2016 Ultra Runners of the Year

As we draw towards the end of the year, I thought we’d take a look back at some of the standout performers in ultra running in 2016 and compile a top ultra runners across the world, with five in both the male and female categories. As always, these types of things are highly subjective and based upon opinion, looking at performances across the year in some of the world’s leading ultras. You may agree or not, that is the beauty of these types of articles or lists.

There’s no preference to where a runner is from, be it the US, Europe or even Australia, just good solid performances. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below, but as always, keep it respectful. I may have missed a howler or two, so feel free to shout out any people you think deserve a mention… nicely ūüôā

Top Female Ultra Runner of 2016

Caroline Chaverot (France)

There’s probably few who would disagree with this choice given Caroline’s perfect run in 2016 where she didn’t lose a race, making it seven wins from seven races. The highlights probably being the win at UTMB and the IAU world trail championships in Portugal recently. For some more insight into her season, have a read of this interview we did with Caroline via one of our European writers, Pol Puig.

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Top Male Ultra Runner of 2016qh2ndvbq

Jim Walmsley (USA)

What hasn’t Jim done this year? In January he smashed the¬†Bandera 100K course record by 16 minutes to 7:46:37. Then in April, he smashed the¬†Lake Sonoma 50 mile, finishing in 6:00:52, another course record by nine minutes. At Western States, he was almost 40 minutes ahead of the course record of 14:46:44 set by Timothy Olsen, but then it all went a bit ‘Pete Tong’, only to finish 20th in 18:45:36.

In October he then smashed the Grand Canyon FKT in 5:55:20, which beat the previous record by 26 minutes, held by Rob Krar. If that wasn’t enough, he then totally busted up the¬†¬†JFK 50 Mile course record held by Max King by 13 minutes. Phew!

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2nd Placed Female Ultra Runner of 2016

Andrea Huser (Switzerland)

Any ‘normal’ year and you’d be calling Andrea the female ultra runner of the year, given the intensity and volume of racing she’s done in 2016, not to mention her performances in those races too. Pretty much second behind Caroline in¬†the majors, but not by much, Swiss runner, Andrea has raced 13 times this year, winning seven of those races, including Eiger Trail and Lavaredo. She’s a pretty mean competitor and how her body has stayed in shape after this year is beyond me. Top marks all round.

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Tough as boots this guy - Luis Alberto Hernando
Tough as boots this guy – Luis Alberto Hernando

2nd Placed Male Ultra Runner of 2016

Luis Alberto Hernando (Spain)

This is probably really harsh on Luis, as like Caroline he’s had a perfect year on the running calendar, but just that little bit less than the likes of Jim and Caroline. Luis finished up as world skyrunning champion, while he also took out the highly competitive Transvulcania too. Luis is a class act and an awesome runner, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll do in 2017.

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3rd Placed Female Ultra Runner of 2016

Kaci Lickteig (USA)

Like the ladies above her, Kaci has had an almost perfect year in 2016, with the highlight being her win at Western States. She’s proved that she can mix it over the shorter stuff as well as the longer ones too – oh how awesome it would have been if Caroline and Andrea had lined up at Western States too along Kaci. Three very equally matched runners and not much to choose between them at all.

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3rd Placed Male Ultra Runner of 2016

Ludovic Pommeret (France)

Ludovic has had a pretty special year in 2016 and it was a really tough call to place him in third over Luis in second place. Perhaps the balance tipping in Luis’ favour due to his win in the IAU world trail champs race in Portugal, where Ludovic came in fifth. Still, he had raced UTMB a few months beforehand, so maybe on fresher legs he would have challenged a little harder. Still it’s been a cracking year with five wins from six races, including the jewel in the crown, UTMB.

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4th Placed Female Ultra Runner of 2016

Magdalena Boulet (photo-courtesy ultrasportslive tv)
Magdalena Boulet (photo-courtesy ultrasportslive tv)

Magdalena Boulet  (USA)

After a barnstorming year in 2015, where she was named ultra runner of the year by Ultrarunning magazine, Magdalena has had a slightly quieter year in terms of results, but is still regarded as one of the best female ultra runners on the planet right now. Highlights include a podium at the Speedgoat 50km, while proving her versatility by coming in fifth at UTMB.

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4th Placed Male Ultra Runner of 2016

Pete Kostelnick (USA)

Pete’s now most well known for fastest coast-to-coast crossing record of the United States by foot, running the breadth of the country in 42 days, six hours and 30 minutes and smashing the old record by nearly four days. Many said it wouldn’t be beaten, but Pete’s phenomenal tenacity saw him running an average of just over nine minute miles all the way. Pete’s also a¬†two time Badwater Ultramarathon champion and current Badwater course record holder, as well as¬†5th fastest North American, all-time over 24hrs covering 163.5 miles or 261.6kms.

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5th Placed Female Ultra Runner of 2016

Kirstin Bull (Australia)

A bit of a wildcard entry for number five, but I accept full bias here for an Aussie website to include an Aussie in this. Kirstin however is a class athlete, as she’s just shown at the IAU 100km world road championships, winning that in a time of 7hrs 34mins to record the second fastest time by a female over that distance this year. She’s had a quiet year of racing thus far, with one other win at Two Bays, a race she has dominated in recent years, and clearly building towards the big one last weekend. She deserves every bit of credit she gets and can certainly mix it with the best in the world on road.

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5th Placed Male Ultra Runner of 2016

Gediminas Grinius (Lithuania)

Gediminas is probably Mr. Consistent of 2016. Only off the podium once this year, he’s had some cracking results, including second place behind Ludovic at UTMB, as well as second behind Luis at Transgrancanaria earlier in the year too. He’s been there or thereabouts for the last few years now and you can sense that 2017 could be the year that he starts to win some of the big races he’s been the bridesmaid at in 2016.

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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.

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