Trail Runner of The Year 2023: Second

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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.

Moving into the TROY top two, where second place is most certainly not the ‘first loser’ we have two athletes who ran history-rewriting-performances in 2023. When you see either of these names on a startlist you know they are ending up on your Fantasy Freetrail podium, and that’s fair, they are that good. One flexed some absolutely insane range and course diversity chops, while the other became our unofficial king of the sub-ultra distance. We’ll let them “rest” on their skis for now, but once the snow melts we can’t wait to see them toe their next set of startlines. If you missed yesterday’s third place annoucement you can find that here.

In second position this year we have TNF’s Katie Schide and Salomon’s Rémi Bonnet.

Katie Schide sits down for an interview ahead of what would be a historic WSER in June. PC: Ryan Thrower
Katie Schide sits down for an interview ahead of what would be a historic WSER in June. PC: Ryan Thrower

Katie Schide the American ‘marmot’ who makes her home in the tiny village of Saint-Dalmas-le-Selvage in France’s Mercantour National Park had a year for the record books. While she is an athlete who feels more comfortable in the mountains, a golden ticket into Western States (WSER) from winning UTMB in 2022 meant that she would be testing her leg speed in 2023. And oh man, that did not disappoint! With her focus on the hot and fast WSER race in June, Katie tuned her early season to be ready for well “running a whole 100-mile”. In Feburary she tackled the hot and humid Costal Challenge, the six day 240 kilometer (149 mile), stage race where she won the event and practiced being really really warm. Heat for WSER – check. Then in March she ran and won the EcoTrail Paris 80km in an insanely fast time of 6 hours and 23 minutes (blazing fast!). Leg speed for WSER – check. Finally before heading state side where she would do her remaining WSER prep she knocked out one more win at the Trail Des Balcons d’Azur trail marathon. 2023 was off to a great start.

WSER weekend dawned to a snowy high country and temperatures on the cooler side, anything and everything was in play for the field on the line that day. Then Katie ran a debut WSER of a lifetime, breaking the once thought untouchable course record by just over three minutes – and finishing second to Courtney Dauwalter. Ushering in the top ten fastest women’s field in race history. Like we’ve said many times in the past eight days, that could have been the end of a really great season – but Katie had more in the tank. Having won UTMB in 2022 and placed second at CCC in 2018, taking a crack at OCC was calling her name. Taking that WSER leg speed into a hilly 55 kilometer race, Katie blasted through the field to finish second holding off a hard charging Miao Yao in the process. And again her season could have ended there, impressively… but there was one more startline to be had and it had to be about as different as anything else she ran in 2023. In October Katie headed to La Réunion for the Grand Raid (La Diagonale Des Fous) – a 167 kilometer (104 mile) course with over 9710 meters (nearly 32,000 feet) of climbing – just a smidge different than WSER and a whole lot longer than OCC. But as we’ve come to expect from Katie, she shined brightly running one of the fastest ever times on the course to take the win in 27 hours and 31 minutes.

Remi Bonnet crests the top of the Dragon's Back during the Mammoth Trail Fest 26km. PC: Ryan Thrower
Rémi Bonnet crests the top of the Dragon’s Back during the Mammoth Trail Fest 26km. PC: Ryan Thrower

Every athlete we’ve celebrated in our TROY top ten had absolutely incredible seasons, but there is something about showing up over and over again to these stacked sub-ultra races and coming out on top that 100% put me over the edge. Rémi Bonnet is our sub-ultra trail king and I’m here for it. Seven races, four wins (and course records), two fourth place finishes, one DNF, and the overall Golden Trail World Series title… oh and two World Championship Skimo titles as well (nearly forgot) – 2023 was that good. We’ve long praised the Salomon ‘young gun’ for his uphill prowess, but over the last several seasons he’s become an all around trail threat.

Spending all winter on skis can have it’s draw backs when it comes to early season trail racing, but Rémi hit the ground running in May at the highly competitive Zegama-Aizkorri placing fourth with six minutes seperating the top four men at the finish line. June brought on a streak of wins for the young Swiss athlete starting with a win and course record at Neirvue Moléson, followed up a week later with a win and course record at the Marathon du Mont-Blanc. The only hiccup in his season seemed to come in August where he had to drop out of Sierre-Zinal, a race win and course record that alludes him still. Then just like in 2022 Rémi brought his winning streak back to the US with back to back victories at the Pikes Peak Ascent and the Mammoth Trail Fest 26km – all but solidifying his place on top the Golden Trail World Series. Notably, and one of our favorite performances of the year came in the form of his Pikes Peak win which broke Matt Carpenter’s ‘unbreakable’ ascent record from 1993 – 30 years later and 45 seconds faster. To finish out the year Rémi headed to Golfo dell’Isola for the Golden Trail World Series Finale, while he finished fourth in that race he had the points necessary to win the overall title. One for the record books.

The thing about TROY is that no matter where the these athletes fall in the vote they all seem to be number one in our hearts. Katie and Rémi your seasons wowed us. You impressed us with your gutsy style and your seemingly unwavering faith that a win was just around the corner. Rémi we’ve got our eyes on that Sierre-Zinal course record for you, and Katie, WSER round two? Oh we think so!

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

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Trail Runner of The Year 2023: First

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