The two athletes that ended up knocking on the door of a TROY top five are both European standouts who flexed their range over the course of the 2023 season. They competed across different global series, definitively leaving their mark on the sport. While they both have had their fair share of ups and downs over the last couple of seasons 2023 seemed to bring about solid footing. If you missed yesterday’s seventh place annoucement you can find that here.
The five time Orienteering World Champion and stand out on the Golden Trail World Series (GTWS), with a wild backstory, had a rocky 2022 missing most of the season due to a stress fracture in her pubic bone that was diagnosed in August of 2021. But after a long, patient return from injury Judith Wyder is back, in a big way. While 2022 was in many ways a wash, she did get to close out the year with a 6th and 13th in the Classic Up & Down and Uphill race at the World Mountain Running and Trail Championships (WMRTC) in November. A little icing on the cake after a long time away. Building off that performance Judith returned to the World Championships in June where she finished second in the short trail race. Walking away with a silver medal with her eyes set on a season of “elbows out” racing on the GTWS the anticipation was building – were we going to see 2019 style battles play out?
Judith would go onto race six more times, never finishing outside of the top two. There always seems to be new talent on teh GTWS, which is part of it’s allure and excitement and this year was no different, epic battles playing out to what at the end of the season felt like a two woman show down between Judith and Sophia Laukli. Judith would end up coming out on top at the DoloMyths Run, Inferno Halbmarathon, and Mammoth Trail Fest – and finish second at Pikes Peak Ascent and ultimately second at the GTWS finals. An incredibly robust, and brutally fast season. However the run that might have slipped below the radar for many, but that makes us incredibly excited is her second place finish at the Kullamannen by UTMB 57km where she ran a blistering 4:09. A qualifying run for a spot at UTMB Finals in 2024… and seeing her on the OCC start line, or bridging into some slightly longer races makes us equally excited!
Another athelte to bisect the international trail scene and pull it off decidedly well is Jonathan Albon. During the 2023 race season Jon found success in the Golden Trail World Series, at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships, and on the UTMB World Series Finals stage. You have to admire an athlete who can show up to both a brutally fast trail marathon and the deepest 100km field in the world and have podium worthy days each time.
Jonathan started his season off with a bang placing third at the highly competitive, and generally muddy, Zegama-Aizkorri. From there he went onto place fifth in the world in the short trail distance race at the WMTRC. While this result would thrill most, it came on what Jon considered an incredibly “tough day at the office” raicng with an infection that left him lackluster. This seemed to merge into a period of time where Jon grappled with his love of running and racing that ultimately took him out of running the Marathon du Mont-Blanc. We’re not sure if he is right as rain yet, but we hope he finds his happy on the trail with us. Despite that lull the backend of his season did really seem to come around with a win at the Fjällmaratonveckan Årefjällen 27km ahead of making his way to the CCC 101km start line for the second year in a row. After finishing 2nd during the 2022 CCC to good friend and frequent training partner Petter Engdahl it seemed like there was only one logical outcome this season – taking one more step up the podium. He kept us on our toes through the first half of the race, coming through one of the initial checkpoints as far back as 27th, only to accelerate through the field winning the race by 8 minutes by the time he reached Chamonix. Not quiet done with the season, Jonathan put together one more incredible performance at Le Grand Trail des Templiers winning the historic 80km race in 6 hours and 42 minutes – cementing himself as our king of the mid-distance once again.
Judith and Jonathan, two true professionals of our time and of our sport. While we are not one hundred precent sure where 2024 is going to take these two, we do imagine there is some jumping into the “distance unknown” coming for both of them. Right now Judith has a ticket into OCC and Jonathan is headed our direction for Western States… if that doesn’t get you excited we don’t know what will!
Trail Runner of The Year 2023 is brought to you with support from our friends over at Ketone IQ