The top three, it’s here, it’s happening! Just like the athletes before them, the two individuals who find themselves in the third position in the inaugural Trail Runner of The Year awards put it all out there in 2022. We watched them run with guts, and occasionally have to rely on grit alone to make it to the finish – a style that is often even more inspiring than the wins. If you have missed any of the inaugural TROY awards coverage you can catch up here: fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth.
In third position we have former On athlete newly announced Hoka athlete Allie “Mac” McLaughlin and Hoka’s Jim Walmsley.
Known by her nickname Allie “Mac” the Colorado, US based athlete truly found her footing in the trail running world over the course of the 2021 and 2022 seasons. The high school and college standout has had her fair share of ups and downs, injuries, big moves, adventures out of a van with her dog in tow – but things seem to be stabilizing for Allie and her results show it. In 2022 Allie won the Broken Arrow Vertical Kilometer, Mount Marathon (breaking Emelie Forsberg’s record), three stages of the Golden Trail World Series Finals before flying to the World Mountain and Trail Running World Championships taking the win in the Classic Uphill race and finishing third in the Classic Up & Down race. Adding to that already long list, she was second during the Broken Arrow 26-kilometer race, fourth at Pikes Peak Ascent, third at Flagstaff Sky Peaks, and finished at gutsy race at OCC where she led for the first 40-kilometers of the 55-kilometer race. We are in awe of her racing tenacity, and her ability to roll with the punches, a lesson she likely learned from her other hobby – jumping out of planes.
FT: What was your personal highlight from 2022?
AM: I think my personal highlight from 2022 was crossing the finish line winning the Uphill World Championship and having pyrotechnics go off. It was so loud it scared me and I remember looking back and seeing what it was and thinking I don’t want this moment to end.
FT: What was a struggle or something you learned in 2022?
AM: I’ve had some big struggles when it comes to my running career but 2022 was pretty easy on me, thank God. I think what comes to mind if I had to pick something though was just getting in volume. Transitioning from training for a 5-kilometer race (Mount Marathon) to a 50-kilometer race (OCC) in the middle of the season was definitely new for me but also, I very much prefer to run faster and shorter (my dog Harley too) and I’m still scared silly to get injured. Long runs over 20 miles just like to tease my anxiety or maybe my anxiety just teases me but either way I know long runs are going to be necessary if I race OCC again – so this little buttercup will just have to suck it up.
FT: What are you looking forward to in 2023?
AM: Tattoos and BASE jumping!
The six (consecutive) time winner of Ultra Runner of The Year, Jim Walmsley took big risks in 2022. The athlete formerly based out of Flagstaff, AZ moved to France in the spring to focus on getting better in the mountains. Hoping that living it would translate into the success that has somewhat eluded him on what is arguably the world’s biggest stage, UTMB. There are big risks that come with shaking up your routine to this extreme, but they can ultimately reap big rewards. While this did not entirely play out during the 2022 UTMB du Mont-Blanc, Jim showed a great deal of grit when things ultimately fell apart in the later stages of the race. Still not the win he’s been working towards a fourth on the day will send him back to the drawing board, hungry for 2023. Along the way to UTMB this year Jim set a course record at the Madeira Island Ultra Trail (often called the “little UTMB”) and won the Ultra Tour du Beaufortain. Rounding out his season, and adding a little weight to his high ranking in both TROY and UROY was a win by nearly twenty minutes at the Grand Trail Des Templiers at the end of October. Still in Europe, Jim is putting in what seems to be his first full winter on skis logging big days in the mountains with serious vertical gain. Will this be the key to Jim moving up the podium at the 2023 UTMB? We’ll be there to find out!
While we do not have a Q&A with Jim please consider checking out this recent interview with Jim done by friend of Freetrail, Francesco Puppi.
Both of these athletes had us completely mesmerized during their runs at OCC and UTMB in 2022 and we hope to see them both back in Chamonix in 2023. We won’t call it ‘looking for redemption’ – but we know they will both be bringing their A-game to the start line. Congratulations on your seasons Allie and Jim – we can’t wait to watch you run through many finish line tapes in 2023 as well. Only two spots remain, who will claim them? Come back tomorrow morning to find out!