Runners are preparing for this weekend’s latest UTMB World Series event, with the Grindstone Running Festival by UTMB acting as a qualifying race for both Western States and Hardrock as well as the UTMB World Series Finals 2024.
The unique triple-qualifier takes place in in Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains, and is the newest iteration of the Grindstone 100 race.
The race features a 100 miler as well as 100km and 21km races, with running taking place from 22-23 September.
UTMB, Western States and Hardrock qualifying
The UTMB Mont Blanc, Western States 100 and Hardrock 100 arguably make up the three most coveted titles in the ultrarunning and trail running scene.
Entire careers are focussed around winning one or all three of the famous titles- with Courtney Dauwalter making history this year when she became the first person to win all three in the same calendar year.
For non-elite runners, the races are bucket list items- and this year Grindstone will offer thousands of amateurs a chance to get closer to achieving their ambitions.
As with other UTMB World Series races, the top three in the 100 mile index race at Grindstone receive direct access to next year’s 2024 UTMB, with the top three in the 100km race receiving spots in the UTMB CCC. For everyone else, the 100mile gives runners four UTMB World Series running stones and the 100km race offers three.
In addition, solid performances in both of those races will fulfill the entry requirements for both Western States and Hardrock, allowing access to the lottery for spots on the historic races.
In addition, the 100km at Grindstone by UTMB also acts a golden ticket event for Western States, meaning where the top two men and women where the top two men and women will automatically qualify for entry into the 2024 race.
Follow Grindstone by UTMB Live
You can follow the 100 mile, 100km and 21km races at Grindstone Running Festival by UTMB via the UTMB Live website HERE.
Grindstone by UTMB route
Grindstone by UTMB is based in the state of Virginia on the North East coast of the United States, taking runners around the beautiful Shenandoah Valley along with the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest.
The Grindstone 100 mile route is officially 159.9km, with 6,400m of elevation gain across the course of the race. It takes runners out of the start/finish line, near the entrance to the Natural Chimneys Park, with an early steep up and down preluding the climb to the top of Reddish Knob, one of the highest points of the race, which greets runners just 33km in.
The race then links with the iconic Wild Oak National Recreation Trail, following it over several tops including the Grindstone Mountain itself.
The race then climbs Elliott’s Knob, the course’s highest point of elevation, before descending rapidly over the next two miles on the Cold Springs Trail. The race then eventually links up with the starting trail, with runners racing home.
The 100km race includes 3,352m of elevation with the highlight coming towards the end as runners climb to the peak of Little Bald Knob.
The 21km route has 518m of elevation gain, taking runners up to Narrow Back Mountain, along the ridge and then back down.
Grindstone by UTMB contenders
The opportunity to secure qualifications for both the UTMB, Western States and Hardrock has understandably attracted a number of elite runners despite the close proximity of the race to the 2023 UTMB World Series Finals.
In the 100-mile race, Canadian Ihor Verys and American Sam Kirk have been tipped to put in solid performances, with US runner Michael McMonagle the third of the three runners in attendance to have UTMB indexes of over 800.
Canadian Alissa St-Laurent leads the women’s field, with American runners Heather Dougherty, Veronica Leeds and Whitney Richman set to challenge her.
The 100km event is expected to be a battle between two Americans, with Jeff Mogavero and Justin Grunewald set to go head to head- both were DNF’s at UTMB last month. Devon Yanko, Lisa Roberts and Lottie Brinks are the picks of the elite women’s field.