Trail Runner of The Year 2023: Ninth

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Headshot of Corrine Malcolm, Editor-in-Chief at Freetrail

By: Corrine Malcolm

Freetrail Editor-in-Chief and co-host of the Trail Society Podcast.

Day two of our annual TROY awards is here and we cannot wait to celebrate more incredible performances and athletes with you. Today brings us a couple of outstanding veterans of our sport – and if you missed yesterday’s tenth place annoucement you can find that here.

In ninth position this year we have adidas Terrex’s Ruth Croft and Nike’s Tyler Green.

Ruth Croft climbs through the famous Kloof Korner during the 2023 UTCT. PC: Zac Zinn for UTCT
Ruth Croft climbs through the famous Kloof Korner during the 2023 UTCT. PC: Zac Zinn for UTCT

Ruth Croft has won most of the trail races shes entered on a global stage – that is saying a lot for an athlete whose trail running resume goes back a decade. After placing second in her first attempt at the 100-mile distance at the Western States Endurance Run (WSER) in 2021 she came back and nailed it, winning in a convincing fashion during the 2022 edition. However, that race took its toll and it’s notable that Ruth has had to adapt her training and expectations of how we recover from big demanding efforts.

For an athlete that has won both OCC and CCC (the 55km and 100km) during UTMB finals we’ve been waiting for her to make the jump to UTMB’s 170km event – however, with just a week to go until race day this year Ruth got sick. While the viewing audience felt the loss, we’re certain no one felt it harder than Ruth who carefully crafted and built a season that should have ended in Chamonix. 2024? We’re looking at you!

After a second at the always competitive MaXi-Race du lac d’Annecy Marathon, a win at the Zugspitz Ultratrail 88-kilometer, and a third at the Ultra Pirineu Marathon, Ruth needed something to cap off the season with. Not one to get stuck in a rut for long she adjusted her focus and headed to Cape Town, South Africa to go up against a global field in UTCT’s classic 100-kilometer event – and on a hot day in a good battle, she came out on top ending 2023 on a high note.

Tyler Green at work during the Western States 100-mile in June. PC: Ryan Thrower
Tyler Green at work during the Western States 100-mile in June. PC: Ryan Thrower

How does a guy who had already finished in the top five at WSER twice before this year fly under the radar? We’re not sure, because we are not so secretly huge Tyler Green fans. A humble, subtle, crusher. What we do know, is that at 39 years old it feels like Tyler has finally come into his ultrarunning power. While showing up to the 2023 WSER ready to perform was still important it was clear from the jump this year that mountain racing was the focus. We’re not sure if this was spurred by his 49th place finish at the 2022 UTMB 170km – but we are here for the fire that it lit.

With mountains on his mind, Tyler kicked off 2023 with a win and course record at the Orcas Island 50km and a third place finish in the classic 128km distance at Transgrancanaria. Returning home to the Pacific Northwest he notched wins at the Yakima Skyline 50km and Tiger Claw 50 mile before finishing second at WSER – his third top five finish at the historic event in as many years. From there Tyler was back to complete the WSER x UTMB double, something many elites try each season, but few do successfully. While many people might consider his WSER finish his more impressive of the two results, we’d like to give him the appropriate amount of kudos for what we are considering a breakthrough 7th place finish at UTMB this go around. It feels like 2023 was Tyler cracking the code, cashing in on the potential we’ve seen bubbling below the surface for many years now.

What does 2024 have in store for Tyler Green? We won’t have to wait long to find out, as he puts the stair climbing work to the test at the Hong Kong 100km kicking off the World Trail Majors.

While Ruth soaks up summer in New Zealand and Tyler embarks on a trip of a lifetime to Hong Kong we want to wish both of these runners as much luck as we can for the 2024 season. Now, which two runners made the leap to eighth position? Check back here tomorrow morning to find out!

Trail Runner of The Year 2023 is brought to you with support from our friends over at Ketone IQ

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