Joseph DeMoor of Carbondale on his way to victory in the Skyrunning World Championships Vertical race held in Italy. DeMoor. Photo by Jakub Stryk, @stryk_foto

Elite mountain runner and Carbondale local Joseph DeMoor is no stranger to podiums and fastest known times (FKTs), but his dominant performance at the 2022 Skyrunning World Championships, held Sept 9-11, is one for the record books.
Attracting world class athletes from over 35 countries to the awe-inspiring Ossola Valley in Italy, the championships featured three races: Vertical, SkyUltra and Sky. The coveted Combine title was also up for grabs based on points accrued in the Vertical and Sky disciplines.
DeMoor, sponsored by La Sportiva, tackled technical terrain, steep inclines and long distances to became the first American man to win the Vertical’s gold medal, which ultimately earned him bronze in the Combine.
“It was awesome and the environment was super fun,” said DeMoor, who works for Aspen Skiing Company. “We were really well taken care of by all the races. You can tell it’s definitely a part of the culture over there, and people come out to support the races and make a day of it. It was an inspiring environment.”
Skyrunning burst onto the trail running scene in 1992, when Italian Marino Giacometti challenged athletes “to reach the highest peak in the shortest time from a town or village,” according to the International Federation of Skyrunning. Races take place at at least 6,562 feet elevation, have a 30% incline and can not exceed a climbing difficulty of grade 2, which is defined as scrambling with hands for balance.
DeMoor’s weekend began with the daunting uphill-only Rampigada Vertical in San Domenico di Varzo, Domodossola. That race featured 3,487 feet of climbing over 2.4 miles. DeMoor, who thrives at uphill running, recalled that the race was fast and runners maintained an unrelenting pace, which is atypical for most trail races.
He felt calm among a group of seven athletes, which included Italian endurance powerhouses Marcello Ugazio, elite triathlete, and Alex Oberbacher, 2017 U23 Skyrunning World Combine champion. Around halfway into the race, Ugazio made a bold move to separate himself from the pack, but DeMoor remained patient.
With 650 feet of climbing left to the finish line, he caught Ugazio, and they battled up the mountain. Screaming fans lined the course, and DeMoor, encouraged by the crowd’s energy, surged to overcome Ugazio for America’s first-ever gold medal in the event.
Hearing his wife, Mackenzie, cheering at the finish line gave DeMoor “the final motivation to hang onto the win,” he said.
He covered the course in 37 minutes, 7 seconds. Famed Swiss skyrunner Maude Mathys won the women’s event in 40 minutes, 50 seconds. This win puts DeMoor among skyrunning greats and former Olympians such as Kílian Jornet, Ruy Ueda, Stian Angermund and Laura Orgué. American women, Stevie Kremer, Megan Kimmel and Hilary Gerardi, have also podiumed in previous Vertical world championships.
The final day of the weekend featured the highly competitive La Veia SkyRace in Bognanco, Domodossola where DeMoor placed sixth and completed 19.2 miles and 8,530 feet of climbing in 3 hours, 3 minutes and 25 seconds. Roberto Delorenzi of Switzerland won the race and gold in the Combine.
For DeMoor, this championship was more than just a success, it was a redemption moment. Just 10 weeks prior, he collapsed 600 feet from the finish of the U.S. Mountain Running Championships (USMRC). Mackenzie and fellow runner, Morgan Elliott, carried DeMoor off the course.
Undeterred, he and Mackenzie went “back to the drawing board” to reevaluate his nutrition, training, well-being and mental mindset which ultimately set him up for his stellar international performance.
Friend and fellow elite mountain athlete Sean Van Horn said DeMoor’s skyrunning weekend was “fantastic,” especially considering that in Europe people grow up idolizing skyrunning; but he said DeMoor was built for this type of racing.
“I’ll be honest, I wasn’t completely surprised,” Van Horn laughed. “I think Joe has an amazing engine and moves over uphill terrain with ease … I’ve also seen him continue to put in the work, year in and year out.”
While DeMoor is recognized for his consistent training and humble demeanor, he credits his community for his impressive running resume, which includes FKTs on Mt. Sopris, Capital Peak, Pyramid Peak, Castle Peak and the Maroon Bells.
“Running is a team sport, and in my mind it always has been,” DeMoor said. “No runner or athlete gets to where they are by themselves, and I’m super fortunate to have a huge support network.”
Now, with a Skyrunning World Championship gold and bronze added to his resume, DeMoor sets his sights on Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he will compete for Team USA alongside Carbondalian Jeff Colt and former Carbondale resident Morgan Elliott at the inaugural World Mountain and Trail Running Championships held on Nov. 4-6.