The second event in the 2022 UTMB® World Series, the world’s leading trail running circuit, offers some of the most spectacular racing on the planet as elite and passionate runners from all over America and further afield take on the 2022 Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB® on April 23rd.
Starting from the old gold-rush town of Auburn, California, the birthplace of mountain ultras, in the northern foothills of the Sierra Nevada range, Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB® will bring runners back to where it all started. The event features three demanding courses of 100km, 50km, and 25km across some of the most scenic and challenging sections of the iconic Western States Trail, the world’s oldest 100-mile race.
Over 1,100 runners from more than 15 nations will enjoy Sierra vistas, oak and pine canopies, deep canyon gullies, and river crossings on old wooden bridges. They will climb through the Canyons between Devil’s Thumb and the famous river crossing at Rucky Chucky, in country that evokes the history of gold rush prospectors who followed the same trails over 150 years ago.
The Canyons Endurance Runs is a dual qualifier for the iconic UTMB® World Series Finals and is also a Western States 100 Golden Ticket race.
Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB® has attracted runners of all ages and abilities to take on the first ever UTMB® World Series event in the USA. The oldest is 71-year-old Michael Koppy, from Minnesota, who is doing the 100km course; the youngest is David van de Meerendonk, also from Minnesota, who will be tackling the 50k course, at the age of just 14.
The 100km field will highlight some of the impressive and passionate athletes who will toe the start line in Auburn. Among them will be Zach Bates, an ultra-runner with autism, who set out to complete a 100-mile ultramarathon before his 20th birthday, a feat he accomplished in March of 2022.
“I just really like to run,” said Bates when asked about those who are inspired by his participation in races of this kind. “I like to hear about other people doing hard things, especially if it is something they really want to do. If people see me reaching my dreams and it inspires them to reach their dreams, I think that’s really cool.”
Bates is relishing the chance to take on a classic course through the canyons. “The Western States course is where ultra-running in the United States started,” he explained. “Canyons Endurance Runs 100k includes the hardest part of the Western States course, and that’s exciting.
“I will get to take a journey in a long, point-point race in a very beautiful place,” he added. “It will be cool to cross No Hands Bridge and I’m looking forward to crossing the river. A lot of ultra-runners I look up, have run this course – now I get to do the same thing.”
There will be a strong turnout of elite competitors in the 100k event, as determined by the UTMB® Index. Among the favorites are likely to be the leading American runners Adam Peterman, from Missoula, Montana, and Zach Miller who grew up in Kenya.
Another contender is David Sinclair, a 30-year-old athlete from Truckee, California who has made three trips to Auburn to check out the course as part of his training build-up to what will be his first 100km trail race. With up to 16,000ft of climbing – much of it in the second half of the course when the route goes through Volcano and El Dorado canyons – Sinclair says the key is not going too hard in the early stages.
“My game plan for the race will be just to respect the distance,” he said. “I ran the second half of the course about three weeks ago and that part can really beat you up. So my plan is to be patient for the first half; let others go out hard, and hopefully I can come back in the second half of the race.”
Sinclair says he is in the form of his life after a winter of training on skis and then building the running miles. In addition to this event, he will take on the 50km course at the Speedgoat Mountain Races by UTMB® at Snowbird in Utah in late June. In both races he is looking forward to competing as part of the UTMB® family.
“I’ve heard lots of really good things about this event, so I’m excited to do my first UTMB® World Series race,” he said. “And I look forward to doing more in the future. One of these years I want to get over to Chamonix to race in the UTMB® Mont-Blanc.”
In the female division on the 100km course, tough competition is also expected with Sarah Biehl, the talented 28-year-old runner from Ohio, tipped to be a podium contender. For Biehl this too will be her first 100km test.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “I know it’s going to be tough with a lot of climbing. But I’m looking forward to the competition and to being in California – it will be my first time there as well. I’m also looking forward to covering that full distance and seeing what I’m capable of.”
Biehl says she is expecting reasonably good conditions under foot. “I have heard from a few runners that have done it in the past, that it is runnable and smooth dirt for the most part and not super-technical. That’s ideal for me especially because the trails I have access to now are not super-technical, so I’m looking forward to smooth dirt and runnable terrain,” she said.
Race director and founder of the Canyons Endurance Runs, Chaz Sheya, says he is expecting up to 700 entries on the 100km course. There will be around 225 in the 50km race ¬– which also has some star performers, among them US runners Hayden Hawks and Mario Mendoza – and about 175 athletes on the 25km course.
Sheya says he is delighted that his classic trail run is now part of the UTMB® World Series. “The great thing is that Catherine and Michel Poletti created something special at UTMB®,” he said referring to the UTMB® founders. “They re-imagined the sport and elevated the experience and created a festival for everyone, not just an event for runners but for the community in general.
“When I saw that the UTMB® World Series was being launched by the UTMB Group and The IRONMAN Group, I was very hopeful of being a part of it, after watching the growth of the sport and the popularity of UTMB®, and the experiences that people have,” he added.
Like all UTMB® World Series events, athletes will use Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB® to begin their journey to UTMB® Mont-Blanc 2023, and the UTMB® World Series Finals, by collecting Running Stones at the finish that amount to lottery tickets for those events.
As well as Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB® and Speedgoat Mountain Races™ by UTMB®, there is one other UTMB® World Series event in the USA this year, the Western States® 100-Mile Endurance Run in late June. The three US events are part of 25 confirmed UTMB® World Series trail running events during 2022, that take place all over the world.