Mayr and Ndungu win the first mountain running world cup race

This mountain running story & translation by Corsa in Montagna. Photos by Damiano Benedetto and Jonathan Wyatt.  Republished with permission.

The 7th times world champion and the Kenyan sensation deserve an important win as the mountain running world cup takes off in Grossglockner.

Great organizational frame and a truly deserved IAAF PERMIT label were the essential elements of the Grossglockner Berglauf staged at Heiligenblut this morning for the first stage of the World Mountain Running World Cup.

On the 13 km and 1500 m. of positive D+ that have brought more than 1200 athletes to touch the Pasterze glacier, some of the best mountain runners showed a big challenge, with a very high level line-up.

The major wait was to return to admire the Austrian Andrea Mayr, at the first important mountain race in the 2018 season.

The women’s race did not disappoint expectations by showing a Mayr in a state of grace right from the start as “die kaiserinen” confirmed her status of absolute dominator of the international scene. The 7 times world champion reached 2’370 meters above sea level of the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe with the final time of 1h21’51 “, only 5 seconds above the course-record, leaving no possibility of reply to the opponents, ended far away from her (the 2nd is 7 minutes behind!) but that gave rise to a beautiful race for remaining podium and top five positions.

The Italian Valentina Belotti has stumbled on the classic negative day and has not been able to reject the attack by Kenyan Purity Gitonga and the Czech Pavla Schorna. For the Gitonga a more convincing race against the expert rival, which allowed her to go to take second place and grab some important points in the cup ranking. The Italian Ivana Iozzia won the 4th place resisting the attacks of the Austrian Alexandra Hauser, the two closed the race spaced just by a few seconds.

In the men’s race a more open fight with protagonists in turn some of the favorites on the eve. In the end the victory did not escape the Kenyan Gikuni Ndungu, former winner at the Grossglockner in 2017 and today able to give the decisive push to the resistance set by the more aggressive opponents, the German Anton Palzer, the Italian Francesco Puppi and the Scotsman Andy Douglas, respectively arrived at the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place.

The duel between Ndungu and Palzer was an exciting challenge, solved only in the last km when the Kenyan found the winning inspiration to get out of the stubborn company of a strong Anton Palzer. Between the two less than 30 seconds under the final line, as evidence of a balanced and compelling duel.

Behind them Puppi and Douglas seemed to follow the same script, marking themselves before the last 700 meters in which the long distance world champion was able to detach the opponent to seal his entry on the podium of Grosgglockner Berglauf.

The 5th place was for the British Chris Arthur while the Czech Jan Janu finished 6th and the Austrian Toroitich Kosgei was 7th.

The complete rankings of the Grossglockner Berglauf 2018 >>

The World Cup is now moving to Italy, on the Orobie Alps with the unprecedented test of Kilometro Verticale. It will be the PizTRiVERTIKAL of Malonno to host the 2nd round of the circuit on August 4th, while a week later it will fly to the Valais Region, in Switzerland, for the iconic Sierre-Zinal.

The world circuits will end in September and October with the Hochfelln Berglauf and the Smarna Gora.

2018 World Cup Schedule:
#1 HEILIGENBLUT (AT) 15/07/18
#2 MALONNO (IT) 04/08/18
#3 ZINAL (CH) 12/08/18
#4 BERGEN (DE) 30/09/18
#5 ŠMARNA GORA (SI) 06/10/18

Credit Photo: Damiano Benedetto /

There is also a story about the race on the IAAF website.