For the distance agnostic the inaugural TROY awards means weighing in on apples versus oranges. We have both uphill and 100-mile specialists, mountain goats and gazelles blitzing along buttery smooth single track – and all very impressive! None of these athletes’ shine dims the light of another, and we want to celebrate each and every achievement that punctuated their respective 2022s. The two athletes who find themselves in the sixth position this year are both remarkable at their respective disciplines, and left a lasting impression on the fans of the sport with what they accomplished in a single season! Check in on seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth while you’re here.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder? For Marianne Hogan four years away from the sport due to injury, at a minimum, made her very hungry to get back to doing what she loves with the people she loves most. In 2021 Marianne not only got to the start line of Ultra Trail Cape Town but went on to finish second behind Courtney Dauwalter turning a few heads – what those heads forgot was that back in 2017 the young French Canadian athlete was accumulating wins left and right. Fast forward to 2022, through the gauntlet that is injury, the very fast, very capable runner knew exactly where she was meant to be. A win at the Bandera 100-kilometer gave her a golden ticket into the Western States Endurance Run (WSER) and the rest is history. In her debut 100-mile race Marianne finished a stellar third place, and then doubled back in one of the more success WSER + UTMB doubles to finish second on the worlds biggest stage. Right now it looks like we’ll be seeing Marianne back at the 2023 edition of WSER as she tries to move herself up the podium.
FT: What was your personal highlight from 2022?
MH: Making it on the start line of both the Western States Endurance Run and UTMB Mont-Blanc was my biggest highlight. I took me so long (almost 4 years) to show back up on the start line of a race, so when the opportunity of running both came up, I felt the urge to do so. Even if that meant completing them as my first ever 100-milers. Being able to cross the finish line of those two races with virtually all of my favorite people present at the finish line made those moments so much more magical, because the journey to get there was not easy to say the least.
FT: What was a struggle or something you learned in 2022?
MH: Every human body has its limit, and even if I showed up at the start line of UTMB hyped up and ready to go, my body started reminding me exactly what those limits were at mile seventy of UTMB. I ended up paying the price big time with a torn psoas and a torn ligament in my hip joint – I was barely able to drag myself to the finish line. But the hole in my psoas forced me to face the root of the issues I’ve been dealing with ever since I underwent multiple surgeries in 2018-2019 to repair a spiral fracture (to my lower leg). To put it simply, I overcompensate like crazy on my left side, and my psoas gave out. I have spent the remainder of 2022 in the gym, working on specific rehabilitation in order to make it a valuable learning experience, and hopefully, eliminate (or reduce) the likelihood of such injury happening again!
FT: What are you looking forward to in 2023?
MH: I look forward to the build-up again. I spent the last four months of 2022 recovering from my UTMB injury (and overall summer), and I can’t wait to get back out there and take part in all kinds of adventures with my friends, and the community. That’s what keeps me coming back to the sport over and over again. I live for those adventures!
The uphill icon, the Swiss ski mountaineer, Rémi Bonnet. At just 27 years old it feels like Rémi has been in the sport for a long time. An athlete who came up through the Salomon ‘Young Gun’ program, he won the Sky Running World Series – Vertical Kilometer category in 2015 as at only 20 years old, and won the storied Zegama-Aizkorri at 23. While still young, Rémi continues to get better and better. We’ve long praised him for his wildly good uphill running, a mountain goat of an athlete, who shows that same prowess on skis where he usually comes out on the podium in both vertical and individual style races on the Skimo World Cup. Most notably in 2022 was Rémi’s end of season, nearly perfect, winning streak. After top ten performances at Zegama-Aizkorri and Sierre-Zinal he lit up the North American Golden Trail World Series (GTWS) races winning both the Pikes Peak Ascent and the Flagstaff Sky Peaks race. From there only the GTWS finale, a stage race in Madeira, stood between him and the end of the season. Over the course of fives days of racing Rémi only finished second once – winning the stage race and the overall GTWS in the process.
From debuting on the podium in the 100-mile distance to being nearly untouchable over short and steep terrain – Marianne Hogan and Rémi Bonnet showed us during 2022 what it means to take every start line opportunity and to do so with grit. We look forward to watching them try to replicate that same success in 2023 – congratulations to them both! Who cracked the top five? Check back here tomorrow morning.