Heath & Dalton Win the 2022 USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships

Written by USATF Championship liaison Lin Gentling. Photos: Kelly Randolph.

On a cool, overcast, and misting morning the 2022 trail half marathon national championships were held just outside of Cable, WI on the American Birkebeiner ski and mountain bike courses. The rain overnight had made for slick and greasy conditions, but that did not deter the 22 USATF runners from all over the United States.

The Birkie course has been described as a blast, fun, varied, single track, wide open trails, sandy, muddy, rocks, areas that drain well, pools of shoe sucking mud, the trail has it all.

Men’s podium. Photo: Kelly Randolph.

National champion, Garrett Heath, 36, Seattle WA, crossed the finish line in 1:13:44, a very respectable time considering the trail conditions. Heath is better known in the track circles, especially as a 1500 meter runner and member of the 2010 US team competing at the world indoor championships. Helping Heath gain his trail knowledge has been Andy Wacker, 2nd place finisher today. Wacker is a great ambassador for runners crossing over from track/road to trail. This was a sort of homecoming opportunity for Heath, originally from Winona, MN. He has skied the Birkie on several occasions, and won a combined 8 state HS championships in Nordic skiing and XC/track running.

Now a pro runner representing Brooks, Heath decided to make the switch to trail running stating he had a lot of fun on the track, but was ready for a new challenge. The welcoming community found in the mountains and on the trails was a real draw for him. “There is always going to be some pain out there, but then I kind of enjoy that part.” Heath is considering returning to ski the American Birkebeiner next February. Truly a Midwesterner at heart. Expect to see more of Heath on the trails in the future.

Andy Wacker, 34, Boulder, CO, 2nd male in 1:16:22, celebrating his birthday in great style doing what he loves best. was asked what keeps bringing him back to the Birkie half marathon. This was was his 4th Birkie race. Wacker, from the mountains, described the course and event this way, “I’ve come to the Birkie Trail Run for a number of years. It’s my fourth time here and it’s really hard to put your finger on it, but I think it’s the community. This place and this trail are really special. There are not a lot of true trail races in the U.S. and this is a really cool one. You don’t have to go up and down a mountain to have a really amazing and interesting time. And, it makes it totally different. It favors people like Derek and me. It makes it a really hard challenging course that’s faster.”

Just last week, he competed in the elite wave of the Pikes Peak Ascent. “My legs are probably a little tired. I’ve been racing and it’s been a long season but I love the Birkie and to come back each year.” Wacker has had a great year with many successes, and now he will concentrate on his preparation as a member of the US mountain and trail team competing in in the World Championships in the classic race in Thailand in November.

Third spot on the podium went to Tom Sederquist, 33, Duluth, MN, with a time of 1:18:03.

Rounding out the top 10 were Christopher Sandefur, 35, Manchester, MO (1:24:25), Chad Trammell, 38, Anchorage, AK (1:25:36), Stewart Jones, 32, Weirton, WV (1:25:57), Evan Lewandowski, 30, Medford, WI (1:34:06), Andy Holak, 54, Duluth, MN (1:43:21)** 1st Masters, Darrin Dietrich, 57, Bloomington, MN (1:46:56), and Stephen Clark, 65, Cushing, WI (1:48:26).

Women’s podium. Photo: Kelly Randolph.

The ladies also enjoyed a great day on the trails. All the way from Anchorage, AK, crossing the finish line as the gold medalist and national champion was Anna Dalton, 33 in 1:30:17. In Anna’s words, “I’ve never been a national champion. This is my first time. I was born and raised in a ski-centric community in Anchorage, so this also really feels a lot like home.” Like many others, Anna found the course to her liking, “I loved the course. I think my favorite part was the single-track sections. It’s just beautiful in there.” Anna calls herself more of a road runner with her next event being the fast California International Marathon in December. However, she is certainly looking at trying to qualify for the US team for the 2023 World Mountain & Trail Running Championships in Austria next June.

Following closely behind Anna was Megan Lacy, 28, Boise, ID (1:32:34), Kristen Monahan, 34, Houghton, MN (1:42:35), Amber Tookey, 36, Boise, ID (1:48:35), Mary Bolich, 59, Milwaukee, WI (2:06:13)**1st Masters, Jo May, 74, Houston, TX, (3:26:56).

The real heroes behind the Birkie Trail Running Festival including the trail half marathon national championships are the staff and volunteers of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, led by race director, Kristy Maki. Maki with her army of volunteers has been putting on the festival for several years and runs the event like a well oiled machine. The friendliness, cooperation, experience, and knowledge exhibited by the folks of northern Wisconsin is second to none and one which the small communities of Cable and Hayward, WI pride themselves with. They are a direct reason why the Birkie is so very successful and why runners come back year after year.

USATF Championship Results

For a recap of prior USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships hosted by the Birkie Trail Run, click the links for 2017 and for 2018, for 2020 and for 2021.