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The Best of the Best Awards of 2022

A deep dive into the trail and ultrarunning awards.

Buzz Burrell

January 30th, 2023

16 min read


In the beginning, there was UROY. Then MUT. Followed by FKTOY, USU, and now there is TROY.


Long time runners know UROY is shorthand for the annual Ultra Runner of the Year awards. And newcomers might recognize that TROY is the Trail Runner of the Year award, just started by the Freetrail online media company.

Who doesn’t love these end-of-year awards? But with five separate award or ranking programs now in North America, it’s confusing.

Let’s sort out each of their processes, and summarize their results in one place so you can make sense of it all. And finally, let’s compile them all into one chart, and see if that metadata can identify the overarching winners.

Who was the best trail, mountain, or ultra runner in 2022?

Ultra Runner of the Year (UROY)

The Short: The original. This award began 41 years ago. Ultrarunning was a tiny sport back then, comprised mostly within the niche sport of trail running, and the UROY awards helped put it on the map. 
Categories: Male, Female, Masters (over 50 years old) Male, Masters Female, Performance of the Year Male, Performance of the Year Female.
Qualification: Runners must reside (regardless of citizenship) in the US. Only races longer than a marathon count, and can be on the road, track, or trail.
Started: 1981
By Who: Peter Gagarin, Stan Wagon, and Fred Pilon—the original publishers of UltraRunning magazine.
Now: Former Publisher John Medinger has been the administrator since 2007.
Voters: About 40.
How are voters selected: A mixture of race directors, ultrarunning media, and a few veteran observers.
Scoring system: Voters submit their top 10, which are scored 15-12-10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1.
Voting Timeline: Voting concludes just before Christmas.
Results released: Top 10 was rolled out on starting January 2 and concluded on Jan 11.
Results from previous years
What’s cool: Long-term grassroots credibility. The previous winners chart is a worthwhile ultra running hall of fame. “Tropical John” dedicates weeks to put the whole thing together manually.
Less cool: Only for North American runners; tends toward a Bay Area slant.

2022 Results (only Male and Female Open categories are shown)

1 Courtney Dauwalter
2 Camille Herron
3 Marianne Hogan
4 Annie Hughes
5 Katie Shide
6 Devon Yanko
7 Abby Hall
8 Claire Gallagher
9 Yeah Yingling
10 Riley Brady
1 Adam Peterman
2 Jim Walmsley
3 Dakota Jones
4 Arlen Glick
5 David Sinclair
6 Hayden Hawks
7 Tyler Green
8 Harvey Lewis
9 Jeff Browning
10 Rich Lockwood

Runners of the Year USATF MUT

The Short: Mountain-Ultra-Trail (MUT) is a committee/council within the United States Track And Field Association. USATF is the governing body for the sport, yet despite long-term efforts by stalwarts on the committee, these awards have lacked social traction.
Categories: Open Male, Open Female, Masters Male, Masters Female (Masters are over 40), with only one winner in each category. Previous years have awarded up to 14 categories. The MUT committee is reviewing how to structure the awards in the future.
Qualification: Nominees must be a USATF Member. An “Ultra” can be on the road, trail, or track.
Started: “Probably close to two decades ago.”
By Who: The MUT council; chairperson Nancy Hobbs.
Voters: 14 member USATF MUT council.
How are voters selected: Unknown.
Scoring system: Unknown.
Voting Timeline: Unknown.
Results released: Winners were announced on November 26.
Results from previous years
What’s cool: Official and credible. 
Less cool: The process is opaque. The MUT committee is composed of dedicated people, while dues paid to the USATF don’t seem to come back to runners or the sport.

2022 Results

Open Male: Adam Peterman
Masters Male: Max King
Open Female: Allie McLaughlin
Masters Female: Camille Herron

Fastest Known Time of the Year (FKTOY)

The Short: Inspired by UROY with significant differences. The awards don’t go to a person, but to the top FKT efforts.
Categories: Top 5 Female and Top 5 Male.
Qualification: The first year the award was for FKTs set in North America only, then a separate Award process was added for Europe, and now it’s one process for the whole world.
Started: 2016
By Who: Buzz Burrell
Now: Allison Mercer for Outside, Inc, owners of
Voters: 60
How are voters selected: Experienced people emphasizing a mixture of running background, gender, age, and geography.
Scoring system: Voters submit their top 5 which are scored 5-4-3-2-1.
Voting Timeline: Nominations close December 1; Voting ends December 16.
Results released: December 30 via social media and podcast.
Results from previous years:
What’s cool: Focusing on spectacular efforts rather than a person generates great stories, and enables runners who don’t race or are non-elite to be recognized.
Less cool: Current owners have provided minimal support to progress the FKT movement.

2022 Result

1 Andrea Sansone – Nolan’s 14, Supported
2 Katie Brown – Arizona Trail 
3 Courtney Dauwalter – Collegiate Loop
4 Alyssa Godesky – New Hampshire 4000 footers, Supported
5 Liz “Mercury” Derstine – Long Trail Self-Supported

1 Jack Kuenzle – Bob Graham Round, Supported
2 Josh Perry – Pacific Crest Trail Self-Supported
3 Jeff “Legend” Garmire – John Muir Trail
4 John Kelly – Wainwrights 214
5 Art Brody – Arizona Trail, Unsupported

Trail Runner of the Year (TROY)

The Short: New for 2022, this award by Freetrail kicks the field wide open to all trail runners no matter the distance or location. The only system where the public does the voting. 
Categories: Top 10 Female and Top 10 Male.
Qualification: Anyone, anywhere in the world. Trail/mountain running; no road or track.
Started: 2022
By Who: Freetrail; A company started and managed by Dylan Bowman; web platform by Travis Loncar
Voters: Just over 1,000 (from 62 countries)
How are Voters Selected: Voters are asked to visit the website, do the research, then cast their ballot
Scoring System: Borda system: 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
Voting Timeline: TROY was announced December 6; the voting ended December 20.
Results Released: A countdown was done January 20-29
Results from Previous Years: N/A
What’s cool: A new method with all voting by the public (might be tweaked next year). An incredible custom web platform (definitely have a look), listing 163 nominees from 33 countries complete with their information, and automatic tallying of online voting. Many nominations came from the Golden Trail Series podium, so TROY’s fast Euro representation is sort of a counterpoint to UROY’s ultra orientation.
Less cool: Trail-specific means Camille Herron, who set another world record in 2022, is not on the nominations list. 

2022 Results

1 Courtney Dauwalter
2 Katie Schide
3 Allie Mac
4 Nienke Brinkman 
5 Ruth Croft
6 Marianne Hogan
7 Blandine L’hirondel
8 Abby Hall
9 Annie Hughes
10 Camille Bruyas 
1 Kilian Jornet
2 Adam Peterman
3 Jim Walmsley
4 Mathieu Blanchard
5 Dakota Jones
6 Remi Bonnet 
7 Petter Engdahl
8 Jonathan Albon 
9 Francios D’Haene
10 Tom Evans

UltraSignup Rank

A large statistical database, with rankings based on a formula, from races that employ UltraSignup, which can be on the track, road, or trail, at any distance. The results below were custom-sorted to include only results from 2022 (the main database is cumulative going back decades), runners who completed at least 5 races, and only races longer than 13 miles.

2022 Results (

1 Gabriel Kline 100
1 Willie Milam 100
3 Tyler Shirley .9995
4 Caleb Bowen .9979
5 Josh Eberly .9978
6 Ryan Sullivan .9826
7 David Savard-Gagnon .9824
8 Cody Jones .9794
9 Ruperto Romero .9689
10 Zachary Szablewski .9688
1 Riley Brady .9978
2 Kimberly Endo .9977
3 Lisa Kennedy .9903
4 Georgia Porter .9887
5 Jana Porter .9872
6 Melissa Taylor .9855
7 Devon Yanko .9812
8 Annie Hughes .9774
9 Katelyn McDaniel .9694
10 Leslie O’Dell .9658


We compiled results from the four major award programs plus the USU ranking system. Note that FKTOY and TROY are international, while UROY and MUT are for North Americans only, and USU races are about 95% in NA. Allocating 10 points for 1st down to one point for 10th place, and only including runners who “scored” on more than one list, our compiled list looks like this:

1 Courtney Dauwalter – 28 points
2 Allie McLaughlin – 18
3 Camille Herron – 15
4 Katie Schide – 15
5 Marianne Hogan – 13
6 Annie Hughes – 12
7 Riley Brady – 11
8 Devon Yanko – 9
9 Abby Hall – 7
1 Adam Peterman – 29 points
2 Jim Walmsley – 17
3 Dakota Jones – 14

Ties were ordered by:
1) Head-head competition; 2) Course records; 3) Number of races won; 4) Number of lists

Courtney Dauwalter and Adam Peterman dominated our meta-list, and few would argue with that outcome. Jim Walmsley had won UROY five years in a row, took a big bet by moving to France in 2022 to contend for UTMB, and hopefully few will argue with his choice to go for it, even if that meant fewer domestic opportunities. 

Adam Peterman on top and Allie Mac at 2nd were gratifyingly appropriate results, as they are terrific runners but don’t do ultra’s in a country whose media attention seems fixated on the ultra-long distances.

This domestic meta-list appears solid, representing the runners who had the best results in 2022, even if as always, trail and mountain are favored over road and track, and ultra marathons are more popular with voters than long-distance sub-marathons.


Let’s next survey the four main international ranking systems, and then add them into the five domestic awards and see what we come up with. Will there be one list to rule them all?

All of the international rankings are objective points-based systems with no voting, and are open to athletes from anywhere. However, three of the four rankings below are maintained by race series who use their own races for ranking data.

UTMB Index

This is a very well done searchable database, with points awarded from a formula based on results from the many UTMB races. A high score on the UTMB Index was a major way an athlete gained entry to the big race in Chamonix, however that has been changed for 2023. The Index is a rolling two year score, so the list below is not exactly for 2022.

1 Kilian Jornet Burgada 948 pts
2 Patrick Kipngeno 944 
3 Jonathan Albon 943  
4 Adam Peterman 940 
5 Stian Angermund 939
6 Jim Walmsley 938
7 Remi Bonnet 934
8 Davide Magnini 931
9 Manuel Merillas 925
10 Bartlomiej Prezedwojewski 924
1 Maude Mathys 831 pts
2 Courtney Dauwalter 827
3 Nienke Brinkman 824
4 Camille Herron 815
5 Tove Alexandersson 814
6 Blandine L’hirondel 811
7 Esther Chesang 793
8 Grayson Murphy 792
9 Sarah Biehl 79210 Ruth Croft 789
10 Ruth Croft 789

Golden Trail Series Overall Ranking (GTS)

The GTS races are competitive with very high profile coverage, highlighted by the French proclivity for style and passion. Initiated by Salomon, the Golden Trail Series is now greatly improved as it is independent (though managed by Greg Vollet, former Salomon Running Marketing Director). Points are objectively tallied from results of their own series.

1 Rémi Bonnet 968 pts
3 Elhousine Elazzaoui 720
2 Thibaut Baronian 714
4 Ruy Ueda 686
5 Eli Hemming 634
6 Robert Matayango 629
7 Daniel Osanz 592
8 Manuel Merillas 572
9 Anthony Felber 564
10 Petro Mamu 524
1 Nienke Brinkman 1026 pts
2 Sophia Laukli 799
3 Sara Alonso 782
4 Élise Poncet 702
5 Bailey Kowalczyk 680
6 Caitlin Fielder 662
7 Julie Roux 605
8 Marcela Vasinova 561
9 Allie Mclaughlin 544
10 Theres Leboeuf 496

World Mountain Running Ranking (WMRA)

The World Mountain Running Association is an international organization, in existence since 1997, working for official recognition of the sport, with the end goal of trail running becoming an Olympic sport. It is a member federation of World Athletics (formerly the IAAF; started in 1913). They certify the World Championships, which have been recognized by World Athletics since 2006, and which were held in Thailand in 2022.  One could say the WMRA is the international equivalent of the USATF MUT; they have official credibility with much less social and media recognition.  They use an objective, very complex, weighted ranking system, including only WMRA races.

1 Joyce Muthoni Njeru 382.1
2 Andrea Mayr 380.0
3 Allie McLaughlin 367.0
4 Maude Mathys 286.0
5 Camilla Magliano 268.0
6 Nienke Brinkman 230.0
7 Lucy Wambui Murigi 227.0
8 Scout Adkin 222.0
9 Monica Madalina Florea 215.0
10 Sara Alonso 203.0
1 Patrick Kipngeno 550.0
2 Philemon Ombogo Kiriago 407.0
3 Petro Shaku Mamu 273.3
4 Remi Bonnet 251.0
5 Cesare Maestri 240.1
6 Zak Hanna 229.0
7 Timotej Bečan 213.2
8 Elhousine Elazzaoui 189.2
9 Joseph Gray 166.0
10 Henri Aymonod 160.2

International Trail Running Association (ITRA)

The ITRA was formed in 2013 and like the WMRA, is a partner organization with World Athletics. Their respective roles are confusing, which is one reason private companies (such as UTMB) dominate the world of trail and ultra running instead of these official organizations. Their rankings (“Performance Index”) are based on the largest and broadest data set of any ranking system, “(being)… made from our database of more than 1,700,000 runners from 22,400 different races”. Points are based on a weighted mean of the five best ITRA scores from the previous 36 months, so this is a rolling 3-year system, and is not specific for 2022. World Athletics considers ITRA the official ranking system for all trail running. ITRA points formerly could qualify one for UTMB, but that changed for 2023.

1 Kilian Jornet-Burgada 951
2 Jonathan Albon 941
3 Jim Walmsley 940
4 Adam Peterman 936
5 Sylvain Cachard 931
6 Davide Magnini 927
7 Petter Engdahl 927
8 Manuel Merillas 926
9 Hannes Namberger 925
10 Patrick Kipngeno 925
1 Courtney Dauwalter 835
2 Tove Alexandersson 821
3 Nienke Brinkman 820
4 Maude Mathys 818
5 Camille Herron 815
6 Blandine L’hirondel 814
7 Katie Schide 799
8 Allie Mclaughlin 794
9 Jennifer Lichter 79310 Ruth Croft 792


Here is our compiled International meta-list. Since we tallied five Domestic rating systems but only four international, the ITRA Index was counted twice to roughly establish an even 5-5 balance.  What does this show?

1 Courtney Dauwalter – 57 pts
2 Nienke Brinkman – 46
3 Allie McLaughlin – 34
4 Camille Herron – 34
5 Maude Mathys – 34
6 Tove Alexandersson – 24
7 Katie Schide – 23
8 Blandile L’Hirondel – 15
9 Marianne Hogan – 13
10 Annie Hughes – 12
1 Adam Peterman – 50 pts
2 Kilian Jornet – 40
3 Jim Walmsley – 38
4 Jonathan Albon – 29
5 Remi Bonnet – 26
6 Patrick Kipngeno – 21
7 Dakota Jones – 14
8 Davide Magnini – 13
9 Petter Engdahl – 12
10 Elhousine Elazzaoui – 12

This list is fun, very interesting, and useful! However, there is one notable flaw, as Kilian Jornet had one of the best seasons in history, to which Adam Peterman would likely concur. This is due to the ranking systems themselves; voters vote for the best, while ranking systems add up numbers. Kilian won (and set a course record) at Zegama and was 5th at Sierre Zinal, but the GTS system only ranks runners who participate in their Final. And a statistical problem is that two of the lists are open only to North American runners, which skews this compilation. It wouldn’t be hard to add a formula to our meta-list that would balance the NA/Euro equation, but for this initial attempt it’s better to leave the raw data alone and let people see it for themselves with no added overlay, and consider a weighted system for next year.

The rest of the top ten is wonderful to ponder, as there are names most of us don’t recognize, all of whom are great runners and thus worthy of recognition.

And most of all, the many confusing and different awards and rankings were explained and shown, so we now know much more about our sport, and how all these lists are compiled. And we learned a few more acronyms.  

Please let us know what YOU think! Any big misses? Did you learn more about our sport?

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