Since becoming professional in 2017, Courtney Dauwalter has become easily one of the biggest names in ultra-running and the undisputed GOAT of the women’s sport.
Having been a successful runner and Nordic skier in her school and university days, the American then worked as a middle and high school teacher in Denver.
She continued to run, and finished her first 100-mile race in 2012, but it was not until 2016 that she really began to show her incredible talent for long-distance events.
That year, she broke the course record by almost an hour in winning the Javelina Jundred 100K in 8:48:25 and won the Run Rabbit Run 100-mile race in 21:23:37, finishing 75 minutes ahead of the second-placed woman.
Since then, Courtney Dauwalter has focused full-time on running to devastating effect, thriving on a self-proclaimed approach of eating and wearing what she wants.
She has won several races outright, including the Moab 240 in 2017, where she finished 10 hours ahead of her nearest challenger.
Her performances have sparked debate over whether women may be better suited physiologically than men to the longest endurance events.
However, in a 2019 interview with Red Bull, she said: “Women are pushing all sorts of limits and raising the bar for each other.
“I feel lucky to be in the sport right now, but I’m not sure ‘better cut out’ is the phrase. Although I do think that as the races get longer, the playing field evens out a bit and the race becomes more about stamina and mental strength.”
In 2023, Courtney Dauwalter achieved a feat many once thought impossible, becoming the first to win what some have refered to as ‘the triple crown’ in the same calendar year, claiming the 2023 Western States 100, Hardrock 100 and UTMB.
Her 2023 UTMB triumph was her third overall, having won in 2019 and 2021, setting the course record in the latter.
Having dropped out of the Barkley Marathons in 2021, she will surely target the world’s toughest footrace again and she has also spoken about taking on the brutal Colorado Trail after failing to complete an attempt in 2020.
Courtney Dauwalter Record and Results
Courtney Dauwalter’s first significant ultra-marathon victory came at the Ouray 100 in Colorado in 2014. Here, she clocked 26:46:20 to underline her potential, finishing second overall, just 41 minutes behind the winner.
She built on her above-mentioned 2016 double by setting a course record of 57:55:13 in winning the 2017 Moab 240.
Courtney Dauwalter secured an ultra-hat-trick in 2018, with victory in the Western States 100 her highlight. She clocked 17:27:00 – a time which ranked her fifth on the all-time women’s list.
Her other two wins that year were at the Tahoe 200-mile race in 49:54:36, securing second place overall, and at the 100-mile Ultra-Trail Mt Fuji in 23:57:48.
She kicked off 2019 with victory at the Tarawera Ultramarathon in New Zealand, recording 9:28:04 for the 100km distance, but her eyes were firmly set on the UTMB.
A first victory duly followed in 24:34:26, beating Sweden’s Kristin Berglund by around one hour.
In 2020, Courtney Dauwalter won the Big Dog Backyard Ultra, completing 68 laps for 283.3 miles.
She defended her UTMB title in style in 2021, clocking 22:30:54 to head France’s Camille Bruyas by more than 90 minutes and break the course record.
Having failed to finish the Hardrock 100 in 2021, she bounced back the following year to take victory in a course record time of 26:44:36.
Also in 2022, she set a Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the Collegiate Loop Trail in Colorado, completing the 160-mile circuit in 40:14:20.
She then went on to reclaim the Western States title in 2023, setting the fastest time for a woman as she did so. She smashed the 16-hour barrier, finishing in a time of 15:29:33.
She then won the 2023 Hardrock 100 just three weeks later, setting another course record in the process. In doing so, she became the first person to ever win the two races in the same calendar year.
Courtney Dauwalter then went on to complete a historic treble of 2023 titles by winning her third UTMB. Once regarded as impossible, Dauwalter’s Western States-Hardrock-UTMB hat trick is now regarded as one of the greatest achievements in ultrarunning history.
Courtney Dauwalter is 39 having been born in February 1985
Courtney lives in Golden, Colorado
Courtney married Kevin Schmidt in 2015. When she races he is a key part of her support crew.
Courtney runs in Salomon shoes – for her record-breaking win in the 2022 HardRock 100 she wore S/LAB Ultra 3 trail running shoes.
Courtney says it is just pure comfort that leads to her wearing her ‘trademark’ long shorts.
Courtney Dauwalter has spoken at length about how the ‘Pain Cave’ helps her achieve her incredible feats. After winning the UTMB 2023 and completing her historic treble, she said: “I was working in the pain cave most of the night, but at least [I] was still getting some response from my legs while I was there… there has been a lot of time spent in the pain cave this summer… what I am curious about right now is this pain cave and how our minds and bodies are synched up to help us do difficult things and I want to keep testing that for as long as it is fun, as long as I am feeling healthy going into that pain cave.”