Written by Sergio Mayayo for the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA). Photos by Ruben Fueyo.
The inaugural edition of the Canfranc Canfranc Vertical Kilometer, part of the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup, stood up to the enormous expectations generated: A spectacular course, a world elite field and a close fight to the finish line ended with Gold for Daniel Osanz and Joyce Njeru, silver for Naiara Irigoyen and Zak Hanna. bronze Philimon Kiriago and Laia García Montoya.
Canfranc-Canfranc kicked off its 2022 edition, the 16th, on Friday, September 9th. It is an event whose reputation continues to grow year after year, built on the beauty of the ten peaks of the Aragonese Pyrenees that it summits, the passion of the entire population of Jacetania region and the proven solidness of its organization, with over 400 volunteers.
The first Vertical Race (4k/D+927m) was launched, from Rioseta (1.400m) to Tuca Blanca (2.370m), it is a classic track for Aragonese mountain skiing that hosted a new sporting challenge now as a mountain race. The Vertical Canfranc made its grand debut as a venue for the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup; a World Mountain Running Association program.
Kenyans Joyce Njeru and Philemon Kiriago were seeded as top favorites. Arrayed versus them, in the feminine Italian Camilla Magliano, France’s Olivia Magnone and young Spaniard Naiara Irigoyen, just back from winning Matterhon Ultraks. The men’s event was even more compelling, since against the Kenyan were three of the best Europeans: Frenchman Robert Loic, Irishman Zak Hanna (5th Europe 2022) and Spaniard Daniel Osanz (3rd European 2022).
Once the race was launched, the two Kenyans quickly took the lead in their usual style. In the first meters we already saw how Philemon took Zak Hanna after him, while Joyce was chased by Naiara.
In the first meters we saw how Philemon took off, with Zak Hanna right after him. The initial surprise at seeing a quick gap opened with Dani Osanz in third place would soon dissipate as the young Aragonese runner soon came back to hook up with the leading two.
Even more, before the halfway point of the race Dani gave a strong push to go ahead alone in the lead, opening a gap that grew more and more and more until the finish line, where he was proclaimed champion with 34.29. Behind, the Irish Zak Hanna finished off a great race by attacking the Kenyan by surprise over the last meters and moved quickly ahead to the silver, with 35.07.
After them, a taste of bittersweet bronze for Philemon Kiriago who, despite setting a great time in 36.23, once again this 2022 failed to win gold. The top 5 was completed by the Frenchman Robert Loic with 38.22 and Spaniard Alex García Carrillo with 38.22.
In the women’s race, if Joyce never gave up the lead, Naiara Irigoyen never allowed let her to relax either. We enjoyed a nice duel with just a few meters between the two. If the Kenyan is already a proven reality, number 1 in the World Ranking, the performance of the Navarrese was truly splendid and came up just 26 seconds behind the world cup champion at finish line, with a time of 44.04 for Joyce and 44.30 for Naiara.
Special mention also for Spaniard Laia García Montoya who managed a brilliant race. Her final time of 45.25 managed to beat two regular World Cup elites, such as Camilla Magliano and Olivia Magnone who with 46.26 and 48.06 respectively closed the top 5.
Replays of the race can be found on YouTube.