The World Trail Majors Head to Madeira and Japan

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We keep saying, “It’s race season!” and the racing lineup for the final weekend of April is truly making it feel like the 2024 race season is rolling full gas. Stops number four and number five of the inaugural World Trail Majors kick off this weekend by heading to the Mt. Fuji 100-mile in Japan, and the Madeira Island Ultra Trail (MIUT) on the Portuguese island it is named for. Both races promise excellent competition in their premier distances highlighted by a Mountain Outpost livestream of the Mt. Fuji 100-mile and Freetrail Fantasy points up for grabs with MIUT.

The Gran Canaria World Trail Majors might be a newer player on the scene, but the races that encompass the series are some of the best trail races around the world. Their founding purpose was to unite a series of historic events that should be bucket list races for professional and everyday runners alike while not losing sight of their commitments to the environment, the runners, or the local communities their events take place in.

Looking towards Mt Fuji during the Mt Fuji 100-mile race.
Image provided by the World Trail Majors.

Mt. Fuji 100

Mt. Fuji 100-mile kicks off at Midnight local time on Friday, April 26th (8 AM Pacific Time on Thursday, April 25th) with 3,400 people toeing the line between the 100-mile (2,600 participants) and 70-kilometer (800 participants) distances. The course starts flat and fast, a change over earlier editions of the race, but still packs over 23,000 feet (7000 meters) of climbing through the back two-thirds of the route. Running counter-clockwise, Mt. Fuji will almost always be over the right shoulder of the runners as they make their way from the start line at Mt. Fuji Children’s Country Park to the finish line at Hokuroku Park.

Women’s Race Favorites

  • Courtney Dauwalter (USA) – needs no introduction, but as a refresher, in 2023 she won and set the course record at Western States 100-mile, won and set a course record at the Hardrock 100-mile, and won UTMB in an unprecedented triple.
  • Nicole Bitter (USA) – in 2023 finished 2nd at the Bandera 100-km to get her golden ticket into Western States, and in 2024 has wins at the Rocky 50-milers and the Brazos Bend 50-km.
  • Ki Chun Wong (HKG) – in 2023 she placed 11th at the Hong Kong 100-km, 5th at the TransJeju by UTMB 100-km, 2nd at the TransLantau by UTMB 100-km, and 8th at the Doi Inthanon by UTMB 100-km.
  • Chizuru Ofuchi (JPN) – in 2023 she placed third at both the 2023 Mt. Fuji 100-mile and the 2Shinetsu Gogaku 100-mile.
  • Yumi Hosokawa (JPN) – returns after her fourth-place finish at the 2023 Mt. Fuji 100-mile, in 2023 she also won the Naji Peaks 58-km and the Hiroshima Osorakan Trail 45-km.

More women to watch: Kanako Edamoto, Junko Yano, Yukari Seimiya, Aya Wakabayashi, and Jun Liu.

Men’s Race Favorites

  • Gregoire Curmer (FRA) – in 2023 his standout results was a phenomenal 2nd place finish at the Ultra-Trail Snowdonia 168-km, before finishing 27th at the Trail Verbier 76-km, and 13th at UTMB’s TDS.
  • Guidu Qin (CHN) – kicked off 2024 with a fourth-place finish at the Hong Kong 100-km, and in 2023 won the Mount Yun by UTMB 100-km, and placed second at the TransJeju by UTMB 100-km.
  • Deng Guoming – kicked off 2024 with a fifth-place finish at the Hong Kong 100-km, and in 2023 placed second at the TNF Hong Kong 50-km and won the TERREX Chongli 101-km.
  • John Ray Onifa (PHI) – affectionately known to many as Stingray has been on a burner in 2024 already racking up wins at the 9 Dragons Ultra 50-km, the Lantua 70-km, and the Vietnam Ultra Marathon 70-km.
  • Yuya Kawasaki (JPN) – comes in as one of the top-ranked Japanese runners in the field and as the top returning finisher from the 2023 Mt. Fuji 100-mile where he finished second.

More men to watch: Tomonori Onitsuka, Takashi Doi, Kento Tamura, Anthony Lee, and Long Fei Yan.

Courtney Dauwalter after winning the 2023 Hardrock 100 mile. PC: Ryan Thrower
Courtney Dauwalter after winning the 2023 Hardrock 100-mile. PC: Ryan Thrower

Madeira Island Ultra Trail

While several races take place during the MIUT weekend, the 115-kilometer (71-mile) race is the crown jewel as it traverses the island from west to south through a wide variety of incredible landscapes. Packed in the not-so-little traipse across the island in the middle of the Atlantic is 7100 meters (23,293 feet) of climbing and descending. Since the race’s inception in 2008, some of the best runners in the sport have used MIUT as the perfect early-season mountain race before going on to crush a late-summer mountainous 100-mile event. The 2024 edition of the race will kick off at midnight Friday night / Saturday morning local time on April 27th (4 PM Pacific Time on Friday, April 26th) and should be fast from start to finish.

Women’s Race Favorites

  • Anne-Lise Rousset (FRA) – in 2023 she notched wins at the Trail de la Cité de Pierres 68-km, the MaXi-Race du lac d’Annecy Marathon, and the Wildstrubel by UTMB 70-km – but perhaps most impressive was her second-place finish at her debut Hardrock 100-mile.
  • Martina Valmassoi (ITA) – after winning UTMB’s TDS in 2022 Martina kicked off 2023 on a tear winning the Genova Trail Marathon, Transvulcania’s 73-km, and finishing fourth at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships Long Trail race.
  • Fiona Porte (FRA) – won almost everything she entered in 2023 including the Trail Nivolet-Revard 55-km, the 87-km at the MaXi-Race, and the Laverado Ultra Trail 120-km race before finishing second at UTMB’s TDS to close out her season.
  • Aroa Sio (ESP)- saw a string of near misses at golden ticket races in 2023 finishing third-place at both the Tarawera 102-km and the Canyons Endurance Runs 100-km. Before unfortunate DNFs at both UTMB and Doi-Inthanon by UTMB Aroa also finished second at the Ultra Trail Cote d’Azur Mercantour 125-km.
  • Alyssa Clark (USA) – no stranger to big hard scary races Alyssa won both the Hurt 100-mile and the Canyons Endurance Runs 100-mile in 2023 before finishing second at the Dragon’s Back Race.

More women to watch: Maite Maiora, Claire Bannwarth, Genevieve Asselin Demers, Sandra Sevillano, and Mélanie Delasoie.

Men’s Race Favorites

  • Miguel Arsenio (PRT)- 2023 saw a string of impressive races from Miguel including a second-place finish at Transgrancanaria’s 128-km, wins at both the 87-km at the MaXi-Race and Ultra Pirineu’s 100-km, and a third-place finish at the Madeira Sky Race.
  • Beñat Marmissolle (FRA)- has podium finishes at some of the hardest mountain 100-mile races in the world including winning the Gran Raid (La Réunion) in 2022, before finishing second at the Hardrock 100-mile and the Doi Inthanon by UTMB 175-km in 2023.
  • Ben Dhiman (USA)- the American who makes his home in Europe has been on a steady rise for the last three years. In 2023 he won the Penyagolosa Trail 106-km, the Trail Andorra by UTMB 105-km (in a tie), and the Gran Trail de la Vallée d’Ossau 37-km before finishing his season with a third-place finish in the 80-km race at Templiers.
  • Jean-Philippe Tschumi (CHE)- another incredibly talented mountain ultra-athlete and the man Ben Dhiman tied with during the 105-km race at Trail 100 Andorra by UTMB in 2023. Jean-Philippe also finished on the podium at both the Ultra-Trail Snowdonia 100-km and Grand Raid (La Réunion) last season.
  • Jeff Mogavero (USA)- an athlete we think is on the cusp of having a big breakthrough on the international stage. After finishing on the podium at Puerto Vallarta Mexico by UTMB’s 100-miler in 2022 Jeff went on to finish seventh at Transvulcania, second at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 46-km, and 14th at Sierre-Zinal.

More men to watch: Luís Fernandes, Anthony Costa, Richard Lockwood, Martin Kern, and Sebastian Korvig.

Beñat Marmissolle during the 2023 Hardrock 100-mile. PC: Ryan Thrower
Beñat Marmissolle during the 2023 Hardrock 100-mile. PC: Ryan Thrower

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