Mayr and Kipngeno Excel at Vertical Nasego

The following article was written by Kirsty Reade for the World Mountain Running Association and features the results from Valsir Mountain Running World Cup’s Vertical Nasego on Saturday, September 2. Featured photo by Marco Gulberti.

Today the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup headed back to Italy for the first day of a full weekend of racing at Casto, Italy. The double header of Vertical Nasego and Trofeo Nasego has always delivered a non-stop, exciting weekend of mountain running and this year is proving no exception.

Pre-race favorites

After some epic duels between Andrea Mayr (AUT), Philaries Kisang (KEN) and Scout Adkin (GBR) for the women and Patrick Kipngeno (KEN) and Philemon Kiriago (KEN) for the men in this year’s prominent vertical uphill races, anticipation was already high. Throw in some perennial Italian champions like Valentina Belotti, Camilla Magliano, Henri Aymonod and Andrea Rostan, as well as younger athletes having a breakthrough year like Anna Gibson (USA), Christian Allen (USA) and Joe Steward (GBR), and we had the prospect of some really thrilling racing on our hands.

The runners took on the 4.3k Vertical Nasego course with 1000m of ascent. Starting in Casto, the runners began climbing on roads and good trails before the mountain path became ever steeper and more technical as it wound its way to the finish line. Conditions were warm, but a few clouds in the sky made it near perfect for the runners.

Anna Gibson (USA) on course at Vertical Nasego. Photo: Jonathan Wyatt

Women’s race

It was no surprise to see Mayr taking the race out right from the start. Not only is she clearly in form this year, with wins at the World Championships, Piz Tri Vertical and Challenge Stellina, she is a legend in this race. She won in 2019, setting the course record of 38.39, and in 2021 and 2022. Mayr is also the only woman to have run under 40 minutes here.

As we’ve seen so many times this year, it was Kisang who led the chasing pack behind Mayr. But it never looked like she would catch Mayr and she definitely wasn’t assured of second as Adkin was right on her heels the whole time.

The battle for second and third was going to be the really exciting race here, as Mayr stretched out her lead. With 200m of the climb to go Susanna Saapunki (FIN) sat a little way behind Adkin, with Gibson chasing Saapunki hard. In the mix at this point we also had Joyce Muthoni (KEN), Sara Willhoit (GBR) and (former three-time winner here) Valentina Belotti (ITA). With 100m of ascent to go Mayr remained firmly in charge, but Kisang and Adkin were still neck-and-neck.

As expected Mayr took the win in 38.06, a new course record here! Kisang eventually won the battle for second, finishing in 40.27, just managing to hold off Adkin who took third in 40.35.

Top three women at Vertical Nasego. Photo: Marco Gulberti

Women’s top 5

1. Andrea Mayr (AUT) – 38.06 (new course record)
2. Philaries Kisang (KEN) – 40.27
3. Scout Adkin (GBR) – 40.35
4. Susanna Saapunki (FIN) – 41.23
5. Anna Gibson (USA) – 42.15

Men’s race

Just as we expected to see Mayr control the race from the start, we’ve also become accustomed to Kipngeno doing the same in the men’s races this year. He took it out from the gun and, just like in the women’s race, the fight became for second and third, although it did seem at times that Kipngeno may be reeled in.

With 200m of the climb to go Kipngeno did have a significant gap. It was Steward, fresh from winning Challenge Stellina last weekend, in second, with Kiriago in third, but neck-and-neck with Christian Allen (USA) who was runner-up at Stellina to Steward.

Vertical Nasego 100 meters to finish. Photo: Jonathan Wyatt

At the ‘100m of climb to go’ sign point, Kipngeno remained in the lead, but there were lots of position changes behind him. Allen had passed both Kiriago and Steward to move into second, but Steward remained right on his shoulder. Luciano Rota (ITA) and Rostan had also passed Kiriago and the battle for the top five was on.

Kipngeno just couldn’t be caught and he won in 34.25. In the end his buffer was reduced to 37 seconds and it was Allen who took second place (35.01), with Steward just 7 seconds behind him in 35.08.

Kipngeno takes the win at Vertical Nasego. Photo: Marco Gulberti

Men’s top 5

1. Patrick Kipngeno (KEN) – 34.25
2. Christian Allen (USA) – 35.01
3. Joe Steward (GBR) – 35.08
4. Luciano Rota (ITA) – 35.37
5. Philemon Kiriago (KEN) – 35.48
Full results can be found here.

Top three men at Vertical Nasego. Photo: Marco Gulberti

World Cup standings

It was certain that this weekend would have a significant impact on the World Cup. The full effect will be realized after tomorrow’s race, but today Muthoni added to her lead in the women’s competition. She is now 48 points ahead of Kisang. Adkin remains in third, having added to her tally significantly, but Mayr leapfrogs Murigi into fourth, just 10 points behind Adkin. In the men’s competition Kipngeno has closed the gap on Kiriago to just 10 points! It’s going to come down to the wire this year. Behind them Rostan added to his tally to remain in third place and Steward jumps from seventh to fourth, just 16 points behind Rostan now.
See the World Cup results here.

Trofeo Nasego

On Sunday, September 3, the start time for Trofeo Nasego for both men and women is 9.30am. See the full program.