Jeff Pelletier, a trail runner and filmmaker out of Vancouver, ran to an incredibly close second-place finish at the legendary Moab 240, a 240-mile (386-kilometre) race hosted by Destination Trail. Pelletier’s 70 hours, 53 minutes and 16 seconds. Pelletier was just moments behind winner Jesse Haynes (70 hours, 47 minutes and 49 seconds), an accomplished ultrarunner from Coto de Cazi, Cali. whose finishes include Bigfoot 200 and Hardrock Endurance Run.
Moab 240 is part of Destination Trail’s ‘Triple Crown’ of 200-milers, which includes Bigfoot 200 in Washington State and Tahoe 200 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and Nevada. Runners have 116 hours to complete a 239.66-mile loop that begins and ends in Moab, Utah, climbing and descending 9,621 metres.
“I’ll forever remember this amazing and challenging three-day journey by the way it finished, with a 12-mile sprint,” Pelletier shared on Instagram on Tuesday. Destination Trail called the race between Pelletier and Haynes an “epic battle.”
“This was arguably the closest battle between first and second place that we’ve ever seen at one of our races, as Jesse fought for the last 100 miles to keep his lead, with second place finisher Jeff Pelletier less than a mile behind,” they added.
Pelletier has finished several renowned 200-mile races in Europe, including the Tor des Géants in 2018 (a race that traverses the Aosta Valley in the Italian Alps) and the Swiss Peaks 360K in 2019, where he finished 19th overall. Moab 240 was his first 200-mile-plus distance in North America, and before the race Pelletier shared that the race had been a long time coming.
“I’ve been wanting to toe the line at an American 200 miler for a long time, which have a very different feel to those in the Alps and are on very different terrain,” Pelletier said. “The Moab 240 mile will be my longest race to date in terms of distance, but hopefully my shortest 200 miler in terms of time on feet.” Pelletier was right, although he couldn’t have predicted the challenge between Haynes and himself, which lasted for more than 100 miles.
“He worked his way up in the field from about 15th before the halfway mark,” Destination Trail said. “He ended up in a race for first place for the last 100 miles of the race, a very long time to run neck-and-neck for.”
After chasing Haynes for 70 miles, Pelletier entered the final section of the race, one he had trained on and felt familiar with. With legs that felt fresh, the runner felt the odds were in his favour, but he was unable to close the five-minute gap to take first: “…those final miles were some of the most enjoyable I’ve ever run, and this was by far my most fun race finish,” Pelletier said.
American ultrarunner Sally McRae took first place on the women’s side, crossing the line in 86 hours, 18 minutes, and 33 seconds. She was also the female winner of the 2023 Triple Crown, with her combined finish times at Tahoe, Bigfoot and Moab.