As we gear up for the launch of our 2023 Valsir Mountain Running World Cup we bring you a preview of the first Gold Label Races which get the show on the road.  

Starting off it Olympic Valley, California, we have the Broken Arrow vertical uphill race and the Broken Arrow Skyrace mountain race.

Broken Arrow has been part of the World Cup before, first in 2019, then again in 2021, but it promises to provide even more competitive races this year, with top elite fields. And while it takes place in the US, the event very much has its roots in the traditions of European mountain running, with steep terrain, scrambling and huge amounts of vertical gain and loss at altitude.

2023 promises to be a totally different race to recent years, mainly due to a huge amount of snowfall in the region this year. Whilst last year’s loop was only 10% snow covered, if that, this year estimates sit around 70-80% of snow cover on the course for the 23k loop. Fast Running will be out on the route today to see what lies in wait for our runners.

The courses

First up is the vertical uphill race on Friday 16th June at 10am (UTC -7). The race starts on the valley floor and climbs its way up 954m (3,100 feet) over 6.8km (4.5 miles) to the summit of Washeshu Peak at 2708m (8885 feet). Along the way it takes in some brutally steep terrain, leading up to the Headwall Ridge and the ‘stairway to heaven’ bolted ladder to the summit of Washeshu Peak.

On Sunday 18th June at 8am the long mountain race, the Broken Arrow Skyrace takes place. This is a loop which climbs 1,533m over the course of 23km (or 5,033 feet over 14.25 miles).

It starts in Palisades Tahoe Village and most of the race takes place above the tree line on technical and demanding trails. Runners will be treated to views of Granite Chief Wilderness and they will experience Emigrant Pass and, like the vertical uphill runners, the ‘stairway to heaven’ ladder to Washeshu Peak.

The women’s field

As ever there is a very strong women’s field assembled, with many electing to take part in the vertical uphill and long mountain race. Grayson Murphy (USA) will be taking on both, on the back of her very successful campaign at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Innsbruck, where she won the classic mountain race and took bronze in the vertical uphill race.

Murphy was third at the uphill race and won the classic mountain event. Photo: Marco Gulberti

Lining up alongside Murphy in both races will be Janelle Lincks (USA), winner of the 2021 23k race.

Other women to watch include Anna Gibson (USA), who’s had some success in vertical races previously, Sophia Laukli (USA), cross country skier, Danielle Marquette (USA), Hillary Allen (USA), Tabor Hemming (USA) and Lara Hamilton (AUS).

Rachel Drake (USA) has won the Cortina sky race in Italy, Amanda Basham (USA) is stronger over longer distances but certainly has the potential to feature in these tough conditions. Anna Gibson (USA) has won the vertical race at The Rut and Sara Willhoit (GBR) is a British national runner who has featured in multiple World Champs.

The men’s field

Like the women’s field, most of the elite men are opting to race both the vertical uphill and the long mountain race. But we will see more international runners in the men’s field. Andy Wacker (USA), winner of last year’s 23k and 6th in the vertical uphill race, will be great to see racing, but is just returning from ankle surgery so current form is unknown.

Eli Hemming (USA) was 2nd in both the vertical race and 23k last year. He will be taking part in the 23k race and will be hotly tipped again.  Henri Aymonod (ITA), who was almost unbeatable at a vertical uphill race in 2021, but had more of a mixed 2022, will always be a runner to watch. He was 3rd here in the 23k race in 2019. Andrea Rostan (ITA) will also be travelling to run both races, having had a lot of success in Europe over similar races.

Photo: Marco Gulberti

Zak Hanna (IRL), who had a very successful 2022, particularly in vertical uphill races like Vertical Nasego and Canfranc Canfranc Vertical, could also do well.

Other US talent includes Chad Hall (USA) won the Mammoth Trail 50k in 2022 and Liam Meirow (USA) was on the US national team at the World Champs this year in the classic race. Garrett Corcoran (USA) won the US National Champs, but didn’t have his best race in Austria so may be looking for redemption. Morgan Elliot (USA) was another at Worlds just recently and could feature as he was sixth last year and third in the vertical.

Other men to watch include Chris Richards (GBR), Joe DeMoor (USA), Joey DeFeo (USA), Paddy O’Leary (IRL) and Raul Criado (ESP).

We look forward to kicking off our 2023 Valsir World Cup and making this the biggest year ever. A livestream for the event will be available at Broken Arrow Livestream by UltraSignup