Following last weekend’s Mountain Running World Cup stage eleven race, Trofeo Ciolo, in Gagliano del Capo, Italy, the World Cup returns to the United States for the first time since 2019. Stages twelve and thirteen of this global sixteen-stage race series will be held at Friday’s Broken Arrow VK (Vertical Kilometer) and Sunday’s 26 km Broken Arrow Skyrace in Olympic Valley, California. Since its inception in 2016, Broken Arrow has always attracted a strong field of elite mountain runners but this weekend’s events will feature the best field to date including two former world champions and six national champions.
The Broken Arrow VK falls under the World Mountain Running Association’s “short uphill” race category where runners will ascend 3,100 feet on the 3.1 mile long course. The race begins at the valley floor at Palisades Tahoe Resort and finishes at the summit at 9,000 foot (2740 meters). Terrain consists of single-track, gravel service road, exposed ridges above tree-line and the famous “Stairway to Heaven” ladder at the summit. This race is a favorite among short distance mountain and skyrunning specialists with 250 athletes registered for this year’s grueling event.
The Broken Arrow Skyrace is 26 kilometers (16.2 miles) and falls under the association’s “long mountain” category. The course is a challenging loop that takes runners across the terrain of Palisades Tahoe Resort, one of North America’s most rugged and extreme ski venues. During the race, runners will accumulate over 5,000 feet of elevation gain while negotiating single-track, rough ski slopes, exposed mountain ridges and dirt roads. Almost 600 athletes are ready to challenge themselves on the course and compete against each other for unique prizes and bragging rights.
Who to Watch
While this year’s Broken Arrow has attracted many top American mountain runners, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the number of elite international runners who have been present in previous years.
Athletes to watch for Friday’s VK include course record holder, 2010 winter olympian and 2012 World Mountain Running Championship silver medalist Morgan Arritola (Bend, OR). Challenging Arritola will be accomplished skyrunner Hillary Allen (Fort Collins, CO), two-time Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance run winner Anna Frost (Dunedin, New Zealand) and third place finisher at the 2021 US Mountain Running Championships Bailey Kowalczyk (Nederland, CO).
The men’s race will see 2015 US Mountain Running Team member JP Donovan (Incline Village, NV), who holds the second and fifth fastest times on the VK course, challenge 2011 World Mountain Running Champion Max King (Bend, OR). A decade after his world championship victory King proved he’s still got speedy legs placing second at the 2021 US Mountain Running Championships in August.
Also up(hill) for the VK challenge are two-time USATF 50K Trail Champion and Speedgoat 50K winner David Sinclair (Peru, VT), 2019 Broken Arrow 52K Skyrace runner up Michelino Sunseri (King Beach, CA) and two-time USATF Half Marathon Trail Champion Andy Wacker (Boulder, CO) – also the only U.S. men’s athlete to compete in three different MUT world championships (Mountain, Long Distance Mountain and Trail).
Sunday’s 26-Kilometer World Cup Skyrace will also be no less competitive with some athletes will compete in both the VK and 26K, including Arritola, King, Frost, Sinclair, and Wacker. Other mens favorites for the 26K win include two-time World Mountain Running Champion Joseph Gray (Colorado Springs, CO) and 2019 Broken Arrow 26K Skyrace runner up Sam Sahli (Evergreen, CO).
In the women’s 26K race look for challenges from 3rd place finisher in the 2021 Cirque Series Pro Division Janelle Lincks (Thornton, CO), 2017 Broken Arrow 52-Kilometer Champion Kelly Wolf (Durango, CO) and 2018 US Long Distance Mountain Running member Renee Metivier (Bend, OR), a road marathon specialist who made a successful transition to trails.
What They Are Saying
“Broken Arrow brings the mountain running World Cup to the USA, and with it a high level of competition to shorter trail races. I can’t wait to be a part of the great field of runners, with great media coverage on a beautiful course. Specifically, having a competitive VK is awesome! It takes special terrain to host a VK, and I’m glad we can showcase some of what America has to offer.” – Andy Wacker (Boulder, CO)
“I’m planning on the VK and 52K races. I’m just really excited to get to partake in this race again after a long hiatus. It’s been a tough summer in Tahoe with the drought and fires so I’m glad to get the chance to put a bib on.” – David Sinclair (Truckee, CA)
“The 26k is looking to be a stacked field on a really well rounded course! I’m excited to have some fun and run fast!” – Bailey Kowalczyk (Nederland, CO)
“Where it’s steep and loose, I will have my fun!” – JP Donovan (Incline Village, CA)
The American Trail Running Association (ATRA) team will be “on the ground” covering the Broken Arrow Skyrace events and at our booth in the vendor village this upcoming weekend. Stay tuned for articles, videos and other race content. Follow us on our social media channels on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for live updates from the event.