U.S. Mountain Running Team Athletes Reflect on the 2022 World Championships

November 3 to 6, 2022, a team of thirty-seven American athletes competed at the inaugural combined World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Team USATF brought home both team and gold medals, competing against the best mountain/trail runners in the world, over the course of three days and five races. Races included an Uphill Mountain Race, 80K Long Trail Running Race, 40K Short Trail Running Race, the Up/Down Mountain Running Race, and the Junior Race.

For this article, I recap results from the two senior mountain running races (the Uphill Mountain Race and the Up/Down Mountain Running Race) and interview the U.S. team athletes about their experiences competing for their country at the World Championships.

Joseph Gray. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

See also my article about the U.S. Trail Team looking back at medal wins and team spirit at the World Championships.

Friday – Uphill Mountain Race

The Uphill Mountain Race was the first race of the World Championships, held on Friday afternoon in the hot, humid weather of the mountains surrounding Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. The course was 8.5 kilometers in length with 1,065 meters (3,494 feet) of elevation gain.

In the women’s race, Team USATF took home both the individual and team gold. Allie McLaughlin led the team, placing first and becoming World Champion. Her teammates Lauren Gregory, and Rachel Tomajczyk placed 12th and 26th respectively.

Lauren Gregory. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

Tomajczyk describes her experience standing for the first time on the podium representing her country, “I can’t describe how incredible it was to race at the World Championships for Team USATF and stand up there on the podium with our national anthem playing after. This whole weekend was filled with incredible, inspiring people from my teammates who raced alongside me to all the volunteers who went with us and selflessly helped us run our best all weekend. I’m leaving Thailand with a grateful heart and some very tired legs—I can’t wait for next season.”

Rachel Tomajczyk. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

In the men’s race, two-time World Mountain Running Champion Joseph Gray led Team USATF with his 6th place finish. Cameron Smith, and Daniel Curts placed 20th and 24th respectively, securing a 4th place overall team finish. Smith said about the feeling of representing his country and sharing in the success of the team, “Watching fellow Americans stand on the podium and listen to our national anthem is an inspiring feeling, because it makes me see that someone from my home country can win at the highest level. It filled me with pride to think about the hard work they had done to earn those medals and represent the U.S..”

Cameron Smith. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

Smith also speaks of the team camaraderie and experience of exploring new countries during international competitions, “More than anything I enjoyed the camaraderie between our entire team. The coaches are so supportive and caring. All of the other athletes are an absolute joy to be around. It was cool to meet so many people that I’ve admired from afar for a long time. Apart from the team it was so cool to experience the local Thai culture with things like temple visits, elephant sanctuaries, and bamboo rafting!”

Daniel Curts. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

Gray shares his thoughts on a tough race, but overall rewarding experience that will keep his energy for training high going into next season, “I wanted a better finish today, I wanted to represent my country by brining home another medal and that did not happen as I ended the day in sixth. I leave the finish grateful for another opportunity to see a country I maybe would have never experienced while wearing USA on my chest. I’m also proud of my teammates for running their hearts out, it was an honor to do battle with you both! I’m more motivated and hungry to continue the build up as the new season looms.”

Andy Wacker. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

Sunday – Up/Down Mountain Running Race

The Up/Down Mountain Running Race was the final event of the World Championships, held on Sunday, November 6. The race was 10.7 kilometers with 475 meters (1,558 feet) of elevation gain. Four men and four women competed for the United States on each team.

In the mens’ race, Daniel Curts, Andy Wacker, Mason Coppi, and Morgan Elliot placed 16th, 37th, 39th, and 42nd respectively. The team placed 9th overall.

Mason Coppi. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

Elliot describes the surreal experience of representing his country for the first time, “Even though I physically didn’t have my best race. I still enjoyed the competitive energy from all the different countries around the world. My favorite part was probably the most stressful part for others, waiting to get to the start line in the check-in. Looking around and seeing everyone wearing a jersey representing their own countries was surreal. I couldn’t believe I was finally here. I was given a wave of self confidence, something I usually only feel after winning a race or running fast up a mountain, and that happened when I saw my reflection with USA written on my chest.”

Morgan Elliot. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

In the women’s race in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Allie McLaughlin led the team to another podium finish. McLaughlin placed 3rd, securing an individual bronze medal, and the team placed third as well. Her teammates Rachel Tomajczyk, Corey Dowe, and Samanth Lewis placed 19th, 23rd, and 40th respectively.

McLaughlin, who also raced three times the week prior to the World Championships at the Golden Trail Series Grand Final and won the Uphill Mountain Race only two days prior, said about her back-to-back international races, “This was my fifth and final race in the last twelve days and I’m not sure if I’ll ever fully process it all. What a dream this has been— the races, the faces, and the places.”

Corey Dowe. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

Dowe describes her experience being a part of this medal winning team, “I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to compete for the USA! One of my favorite parts was getting to know all the other team USA athletes. Everyone was so kind, welcoming, and supportive! It was also fun to learn about the culture of a new area and connect with individuals from around the world.”

Samantha Lewis. Photo: WMTRC 2021.

Do you like coffee? Are you interested in supporting Team USATF at international competitions such as this World Championships in Thailand? Check out the Rubicon Coffee and ATRA partnership fundraising for Team USATF. Click here to purchase.

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 Thailand 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

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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