Ultra Runners of the Year


First of all, thanks to everyone that took the time to vote for our little competition to see whom you, our readers from around the world decided that you would like to be named our Ultra Runners of the Year. We split this into two categories this year, firstly our International Ultra Runners of the Year, namely female and male – likewise the same for our local Australian Ultra Runners of the Year. In total, nearly 2,000 of you voted, a huge number and we’re really grateful to everyone that took the time out to choose their favourites.

So what were the scores on the doors? For each of the four awards, we’ll name the top 3 overall, plus we’ll give some special mentions to other runners whom we think deserve a mention, not only those nominated, but also some we may have missed along the way too. As we said, it’s not always perfect and everyone has a favourite to choose from too, so here we go, starting with our International Ultra Runners of the year…

Female International Ultra Runners Top 3                                               Male International Ultra Runners Top 3

1.) Rory Bosio (USA) 37% of the vote                                                            1.) Seb Chaigneau (France) 32% of the vote

2.) Emelie Forsberg (Sweden) 28% of the vote                                        2.) Kilian Jornet (Spain) 25% of the vote

3.) Claire Price (Hong Kong) 13% of the vote                                           3.) Rob Krar (USA) 12% of the vote

Starting with the ladies, this was always a tight one between two outstanding females for 2013 in Emelie Forsberg and Rory Bosio. Emelie has been super consistent on the Sky Running circuit this year, taking out the ladies crown, along with finishing second in her first hundred miler this year too. Rory of course was simply sublime at UTMB, and it’s fair to say that she put in the performance of the year across either male or female and any race distance or format. For that alone, we can see why she has taken top billing in our Female International Ultra Runner of the Year competition. Claire Price is another crowd favourite and it’s great to see a runner from Hong Kong round out a truly global women’s podium.

Rory just blew away pretty much all before her at UTMB this year, including most of the male athletes
Rory just blew away pretty much all before her at UTMB this year, including most of the male athletes

Next up are the men, and again this was a fairly close run thing between three guys for quite a while, before one runner’s fans came out in force to support him. Looking back at the year, we saw Kilian really set the benchmark for FKTs, knocking off both the Mont Blanc and Matterhorn records in jaw-dropping style. Over the pond in the US, some guy named Rob Krar set the stage alight with his debut year at Western States before going on to win UROC as well as set his own FKT at the rim-to-rim – in some respects, we feel he may have been slightly under-done here in terms of the percentage of the vote. He’s had a truly outstanding year.

However there was one guy who’s been around for sometime now and proved that he’s still got it when it comes to the big races. Seb Chaignaeu is a true crowd favourite and a complete gentlemen too. This year he took out the infamous Hardrock 100, the highlight of another great year for him and we’re pleased that the public have recognised him and his results this year to be crowned Male International Ultra Runner of the Year.

As a testament to what a true gent Seb is, we’re extremely lucky to have had him record a special message for us – we’re very thankful to him for taking some time out during the Christmas holiday season to do this.

Australian Ultra Runners of the Year

Female Ultra Runners Top 3                                                                    Male Ultra Runners Top 3

1.) Jess Baker – 27% of the vote                                                             1.) Brendan Davies 41% of the vote

2.) Beth Cardelli – 25% of the vote                                                       2.) Ewan Horsburgh 19% of the vote

3.) Cath Todd – 17% of the vote                                                              3.) Kevin Muller 14% of the vote

Congrats to Jess for taking out our Female Ultra Runner of the Year
Congrats to Jess for taking out our Female Ultra Runner of the Year

As always, we’ll kick off with the ladies and what a massively close run race between Beth Cardelli and Jess Baker, literally votes between them. It’s fair to say that either lady is justifiably deserving of the title, but Jess has just pipped Beth in the end to secure the Australian Female Ultra Runner of the year. Both ladies have had stellar years which have seen each of them breaking records, including TNF for Beth and Coast2Kosci for Jess, as well as Jess winning the NSW rogaining champs, the 250km Big Red run and the 6hr Knapsack race too.

What’s also great is that Cath Todd has been duly recognised for her efforts, despite not residing in Australia, she’s sure as hell flying the flag at ultras around the world. This year saw her cap off a fine 2013, taking the prestigious women’s title at the infamous Badwater, while also scoring 11th place outright too. Aussie ladies running is alive and kicking.

Deb Nicholl has had an outstanding year on the track, finishing in the top 3 in the world over the 24hr distance for females
Deb Nicholl has had an outstanding year on the track, finishing in the top 3 in the world over the 24hr distance for females

Another notable mention that we must give is to the likes of Queensland-based Kiwi (I hope I’ve got that right!) Deb Nicholl, who clocked a storming 239.564kms in the Caboolture 24hr race. Believe it or not, but that places her in the top 3 overall globally for women’s 24hr track racing. She also clocked up a fine 74.79kms over 6hrs to finish in the top 5 globally. Deb’s had an outstanding year on the track and it’s only right that she be duly recognised for that.

In the mens title, it was only really about one guy – Brendan Davies and more specifically his breaking of Kilian’s record at TNF100 this year, running a superb 9hrs and 16mins. Personally we think his performance of the year was at UTMF where he finished a brilliant fifth place, and just an hour behind Euro mountain goat specialist, Julien Chorier, the eventual winner. But that wasn’t the only racing Brendan’s done to justify his win here. Not many people will know this, but Brendan has finished in the top 5 of thirty races this year, including winning 13 of them. He also ran a 50km road PB of 3:05 to bag himself 10th spot on the all-time Aussie list, as well as set a new half-marathon PB of 1hr12mins… quite some year.

Finishing behind Brendan were two other very worthy names in Ewan Horsburgh and Kevin Muller. Ewan’s finest hour came just a few weeks ago when he beat Jo Blake’s longstanding course record at Coast2Kosci, just slipping in under 26 hours to top off a hat-trick of wins – C2K is Ewan’s race. Kevin, as we mentioned in the preview has had a phenomenal year, topping pretty much every track/road list above 75kms, including being the fastest man over both 100 miles and 200kms in Australia in 2013. A quality year and if I’m honest, probably should have seen a few more votes come his way to recognise that fact.

One of my favourite pictures this year so far. Brendan living the dream at UTMF
One of my favourite pictures this year so far. Brendan living the dream at UTMF (Credit Nadine Davies)

Some other honourable mentions include 100 mile trail specialist Matt Cooper, as well as GNW 100 miler winner, Gavin Markey, who took out the top spot in that race in what was his first 100 miler in very tough conditions – we’re sure that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Gavin in the future.

Once again, thanks to everyone who voted and also to the runners who took out the titles and podium placings in this competition. We’d love to say that we hand out prizes/awards, but that’s just not us 🙂 We’re hoping the recognition of being voted for by your peers is satisfaction enough. We hope you’ve all had a great 2013 and we look forward to bringing you more articles, insights and training tips in 2014.

Happy New Year!

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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

6 thoughts on “Ultra Runners of the Year

  1. Rob Krar had a year second to none. I’m amazed he only got 12% of the vote. More people will know him by this time next year.

    1. Indeed Charlie… the irony of this is that our largest audience segment is the US… However don’t want to take anything away from Seb… winning Hardrock and Transgrancaneria is by no means a small feat.

  2. Proud to say i’m an Aussie and stand behind that list… nice balance of Euro, US and Other runners.

    Maybe it shows a slightly higher reverence for “mountain running” type ultras (Hardrock, UTMB, etc) over “trail type” ultras (Western States, TNF 50, etc)?

    By the way, I think you left out a “to rim” in Krar’s FKT?

    Can we get a split of country of IP address of votes per athlete? That would be interesting, noting you comment about the Us being the biggest audience segment

    1. Hey Stubsy, indeed it’s quite a mission to pull something like this together while trying to be all inclusive. Just to give you and everyone else a bit of a run down as to how they were chosen, this was my main criteria, although I wouldnt say it was always followed to the letter of the law as you have to have some degree of objectivity when doing something like this but generally:

      – Winner of at least 2 major races i.e. globally recognised races e.g. Western States, UTMB, 24hr track etc…
      – Or, performed seriously well at races / FKTs e.g Kilian, Rob Krar etc…

      What I’ve tried to do is to be as inclusive as possible so that we do cover mountain, trail and indeed track racing too – although Japanese athlete Hara did me some major favours here by being the best 24hr runner and also winning UTMF 🙂

      Same applied for local Aussie runners too… criteria being a number of wins in trail and track racing, along with any record setting too e.g. Kev Muller and his phenomenal list of ‘bests’ across 2013 on the track. There will always be one or two that go under the radar, or that people deem should be on the list, but those were the general rules. I also made sure we added an ‘other’ column for people to add their favourites and a good sign that we got it right was that we had very few ‘other’ additions. I’ll have a look into the ISP’s of votes… might be tricky though as we use a third party app for it and it might not be able to give us that data.

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