Media Release from the 31st World Mountain Running Championships 2015. ATRA Executive Director Nancy Hobbs and Director of Online Marketing Richard Bolt will also be heading to Wales next month for this event. Nancy is a member of the WMRA Council. Richard is Team Leader for the US Mountain Running Team. For Team USA updates from the race follow @usmrt on Twitter.
Jonathan Wyatt heads to Wales. With six World Mountain Running crowns under his belt, New Zealander Jonathan Wyatt was the dominant force in mountain running for almost a decade. Still competitive to the highest levels ‘Jono’ has great memories of his title winning races, which ranged from the beauty of La Renuion to the Alps of Switzerland. This September he will once again travel to the World Championships, in Wales, this time as an ambassador for the 31st World Mountain Running Championships, which start in less than 30 days.
Wyatt will take part in the Salomon Thursday evening seminar on the 17th of September, and be present at the press conference on the eve of the Championships which take place on the 19th of September in Betws y Coed.
In addition to the World Championship races and the World Masters Championships the weekend before, the week-long festival from the 12th to the 19h of September will see a host of events that encapsulate the area, including open mountain races, an uphill only race to the iconic local peak of Moel Siabod, junior events, seminars and film sessions and a series of schools races to be facilitated by the Conwy County Borough Council sports development team.
We caught up with Jonathan to get his thoughts on the upcoming Championships and some of the memories he has as 6-time World Champion:
How did it feel to stand on the podium for first time as the World Champion and how did it feel winning it for a 6th time?
I like to remember more the races themselves and the amazing locations where our Mountain Races our held. The first time I ran at the World Trophy (as it was called back then) it was held on La Reunion Island in 1998, it was very special. I remember the race very well since it was my second ever mountain race and so I was the unknown (the only time!) runner, but I was up against Antonio Mollinari (ITA) who was pretty dominant during that period. It was a great battle up to the edge of an extinct volcano on this beautiful island in the Indian Ocean where he took the lead and we broke away from the rest of the field. The Italian team did a perfect tactic where after 1km we reached a steep single trail so Antonio out front scampered away while two team mates walked it behind him holding us up. I gave chase but it took me until 10km to catch him and then we were together for the next 5km before I finally broke away on a less steep section with 2km to go.
At that time I was running cross country plus doing some track races too so I had the speed on the last section. Now that I speak Italian we often talk together about that race and we both have good memories of that time and the culture there.
My final time winning the Champs in Switzerland 10 years later was quite different because it was on a course that wasn’t particularly steep and I was never in a position to put pressure on the leaders. I had to dig deep to hang on to the pace and I was back in 4th or 5th place for most of the race. With 2km to run a longer steeper section allowed me to pick up places one by one and so I found a chance to gain a 30m lead before the final flat out sprint for the line. I held on!
It’s a big difference going in as one of the favourites compared to that first time but both of those times I was not so very confident about winning as perhaps I was on the other occasions between so in a way those two were the most satisfying
The World Championships are the pinnacle of the sport of mountain running, how important are the Championships for the sport and the continued development of mountain running?
The passing to World Championship status for Mountain Running puts it on the same level as any other IAAF World Championship. The level and number of countries competing mean that it carries the most prestige of any off road running event. It is important that this competition continues to thrive and we need to work to retain the identity of mountain running as sport held on natural terrain in beautiful locations.
A melting pot of nations will descend on Betws y Coed and Llandudno in September as Wales is hosting the WMRC and WMMRC for the first time ever. What can we expect in terms atmosphere in that week?
The last time the Masters and World Mtn Champs were held together was in Italy back in 2004 and the atmosphere was fantastic. Masters runners stayed to watch the Worlds and the whole week was like a mountain running festival. So I am looking forward to coming to Wales. I know that there will be a large number of runners and supporters coming for both Championships so we’ll have a lot of fun there.
The World Masters Championships happened the weekend before the World Championships, how competitive do you expect that weekend of racing to be?
It will be very competitive. I was just recently in Norway at a mountain race and I had groups of Norwegian Masters runners telling me they were coming and with a location based in Europe I am sure we’ll see record numbers of runners arriving. More runners equals more competition so we’ll see strong performances and I know the Masters will enjoy a few ales and some more trail running in the days between the two championship events!
Full World Mountain Running Championships event information and details on the routes can be found via the World Masters and the World Championships websites. Entries to events start from as little as £10 and the organising teams from UK Athletics, Welsh Athletics and Conwy County Borough Council are confident that racing will be highly competitive and have added international flavour as runners are expected from across the globe.
World Masters Mountain Running Championships and the Open Event programme entries are now live and can be accessed via www.wmrcwales.org/open-races.