Trail Runner of The Year 2023

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Feetrail is proud to launch the second edition of Trail Runner of The Year – a global award recognizing the great professional athletes who populate our sport, ranking their collective accomplishments and individual performances during the 2023 racing season. This year, we are honored to bring the award to life in collaboration with Ketone IQ

What follows is an explainer for our motivation for TROY, what’s new for 2023, some instructions, and practical information you’ll use to shape your ballot.

Why We Do This

Over the last fifteen years, trail running has evolved into a legitimate international sport. It’s also experienced rapid professionalization. Like many global professional sports, trail running deserves a year-end distinction for those athletes whose performances have stood out on the international racing circuit. Trail Runner of the Year (TROY) is an extension of Freetrail’s mission to elevate the profile of the professional athletes in our sport, while helping casual observers and the general public feel connected to their stories – hopefully creating diehard fans in the process.

What’s New for 2023

The vote will again be open to all trail fans globally in 2023 with some exciting new changes.

  • New voting algorithm – In addition to an open and democratic vote, this year we’re adding 2:1 weight to the votes of three categories of people.
    • Selected trail media and industry professionals globally
    • Professional trail runners in partnership with PTRA
    • Top-10 fantasy predictors of 2023
  • Trail Performance of the Year – We’re excited to debut TPOY in 2023. We ask that voters rank the top-5 individual trail performances of 2023 for both men and women. It is ok to vote for the same athlete multiple times for TPOY.

The Parameters

  • TROY is a ranking of race performance portfolios from only the 2023 season. Performances from previous years should not be considered.
  • TROY is a trail running specific award. While we have nothing but respect for athletes who race on the road or track, those performances should not be considered.
  • TROY is trail racing specific. While FKTs are historic TROY aims to focus on head to head competitions, leaving FKTs to be celebrated in their own category with the folks over at Fastest Known Time.  
  • TROY is distance agnostic. We are grouping everything from VKs to 200+ mile races under the greater discipline of trail running. It is the responsibility of voters to be informed about the performances across this vast spectrum and to endeavor to eliminate personal bias for certain distances, instead deferring to the criteria listed below.
  • TROY is not a popularity contest. One of the great things about trail running is that the pro athletes are genuine, friendly, and humble people. It’s why we want to recognize their achievements. However, this vote should not reflect who you most love to follow on social media, but instead who performed best on the race course. 

Voting Considerations

For those who do vote, we encourage you to take that responsibility seriously, applying research and deep consideration to the ranking. We hope you’ll meditate on the following criteria before submitting your ballot:

  • Depth of competition – Reward those athletes who performed best on the biggest stages, against the deepest fields.
  • Consistency of performance – Consider the whole season in context and reward those athletes who raced well consistently, while weighing outstanding single performances accordingly.
  • Versatility of performance – As I mentioned, TROY is distance agnostic. As such, consider and reward the athletes who display ability to compete across distances and terrain variation.
  • Geographical Bias – Freetrail has an international audience, but we are North America based and english speaking. We hope the voters will have advanced-level knowledge of the international dynamics in the sport, including which races are significant across the myriad of international event series (World Mountain Running Association, Golden Trail Series, UTMB World Series, Skyrunning, etc.).

Instructions for Voting

  • Voting is open now for TROY and TPOY!
  • Voting will be open for two weeks, closing at Noon PST on Monday, December 11th.
  • Pick 10-deep for both the men and women in TROY. Incomplete ballots will still be counted. If you don’t feel confident picking all ten, feel free to stop early rather than picking randomly.
  • Athletes are listed in alphabetical order to eliminate bias that could result from ranking by UTMB Index or UltraSignup rating – read the whole list!
  • When you click on an athlete’s name, you’ll find deep resources to inform your ballot including results from the season, links to databases, and the athlete’s various social media accounts. Take your time and use the information provided!
  • While we did our best to assemble what we thought were the top performers of the year it’s possible that we missed someone or a specific result for an individual athlete already on the list. If that is the case, please contact us with TROY in the subject line.
  • When you submit your ballot, you’ll have the ability to make edits all the way up until the time voting closes at Noon PST on Monday, December 11th, at which time picks will be locked in.
  • The winners will be announced starting January 1st 2023.

Finally, a huge thank you to Travis Loncar, who created and built the TROY & TPOY platform from scratch. The inventor and steward of Freetrail Fantasy, Travis is a very talented software engineer and a critical member of the Freetrail team. He’s been working tirelessly on this for months and we are grateful.

Let’s end this season on a high note. Go vote!

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