The 2024  Valsir Mountain Running World Cup started with a bang today at Broken Arrow in Palisades Tahoe, California. In a double header weekend the first gold label short uphill race, the Broken Arrow VK, kicked off proceedings. And we still have the first gold label long mountain race to look forward to on Sunday in the 23k Broken Arrow Skyrace.

Palisades Tahoe, located in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, is renowned for its stunning scenery, big peaks (including the prominent 2,700 metre Washeshu Peak) and diverse terrain, making it a perfect location for mountain running. And Broken Arrow stages a unique and special event every year, attracting top elites from around the world, along with many non-elite runners who come to test themselves on the tough courses and experience the exceptional atmosphere of this event. A fitting venue to kick off this year’s competition, our 25th edition of the World Cup.

Broken Arrow has previously been a highlight of the World Cup in 2019, 2021 and 2023. Last year it was memorably snow-affected but this year the VK runners only had to contend with snow on the top section. The weather was warm in the valley at the start – 18 – 20 degrees Celsius – with perfect blue skies, but windy at the summit finish.


The runners start with a short, sharp uphill section on the ski slope before they hit a more runnable road section where they need to moderate their effort because it’s easy to get carried away, and there’s still a long way to go. This section begins to climb more steeply and then takes them over the summit of KT-22. Again there is some respite here as they run over the saddle and enjoy a flatter, more runnable section. But this doesn’t last – they will soon being the big push up to the summit, starting with a rocky, technical section up to the ridge. They continue on this technical terrain to the ‘stairway to heaven’ ladder, then it’s one last push over the snowy section to the summit.


Both the women’s and men’s fields were absolutely stacked, with many runners from last year’s podiums and some very strong uphill specialists. So it was something of a surprise to see a renowned ultrarunner – Jim Walmsley(HOKA) – hitting the first timing point at the front of the race! Could he possibly hold on for the win in a race many assumed he was using as a final tune-up ahead of Western States next weekend? He was being chased hard by one of the big breakout stars of last year’s World Cup, Christian Allen (Nike Trail), Patrick Kipngeno (Run2gether), two-time uphill World Champion, Philemon Ombogo Kiriago (Run2gether), last year’s men’s World Cup winner, and Eli Hemming (Adidas Terrex), last year’s men’s winner of the Skyrace.

Last year’s women’s winner, Anna Gibson (Brooks), was back to defend her title. She was also second in the Skyrace last year and she will be contesting the 1500m in the US Olympic Trials next week, so is a very exciting talent. At the first timing point it was Allie McLaughlin (HOKA), winner of last year’s women’s Skyrace, who led the women’s field, followed by the 2023 women’s World Cup winner Joyce Muthoni Njeru (Atletica Saluzzo), Gibson, last year’s VK runner-up Jade Belzberg (Topo), then Hali Hafeman. McLaughlin said before the race that her dog, Harley, was waiting for her at the summit as a motivator for her to get up there as quickly as possible. It appeared to be an effective strategy.

Jim Walmsley takes second place for the men © Adam Chase

When the runners started to emerge over the ladder it was Kipngeno who beat Walmsley in the race to the summit, eventually winning in 36.21, with Walmsley a very creditable second in this company, in 37.49. Meikael Beaudoin-Rousseau (Brooks), who was third in last year’s Skyrace, came through to complete the men’s podium in 38.03. Allen took fourth and Eli Hemming kept his fifth place.

Then all eyes were on the final climb to see whether McLaughlin had kept her lead in the women’s race. But it was Muthoni Njeru who emerged first, winning in convincing style in 45.39 by almost two minutes. In a very close battle for second and third it was Gibson who emerged victorious in 47.35, with McLaughlin just behind in 47.50. Hafeman moved up a place to take fourth and Jessica Brazeau came through to take fifth.