Today, the final day of the year, the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) has released its official 2021 year end World Ranking of mountain runners. For this point-based ranking system, athletes accumulate points from January 1 to December 31 each year by competing at eligible mountain running events around the world.
Eligible races are divided into five “Categories,” “A” to “E” that award different amounts of points. Categories in descending order of points awarded include: World Athletics World Mountain & Trail Running Championships (A), Mountain Running World Cup races (B), National Mountain Running Championships (C), Mountain Races From An International Series (D), and other WMRA Associated Mountain Running Events (E). For a full list of the WMRA’s 2021 races see the “WMRA Race Directory.”
Since the recent announcement of the World Mountain & Trail Running Championships postponement until November 2022, the highest priority races for the world’s top mountain runners became WMRA World Cup events. Out of the sixteen stages of this year’s World Cup, fourteen were held in Europe. The Broken Arrow 26K Skyrace and Vertical Kilometer (VK), was the sole “American stop” on this year’s World Cup, allowing racers the opportunity to race twice in consecutive days to earn a large amount of points.
Brendan Madigan, race director for the Broken Arrow Skyrace, said about their participation in the World Cup, “It is a great honor for Broken Arrow to be included amongst iconic European races on the World Cup calendar. While we celebrate every runner, it is tremendously awesome to watch the top sub-ultra American trail runners duke it out with their European counterparts. Our sport is growing by leaps and bounds and to be considered by the WMRA is a great honor that we hope to continue for many years to come.”
Although the majority of “higher-point” mountain races were held in Europe, three Americans were still able to place in the 2021 WMRA Year End Final Ranking. On the mens’ side, Joseph Gray, 37, Colorado Springs, CO, placed fifth with 184.0 points. For the women, Grayson Murphy, 26, Salt Lake City, UT, placed seventh with 180.0 points and Allie McLaughlin (pictured top of page), 31, Colorado Springs, CO, tied for ninth with 135.0 points. In the three years that the WMRA has had a World Ranking system, only eight Americans have ever placed in the top ten.
This is the second time Gray, Murphy and McLaughlin have placed in the top ten. Murphy and McLaughlin reflect on their current ranking and experiences competing this year;
According to Murphy, “It’s cool to be ranked in the top ten. I think we still have a ways to go in making the WMRA and World Cup more accessible to Americans but all of the races I have competed in on the World Cup felt very welcoming and the crowds were amazing!”
“It’s super awesome to make this list as one of three Americans, let alone to be accompanied by the likes of Joe and Grayson. I definitely would not have expected it but I’m realizing it’s about putting yourself out there more and going for it. I was a faster runner in 2014 but was scared f long distances and couldn’t handle as many races (I did about three per year), which in the eyes of our sport doesn’t get you far. It’s been fun to push my limits, do well at the same time and be recognized.” said McLaughlin.
See the full list of athletes in the 2021 World Mountain Running Ranking on the WMRA website. Additional Americans in the top 50 ranking include Darren Thomas (12th – pictured top of page), Janelle Lincks (13th), Bailey Kowalczyk (18th), David Sinclair (24th), Andy Wacker (28th), Ashley Brasovan (32nd), Ryan Becker (35th), Hillary Allen and Max King (38th), Sam Lewis (43rd), Dani Moreno (45th) and Kelly Wolf (48th).
U.S. races included in the 2021 ranking included, the GoPro Mountain Games (Vail, CO), Mount Washington Road Race (Pinkham Notch, NH), Mount Marathon Race (Seward, AK), Barr Trail Mountain Race (Manitou Springs, CO), USATF Mountain Running Championships (Mt. Hood, OR), Pikes Peak Marathon & Ascent (Manitou Springs, CO), The Rut (Big Sky, MT), Broken Arrow 26K and VK (Olympic Valley, CA), USATF Marathon Trail Championships (Moab, UT) and XTERRA Trail World Championships (Maui, HI).
Are you curious to learn more about how the WMRA Ranking System works? Would you like to learn more about other ranking systems in Mountain, Ultra and Trail (MUT) Running? Read my deep dive into MUT athlete ranking systems.