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Trail World Champions Ascend the Podium

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Mike McMonagle

By: Mike McMonagle

Our stories following Team USA at this years World Mountain and Trail Running Championships will feature images by Mike McMonagle and words by Corrine Malcolm. Find Mike taking photos near you - or in his backyard in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Saturday at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships was a double feature with both the 80-kilometer (49 mile) and 40-kilometer (25 mile) races taking place over steep trails and under jungle canopy in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Turning first the shorter race of the day the athletes not only had the elements to face, the 40-kilometer race had 2,425 meters (8,000 feet) of climbing packed into it. While the course contained two major climbs, in speaking with Max King ahead of race day, those weren’t the two hills he was most concerned about, “There are two little kicker climbs that mix up the ‘downhill finish’ that I think some people will really struggle on if they are affected by the heat or go too hard on the first climb.” While the medals were not decided on the final section it is where significant gaps opened up in the field.

Zach Miller during the 40-kilometer race on Saturday
Team USA’s Zach Miller gutting it out on the short trail course.
Women's winner in the 40-kilometer is focused on the climb ahead.
Denisa Ionela Dragomir on her way to a gold medal performance in the women’s 40-kilometer race.
US athlete Jonathan Aziz making his way through the Thai jungle
Team USA’s Jonathan Aziz in the forest of Chiang Mai.
The US women celebrate their silver medal in the team competition
Team USA celebrates a silver medal finish in the team competition in the 40-kilometer event. L-R: Kimber Mattox, Ashley Brasovan, Michelle Merlis, Stevie Kremer, and Kristina Macarenas.

The theme amongst the individual podium seems to be disbelief, with both winners, while both decorated athletes, shocking themselves to come away with gold medals this weekend. On the women’s side skyrunning and rising stars ascended to the top. Romania’s Denisa Dragomir took the win 3:49:23 chased by two up and coming trail and sky running athletes, Barbora Macurová of the Czech Republic and Emilia Brangefält of Sweden. The freshly minted 23 year old, Barbora, spent the summer on the U23 podium at skyrunning championship events took 2nd in the senior women’s competition in 3:51:22. In third was the youngest runner in the field, at just 20 years old Emilia had hoped to gain experience at worlds this year and is instead walking away with hardware in hand. In the men’s race Norway’s Stian Hovind Angermund took the top step on the podium in 3:08:29. While we know Stian from winning the golden trail series in 2018 and 2021 and winning the 2019 edition of OCC – after becoming a father last year Stian’s had a quieter 2022. After Saturday’s performance it’s safe to say Stian Angermund is still at the front of the trail pack. Coming in 2nd and coming into form after being waylaid earlier this season with a broken elbow was Italy’s Francesco Puppi in 3:11:47. While I don’t think this is the season Puppi envisioned for himself, leaving Thailand with a silver medal has to feel good. Rounding out the men’s podium in 3:13:05 was UK/Great Britain’s Jonathan Albon, the phenomenally talented OCR crossover athlete has rocketed onto the trail season over the last two seasons. Unlike in the uphill/vertical mountain race that was scored based on the individual athlete’s finishing place (like a cross country meet) in the short and long distance trail races the team with the lowest accumulative time (of the top three athletes per team) wins. In the team competition Spain took the top step in the women’s race with Team USA coming in 2nd, and the UK in third. In the men’s competition Italy took home the team gold, followed by France in 2nd and the UK again in third. The Men’s US team ultimately finish 6th led by Max King who finished 4th after battling for a podium position all day. You can find complete results here.

Adam Peterman strides it out during the men's 80km race.
Adam Peterman takes control of the men’s race after running within the lead pack through the early aid stations.
Ida Nilson, eventual second place finisher leads the women's field during the 80km race.
Eventual 2nd place finisher, Ida Nilsson, pushed the pace early in the race creating a cat and mouse game between herself and eventual champion Blandine L’Hirondel.
Eric LaPuma dumps water on himself during the 80km race.
Eric LaPuma, on his way to a 7th place finish, gets cooled off with help from Team USA’s team staff at the sparsely placed aid stations.
Addie Bracy climbs with poles during the women's 80km race.
Addie Bracy leans into her poles on the climb as she works to ascend the nearly 16,000 feet of climbing packed into 49 miles.
Jeff Colt hikes hands on knees up a major climb on course during the men's 80km race
Jeff Colt worked alongside teammate Eric LaPuma for much of the day as they hoped to put Team USA on the podium.
Kaytlyn Gerbin run's into the team aid station quickly dropping her vest to pickup new hydration.
Kaytlyn Gerbin comes into the team aid station on a mission – cool off – get back on course quick!
Adam Peterman gets water poured on him at the team aid station.
On a hot and humid day staying cool was the goal for all the runners on course. Here race leader Adam Peterman gets drenched by Team USA staff.
Leah Yingling running in the early morning light of the women's 80km.
Leah Yingling with the sun coming up over her shoulder, she would go on to be the top finisher for the Team USA’s women in the 80-kilometer race.
Paddy O'Leary manages to smile up the climb during the men's 80km race.
If you know Paddy O’Leary he was likely cracking a joke while wildly overheating when this picture was captured.
Blandine, your world champion in the 80km race, charges up the hill.
A smile from eventual women’s champion and defending World Champion, Blandine L’Hirondel, on her way to closing out a spectacular 2022 season with a gold medal.
Adam Peterman on the top of the podium
Adam Peterman makes a case for being named UROY, still undefeated with his gold medal finish at WMTRC in his first international competition.

In the women’s 80-kilometer race, a cat and mouse game played out for much of the day between early pace setter Ida Nilsson, and reigning world champion, Blandine L’Hirondel. Coming off a record setting performance at the 2022 edition of CCC, Blandine came in as the race favorite but was expected to face challenges from a deep women’s field. Unfazed, it was a double gold medal day for Blandine as she won the women’s race in 8:22:14 and the french women secured the team gold with Audrey Tanguy and Marion Delespierre tying for 6th in 8:51:57. (Again if you need a good cry the French team’s finish line celebrations are why this sport is so darn cool.) While Ida Nilsson is no stranger to the international podium she’s had to overcome a major foot injury and hadn’t completed an ultra since 2018 before this performance. Ida’s early aggressive race strategy ultimately put her in 2nd place position at the finish line in 8:34:59. Spain’s Gemma Arenas moved solidly into podium position roughly halfway through the race and held it for the remainder of the day taking home the bronze medal in 8:46:27. In the men’s race Adam Peterman added another win to a growing list of incredible performances in what is just the very start of his ultra running career. Despite this being Peterman’s first ultra away from American soil he remains undefeated notching his 6th ultramarathon win in a row. In a calculated race effort the men’s lead pack stuck together early, but check point by check point Peterman pulled away steadily from the rest of the field opening up a 13-minute margin of victory – finishing in first position in 7:15:53. Behind him a battle for the podium played out between runners from France, Italy, and Spain – with the Spanish runners Artiz Egea and Jose Angel Fernandez pushing the pace on the early descents. At the end of the day Nicolas (Nico) Martin or France came out at the front of the chase finishing second in 7:28:44, followed by Andreas Reiterer of Italy in 7:36:50 good for third. In the team race the US men came out on top with a combined time of 23:06:27, beating out France by only 6 minutes – with Spain finishing third. The gold medal men’s team was made up of Adam Peterman (1st), Eric LaPuma (7th), Jeff Colt (16th), and Adam Merry (53rd). Full results can be found here. Two more races on Sunday will close out the competitions in Thailand for this edition of the WMTRC – the U20 race and the Classic Uphill & Downhill senior race.

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