The Mountain/Ultra/Trail running (MUT) council of long distance running has named the 2008 USATF Mountain Runners of the year, Ultra Runners of the Year, and Contributor of the Year. The following individuals will be recognized at the USATF National Convention in Reno, NV, on Saturday, December 6 at an awards breakfast.

Mountain men open: Joseph Gray, 24, Lakewood,WA. Joe (pictured above – left) started out the mountain season in Vail, CO, on June 7 with a sprint-to-the finish third-place at the LaraBar 10km. Later that month he placed fourth at the USA Mountain Running Championships earning a spot on his first Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. He was the second U.S. finisher at the World Mountain Trophy – 16th place – in Sierre Crans Montana, Switzerland, and a scoring member of the U.S. bronze medal team. He was the topU.S. finisher at Challenge Stellina in Susa, Italy, Kitzbuhelerhorn in Kitzbuehel, Austria, and Skaala Uphill Challenge in Loen, Norway. He also was the first finisher in the Canadian Mountain Running National Championship at Mt Seymour, Canada, and won the Northwest Mountain Running Championship, in Mt Hood, OR.

Mountain men master: Simon Gutierrez, 42, Alamosa, CO. Simon (pictured above – right) is a now a three-time winner of this award. He is also a two-time winner of the open mountain runner of the year award. Like Gray, Gutierrez started out the mountain season in Vail finishing fifth overall and first master in the LaraBar 10km. He was the USA Mountain Running National Master Champion setting a masters’ course record and finishing in fifth place just behind Gray. He won the La Sportiva Berry Picker in July, the second and final Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team selection race where he made his seventh consecutive team. tyle="font-size:small;"> He won the World Masters Mountain Running Championships in the Czech Republic (his third consecutive win) and was the fourth U.S. finisher at the World Mountain Trophy finishing in 25h place.

Mountain women open: Brandy Erholtz, 30, Bailey, CO, in only her second year as a “mountain runner,” finished third at the LaraBar 10km and was the USA National Mountain Running Champion where she made her first Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. She finished third at both the USA 8km Trail Running Championships and the La Sportiva Berry Picker. Erholtz was the Pikes Peak Ascent champion and also posted wins at the final La Sportiva Mountain Cup Race in Vail and the Black Canyon Ascent setting a course record. She was the topU.S. finisher at the World Mountain Running Trophy finishing in 11th place.

Mountain women master: Laura Haefeli, 40, Del Norte, CO, was the 2004 and 2005 open mountain runner of the year and has earned masters’ recognition this year. She won the LaraBar 10km and the USA 8km Trail Championships. She was the USA National Mountain Running Masters champion setting a masters course record and finishing in third place. She earned a spot on the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team with her second-place finish at the La Sportiva Berry Picker. She finished in 44th place at the World Mountain Running Trophy which was her fourth U.S. team appearance at a Trophy event (’04, ’05, ’07, and ‘08).

Ultra men open: Michael Wardian, 34, Arlington, VA, wins his first Ted Corbitt Memorial USATF Ultra Runner of the Year Award in 2008. Wardian posted wins at the USA National 50km Championships, the US National 100km Championships (where he made his first USA National 100km Team), the USA National 50 Mile Trail Championships. He finished 21st at the USA Mountain Running Championships and second at the USA National Trail Marathon Championships showing his versatility over shorter distances. He also posted wins at the JFK 50 Miler and the Lake City 50km.

ss="Apple-style-span" style="font-size:small;">Page Two/Runners of the Year 2008

Ultra men master: Roy Pirrung, 60, Kohler WI, is a repeat winner in this category having won this award in 2007. Pirrung was second at the 2007 AUA 24-hour National Championships where he ran 138.5 miles. He finished 23rd overall and first in the 55-59 category at the IAU 50 Mile Trail World Challenge held at the Sunmart Endurance Run. He was the 55-59 champion at the USA 50km National Championships and at the USA 100km National Championships. He was first in his age group at the Ice Age Trail 50 Miler in 15th overall. Having turned 60 in July, Pirrung was the 60-64 champion at the USA 50 Mile National Trail Championships and the USA100km National Trail Championships. At the IAU 24h World Challenge in Seoul, South Korea, Pirrung, who was on his seventh U.S. 24 Hour Team, was 35th overall and has pending 60-64 American Records at 12-hours, 100-miles, and 24-hours. In Korea, he was final scoring member of the U.S. team with 131+ miles.

Ultra women open: Susannah Beck, 40, Brunswick, ME, is the Ruth Anderson USATF Ultra Runner of the Year 2008. Beck was the USA 50 Mile Trail Champion setting a 7:32:12 course record. She was the second overall finisher at the North Face Challenge in Seattle and was the winner of the Way Too Cool 50km setting a course record. She also won Moab’s Red Hot 50km setting a course record in 4:28:22. Beck won the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon in Ashland,OR, timed in 3:00:29.

Ultra women master: Beverly Anderson-Abbs, 44, Red Bluff, CA, is a repeat winner in this category. Anderson-Abbs won the USA National Masters 100 Mile Trail Championship title and was victorious at the Auburn 50km and the Diablo 50. She was second at the Miwok 100km and the Way Too Cool 50km. She was the masters’ champion at the North Face Challenge in CA where she finished second overall. She complemented her schedule with several marathons having finished fifth overall and first master at the Richmond Marathon and winning the
Redding Marathon. Anderson-Abbs was the first female at both the Rucky Chucky Roundabout in
Foresthill, CA and the Wildflowers 50km in her home city of Red Bluff. At the Sierra Nevada Double Marathon in Granite Bay, CA, Anderson-Abbs finished as the first female and second overall. She also posted wins at the Lake of the Sky 50km Tahoe City, CA, and the Whiskeytown 50km in Redding, CA.

Contributor of the Year – Scott McCoubrey: McCoubrey works tirelessly promoting trail, mountain, and ultra running. He is the race director of the USA National 50 Mile Trail Championships which has grown in participation each year. He also directs the Cougar Mountain Trail Racing Series which raises money to maintain the local park where the events are held. McCoubrey also puts on the Mountain to Sound Greenway Multi-Sport Race which promotes green space preservation. Through the Seattle Running Club and the Seattle Running Company, McCoubrey leads free weekly trail runs. Trail runners with previous or current ties to the Seattle Running Company include Ian Torrance, Phil Kochic, Krissy Moehl, Hal Korner, Brian Morrison, Greg Crowther, and Uli Stidl. McCoubrey has played a roll in the success of these and many, many other trail runners.

Others garnering votes in the Contributor of the Year category for 2008 include Running Timesmagazine, Trail Runner magazine, Teva, and the Vail Recreation District.

In order to be considered for the USATF Mountain and Ultra running awards an athlete must show top results in U.S. competitions for 2008 (November 1, 2007 through October 31, 2008) to include mountain races (these may be on paved/gravel surfaces as long as there is significant elevation loss or gain) and trail races of varying lengths, as well as road races for the ultra category (distances beyond the marathon). International results are also considered. The nominee must be an ambassador for the sport. Nominee must be a USATF member for 2008, and to be considered for the masters’ category athlete must be a minimum of 40 years of age.


For a list of past winners in the other categories, please visit www.usatf.org.