in 13:49.

2024 Transgrancanaria Classic 126k - Raul Butaci - mens champion

Raul Butaci wins the 2024 Transgrancanaria Classic. Photo: Transgrancanaria/Miguel Travieso

Courtney Dauwalter (U.S.) repeated as women’s winner. She finished in 15:14. That missed last year’s mark of 14:40, though all are saying the night conditions affected finish times this year. Claudia Tremps (Spain) was second in 16:27 and Emma Stuart (Ireland) ran 16:50 for third. Tremps was third a year ago in 16:33.

The next World Trail Majors race is the Mt. Fuji 100 Mile on April 26 in Japan, and the series’s fifth race, the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail, is that same weekend too.

2024 Transgrancanaria Classic 126k - Courtney Dauwalter - womens winner

Courtney Dauwalter on her way to her second Transgrancanaria Classic win. Photo: Transgrancanaria/Ian Corless

Advanced 84k

Andrzej Witek (Poland) won the roughly 52-mile race in 8:11, holding off David Cheraz (Italy) by 10 minutes. Borja Fernández (Spain) was third in 8:30.

Tara Fraga (U.S.) scored a big win in the women’s race. She finished in 9:38. Kathrin Götz (Switzerland) was second in 10:03 and Martina Klancnik Potrc (Slovenia) was third in 10:18.

Full results.

The Big Alta – Marinwood, California

The first-year event was named for the course high points in the Loma Alta Preserve. The 50k ran on Saturday and gave out a $3,000 prize purse and Sunday’s 28k paid $2,000 to the first three finishers.


Eli Hemming’s on a roll. Just two weeks ago he crushed the Black Canyon 60k race and course record, and he beat out a strong group of runners here to win in 3:38. That was way up on everyone else. Darren Thomas overtook Matt Daniels for second in the final eight miles. Thomas finished in 3:55 and Daniels in 3:57.

Women’s winner Lotti Brinks clocked 4:42 and that made for a big gap too. Kristina Randrup and Sarah Allaben were second and third in 5:04 and 5:05, just 54 seconds apart. Brinks is next racing the Gorge Waterfalls 100k in April and then the Western States 100 in June.

Full results.


On the roughly 17-mile course, Nick Handel broke free from his chasers in the second half toward a 1:54 finish. Paddy O’Leary and Liam Meirow both dipped under the two-hour mark to get on the podium at 1:58 and 1:59.

Women’s winner Tabor Hemming added to the couple’s weekend cash haul with a 2:09 result. Klaire Rhodes came in second at 2:13 and Samantha Diaz was third in 2:17.

Full results.

Moab Red Hot Ultra – Moab, Utah

The Mad Moose Events race organization added a 50-mile option to the event, alongside the longtime 55k and 33k burners. There’s also a 15k event.

Forty-one runners finished the inaugural 50-mile run with Phillip Lapoint and Laura Newton victorious in 8:45 and 10:57, respectively.

In the 55k, Jeshurun Small ran the race’s fifth-fastest time ever in 3:44, though the course is a new one in the last few years. Cole Campbell and Caleb Olson were second and third in 3:49 and 4:08. Women’s winner Anna Fisher gapped the field with a 5:11 finish, and Natalie Nicholson and Erin Park chased to 5:39 and 5:49 podium finishes.

Jeshurun Small - Cole Campbell - Caleb Olsen - 2024 Moab Red Hot mens podium

The 2024 Moab Red Hot men’s podium (l-to-r): 2. Cole Campbell, 1. Jeshurun Small, and 3. Caleb Olsen. Photo: Mad Moose Events

Anna Fisher - Natalie Nicholson - Erin Park - 2024 Moab Red Hot womens podium

The 2024 Moab Red Hot women’s podium (l-to-r): 2. Natalie Nicholson, 1. Anna Fisher, and 3. Erin Park. Photo: Mad Moose Events

The 33k saw Josh Eberly take home the men’s win in 2:20, while Timmy Parr chased him in a close second in 2:21. Finnian Jacobson-Schulte came home in third in 2:26. For the women’s race, Charli McKee won in 3:00, Megan Bowen was right there for second place in 3:01, and Reall Regan finished in 3:15.

Full results.

Nedbank Runified City 50k – Gqeberha, South Africa

The race has been a hotspot for record attempts in recent years. The men ran fast this year, but not fast enough for a new world record, and the women’s race ran quite a bit slower than in prior years.

No one threatened CJ Albertson’s 2:38:43 world record, but Pule Sibeko (South Africa) and Guillaume Ruel (France) finished at the top in 2:47:09 and 2:47:32. Sibeko ran down the longtime leader in the final 5k, and Nkosikhona Mhlakwana (South Africa) was third in 2:50:12. Ruel, also a 2:14 marathoner, broke his own European 50k record.

Pule Sibeko - 2024 Nedbank Runified City 50k champion

Pule Sibeko, 2024 Nedbank Runified City 50k champion. Photo: Richard Pearce Photography

Loveness Madziva (South Africa) was all alone at the front of the women’s race at 3:22:49. Silindile Chili (South Africa) and Galetsang Mekgoe (South Africa) were second and third in 3:32:13 and 3:35:56, respectively.

Full results.

Loveness Madziva - 2024 Nedbank Runified City 50k champion

Loveness Madziva, 2024 Nedbank Runified City 50k champion. Photo: Richard Pearce Photography

Tough Mudder Infinity AlUla – AlUla, Saudi Arabia

We’re stepping a bit out of bounds with this coverage of obstacle course racing, but I’m fascinated by the $80,000 first-place prize. Even the second-place finishers earned $32,000. The total purse was $480,000 with money stretching 10 deep. That’s incredible. Even still, some most-time and part-time trail runners were there, chasing that prize money, so we thought we’d report on the event.

The race ran on a 10k loop with 20 obstacles and with participants trying to finish as many laps in the time limit as possible. This is new to me, but I’ve seen some references to nine hours, and so I’m unclear if an eight-hour race here means 8:00 or up to 8:59. Those in the know, fill us in, in the comments!

We’re also covering this event with a separate article, if you’d like a bit more info.


Jonathan Albon (U.K., lives in Norway) won CCC last year and he’s racing the Western States 100 this year, but further back he won the Spartan World Championships in 2014 and 2018. He’s still got that strength and won the individual race with 100k run. I’ve never done an obstacle course race, but that sounds really impressive. That’s 62 miles with 200 obstacles. For an apples-to-oranges comparison, Albon finished the 2023 CCC run — 62 miles and with 20,196 feet of elevation gain — in 10:14.

Ryan Atkins (Canada) was second, also with 100k. He was sixth at the 2023 Canyons by UTMB 100 Mile, among other trail races, and has a lot of top finishes in obstacle course racing.

Mark Batres (U.S.) was third, also with 100k, and he’s run as fast as 29:25 on the track for 10,000 meters.


Women’s individual winner Alisa Petrova (Russia) totaled 90k, and Nicole Mericle (U.S.) was second with 80k. Janka Pepova (Slovakia, lives in Switzerland) was third, also with 80k.

All three have raced trails in sub-ultra or ultra distances, and Mericle is a rock and ice climber, too.

Other top finishers also have ties to trail running and ultrarunning.

Full results.

Additional Races and Runs

Orcas Island 100 Mile – Orcas Island, Washington

The Rainshadow Running race runs as four 25-mile loops. Jeremy Douglas and Pollee Brookings got it done in 21:32 and 27:13. Full results.

Lord Hill Trail Run 50k – Snohomish, Washington

Jared Moore and Tanna Russell won in 4:21 and 6:17. Full results.

Montara Mountain Trail Run – Pacifica, California

The Coastal Trail Runs hosted multiple distances, but in the 50k Aaron Kubala and Beverley Anderson-Abbs were the fastest in 4:32 and 5:31. Full results.

Salmon Falls 50k – Pilot Hill, California

Robert Ressl and Emily Hawgood were victorious in 3:51 and 4:23. Full results.

Copper Corridor 50k – Superior, Arizona

The Aravaipa Running race crowned Jonathan Kuplack and Stephanie Cloutier as winners in 4:01 and 4:45. Full results.

Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon – Las Vegas, Nevada

Andy Wacker won the nighttime race in 1:04:47, finishing in front of the iconic Bellagio fountains. Women’s winner Alice Wright (U.K., lives in U.S.) ran 1:14:10. Full results (when available).

Cowtown Ultra – Fort Worth, Texas

Scott Preston and Neringa Kaulinaite won the road 50k in 3:21 and 3:45, respectively. Full results.

Mount Mitchell Challenge and Black Mountain Marathon – Black Mountain, North Carolina

Weather again cut off the mountain summit and made the 40-mile Mount Mitchell Challenge unavailable. Everyone instead did the Black Mountain Marathon on the lower slopes. Nathan Thomas beat out Sean Bowman by a single second for the win. The two clocked 3:18:23 and 3:18:24, and Anne George won the women’s race in 3:53. Full results.

Lake Ouachita Vista Trail – Mount Ida, Arkansas

Karl Meltzer won the 100-mile race in 20:35, and Amanda Lynch was first female in 23:50. It was Meltzer’s 82nd 100-mile finish, 22nd year in a row of winning at least one 100 miler, 75th ultra win, and 50th 100-mile win — wow. Full results.

Mount Cheaha 50k – Delta, Alabama

It was the 19th year for the point-to-point race that finishes at the highest point in Alabama. Graham Grant and Deanna Doane were champs in 4:54 and 5:19. Full results.

2023 IAU Athlete of the Year Awards

On February 16, 2024, the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) announced its 2023 award winners. Aleksandr Sorokin (Lithuania) and Miho Nakata (Japan) were voted as winners after both won the 2023 IAU 24-Hour World Championships, and Nakata set a world record at the event. It was Sorokin’s third straight Athlete of the Year win, and his fourth overall. Announcement.

2024, 2025, and 2026 Canadian Mountain Running Championships

Athletics Canada just announced the location for the Canadian Mountain Running Championships for the next three years. Both the Vertical and Classic disciplines will be in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Québec. The championships are part of Défi des Couleurs, a decade-old event that hosted over 3,500 runners in 2023. This year’s event is October 12 to 13, 2024, a date that coincides with Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend.

The organization also anticipates attracting top competition from outside of Canada too.

Call for Comments

  • What would a $480,000 prize purse ultramarathon in Saudi Arabia look like? And, can you fill us in on anything else from the weekend’s Tough Mudder event there?
  • Where else did you race or watch a race this weekend? Share some details!
Justin Mock

Justin Mock is the This Week In Running columnist for iRunFar. He’s been writing about running for 10 years. Based in Europe, Justin has run as fast as 2:29 for a road marathon and finished as high as fourth in the Pikes Peak Marathon.