Enter the Trail Runner Trophy Series

The Trail Runner Trophy Series, presented by Altra Running, is a points-based race series, with 186 events of all distances, all around the country. The series begins in March and culminates in September. Grand prizes are awarded to the runner who logs the most miles, and the runner who runs the most races. The “Mile Mogul” wins a Run the Alps trail-running tour through the French and Swiss alps, while the “Trail Fiend” wins a coveted spot on the cover of Trail Runner magazine.

The top three male and female runners in the ultra category, and the top man and woman from each age group in the sub-ultra category, win a prize package of gear from our sponsors, including a Camelbak Ultra Pro Vest, Gu nutrition pack, Leki Micro Trail Vario poles, Julbo Aerbo sunglasses and more.

The Trophy Series is well under way for the season, and it’s not to late to sign up for a race (or two, or three).  Check out the list of upcoming races.


Lean Horse Ultra 08/19/2017 Custer SD

River Valley Run Trail Festival 08/19/2017 Manchester MD

Black Spur Ultra 08/19/2017 Kimberley BC

Lucifer’s Crossing 08/20/2017 Ithaca NY

Antelope Dash 08/26/2017 Cheyenne WY

Ridge 2 Ridge Trail Race 08/26/2017 Birmingham AL

Hyner Half Trail Race 08/26/2017 Hyner PA

Race To The Top of Vermont 08/27/2017 Stowe VT

Lost Soul Ultra 09/08/2017 Lethbridge AB

Rock Cut HOBO Coyote Howl Nite 10K 09/08/2017 Rockford IL

Run Woodstock – 3 Day Trail/Music Fest 09/08/2017 Pinckney MI

Haliburton Forest 09/09/2017 Haliburton ON

Rock Cut HOBO Trail Race 25K 09/09/2017 Rockford IL

Water Is Life Paatuwaqatsi Run 09/09/2017 Polacca AZ

The North Face Dirty Feet Trail Series Mountain Runs 09/09/2017 Sun Peaks Resort BC

Hawk Hundred 09/09/2017 Lawrence KS

Wabash Trace Nature Trail Marathon 09/09/2017 Shenandoah IA

Riverside State Park 09/09/2017 Spokane WA

Devil on the Divide Trail Run 09/09/2017 Empire CO

SLO Ultra at Wild Cherry Canyon 09/09/2017 Avila Beach CA

Rock Cut HOBO Trail Race 50K 09/10/2017 Rockford IL

Stanky Creek Trail Runs 09/10/2017 Bartlett TN

12-Hour Adventure Trail Run 09/16/2017 Triangle VA

The North Face Endurance Challenge – Wisconsin 09/16/2017 Dousman WI

Mark Twain Endurance Races 09/16/2017 Potosi MO

Rock ‘N The Knob: PA’s Highest Trail Race 09/16/2017 Claysburg PA

Pacifica Summit Run 09/16/2017 Pacifica CA

Pleasant Creek Trail Run 09/16/2017 Palo IA

Bull of the Woods Trail Race 09/16/2017 Taos NM

Wolf Creek Wrangle 09/16/2017 Wolf WY

Piney Woods Ultra, Trails and Music Fest 09/16/2017 Hattiesburg MS

Dam Half & Dam Full 09/17/2017 Mifflingburg PA

Emerald Bay Trail Run 09/17/2017 Tahoma CA

Conserve School Trail Run 09/17/2017 Land O’Lakes WI

Bays Mountain Trail Race 09/23/2017 Kingsport TN

The North Face® Endurance Challenge – Utah 09/23/2017 Park City UT

Boulder Beast 09/23/2017 Lock Haven PA

The North Face Dirty Feet Trail Run #4 09/24/2017 Kamloops BC

Fall Colors Run 09/24/2017 Rush City MN

Cumberland C&O Towpath Marathon and Half Marathon 09/24/2017 Cumberland MD

Bear Chase Trail Races 09/30/2017 Lakewood CO

Cow Pie Trail Run 09/30/2017 Loup City NE

Water Gap 50K 09/30/2017 Milford PA

Cascade Super Series – Cascade Express Marathon 09/30/2017 Snoqualmie Pass WA

Children of the Cane Ultras 09/30/2017 Port Allen LA

A High Country Epiphany: Running in the White Clouds Wilderness

I have this ugly hat that I love. My wife hates it. Strangers stop me in the grocery store and ask what it means.

“Where is ‘Altilope Rap Battle’?” my mom asked when she first saw it, pronouncing each word in what sounded like her best Italian, assuming it was a place name somewhere far from here in Montana.

The hat is significant, not just because it happens to be the most comfortable hat I own, but because I actually witnessed an altilope rap battle. A couple of summers ago, I was with two friends on a 10,000-foot ridge in Idaho’s Boulder-White Clouds Mountains, following a rocky trail—not worn by humans, but by the hooves of animals, generations of them.

Draney and Nelson utilize a game trail in the Boulder Mountains. Photo by Steve Gnam.

First, we smelled the trail builders, their scent a sweet mix of old leather and pinesap. Then we saw them, a herd of elk: mostly cows, with a few immature bulls. They stopped in a meadow. Across from them stood a herd of pronghorn antelope. The elk and pronghorns faced each other, and began to call in their own dialects—antelope wheezing and elk chirping, back and forth.

Ty finally spoke, interrupting our awe as we listened. “We should call the pronghorns ‘altilope,’—I’ve never seen antelope so high in the mountains.” And the altilope rap battle was christened.

Draney and Nelson find soft footing alongside a high-country lake. Photo by Steven Gnam.

It was July 2015, and Luke Nelson, 35, of Pocatello, Idaho, and Ty Draney, 41, of Star Valley, Wyoming, and I were in the Boulder-White Clouds on a multi-day running trip. We were exploring land in Central Idaho that was slated to become the country’s newest wilderness area. The Boulder and White Cloud Mountains spread north from Ketchum and east of Stanley. While they aren’t as widely known as their sister range to the west, the Sawtooths, thanks to their pale, chossy rock, their long alpine

ridges have an other-worldly high-altitude allure. These mountains have one of the highest-elevation salmon runs in North America and a wolverine population that endured while others vanished across the West.

In the early 1970s, the remote range found the political spotlight when an open-pit mine was proposed at the base of Castle Peak, creating a raucous uproar among locals. Forty years after the mine was proposed, the long fight to protect this place has come to an end, the conclusion a complex result of compromises won and lost.

Draney runs into the sunset, with Castle Peak prominent on the left edge of the skyline. Photo by Steve Gnam.

A few months earlier, at a conference at Redfish Lake, Luke and I listened to Republican Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson speak about his personal experience in the range and how it drove him to defy party norms to protect it. Simpson proposed a wilderness bill that protected a smaller chunk of land, instead of supporting the larger, multi-use National Monument many conservationists and recreationalists pushed for. Simpson’s bill eventually passed, giving the place the utmost protection but for less land, a tough compromise for many in the coalition.

Luke Nelson. Photo by Steve Gnam.

As Luke and I left the meeting, I mulled over my lingering questions. What is the best way to care for a rugged mountain range? And what does a wilderness designation do for land and for the human relationship to it? As Luke and I talked, we felt we needed our own experiences in this place to shape our perspective. Running down this ridge, stopping to watch the elk, seemed like a good start.

As Luke and I talked, we felt we needed our own experiences in this place to shape our perspective.

On that July day, high in the Boulder Mountains, we remained motionless for 15 minutes as we watched the last elk and antelope walk out of sight. As we prepared to move on, Luke noticed an elk antler in the center of the meadow and veered toward it, through the lupine. The antler was an arrangement of blonde tines stacked along a heavy brown beam. Luke sat down on it and dumped rocks out of his shoes, taking his time as he laced them back up. As he stood, instead of just heading out, Luke bent over and picked up the 20-pound bone sculpture.

A shed antler and lupine. Photo by Steve Gnam.

We pressed on, finding the rhythm of our pace again. Our eyes shifted from the narrow trail to the rolling hills and expansive sky in front of us. A cadence of shifting perspectives, from the unchanging horizon to the blurring rocks underfoot. We’d been moving for a few hours and still the place invigorated us. Luke was still carrying the antler, but, a few miles farther, his tired arms gave it back to the earth. For Ty and me, fatigue lurked 10 miles ahead, near Meridian Peak. In that moment, however, we felt like the antelope, moving effortlessly.

A geode in the Boulder Mountains. Photo by Steve Gnam.

As we continued along the ridge, my toe kicked up a strangely round rock, and I stopped to pick it up. It was a geode, filled with crystals. We had stumbled upon a garden of geodes, little cabbage heads poking out of the ground, hiding their sparkling underbellies.

“Look at this one!”
“This one is crazy!”
“It’s like being in a rock shop.”
“Oh, found another one!”

Luke and Ty ran about picking them up, sharing the best ones with each other. But in the end, they were like the antler—we returned them to the earth and continued on.

As we got closer to Meridian Peak, the high point of the day, the ridge began to fall off steeply on both sides. The elk trail turned to mountain-goat trail then disappeared. We weren’t running anymore, but using our hands on the loose choss. Columns of rock interrupted the ridge, and we spread out to find the safest route around them. As we scrambled around the columns, we realized we would need to alter our route in light of this time-consuming section. Ahead were miles and miles of similar-looking terrain.

On the summit of Meridian, at 12,426 feet, the cumulative effects of altitude and fatigue caught up with us–at least Ty and me. I started to feel nauseous. I tried to eat, but the thought of my gummies and potato chips made my stomach churn. Just after signing the summit register, Ty vomited off the side of the mountain.

Ty Draney. Photo by Steve Gnam.

“Ty, how you doing?” I asked
“Fine. How about you?”
“Not so good.” I replied. “Wait, how are you fine? You just threw up.”
“I’m used to it. Happens to me all the time on long efforts.” Ty responded like only a seasoned ultrarunner with a delicate stomach could.

Luke seemed to be impervious, popping gels and smiling. With two of us queasy and the terrain slow going, we knew we couldn’t stick to our original plan and stay high above treeline for the rest of the day. We needed to bail off the ridge and hit the trail in the valley–the fastest way back to the car. Even then we were going to be coming out in the dark.

We pressed on, finding the rhythm of our pace again. Our eyes shifted from the narrow trail to the rolling hills and expansive sky in front of us. A cadence of shifting perspectives, from the unchanging horizon to the blurring rocks underfoot.

As we made our way off the ridge and to the valley floor, my six-hour vision quest began. I fasted the rest of the run out, because even the gel made me want to throw up. As night fell, I was left with the small bit of trail illuminated by my headlamp, the sounds and glowing eyes of the bear and moose we spooked and my thoughts.

Draney and Nelson on the flank of Castle Peak, White Cloud Mountains. Photo by Steve Gnam.

As we ran to get out of the dark and the wild, I thought about the words of the Wilderness Act: “Man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Even if we wanted to, we don’t possess the skills to live out here. These mountains, as much as I love them, can’t be my home.

Perhaps it was the clarity from my unplanned fast, but I found solace in the idea that this place would stay untouched, remain a place “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man.” The purpose of Wilderness is not solely for us humans, a thought we often resist. But somewhere in the dark night, miles from anything resembling civilization, this idea was satisfying. The wild exists for itself, and I am just one small light moving through it.


On August 7, 2015, President Barack Obama, backed by Congress, signed into law the Jim McClure–Jerry Peak Wilderness, the Hemingway–Boulders Wilderness and the White Clouds Wilderness. If you visit those same ridges today, looking for the altilope, you will find them much the same as we did before the wilderness designation–and I think that’s the point.

Steven Gnam spends much of his time following wolverines, which is good training for following his ultrarunning friends around. He lives with his wife in the foothills of the Cascades in Washington.

WATCH: Gary Robbins Tackles Barkley Marathons, Preview

On April 3, 2017, Gary Robbins came just a few miles short of logging an official finish at the Barkley Marathons, a notoriously difficult race that takes place in the briar-filled woods of Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee.

Prior to this year, only 14 people had ever finished the race, which involves five 20-mile loops mostly off trail. The course is unmarked, and in order to prove completion of each loop, participants must tear a page from a series of hidden books. The five loops must be completed in under 60 hours.

Robbins had collected all the requisite book pages on his fifth and final lap, and was on his way back to the yellow gate that serves as the finish line, when he took a wrong turn. He ultimately arrived at the gate from the wrong direction, and his race was deemed a DNF.

Prior to the race, filmmaker and podcaster Ethan Newberry (aka “The Ginger Runner) had begun making a film about Robbins’ Barkley journey. The pair will debut the full film on a nationwide tour, the dates of which will be released at the end of this week.

In the mean time, this preview gives a glimpse into Robbin’s insane training in the months leading into Barkley.

Photo Gallery: 30 Hours of Wind, Fog and Rain on Nolan’s 14

On July 30, Gary Robbins and Jared Campbell finished the classic Colorado peak challenge Nolan’s 14, marking the 22nd and 23rd times that the route has been completed.

Nolan’s 14 is an linkup of 14 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado’s Sawatch range in under 60 hours. There is no official route—simply a challenge to tag each of the summits, starting and ending at the Leadville Fish Hatchery and Blank Cabin at the trailhead to Mount Shavano.

Campbell, 37, of Salt Lake City, Utah—who has finished the Hardrock 100 10 times, and won it in 2010—had already completed the challenge once before, in 2012. Robbins was a first-timer on the route.

The pair came to Nolan’s after Robbins suffered a disappointing wrong turn in the final miles of the 2017 Barkley Marathons, narrowly missing out on a coveted finish.

“[Gary] put so much training into Barkley and it didn’t work out the way we all wanted it to for him,” said Campbell in an interview with Trail Runner several weeks before their Nolan’s run. “So I would love to see him get a high level of satisfaction out of Nolan’s.”

However, the mountains weren’t going to give Campbell and Robbins an easy time. Rain started shortly after they set off from Blank Cabin, and continued for the next 20 hours. By the time Campbell and Robbins reached the eight peak, Mount Oxford, both were hypothermic. On the summit of Oxford, they decided to bail. They cut down to Missouri Gulch to meet their crew and change into dry clothes. But Robbins’ wife, Linda Barton-Robbins, wasn’t ready to let them give up.

“She was continually reminding us  ‘you still have 31 hours left to finish this thing,'” says Robbins. “We decided to give things another go.”

The rain continued for the next 10 hours, clearing up just in time for the last few peaks. Campbell and Robbins ultimately reached Blank Cabin in 56 hours 39 minutes, just over three hours before the 60-hour cutoff.

This collection of photos, taken by Robbins and Campbell, capture the pair’s suffering and triumph.

On August 1-3, Spanish runner  Iker Karrera set a new supported FKT on Nolan’s 14, in 47 hours 40 minutes, taking roughly six hours off the previous record, held by Andrew Hamilton.

How (and Why) to Warm Up Before a Trail Race

We have all had those race mornings. You wake up at 4 a.m., feeling like three pounds of bricks in a one-pound sack. Your legs are heavy, your eyes are sleepy and your bowels are lazy. All too often, excitement for the race can turn to dread and an existential crisis over coffee. Why am I doing this? Why are my bowels not doing this? Sometimes, the psychological battle can be lost before the starting gun even sounds.

At first, many of the athletes I coach fret unnecessarily about what they should do to get ready to race, or even if they should do anything at all. A good warm-up routine cuts through the self-doubt and can make sure your legs are ready even if they feel like bricks when you wake up.


Why to Warm Up

Showing up to the race start and taking your first steps when the gun sounds can be a recipe for disaster for some runners, even at ultra events. Excitement and nerves can skew your perceived exertion, causing you to run too hard at the beginning—and going too hard without preparation can ruin a race before it starts. Even if you start like a sedated turtle, feeling crappy at the start can set a bad tone for the rest of the day. While top coach Steve Magness wrote in 2009 that studies on warm ups “are all over the place,” warming up is an essential component of elite athletes’ pre-race routine because it serves as a neuromuscular, metabolic and psychological primer.

Neuromuscular: Warming up effectively acts as a big “on” switch for the brain and body, preparing your muscles to fire efficiently during the race. A review study in the journal BMC Medicine in 2012 found that neuromuscular warm-up strategies (activities that go beyond walking or slow running) decrease lower extremity injury risk. While there is less information on the direct link between warm ups and performance, a study from in the obscure Serbian Journal of Sports Sciences in 2008 found that jogging paired with dynamic exercises increased time to exhaustion (that is: athletes who warmed up took longer before they got tired).

Metabolic: Warming up also revs the aerobic engine, getting your cardiovascular system ready for the demands of the race. For example, a 2009 study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that a warm up reduced athletes’ relative anaerobic lactic energy contribution—essentially, that warming up decreased the amount of time that athletes spent in an anaerobic state, as opposed to a more sustainable aerobic state. The takeaway is that warming up could make athletes more aerobically efficient (note: that study found no increase in time to exhaustion). In addition, a 2007 review study in the journal Sports Medicine described that simply warming up the temperature of muscles before a run can improve performance.

Psychological: While the psychological benefit of a warm up is difficult to isolate in a study, it’s something many experienced runners describe. That pre-race routine acts as a security blanket that you can turn to for a sense of calm, no matter where you are racing, or how far. Plus, anecdotally, a warm up seems to help get the juices flowing in more ways than one, facilitating productive trips to the Porta Potty before the race starts.


How to Warm Up

Research and long-standing athlete practice has coalesced around a warm up that involves easy jogging (primarily for metabolic and psychological priming) coupled with dynamic movements (neuromuscular and psychological priming). While there are many protocols and practices that can work, here is a four-part warm-up strategy that I recommend to my athletes (as always, find what works for you, which may vary substantially).


T minus 1 or more hours before race starts: Get outside and walk.

Cooped up inside a house or hotel room, running a race can seem psychologically daunting. A quick five to 10 minute walk well before the race can open the brain up to the possibilities of the day. Plus, a little gravity can help the pre-race coffee percolate through your bloodstream (and intestines). Add some sports drink for hydration if possible.


T minus 30 to 45 minutes before race starts: Do some light dynamic exercises.

Prior to doing a jog, get your blood flowing with a short dynamic warm up consisting of some lunges and leg swings. Warning: don’t do lunges pre race unless you do them nearly every day in training, as they can increase muscle fatigue. A quick set of leg swings (10 front-to-back, 10 side-to-side) is a good way to get some neuromuscular priming. Add a few skips, high knees and push-ups for bonus points.


T minus 20 to 30 minutes before race starts: Jog easily for five to 10 minutes.

For trail races over 10K, there is no need to do a strenuous warm up like track runners. Metabolic priming only requires a short jog—think purely aerobic, zone-one heart rate, with light, quick steps for some extra neuromuscular priming. When I first started running, I worried that this type of jogging would increase fatigue prior to the race start, but if you keep it easy enough, it could actually increase time to exhaustion in some athletes by improving aerobic efficiency. I recommend athletes do the warm-up jog in long pants to increase the warming effect. A final few sips of sports drink after the jog can top off hydration before the race starts.


T minus 10 to 20 minutes before race starts: Do two to four strides just a tick faster than you will go in the race, along with some leg swings.

The neuromuscular cherry on top is a set of strides around 50 to 100 meters where you go a bit faster than you will go in the race (which could be rather slow for an ultra). This ensures your brain and body are ready for the specific demands of the event. For a psychological boost, strip off those long pants prior to doing the relaxed strides. You get bonus points if you rip them off like in the movie Full Monty. Add some relaxed leg swings to get a final neuromuscular boost.


T minus 0 to 10 minutes before race starts: Bounce around and do short, light strides as needed.

With the warm-up in the rear-view mirror, you should be feeling locked and loaded, both mentally and physically. With the rest of your time before the race starts, do light physical activity to stay warm and practice mindfulness about the race to come, focusing on being in the moment and finding contentedness. You get additional bonus points if you combine mindfulness with a quick bathroom trip.

Once you find the warm-up routine that works for you (which can vary from the template above), you will have your pre-race security blanket. Just be sure to combine some easy jogging with dynamic activities like strides or leg swings. With that, your brain, body and bowels will be ready to face the challenges ahead, whatever they may be.


David Roche runs for HOKA One One and NATHAN, and works with runners of all abilities through his coaching service, Some Work, All Play.

Three Strategies to Finish Fast In Your Next Trail Race

Around mile 22 of the Speedgoat 50K, held on July 29 in Utah’s rugged Wasatch Mountains, a woman in a yellow shirt pulled ahead of me and attacked a beastly climb at nearly 11,000 feet in elevation.

“She’s having a great race,” I thought to myself, as I watched from behind. “She’s a closer.”

The runner was Sarah McCloskey, 44, of Alta, Utah and she and I had been leapfrogging for the last 20 miles. Throughout, I had admired her just-right, focused and efficient pace. Then, in the final miles, McCloskey did what every runner hopes to do in a race: She surged and passed numerous others. She moved from around 20th female mid-race to 11th in a highly competitive field, ultimately finishing in a time of 8:30.

Approaching the finish, “every person I passed increased my motivation to push harder,” McCloskey says.

How can you be “a closer” like McCloskey, without “sandbagging”—that is, deliberately running too easily early in the race and performing below your potential?

Try the following strategies in your next race to pace properly, avoid mistakes, handle challenges and finish strong with your best possible time.


1. Study the course and practice its final portion in training.

When Tim Tollefson trained for the 2016 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc—his first 100-mile race—he studied the course and focused on the route’s final portion, which features a sharp plunge downhill followed by a long, flat stretch to the finish. Tollefson found a downhill-to-flat route in his hometown of Mammoth Lakes, California, and he practiced it repeatedly.

When Tollefson reached that point near the end of UTMB last year, he felt confident he could run all-out. “I was like, ‘Man, this is exactly what I prepared for,’” he recalls. He ultimately accelerated to a third-place finish. (Tollefson is heading back to compete at UTMB again in late August.)

McCloskey also benefitted from intimate course knowledge at the Speedgoat 50K, having run it nine times prior. Unlike many others in the field, she did not feel surprised or discouraged upon encountering a tough hill followed by a steep, technical descent in the final five miles.

“Knowing approximate distances between aid will help you decide how much water and food to carry, and knowing where the biggest climbs are will help you decide how much energy to save for the second half when you are more tired,” she says.


2. Divide your race into thirds to pace and manage your needs in each phase.

Besides studying the course and training specifically for it, finishing fast on race day takes proper pacing and self-care. To effectively pace a trail race of any distance and manage your systems along the way, it helps to break the distance roughly into thirds: the beginning, middle and end.

Like a story, a trail race starts with an introduction that sets the scene and establishes a rhythm and tone; a middle that delivers dramatic challenges and unexpected developments; and a conclusion that features an exciting climax and resolution. Dividing your race into these distinct phases will help you manage your pace as well as your physical and mental well being.

In the beginning, don’t race others; check your ego and run a steady, sustainable pace that feels right for you.

Both at last year’s UTMB as well as last month’s Speedgoat 50K, Tollefson downshifted to hiking in the early miles when running felt stressful or unsustainable. At Speedgoat, this allowed his competitors to build an early lead. However, it also enabled Tollefson to finish fast and place second behind course-record breaker Jim Walmsley.

“That perfect starting pace will differ for each runner based on personal goals,” Tollefson says. “I find it helpful to listen to intrinsic cues the body will provide you.” He likens the body’s natural cues to a car’s tachometer, which tells the driver if he or she is revving too hard.

“Breathing, heart rate and amount of ‘burn’ in the legs can do the same for us,” he says. “If I can’t control my breathing to a smooth pattern, or if my legs are starting to burn with increasing intensity, I’ll consider backing off a gear or two until I can restore a more homeostatic or comfortable pace.”

In the middle, troubleshoot challenges, stay positive and take care of yourself.

The middle portion of a race often becomes a grind. Fatigue, doubt, boredom and other negative feelings creep in. Unforeseen problems—such as stormy weather, gear malfunctions, blisters—challenge you to troubleshoot and work through a rough patch.

Deliberately maintain the optimism, efficiency and steady pace you practiced from the start. Adequately refuel, rehydrate and regulate your body’s temperature (cooling off in heat, staying warm with extra layers in the cold), even if this means taking a little extra time for breaks.

Running close to others can help make these middle miles pass by smoothly. Instead of viewing other runners as adversaries, view them as friends who help pull you along. As long as their pace doesn’t cause you to increase your effort level to an unsustainable level, run with them and enjoy their company. But, let them go ahead when you need to slow down for refueling or other self-care.

McCloskey, for example, would let other runners get ahead when she paused in the warm canyons to wet her hat and arms at stream crossings, or when she pulled food out of her pockets to ingest the 200 calories she had decided to eat each hour. Then she’d catch back up.

“Stick to a plan to avoid bonking,” she says. “So you can accelerate in the latter part of the race.”

Toward the end, push increasingly hard—but not too fast, too soon.

The final third of the race is the time to dig deep, push hard and strive to pass others. This is potentially the most satisfying, or most crushing and painful, part of racing. Push hard—but not too much, too soon, or a severe bonk could make you seize up before you see the finishing chute. In the 2016 UTMB, Tollefson almost fell into that trap when he started racing another competitor toward the end.

“I started battling it out with a guy I had just passed, and he passed me back, and I realized that if I battle with him now, I’m not going to make it to the finish line. I’m gonna blow a gasket,” he says. “So at that point, I consciously let him go”—and eventually reeled him back in and passed him before the finish.


3. Don’t give up.

Toward the end, your energy and spirits may sag if you realize you’re too far behind to catch a competitor. You lose interest in performing your best; instead, you just want to be done, and your run devolves into a slog.

At that moment, make a pact with yourself to stay strong and race the clock for your best possible time, regardless of where you are relative to other competitors. You may surprise yourself and finish farther ahead in the field than expected.

“Keep pushing until the finish, no matter how poorly you think you’re doing, because it’s not over until it’s over,” says McCloskey, recalling how she won the Bighorn 100-Mile Trail Run in 2013, after assuming she’d finish third or fourth. “All the other women ahead dropped, and I was in the lead. Never give up!”


Sarah Lavender Smith is a coach, a contributing editor for Trail Runner, and the author of The Trail Runner’s Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Trail Running and Racing, from 5Ks to Ultras.


WATCH: In Spokane, Washington, Running is Tradition

Spokane, Washington has a deep history of running—and a vast network of trails. This video, by HOKA One One, profiles the town’s running community, from the coaches who have shepherded local high school and college teams to state-level and national dominance, to the running clubs that form the backbone of the community.

Winter Warrior Buzz Article

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A Solstice Race on British’s Columbia’s Pacific Coast

Dylan Morgan, 39, of Squamish, British Columbia, had wanted to create an ultra for several years, but he didn’t know where. Then, a friend introduced him to the 110-mile Sunshine Coast trail (SCT) on BC’s rugged Pacific Coast. He knew he’d found his venue.

Located nearly four hours north of Vancouver, British Columbia, the Sunshine Coast Trail is a true wilderness experience: unforgiving, technical and gorgeous. The route traces the line where lush, temperate rainforest merges with the Salish Sea—ancient evergreens flirt with azure lapping waves, white-capped peaks rise up from the sprawling Strait of Georgia.

A Little-Known Gem

Morgan’s first experience on the SCT was in 2016, at a local cult-classic race, the Marathon Shuffle.

“[I remember] running along beautifully wooded singletrack next to a series of waterfalls,” he says. “It was so pretty I stopped to clamber down a few meters to the stream to take photos and drink the cool water. Then, later, I popped out on the top of a bluff with panoramic views south to Powell River and across the Salish Sea.”

By the end of the race, he knew he wanted to stage an ultramarathon and cover the full length of the trail.

The result is the Sunshine Coast Longest Day Run (LDR), which will take place for the first time in June 2017, debuting on—you guessed it—the summer solstice, with 110-mile, 115K and 20K distances.

The routes combine canopied, dank tunnels typical of the Pacific Northwest, with rocky ridgelines. Rooty and tangled in places, the trail has aggressive, stair-like ascents that peak to 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean. Each distance is strenuous: the 110-miler boasts 24,000 feet of vertical gain; the 115K and 20K gain 18,044 and 2,296 feet, respectively.

Not for Beginners

The SCT was built in 1992, though it has recently been redeveloped to include more singletrack, more elevation gain and more old-growth forest. In 2015, the trail was named “One of the 50 Best Hikes in the World” by Explore Magazine. However, because it is so remote and technical, this “new” route doesn’t have an FKT (as of this writing).

The Longest Day Race is not for the inexperienced or faint of heart. The race page warns, “Due to the remoteness and difficulty of evacuation, along with the [scarcity of] aid stations, this is a graduate-level race.”

Entrants are required to have run “at least one mountain 50-mile race, with significant technical terrain and a minimum of 3,000 meters of ascent.” Exceptions may be made for runners able to demonstrate advanced running capabilities to the race organizers. To ensure a high level of safety and keep first-year logistics under control, Morgan is capping each distance at 30 entrants.

All races finish at Saltery Bay, a beachside park with water access, and start at varying trailheads near the town of Powell River, British Columbia.

Bring It On

The competition promises to be strong, even in this relatively unpopulated region. Morgan has already confirmed several elite runners including Paul Romero, who has twice finished on the podium at the Tahoe 200 Endurance Run; 2016 Black Hills 100 champ Mike Jimenez; and Nicola Gildersleeve, who won the 2014 Kodiak 100 and holds the current women’s FKT, in 33 hours 50 minutes, for the “old” Sunshine Coast Trail.

Runners will be transported to the harbor village of Lund from Powell River. Then, via water taxi, athletes will travel from Lund to Sarah Point, the start of the race. After winding through the Copeland Islands Marine Park, runners will “leap ashore” to the start. If you prefer to transport yourself to the starting line, know that four-wheel drive is required, and there is a one-mile hike in.

The Longest Day Race

Race Day
June 24, 2017


Registration closes June 22.


Get There
From Vancouver: Fly directly into Powell River or drive and ferry hop from West Vancouver via two ferries. Transport to the race start is provided.

Powell River Town Centre Hotel, Beach Gardens Resort and Marina, Old Courthouse Inn and Westview Centre Motel, Willingdon Beach Campsite, Kent’s Beach Resort, Saltery Bay Provincial Park Campground.

Post Race
Food and beer at the finish line in Saltery Bay, and post-race dinner in Powell River.

Trophy Series Update: Race Director Tackles Pay Gap, and More

The Trail Runner Trophy Series, presented by Altra Running, is a points based race series, with 186 events of all distances, all around the country. The series begins in March and culminates in September. Grand prizes are awarded to the runner who logs the most miles, and the runner who runs the most races. The “Mile Mogul” wins a Run the Alps trail-running tour through the French and Swiss alps, while the “Trail Fiend” wins a coveted spot on the cover of Trail Runner magazine.

 The Trophy Series is well under way for the season. Here are some updates and stories from the last few weeks. Dale Reicheneder, the 2016 Trophy Series “Trail Fiend” Champion, is currently in first place for winning the cover shot, while Gerald Bailey is the lead for the trail-running tour in the Alps.


Barr Trail Mountain Race: July 16, Manitou Springs, Colorado

 This year the Barr Trail Mountain Race (BTMR) organizers made a simple, yet bold, statement for women’s rights. The top three women received 20 percent more prize money ($420, $300, and $180) then the top three men ($350, $250, and $150).

The move was an effort on the part of race director Peter Maksimow to call attention to the disparity in prize money offerings for men and women across the sport of trail and ultra running. Maksimow’s desire to take a stand was born out of personal experience in competition. At the 2015 Long Distance Mountain Running World Championships, Maksimow received prize money for his 15th-place finish, while the female 15th-place finisher did not. 

“Equal prize money between women and men is thankfully not that big of an issue here in the US,” he says. “But in other areas, [gender inequality] is still an issue.” Maksimow points, specifically, to the gender pay gap between male and female workers in the United States, (men make approximately 20 percent more than women).

US Mountain Running National Champion, Addie Bracy, winning the 2017 BTMR. Photo by Peter Maksimow.

“This is a small increase of 20-percent to a fairly small prize money purse,” he says, of the adjustment to his race’s prize purse. “The idea was not to discriminate against men [the women’s winner won just $70 more than the men’s winner], but to start a conversation about how this issue of inequality between women and men in our sport is still an issue in 2017.”

 The race attracted some of the best mountain runners in the world. U.S. Mountain Running team members Addie Bracy and Joe Gray (who just last weekend earned team gold and bronze medals respectively at the World Mountain Running Championship) took first place.



Idaho Peak Ultra Trail Marathon & 10K Trail Run: July 22, New Denver, British Columbia

 No cups? No problem. Idaho Peak Ultra Trail Marathon and 10K Trail run decided to go cup-free this year, and only produced one bag of garbage.

Photo by Miranda Hughes.

The race had an international field and saw the biggest turnout to date—including a mother grizzly bear and her cub who ambled into the area a week prior to the race. As a result, racers were required to carry bear spray. Luckily the race ended with no incidents other than a black bear sighting.

In the women’s marathon, Michelle Katchur Roberts, 33, of Canmore, Alberta, took first female—and third overall!—in 4:19:52. On the men’s side Dave Stevens, 34, of Beasley, British Columbia, took first in 3:53:57.

Flying into first in the women’s 10K event was Marie-Michèle Gagnon, 35, of Nelson, British Columbia, in 0:45:55. In the men’s division Justin Williams, 40, of Calgary, Alberta, took first in 0:43:41.



Devil’s Slide Trail Run : July 29, Pacifica, California

The Devil’s Slide Trail Run featured three distances: a 4K, 11K and “Hella’ Hard” Half Marathon. The name “Hella’ Hard” is no exaggeration. Pacifica offered beautiful ocean views but also grueling climbs–the 13 mile course has a total elevation gain of 3,050 feet.

“The ‘Hella’ Hard Half” is […] up-down-up-down, and your legs are on fire, which fits the ‘Devil’ theme,” says racer David Halvorson. “I summited [what I thought was the top of] the climb, only to look up and see the other runners on what looked to be Mount Everest! I was on a false summit. I smiled, put my head down and started hiking.” The last three miles of the race were downhill over rocky, rooty singletrack.

Pulling into the finish to take first in the men’s “Fiery 4K” race was 16-year-old Nick Moore, of Moss Beach, California. On the women’s side, first place went to 15-year-old Claire Little, of Montara, California.

“She flew on the downhills, barely staying in control. She had another woman on her heels the whole time, but Claire was motivated by the $20 gift certificate for first place finishers!” says her father, Ron Little, 46 of Montara, California, who won the half-marathon—if he had been a minute slower he would have placed sixth.

Taking the win in the women’s Hella Hard Half-Marathon was Kara Barnard, 39, of San Francisco, California.

The men’s “Evil 11K” was won by Anthony Cortes, 23, of Half Moon, California and the women’s by Mary Ann Toney, 28.


Note from the Trophy Series organizers: Due to insufficient results, The Antelope Butte Summer Festival Butte Grind race are no longer a part of the Trophy Series. We apologize for this unforeseen situation. Please direct any questions or concerns on the matter to the Race Directors of this race. We appreciate your understanding.


Trophy Series Standings

Run most races

First Dale Reicheneder, Malibu CA, 295.4 miles, 27 races
Second Samantha Weaver, Jersey Shore PA, 303.1 miles, 24 races
Third Gerald Bailey, Glencoe KY, 394.2 miles, 17 races,

Run most miles

First Bert Blackbird, Brandon MB, 400 actual miles, 3 races
Second Gerald Bailey, Glencoe KY, 360.2 miles, 17 races
Third Donna Loparo, Winter Springs FL, 320 actual miles, 2 races

Ultra Standings

First James Barnard, Clinton TN, 1056 points, 1 race
Second Georg Kunzfeld, Frankfurt Germany, 800 points, 1 race
Third Jeremy Reed, Pikeville TN, 630 points, 1 race

First Donna Loparo, Winter Springs FL, 1080 points, 2 races
Second Debbie Bulten, Cambridge ON, 800 points, 1 race
Third Greta Reed, Pikeville TN, 576 points, 1 race


Non-Ultra Standings

10-19 Port Habalar, Williamsport PA, 287.9 points, 6 races
20-29 Matt Lipsey, Kersey PA, 222.8 points, 4 races
30-39 Robert Spies, San Francisco CA, 157.2 points, 3 races
40-49 Steve Templin, Muncy PA, 194.9 points, 5 races
50-59 Dale Reicheneder, Malibu CA, 1003.1 points, 27 races
60+ Gerald Bailey, Glencoe KY, 394.2 points, 17 races
10-19 Mallory Lovell, Georgetown KY, 293.0 points, 6 races
20-29 Johanna Ohm, State College PA, 245.8 points, 5 races
30-39 Brianna Bair, State College PA, 276.1 points, 5 races
40-49 Samantha Weaver, Jersey Shore PA, 477.1 points, 24 races
50-59 Carole Dudukovich, Port Matilda PA, 514.8 points, 11 races
60+ Jane Kone, Howard PA, 306.5 points, 7 races, [email protected]


Trophy Series presenting sponsor Altra Running is a leading trail-running shoe brand. Based in Utah, Altra’s running-shoe innovations—including a cushioned Zero Drop shoe and a foot-shaped toe box—are born from long hard runs in the nearby Wasatch Mountains.Follow @AltraRunning and #ZeroLimits on Twitter,Instagram and Facebook. PR Contact: Colleen Logan, VP Marketing, [email protected]

Run the Alps offers a variety of guided and self-guided trail-running trips throughout the Alps, for all abilities. Founder Doug Mayer is also a contributing editor at Trail Runner; you can read a few of his stories about running in Switzerland here and here. More information is available at their website: www.runthealps.com.

For questions about the Trophy Series, please consult our Trophy Series page, or email us at [email protected]