The USATF Marathon Trail Championships were hosted by the Moab Trail Marathon in Moab, Utah, on Saturday, November 6, the second to last USATF Championship before the 2021 USATF 100 Mile Trail Championship on December 4. Allie McLaughlin (31 – Colorado Springs, CO) and Adam Peterman (26 – Missoula, MT) defended their National Trail Marathon Champion titles from the previous year. This was the third consecutive title for Peterman and the second for McLaughlin.
Both the women’s’ and mens’ elite fields were the most competitive in the race’s fourteen year history, attracting some of the country’s top veteran and upcoming trail runners. The high level of competition also brought out some of the fastest times in course history, with an unprecedented three men under three hours and six women under four hours.
The women’s’ field included recent Golden Trail Series Grand Final winner Janelle Lincks (27 – Fort Collins, CO), USATF 30K Trail champion, USATF Half Marathon Trail champion and 2021 Speedgoat 50K champion Ashley Brasovan (30 – Golden, CO), Baylor University All-American and 2021 USATF Mountain Running Championship runner-up Rachel (formerly Johnson) Tomajczyk (28 – Williams, AZ), 2021 Pikes Peak Marathon champion Stevie Kremer (37 – Crested Butte, CO), 2020 US National Snowshoe Running champion Michelle Hummel (36 – Albuquerque, NM) and defending USATF Trail Marathon champion Allie McLaughlin (31 – Colorado Springs, CO).
The mens’ line-up was equally “stacked” with talent and included 2011 World Mountain Running Champion and 2014 IAU 100 km world champion Max King (41 – Bend, OR), Bobcat Trail Race 25K champion Brain Whitfield (25 – Wheat Ridge, CO), Cirque Series A-Basin runner-up Eli Hemming (26 – Louisville, CO), Team USA athlete for the 2022 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships Joseph Demoor (31 – Carbondale, CO), 2020 Speedgoat Short Course champion Jeshurun Small (23 – Gunnison, CO) and back-to-back Moab Trail Marathon champion in 2019 and 2020 Adam Peterman (26 – Missoula, MT).
In spite of the high competition, defending champions Peterman and McLaughlin came into the race as favorites. Both athletes had incredible year’s in 2021. Peterman broke Jim Walsley’s Speedgoat 50K record and placed second at his first-ever Pikes Peak Marathon.
McLaughlin won the Pikes Peak Ascent and came back the next day to place second at the Pikes Peak Marathon. She also won the Broken Arrow Skyrace “Triple Crown,” where she raced three days in a row, winning the Vertical Kilometer, 52-kilometer (her first ultramarathon distance trail race) and placed eighth at the 26-kilometer.
With such strong results from the defending 2020 USATF Trail Marathon Champions, it was clear there could be potential for a fast race in Moab amongst the top elites. The mens’ and women’s’ elite fields started together at 7:45AM on a clear, cool Saturday morning.
In the mens’ race, Peterman led the field out quickly at a sub-three hour pace (a feat he has achieved twice and only four other runners in the race’s history have done). Hemming and King followed behind Peterman and this trio was separated from the rest of the group by mile eleven. Whitfield, Demoor, and Small were in the chase group only several minutes behind.
On the race’s longest climb from mile fourteen to sixteen (which gains just over 1,000 vertical feet), Peterman broke away from the trio. However, Peterman could never completely shake King. “Max made that race brutal! He was on my tail the whole race, I kept looking back and he would still be there. He never gives up!” said Peterman.
King pushed Peterman to run a new course record time of 2:51:41. King placed second, running the second fastest time in course history, 2:54:43. King said jokingly about his performance, “I’m kind of sick of the second place finishes, this year has been all seconds!”
With such a stellar performance at this race, and just narrowly missing the 2021 USATF Mountain Running Championship title to the legendary Joseph Gray by only 15 seconds, King can surely expect a win in the near future. Rounding out the mens’ podium was Hemming, who also went under three hours, finishing in 2:59:09.
In the women’s race, McLaughlin similarly took the race out “hot,” aiming to break her winning time from last year of 3:36:48. None of the rest of the women in the field were willing to follow such a blistering pace and McLaughlin ran alone for nearly the entire race. By the halfway point, she was already more than five minutes ahead of her nearest competitor.
McLaughlin finished in a time of 3:30:15. McLaughlin said about her win, “I thought I felt slower running this year compared to last year, but I think that was actually just because I was pushing myself so much harder. It was a cool surprise to find out my time was six minutes faster than last time!”
The remaining two podium spots were in high contention throughout the race. By mile eleven, Lincks, Tomajczyk, Brasovan, Lewis and Rolland were all running within seconds of each other, followed closely by Kremer. As the women reached the climb at mile fourteen, Kremer and Lewis began to make their advances.
Lewis out-climbed her competitors and held on to finish second in a time of 3:38:44. Brasovan finished third in 3:42:18, narrowly edging out the incredible late race surge of Kremer who finished fourth in 3:42:44. Lincks finished fifth in 3:42:49. This made for one of the closest finishes in race history among the top five with places two through five separated by only four minutes.
USATF masters’ age-group winners were:
40-44 no female finishers in this category — Max King (41 – Bend, OR)
45-49 no female finishers in this category — Jon Brown (49 – Crested Butte, CO)
50-54 Elizabeth Claflin (54 – Morrison, CO) and Matt Lohrentz (52 – Sedro Woolley, WA)
55-59 no female finishers in this category — Paul Hooge (58 – Boulder, CO)
60-64 Marianne Osteen (61 – Steamboat Springs, CO) and Richard Fargo (63 – Chatham, NH)
65-69 Anita Rawlinson (65 – Moab, UT) and Tom Neuman (66 – Milcreek, UT)
70-74 no female finishers in this category — and Buzz Burrell (70 – Boulder, CO)
In addition to the USATF Trail Marathon Championships the event also hosted half marathon competitions on Saturday and Sunday. Complete results for all events at the 2021 Moab Trail Marathon can be found on racingunderground.com.
Even more race images can be found on Google Photos.