Written by Alexander Beaven for the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA). American Trail Running Association (ATRA) executive director Nancy Hobbs is the WMRA general secretary. Photos: Marco Gulberti.
Kenyan pair continue their winning streaks in a new addition to an old classic on the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup.
There were wonderful conditions for the first edition of Giir di Mont Uphill as the 4th Gold Label race of the 2022 Valsir World Cup took place under clear blue skies in the mountains above Premana, Italy. The brand new race saw athletes compete over 9km from the town centre to the spectacular setting of Alpe Solino, 1,050m up above.
Against international fields containing World Cup winners and World and European champions, and with the race’s place in the Italian Championship bringing in the best domestic talent, the Team Run2gether duo of Joyce Njeru and Patrick Kipngeno continued their phenomenal 2022 seasons, each taking their 4th straight Gold Label win in the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup.
The women’s race was the first to get underway. After a cautious start, Njeru made her move with 2 kilometres run, looking to capitalise on the race’s fast first 5km. Nobody followed and the defending World Cup champion carried an advantage over the rest of the field as the course steepened in the second half.
In her first World Cup appearance of the year, the great Andrea Mayr battled hard to close this gap, coming agonisingly close, but there just wasn’t enough race left for the 6 time World Champion to make the catch and Njeru held on to take the win by 20 seconds.
Joyce Njeru Interview:
Madalina Florea of Romania, silver medallist in the Up and Down race at the European Championhips, stayed within touching distance of the front pair, finishing just 25 seconds further back to claim the third spot on the podium. Scout Adkin was 4th and Francesca Ghelfi was first Italian in 5th, taking the national title in the process.
Camilla Magliano and Lucy Murigi, 2nd and 3rd in the World Cup standings going into the race, finished 9th and 7th, adding valuable points to their tallies. Murigi is one of the athletes who will attempt the double this weekend, coming back in the morning to race the full 32km and 2,400m+ of Giir di Mont.
Unlike Njeru, Kipngeno pushed the pace right from the start, shadowed by his compatriots Lengen Lolkurraru and Philemon Kiriago. Lolkurraru faded but once again the Run2gether athletes stayed strong.
The margins were smaller than they were at La Montée du Nid d’Aigle 2 weeks go, but the result was the same; a 4th season win for Kipngeno in 46:09 with Kiriago second in 46:58. Were it not for his teammates’ superlative success, Kiriago would be the talk of the town; today marked the 3rd consecutive 2nd place finish on the Valsir World Cup for the 19 year old and cemented his place in second on the overall standings.
Patrick Kipngeno Interview:
The pair were pushed all the way by French and European champion Sylvain Cachard, who finished 3rd just 24 seconds behind Kiriago. Andrea Rostan, the first Italian, and Zak Hanna both had excellent races finishing 4th and 5th respectively, narrowing the gap between them as they vie for the 3rd spot in the overall standings. Hanna hangs on to it for now.
Cesare Maestri’s 6th place was enough for him to seal the Italian championship and defending World Cup Champion Henri Aymonod made a welcome return to racing after time out due to injury, finishing 8th.
In the U20 races Axelle Vicari and Elia Mattio once again proved too strong for the competition, adding uphill victories to the wins that they took last month’s up and down Italian Championship race in Gazzaniga.
Full results are available at: https://www.endu.net/en/events/giir-di-mont-uphill/results
More photos by Marco Gulberti: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mountainrunning/albums/72177720300927217/with/52251544250/
About the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup:
With 12 Gold Label races across 6 countries and 9 locations, and a further 5 Silver Label races in 5 different countries, the 2022 World Mountain Running Association’s Valsir Mountain Running World Cup promises 5 months of quality racing in the mountains. All World Cup events are World Athletics (WA) Permit Mountain Races. Races fall into one of 3 categories; Short Uphill, Classic Mountain and Long Mountain. As well as the overall World Cup standings, calculated from an athlete’s best 6 results, there will also be a classification for each category, calculated from an athlete’s best 3 results in that category.
About the WMRA:
Formed in 1984, the World Mountain Running Association is the global governing body for mountain running and has the goal of promoting mountain running for all ages and abilities. As well as the Valsir World Cup, the WMRA organizes Masters, U18 and area championships and this year will work in partnership with the World Athletics, ITRA and IAU to deliver the inaugural World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The WMRA also maintains the Mountain Running World Ranking, a system of points allocated to athletes based on the results in designated races. More information on the WMRA website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.