The Greatest Male Mountain runner of all time according to a WMRA poll, Joseph Gray is a legend of the discipline; but not only has he competed in mountain running races, Gray has also won events in trail and snowshoe running.
Gray grew up in a military family and spent time in army bases, moving from Kentucky to spend four years in Heidelberg, Germany, before his family ended up in Washington.
Whilst at middle school there, Joseph Gray got his first taste of running, encouraged to take up track by his PE teacher he began competing in the seventh grade.
He ran track and cross-country at College, attending Oklahoma State University and qualifying for the N.C.A.A. championships six times.
But he truly excelled when he moved to trail running; just a year after the end of his college career, he ran his first trail race with a friend in 2007 and by 2008 he was on the US national team- he has since been named to US representative teams more than 30 times.
His rapid rise was a sign of things to come, and he has since gone on to have a long career with an incredible level of consistent success. He won his first USA Mountain Running National Championships in 2009 and became a 20-time national champion across six disciplines and been named USA Mountain Runner of the Year seven times.
His success is far from just US-based, however- Gray has won two WMRA World Championships, in 2016 and 2019.
However, Gray is famed for far more than just his supreme running ability. He has been one of the few prominent African-American athletes in mountain and ultra-running, breaking several barriers in the sport.
The first African-American to represent the U.S. Mountain Running Team, Joseph Gray has spoken out about the abuse he has received in running from an early age and how he has become motivated to improve diversity in ultra running. He set up the ‘Inspire Diversity’ project to incentivise would-be trail runners from minority backgrounds, and he has also worked with the ‘Sachs Foundation’, which provides scholarships to Black students across Colorado.
Gray lives in Colorado, with his wife and two children.
Joseph Gray results and records
Joseph Gray has won numerous races and titles in numerous disciplines over his more than 15-year career in ultra-running, here are some notable victories.
He won his first USA Mountain Running National Championships in 2009, and has since won it in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2021.
He has also won numerous other US national titles in a variety of disciplines. These include the 2012 and 2013 USA 50k Ultramarathon Road Running National Championships, the 2013, 2017 and 2018 USA Trail Half Marathon National Championships, the 2016 North American Continental Vertical Kilometer Championships, 2016 and 2018 USA 30k Trail Running National Championships, the 2018 North American Snowshoe Running Championships and the 2022 Inaugural US Vertical Mountain Running Championship.
On a worldwide level, Joseph Gray has won two World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) World Championships, in 2016 and 2019; those wins make him one of the few to ever win a World Championship title on both an Uphill (2016) and Up and Down course (2019).
In 2022 he competed for Team USA in the inaugural World Mountain and Trail Running Championships (WMTRC) in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He came sixth in the Uphill Mountain race.
Gray has won the XTERRA Trail Running World Championship six times, the first coming in 2012.Page BreakHe has set several fastest known times; these include ascents of Mount Elbert (1:04:51), Huron Peak (1:13:24), the Enchantment Lakes Traverse (supported, 3:02:57).
He won the Broken Arrow Skyrace 26k in 2021 and has won the Pikes Peaks Ascent four times- in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021.
Joesph Gray is 40 having been born in January 1984
Joseph runs in Hoka One One shoes