Press release from USA Track & Field’s Mountain Ultra Trail (MUT) Council. Based in Indianapolis, USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track & field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States.
The USA Track & Field Mountain Ultra Trail (MUT) Running Council of long distance running has named the 2021 USATF MUT Runners of the Year. Thirty-seven talented MUT runners from twenty different U.S. states received nominations. After reviewing international and national race results, fifteen MUT executive committee members, made up of elite athletes, coaches, administrators and race directors from a dozen USATF Associations, cast ballots for this year’s awards.
The following individuals will be recognized at the USATF Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida this weekend.
The 2021 USATF MUT Runners of the Year are:
Joseph Gray (Colorado Springs, CO). A previous winner of multiple USATF Mountain Runner of the Year awards, Joseph’s 2021 accomplishments include winning the USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships and USATF Mountain Running Championships. He also won the Broken Arrow Skyrace 23K, one of only two WMRA World Cup races held in the United States. Joseph also finished on the top step of the podium at the Pikes Peak Ascent and Cirque Series Arapahoe Basin races. As the defending (2019) World Mountain Running Champion and winner of the Gnar Gnar race this past August, Joseph had also qualified to compete at the first ever World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Thailand before the event was postponed.
Grayson Murphy (Bozeman, MT). Grayson was named 2019 USATF Mountain Runner of the Year after winning the World Mountain Running Championship and USATF Mountain Running Championship in that same year. While this year’s World Mountain and Trail Running Championship was postponed, Grayson did successfully defend her USATF Mountain Running Championship title at the Gnar Gnar race in Oregon. She also travelled to Europe to compete in several WMRA World Cup races where she won Spain’s Canfranc-Canfranc race in course record time and won Italy’s historic Trofeo Nasego race. Grayson also finished 2nd at the Vertical Nasego VK behind 6-time World Mountain Running Champion and uphill specialist Andrea Myer. Not content with just mountain and trail events, Grayson raced the USATF Olympic Trials 3000m steeplechase in a time of 9:25.37 – a discipline where she’s currently ranked 36th in the world. She also finished 22nd at the USATF 5K Road Championships in a time of 15:25.
Max King (Bend, OR). Max stormed onto the mountain and trail running scene back in 2008 winning the XTERRA Trail Run National Championships in his hometown. He went on to race the 2010 World Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia helping the U.S. men’s team earn a silver medal. In 2011 Max won the World Mountain Running Championships followed in 2014 by a victory at the IAU 100 km Road World Championships. After becoming a master last year, Max has not slowed down. In 2021 he finished 2nd at the USATF Mountain Running Championships and earned a spot on the U.S. team for the first ever World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Thailand. He was also first master and 2nd overall at the USATF Trail Marathon Championships in Moab. Max finished 5th at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 23K (WMRA World Cup) where he was top master by over 15 minutes and finished 2nd at the Canyons Endurance Runs 100K earning a Western States 100 Golden Ticket.
Kasie Enman (Huntington, VT). Kasie finished 11th at the 2008 Olympic Team Trials-Marathon before breaking onto the national mountain and trail running scene in 2009 when she earned a spot on her first US Mountain Running Team. In 2011 she gained global recognition as the first ever U.S. woman to win the prestigious World Mountain Running Championships. Over the next decade Kasie would go on to represent the U.S. at the World Mountain Running Championships, World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships and Trail World Championships – the only U.S. woman to compete in all three world championships. In 2021 Kasie finished 4th overall and first master at the USATF 50K Trail Championships, a race she won back in 2018.
2021 marks the first time that all four American winners of the World Mountain Running Championships in the past decade have also won USATF MUT’s Runner of the Year in the same year. Max and Kasie earned their first world championships when the event was held in Tirana, Albania in 2011. Grayson earned her world championship at the 2019 event in Argentina. Joseph won his first world championship in Bulgaria in 2016 and his second at the 2019 event in Argentina.
USATF MUT Council chairperson Nancy Hobbs said, “There were many outstanding mountain, ultra, and trail performances this year to recognize in the USATF MUT runners of the year. Congratulations to all the nominees and to the winners in all four categories.”
Athletes nominated for MUT Runner of the Year and worthy of mention include Camille Herron, Courtney Dauwalter, Randi Burnett, Rachel (Johnson) Tomajczyk, Allie McLaughlin, Kimber Mattox, Stefani Flippin, Elizabeth Northern and Daniella Moreno for open female. Jim Walmsley, Preston Johnson, Adam Peterman, David Sinclair, Darren Thomas, Zach Bitter and Rajpaul Pannu for open male. Kathy Dormer, Diane Hankee, Elizabeth Claflin, Marisa Lizak, Sarah Barber, Liza Howard and Pamela Chapman-Markle for master female. Jonah Backstrom, Gene Dykes, Kelly Mortenson, Paulo Amaral, Jacob Jackson, Bob Hearn, Olivier LeBlond, Mark Tatum, Chris Grauch and Rich Hanna for masters male.
An explanation of USATF MUT award categories and nominations:
- Due to many race cancellations – especially world championships – these past two seasons, the 2021 ROY process was abbreviated ONLY for this year.
- There are only 4 awards in the following categories: Open male, Open female, Masters male, Masters female. Past years featured 21 awards in separate Mountain, Sub-Ultra, Ultra and Contributor of the Year categories.
- Winners of 2021 National Championships and masters champions are automatically nominated for these awards.
- Other nominees were submitted by members of the USATF MUT executive committee based on outstanding performances at 2021 mountain, ultra and trail running events.
More information about all the 2021 athlete nominations can also be found on trailrunner.com.