‘Allie Mac’ Wins World Championship, Leads Team USA to Gold

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Hours after Allie McLaughlin crossed the finish line of an intense uphill trail race in the Thai mountain village of Ban Khun Chang Khian on Friday, she was amazed to be greeted by a small crowd of young people adoring fans.

McLaughlin, aka “Allie Mac”, rode her best race of what has been a sensational trail running season, winning the 8.5km classic uphill race on November 4 in the combined Trail World Championships and Mountain Running World Championships takes place in the mountains of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Her efforts, along with those of her American teammates Lauren Gregory and Rachel Tomajczyk, led the United States to the women’s team title in the first race of the three-day event.

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But after McLaughlin spent around two hours going through the on-site drug testing protocol, most of the other athletes and race officials had already returned to Chiang Mai for the post-race meal and festivities. As she and Team USA managers Nancy Hobbs and Ellen Miller strolled through the village waiting to return to town, they were greeted by dozens of locals who were wowed by the athletic skills of McLaughlin, the red racer -white-and-blue of the American team. kit, bright smile and bright red polish adorning her fingernails.

“That was so sweet,” McLaughlin said via a Whatsapp call after the race. “We were here in this little off-grid village at the top of the mountain, and there were some of the sweetest people who had taken an interest in the race. There were lots of kids running around and were so excited to take pictures. it was really a cultural experience, so cool to see their way of life up there. It’s something I will never forget.

PC: Nancy Hobbs

Support the climb

Anyone who follows the international trail running scene shouldn’t forget McLaughlin’s incredible win. The 32-year-old runner from Colorado Springs won the race in a big way over a group of very talented runners by executing a smart run and playing to her strength, namely her tenacious uphill running ability.

The race, which included 4,400 feet of elevation gain over 5.2 miles, started in downtown Chiang Mai on both paved and dirt roads. The pace picked up as Germany’s Hanna Groeber, Tereza Hrochova and Austria’s Andrea Mayr led the way at the 1 mile mark in 5:40. Not wanting to explode before the start of the big climbing section, McLaughlin was a few strides away and biding his time right next to Switzerland’s Maude Mathys and Kenya’s Joyce Njeru.

But soon after the course entered the forest and began to climb steep and technical mountain trails, McLaughlin took charge with Gregory not far behind. Although the weather was hot and humid (in the mid-80s), the terrain was dry and there was plenty of shade, making McLaughlin feel like his favorite routes near Colorado Springs.

“After we got to the track, there was a bit of a punchy climb and I just felt like my legs had a lot of pop and I knew I could run faster,” McLaughlin said. “It kind of reminded me of homecoming trails. It was roots and rocks and dirt and very, very steep, and that was fine. Once we started climbing, I felt great.

From there, she jumped up and brushed off the rest of the field. Gregory stayed close to the front of the chase, but then Mathys and Austria’s Andrea Mayr started their own momentum and got past the rest of the field. McLaughlin never looked back, but she could feel the runners weren’t too far away because she could hear onlookers cheering for other runners behind her.

The only flaw in his near-perfect execution was mistaking the course’s progress after reaching the top of one of the biggest climbs. Because she had just raced the Grand Final of the Golden Trail World Series in Portugal, she arrived later than Gregory and Tomajczyk and was unable to complete the full course.

As it turned out late in the race, she thought she was close to the 5 mile mark and ready for the smooth downhill mile to the finish line, but, in fact, she wasn’t. than near the 4 mile mark and had more climbing to do.

“I don’t know what’s going through my mind, but running uphill can feel so slow that I just thought I was closer than I was,” she said. “I looked at my watch and it said 3.9 miles and I was like, ‘Oh no, I still have to run another mile uphill. My legs were fine, but my breathing and my mind were a bit overexcited. I did, however. Sometimes I like to know the course well, and sometimes like that I really like going blind, but it ended up working out here, so that’s what matters.

McLaughlin made it through the final climb and then drove into the village, winning the race by 26 seconds. She crossed the finish line banner in 55:15 with a huge smile on her face. Mayr, a six-time world mountain running champion, was next in 55:41, followed by pre-race favorite Mathys in 56:00.

Gregory (12th, 1:00:06) and Tomajczyk (26th, 1:03:43) also rode well for Team USA, helping USA win the Women’s Tag Team title by 39 points to narrowly edge teams from the United Kingdom (2nd, 41 points), Switzerland (3rd, 41 points) and France (4th, 45 points).

The World Trail Running Championships and World Mountain Running Championships are a collaboration between World Athletics, the sanctioning body for all forms of international running, the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA), the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) and the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) which for the first time brought together the disciplines of mountain running, vertical running and trail running in a single official championship event.

“It’s a really big deal, and I’m so happy for Allie,” said Hobbs, who serves as the USATF Mountain Ultra Trail (MUT) board chairman as well as treasurer of the World Mountain Running Association. “She is very tenacious. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she was in the top three, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she had won it either. In these kinds of races you never know what can happen because the courses are so different and it always adds a level of unpredictability. With the number of talented racers in the race, anything can happen to some degree. So it’s important for Allie because she just went out there and ran a great race.

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In the men’s uphill race, Kenyans Patrick Kigngeno (46:51) and Philemon Kiriago (48:24) finished 1st and 2nd respectively, while Spaniard Alejandro Garcia Carrillo took bronze (49:03). Joe Gray was the top American finisher in sixth (49:39), while Cam Smith was 20th (52:07) and Dan Curts was 24th (52:42), as the American men placed fourth.

The Ugandan men’s team, one of the teams expected to compete for the men’s team title, did not start the race after confusion at the start location. Apparently they took an hour taxi to the finish line and couldn’t get back to the start in time.

More than 500 elite athletes from 46 countries compete in the championships, which also include 40km and 80km trail races and 10.7km mountain races for senior and U20 athletes.

Allie Mac
PC: Peter Maksimow

A stellar racing season

McLaughlin’s win was the latest in a long string of strong international results for McLaughlin. She is coming off a strong showing at the 2022 Golden Trail World Series event in Portugal, where she won two of the five stages and finished second in another en route to ninth place overall for the season.

Earlier this summer, she won the Broken Arrow SkyRace VK in California in June and the Mount Marathon Race in Alaska in July in record time. She also placed sixth in the OCC 55km race at Chamonix in August, then in September she raced well against deep international pelotons when she finished fourth in the 13.3 Pikes Peak Ascent miles in Colorado and third in the 26 km Flagstaff Sky Peaks race in Arizona.

In the past, McLaughlin has typically only raced internationally at the World Mountain Running Championships, but the past two years have raced everything from vertical K races to ultra-distance events. She won a bronze medal in the uphill race at the 2014 Mountain Running World Championships in Italy and helped the USA women’s team win the bronze medal.

“I love having been in several of the different race series this year because they each have their own glow, and I love them each for what they are,” she says. “Even though I loved racing in the Golden Trail World Series and didn’t think I could do better, being here and wearing the Team USA jersey and competing in the world championships against so many ‘other countries is damn epic.’

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