Announcement from the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA). The American Trail Running Association is a WMRA media partner and will be providing coverage of all sixteen events in the 2021 Mountain Running World Cup. ATRA founder Nancy Hobbs is a member of the WMRA Council. Photos: WMRA.
The 2021 Mountain Running World Cup is a mix of old classics and new races and the next race in France, La Montee Du Nid d’Aigle, on Saturday July 17th is a bit of both. This will be the 34th edition of the annual event, so it’s definitely a classic, but it’s the first time it will be part of the World Mountain Running Association’s World Cup.
The location of Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains, France has to be one of the best in the world for mountain sports. Located next to the Italian and Swiss borders, the Haute-Savoie region is an absolute magnet for mountain runners and skiers.
La Montee Du Nid d’Aigle was actually one of the first mountain races in France and as such, it’s a must-do race for French runners. It’s also really important to the community in Saint-Gervais, with 200 volunteers helping out every year. It’s an integral part of the identity of Saint-Gervais and the local people embrace it, like all the best races.
This is a “classic” format mountain race at 12 miles, uphill-only with 6,500 feet of ascent. The route begins at Parc Thermal, Le Fayet and initially follows the river towards St Gervais, and then to La Villette, climbing gradually. From here it heads away from the road and into the trees and begins to climb more steeply and it continues to climb relentlessly all the way up to the finish at Refuge du Nid d’Aigle at 7,850 feet above sea level.
This year it looks like the race will be playing host to some of the top mountain runners in the world, some of whom have featured in the Mountain Running World Cup already this year. In the women’s race Lucy Murigi (KEN), former World Champion, is hot on the heels of her 3rd place at last weekend’s Grossglockner Berglauf. Susanna Saapunki (FIN) will also be looking to build on her success at Grossglockner, where she finished 4th. Lucie Marsanova (CZE), 5th at our first World Cup race, Tatra Race Run, will also be toeing the line, alongside 10th placed Timea Merenyi (HUN).
Elise Poncet (FRA), who finished 2nd in the 2019 World Mountain Running Championships will certainly be one to watch and she’s joined by many impressive fellow French athletes on home turf. Christel Dewalle is a 10 time French Vertical Kilometer (VK) champion, so should do well in an uphill-only race. Fresh from a 2nd place at the Mont Blanc Marathon a couple of weeks ago, Anais Sabrie could also challenge, as could Julia Combe, who was 3rd in the Mont Blanc Cross.
In the men’s race Henri Aymonod (ITA) will be looking to build on his World Cup results so far this year – a 3rd place at Tatra and a 10th place at Grossglockner. Compatriot Francesco Puppi, our 2nd placed runner in the World Long Distance Championships in 2019, recently finished 5th in a very competitive Mont Blanc Marathon. Petro Mamu (ERI) will always be a threat, having finished on the podium in most of the big races, including Sierre-Zinal and Smarna Gora. Sandor Szabo, 6th in the 2019 Mountain Running World Cup, is always a tough competitor, as he proved at Tatra, where he finished 6th and Grossglockner, where he was 13th. Xavier Chevrier (ITA) will also be one to watch.
But they will face serious competition from the French athletes. Alexandre Fine was 5th in the 2019 World Mountain Running Championships (Classic Distance) and Simon Paccard (FRA) is fresh from a 3rd place at the Mont Blanc Cross. Julien Rancon, Julien Michelon and young athletes like Remi Lonchampt and Theo Dancer will be exciting to watch.
Will records fall this year? The women’s record, incredibly, has stood since 2006 when Isabelle Guillot set the current mark of 2.06.06. The current men’s record of 1.47.49 was set by Manu Meyssat in 2017.
Commitment to Sustainability
An aspect of this mountain race which is worth highlighting is its commitment to limiting their environmental impact. The measures they are taking include:
- Using local sponsors and partners to support the local area and reduce the need for transporting goods long distances
- Using reusable flags and banners
- No plastic water bottles or cups
- No paper flyers or posters and all race registration online-only
- Using the tram instead of a helicopter to transport equipment to the mountaintop finish
- Encouraging runners to travel by train and providing free shuttles from the station to the race village
- Carbon accounting to calculate total event emissions
[PRO TIP: Learn more about what U.S. race directors are doing to make mountain and trail races more sustainable by reading the American Trail Running Association’s Trail Running Race Sustainability Guidelines first published in 2016.]
About the WMRA Mountain Running World Cup:
Races take place between June 2021 and October 2021 in 8 countries. There are 12 event locations and 16 races in 3 categories: short uphill; classic mountain race; long mountain race. Runners can take part in as many races as they want, and they get points for their finishing positions. Their best 7 results in the World Cup races count towards their final ranking. The points scoring format is cumulative. Finishing positions in a WMRA World Cup race range from 100 points for first to 1 point for 30th. There are separate competitions for men and women and athletes must compete in at least two races in order to be considered in the final rankings.
The current, reigning World Cup champions are Sarah McCormack and Andrew Douglas.
About the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA):
Formed in 1984, we are the global governing body for mountain running and we have the goal of promoting mountain running for all ages and abilities. As well as the World Cup we organize Masters, U18 and regional championships and this year we will work in partnership with the World Athletics, International Trail Running Association (ITRA) and the International Association of Ultrarunners IAU to deliver the first World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Thailand.