The 35th edition of Challenge Stellina, a 14.3K uphill race with 1500 meters of climb, will take place Sunday, August 27, 2023, in Susa, Italy, and Team USA will be on the start line. Four athletes, two men and two women, along with one staffer, will travel to Italy to represent the United States.
For 2023, the race will host for the second consecutive year, an international competition for athletics federations from countries that fought on the side of the allies in World War II to share history and promote peace. This “International Meeting of Nations” will be sanctioned by the Italian Athletics Federation (FIDAL).
Team USA women
Anna Gibson, 24, Teton Village, WY. Sponsored by Brooks Running. Anna (pronounced “Aw na”), 23, was born and raised in Jackson, Wyoming. She ran for University of Washington, where she anchored her team’s Distance Medley Relay to the NCAA record. On the track she specializes in the 800m, 1500m and mile. She placed 5th at her first US Mountain Championships in 2021. Last year, she placed 4th at her first World Cup event in Saint Gervais, France. This year, Gibson won the Broken Arrow Vertical Kilometer, and placed second in the 22k. She went on to make the final at the USATF Outdoor Championships placing 10th. She plans to continue racing professionally both on the track and in the mountains.
“I can’t wait to rep Team USA at Stellina at the end of August! The event has been on my radar for years, and I am so excited for the opportunity to represent Team USA there this season. I can think of no better way to kick off my professional career on the trails!”
Janelle Lincks, 29, Glenwood Springs, CO. Sponsored by Satisfy Running. Links splits her time between Colorado and the Southwest and works as a seasonal gardener. At Colorado State University she ran cross country and competed in the steeplechase. Lincks recently won the Cirque Series race in Snowbird, UT, and was second at the Cirque Series race in Brighton, UT. She is the 2021 Broken Arrow 23k champion and finished fourth at the race this past June. She is the defending champion and women’s course record holder for the Elephant Mountain 12K in Flagstaff, AZ.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to race on the US team for Challenge Stellina. Competitive short distance mountain races are few and far between so I’m excited to race one on the international stage. I’ve been struggling lately with uphill running but I’m embracing it and hoping to improve that skill with Stellina in August and Pikes Peak Ascent in September.”
Team USA men
Christian Allen, 25, Orem, Utah. Allen is a two-time All-American in Cross Country and attended both Weber State and Brigham Young University. He holds track personal bests of 28:26 in the 10,000m and 13:34 in the 5,000m. Allen recently won the Speedgoat 50K after a victory three weeks prior at Cirque Series Snowbird, UT.
“I’m beyond excited to represent Team USA this summer. I’ve always wanted a chance to push my limits and compete with the best while representing my country. I’ve been putting in the work and staying accountable, even though most of my training is solo. When I decide to do a race I’m all in and give it 100% in training, I never want to walk away from a race regretting what could’ve happened had I trained harder. Overall I’m excited to put my fitness to the test and see how it will translate out on the course.”
Joseph DeMoor, 33, Carbondale, CO. Alum of CU Boulder. Runs for La Sportiva. Joe won the 2022 Skyrunning World Championships Vertical race in Ossola Valley, Italy. He holds 50 FKTs (Fastest Known Times). He has competed for Team USA twice, first at the 2021 XTERRA World Championships (after finishing 3d at the US Mountain Running Champs) and then in the 40k in Chiang Mai Thailand for the inaugural World Mountain and Trail Running Championships (placed 39th, team 6th). Joe was third at Cirque Series Snowbird, UT on July 1.
“My grandfather was a POW during WWII in Italy; having the opportunity to race at Stellina, an “international meeting of nations” is meaningful to me. Athletic competition across borders is one of the best ways to promote peace in an often turbulent world. I’m grateful to wear the USA singlet, honor the shared history between our countries, and compete at Stellina- a race with an impressive history of some of the best mountain runners of all time.
“I started a new job at the end of ski season and have gotten in a good groove of work and being in the mountains here in Colorado. I’m super lucky to be able to balance working full time while pursuing running and skiing goals with the support of my amazing wife Mackenzie, my sponsor La Sportiva, and a great community of friends and family.”
Andy Wacker, Boulder, CO.
“I am so excited to take on the role of team staff for Challenge Stellina. International trail racing has become so competitive that having fine tuned support and organization is paramount. I am ecstatic to pass on my years of experience competing for Team USA to help our athletes perform at the highest level. Having competed on Team USA 17-times including the 2022 edition of Challenge Stellina, gives me great appreciation for the race organizers, volunteers and countless others that make these events occur. I can’t wait to cheer on our team!”
Follow Team USA on Instagram @atratrailrunner on race day.
Editor’s Note: In 2022, Team USA won individual titles at Challenge Stellina and team bronze in both the men’s and women’s division. Look back on 30 years of history at Challenge Stellina with Dave Dunham.