Trail Runner of The Year

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Freetrail is proud to announce the launch of Trail Runner of The Year – a global award recognizing the great professional athletes who populate our sport, ranking their performances during the 2022 racing season. It’s our hope that Trail Runner of the Year (TROY) will become an annual capstone, celebrating the year in competition. In the spirit of celebration, we hope to involve the global trail running community and invite your participation in the voting process.

What follows is an explainer for our motivation in bringing this to life, some instructions, and the practical information you’ll use to shape your ballot.

Trail Runner of The Year graphic

Why are we doing 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.

Freetrail decided that, in order to truly capture the global sentiment of the trail running community, we would fully democratize the voting process – allowing fans all over the world to cast their own ballots and have their voices heard.

The Parameters

  • TROY is a ranking of race performance portfolios from only the 2022 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 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. Maybe we’ll institute a fan favorite award in 2023. 🙂

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 (Mountain Running, Golden Trail Series, UTMB World Series, Skyrunning, etc.).

Instructions for Voting

  • Voting is now open!
  • Voting will be open for two weeks, closing at Noon PST on Tuesday, December 20th.
  • Pick 10-deep for both the men and women.
  • 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 Tuesday, December 20th, at which time picks will be locked in.
  • The winners will be announced sometime in early January 2023.

Finally, a huge thank you to Travis Loncar, who built the TROY 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!

The top three men wave to the sea of fans at the finish line of UTMB in August of 2022

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