U.S. Trail Team Looks Back On Medal Wins and Team Spirit at the World Championships

November 3 to 6, 2022 the inaugural World Mountain & Trail Running Championship was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand after being delayed one year due to the coronavirus pandemic. A team of thirty seven U.S. athletes (the largest ever mountain/trail team ever assembled for a world championship) competed over the course of three days and five events. The events included an Uphill Mountain race, 80K Long Trail running race, 40K Short Trail running race, the Up/Down Mountain running race, and the Junior (U20) race.

Kaytlyn Gerbin, Addie Bracy, Leah Yingling and Brittany Charboneau. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

For the following article, I recap the results from the U.S. Trail Team and speak with these athletes about their experiences and what they enjoyed most about this trip. The trail running athletes had many incredible performances including a team Gold, individual Gold and four top ten finishes across both the 40K Short and 80K Long distance trail races. Both trail races were held on Saturday, November 5 on a hot and humid day in the mountains surrounding Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.

See also my article with reflections and results from the U.S. Mountain Running Team.

80K Long Trail

The first race Saturday morning, the Long Trail Race, was 78 km with 4,807 meters (15,446 feet) of elevation gain. A team of four men and four women competed for Team USATF in this event. In the men’s race, the team brought home the gold with both an individual Gold for Missoula, Montana’s Adam Peterman and a Team Gold. Peterman’s teammates Eric LiPuma, Jeff Colt, and Adam Merry placed 7th, 14th and 53rd respectively.

Peterman shares his reflections on the double Gold, “What an honor to claim both the team and individual title at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in the 80K. The combination of heat, humidity, massive climbs and steep dirt roads made this one extra tough. The consensus was that this race was the least chill ultra any of us had ever done, but totally worth it for the Stars and Stripes. This is something I will never forget!”

Colt describes pushing deep into the pain cave to help the team secure gold, “The 80 km race at World Championships was among the hardest things I’ve ever done. The course and conditions were demanding, but the level of competition was such that I never got to catch my breath. I had to keep digging, deeper and deeper because every second counted and I knew Adam Peterman, Eric Lipuma, and Adam Merry were out there navigating the same pain cave.”

Eric LiPuma. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

Colt also shared what he appreciated most being a part of the U.S. Team, “This team is amazing. There is so much support from the volunteers at USATF MUT. Having legends like Kaytlyn Gerbin and Max King share their wisdom from other world’s teams and getting to explore an amazing region with awesome people stand out as the highlights of my trip. Oh, and our rag tag team won the World Championships for men’s 80km. That was a highlight.”

Merry also describes the incredible team dynamic and experience of racing internationally for the first time, “I really enjoyed getting to meet other runners from all over the world. And the feeling of camaraderie amongst team USA was really special and something I have never experienced at other races. I’d love to try to make another world team to reunite with teammates and make new friends in the future! It almost felt like summer camp.”

Adam Merry. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

There were also many incredible performances for Team USA in the women’s 80K Long Trail Running Race. Leah Yingling, Kaytlyn Gerbin, Brittany Charboneau and Addie Bracy placed 19th, 24th, 27th and 38th respectively, securing a fifth overall team position.

Yingling speaks on her race experience and being a part of such a strong women’s team, “This was a race, place and experience I won’t forget soon. I will be filing away the many incredible team USA performances into my memory bank to get me through the dog days of winter. I had a great race with few things I would do differently. I’m so proud of what we put together as a team and equally impressed by the depth of the women’s field. There was no margin for error out there. I’m excited to work on risk-taking and putting my nose in it a little bit more next year. For now, I’m soaking it all in, shutting it down and expressing all the gratitude for the last year of running.”

Leah Yingling. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

40K Short Trail

The 40K Short Trail running race started one hour after the Long Trail running race kicked off. The race was 38 km in length with 2,425 meters (7,956 feet) of elevation gain. Both mens’ and women’s teams consisted of five members. In the mens’ race, 2011 World Mountain Running Champion, Max King, led the U.S. Team to a sixth place finish, while he narrowly missed an individual medal by placing 4th. Noah Williams, Zach Miller, Joseph Demoor, and Jonathan Aziz placed 22nd, 23rd, 39th and 40th respectively.

Max King. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

King reflects on his experience representing the U.S. again for the first time in many years, “I was extremely happy with my race and how it all unfolded. To be 4th with the three names in front of me is probably better than I could have hoped for. They are some of the best short distance trail runners in the world right now and all three of them have just come off their best years ever. To be able to run with them and compete hard I am really proud of and just showed that age is just a number. Coming in I knew I was in decent shape and wanted to go for a top ten finish. I didn’t know exactly who was on the start list but I knew it would be a pretty deep field. Thailand was amazing and they did an excellent job with the courses and events.”

Miller also reflects on a hard-fought race where he tweaked his hamstring only minutes into the race, “It was far from a perfect day, but we all fought our way to the finish. Falls, cramps, tweaked muscles, all of these things are a part of racing. They can happen at any given moment. When they do, we can cry and whine and throw in the towel, or we can look for the good and keep charging. To quote the great Rocky Balboa, “That’s how winning is done!”

Zach Miller. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

About his 40K race Noah Williams said, “There were so many unknowns going into this 40k: multi-day travel, heat and humidity, and a fairly unknown course. I had no expectations for results, but rather focused on nailing my hydration and nutrition. That plan paid off as I took the first climb conservatively, leaving plenty of energy for a strong second climb. By the top of the second climb I was running with Zach and we worked together most of the way to the finish. I was excited to learn I placed 22nd and Max had a strong race! Sometimes not worrying about all the unknowns and focusing on your process really pays off.”

The US women’s team in the 40K Short Trail running race was comprised of incredible talent and claimed a Team Silver medal. Team members Kimber Mattox, Ashley Brasovan, Stevie Kremer, Kristina Mascarenas and Michelle Merlis placed 7th, 11th, 13th, 25th, and 57th respectively.

Kremer shares her thoughts on helping the team secure a medal and what it meant to her to be a part of another US team, “I am the old fart who was on the team, and for me this race was all about the experience and the honor of racing for Team USA, more so than being as competitive as I used to be. Saturday morning came and after very little sleep due to my crazy travel schedule, I didn’t have many expectations, but a big goal was to help Team USA podium. After about a gallon of water I drank over the course of the 38Km and the incredible crew that helped keep me alive during the heat, the team earned a silver medal and that feeling was pretty incredible. Although it’s always amazing to travel and experience new trails, languages, and cultures, meeting the people on the team, the whole team, was hands down the best part of the race. Additionally, being “reunited” with the managers, crew, and the ones that made the whole Team USA possible was so great again—it was like when I was on the team in 2012 all over again. It’s the team camaraderie that makes me want to go back over and over again.”

Kimber Mattox. WMTRC 2021.

Brasovan shares her race reflections also as an experienced Team USA veteran, “This race went great for me and it was my first team podium (silver!) after three other previous world teams. The course suited me well, being mostly runnable and hot and was really fun.” She also describes her appreciation for the team and staff as one of the highlights of her experience, “The team and staff were incredible. Everyone was so helpful, nice and willing to be a team player. I feel like I met so many people on this trip that I will be friends with for the rest of my life. This community continues to impress me year after year!”

Ashley Brasovan. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

Mascarenas describes how the team and crew dynamic were central to her race success and positivity of the whole experience, “The energy throughout all five races last weekend was palpable. I have my intrinsic reason to race but having the external pull from a team was new and exciting. All I could think about was seeing our crew at the aid stations and the team at the finish line. Knowing everyone was out there pulling for each other made the tough miles fly by!”

Photos, Videos & Results

For even more photos of the U.S. team during the entire long event weekend check out these images and videos on Google photos.

Complete results at posted at: https://my.raceresult.com/225074/

LIVESTREAM replay links:

Friday – Uphill Mountain: https://youtu.be/SbhwqvvPaLU
Saturday – Trail races part 1: https://youtu.be/00rnc8Uk9P4
Saturday – Trail races part 2: https://youtu.be/D5xWRDi8iJc
Saturday – Trail races part 3: https://youtu.be/BaZLRFhy7pE
Sunday – Up/Down Mountain: https://youtu.be/7AhEFm7AR9s

The World Mountain and Trail Running Championship event organizers have also uploaded a ton of high quality photos. These pages are searchable by bib number.

Friday – https://photo.thai.run/wmtrc2021thailand-day1
Saturday – https://photo.thai.run/wmtrc2021thailand-day2
Sunday – https://photo.thai.run/wmtrc2021thailand-day3

Joseph DeMoor and Jonathan Aziz. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

Additional Media Coverage

November 4, 2022 – Joe DeMoor Runs to New Heights – Outside Magazine
November 4, 2022 – ‘Allie Mac’ Wins World Championship, Leads Team USA to Gold – Outside Magazine
November 7, 2022 – Adam Peterman, U.S. Men Win Gold in World Championships 80km, Women Win Silver in 40k – Outside Magazine
November 8, 2022 – Alumni in Action: Blair places 13th at inaugural World Mountain and Trail Running Championships – Vail Daily
November 9, 2022 – Team USATF shines at world running championships – Sopris Sun
November 10, 2022 – Lott represents USA at world mountain running championships – Durango Herald
November 11, 2022 – Peterman’s Long Trail Gold Earns Him USATF Athlete of the Week Honors – USA Track & Field
November 16, 2022 – Interview with U.S. Men’s Gold Medal 80K Trail Team – Singletrack Podcast with Finn Melanson
November 28, 2022 – In career of ups and downs, Colorado Springs mountain runner returns a world champ – The Gazette

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