USA’s best marathon trail runners gather in Moab, Utah

The USATF Trail Marathon Championships will be held in conjunction with the Moab Trail Marathon this coming Saturday, November 4, in Moab, Utah.  Dubbed, “a magical 26 miles,” by race director Danelle Ballengee, this race course challenges competitors over a single loop course, with a few well-placed out and back sections near the 11 and 23 mile points. Terrain includes jeep roads, slick rock, and single track with elevations ranging from 4,000 to 5,000 feet and a cumulative gain in elevation of 3,500 feet over the 26.2-mile course.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the Moab Trail Marathon will host the USATF Marathon Trail Championships. The race will also be a Team USA qualifier for 2018 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championship and is a Trail Runner Magazine “Bucket List” Race.  The top female and male finishers who are USATF members and U.S. citizens will earn a spot on Team USA for the 2018 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships taking place in Poland next June.

From race director & former US Mountain Running Team member Danelle Ballengee; “I’m super excited to host the Trail Marathon Championships again this year! We have a stacked field of top runners and it’s an honor to have them run this course. It is amazing to see how fast and fluid they run through the technical course and the elite field are an extremely gracious bunch that are kind, humble and respectful. They are an inspiration for the rest of us! The course is stunningly beautiful and every turns leave us in awe. It’s a course the has many participants say has “changed their lives!” The weather looks to be cooperative this year and I’m excited for race day!”

Mario Mendoza winning the 2015 Moab Trail Marathon.

Elite athletes scheduled to compete include 2015 winner and member Team USA for the 2016 IAU Trail Championships & 2016 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships Mario Mendoza. According to Mario; “I love the Moab Trail Marathon and am excited to go back to it. It’s a race that challenges you in many different trail/mountain running skill sets. My goal is to compete to the best of my ability and see if I can get on the USA team again. In trail running anything can happen, but this year i’m going into this race with more experience and better preparation.”

On the women’s side Sandi Nypaver will be looking for a podium spot after finishing 4th at last years race. According to Sandi; “The main thing I’m looking forward to is the course itself and getting to run with some awesome ladies. It’s probably the most unique course I’ve done and last year I remember feeling like a kid playing, despite the hard effort.”

Sandi Nypaver at the 2016 Moab Trail Marathon.

The 60-64 masters women’s race could be a tight battle with Carolyn Hicks, Glenda Lainis and Anita Rawlinson all going for the national championship win.

In the men’s masters race multiple masters national champion Chris Grauch will be moving up to the 45-49 age group. According to Chris; “I’m just looking forward to having a solid race, enjoying and rolling with the various terrain underfoot, and soaking in that unique Moab vibe. My goal is to simply run my own race and stay rooted within myself. Of course placing well both in the masters division and overall would sweeten the experience. It’ll be great to be in Moab again and catch up with such a rich running community.”

Chris Grauch at the 2016 Moab Trail Marathon.

From multi time USATF master trail champion Scott Dunlap; “I’m contending for the Masters win, hoping that a steep and technical marathon course like Moab is a long enough event that an ultrarunner can compete with short course elites like Chris Grauch and others. It will force all of us to stretch our fitness, and I bet it will be great fun. Every runner I know who has been to the Moab Trail Marathon raves about the technical course, the fast competition, and one-of-a-kind nature views. They all come back, and that’s quite an endorsement, so I’m all in. It’s a lot of fun to toe the line with the same runners that will represent us at World’s. Their talent is extraordinary, and Moab is a perfect testing ground.”

Scott Dunlap at the 2016 USATF 1/2 Marathon Trail Championships.

Other notable elites include Western State Colorado University coach Josh Eberly who was a member of the US Mountain Running Team at the 2014 and 2015 World Mountain Running Championships. According to Josh; “I’m very excited to run Moab again this year and hoping I can use my experience as a small advantage to get me through this challenging course.”

Josh Eberly at the 2015 World Mountain Running Championships in Wales.

Also racing is Jordan Chavez who has been a member of the junior US Mountain Running Team and missed making the senior team by just one spot in 2016.

Team USA member Jordan Chavez at the 2015 NACAC Mountain Running Championships in Vancouver, Canada.

Bend, Oregon’s Renee Metivier ran the Chicago Marathon five years ago with a time of 2:27:17 and recently turned to trail running winning the 2016 USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships in Bellingham, WA. According to Renee; “I am looking forward to more trail racing experience and challenging myself on tougher courses. I am especially looking forward to the last 5k obstacle course – as a runner with a strong strength background who loves new challenges, this is very exciting for me. Being tired at the end of a marathon and hitting an obstacle portion will add an extra challenge! I would love to experience racing for USA at the 2018 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. I have run on 5 World Cross Country Championships, and the camaraderie of being a part of a team while representing your country is very special to me.”

Renee Metivier after winning the 2016 USATF 1/2 Marathon Trail Championships in Bellingham, WA.

Ranging from young and not so young; over 50 USATF members will be among the nearly 2000 runners competing on race weekend and include 76 year old Bill Failkner from Broomfield, CO and 19 year old Joshua Mickelsen from West Jordan, UT.

Temperatures in the mid-60s with overcast skies are predicted for race day with a start time set for 8:00 a.m. With a $3500 prize purse and USATF championships medals up for grabs in the open and masters divisions, competition will be fierce.

The USATF open and masters contenders in alpha order include, for the women:

Open Women:
Denali Strabel, 28, Anchorage, AK
Sandi Nypaver, 29, Boulder, CO
Caitlin Roake, 29, Stanford, CA
Tori Tyler, 30, Oakland, CA
Michelle Hummel, 32, Albuquerque, NM
Chavet Breslin, 35, Denver, CO
Renee Metivier, 35, Bend, OR
Eileen Kickish, 37, Los Angeles, CA
Jeanne Cooper, 39, Lafayette, CO

Masters Women:
Corinne Walton, 47, Portland, OR
Carolyn Hicks, 60, Black Hawk, CO
Glenda Lainis, 60, Boulder, CO
Anita Rawlinson, 61, Red Lodge, MT

Open Men:
Joshua Mickelsen, 19, West Jordan, UT
Jordan Chavez, 23, Austin, TX
Benjamin Robinson, 23, Boulder, CO
Eder Pina, 24, Gunnison, CO
Eric Ghelfi, 25, Provo, UT
Jeff Colt, 26, Carbondale, CO
Lyle O’Brien, 26, Boulder, CO
Noah Brautigam, 28, Salt Lake City, UT
Anthony Costales, 29, Salt Lake City, UT
Ryan Skotnicki, 30, Whitefish, MT
Gavin Coombs, 31, Louisville, CO
Mario Mendoza, 31, Bend, OR
Patrick Parsel, 31, South Lake Tahoe, CA
Joshua Eberly, 37, Gunnison, CO
Jeason Murphy, 37, Carbondale, CO
Justin Ricks, 37, Moab, UT

Masters Men:
Joshua Lerner, 42, San Francisco, CA
Michael Robbert, 42, Lakewood, CO
Chris Grauch, 45, Nederland, CO
Christopher McBride, 47, Golden, CO
Chris Walton, 47, Portland, OR
Jonathan Baker, 48, Salt Lake City, UT
Scott Dunlap, 48, Woodside, CA
George Berg, 49, West Sand Lake, NY
Mike Diesburg, 50, Casper, WY
Tim Briley, 51, Park City, UT
Ted MacMahon, 51, Harvard, MA
Jeff Hunt, 53, Concord, MA
Michael Zufelt, 55, Salt Lake City, UT
Dan Nielsen, 56, Avon, CO
Philip Rickman, 56, Pueblo, CO
Mark Tatum, 57, Colorado Springs, CO
Len Hall, 64, Enfield, NH
Randall Emmons, 65, Alamosa, CO
Michael Roche, 65, Millington, MD
Bill Failkner, 76, Broomfield, CO

For LIVE race updates on Twitter follow @ATRATrailrunner.  Results will be posted on

More photos from the 2015 Moab Trail Marathon.  Results from the 2015 race.

More photos from the 2016 Moab Trail Marathon.  Results from the 2016 race.

Photos and story by USATF Championship Liaison Richard Bolt.

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