Norway’s Bugge & Kenya’s Wambui Murigi win Smarna Gora Mountain Race

Story by Alex Scolari. Photos: Damiano Benedetto. Press release written on behalf of the World Mountain Running Association.

The biceps of Johan Bugge inflates again, his “pose” under the arch of the finish-lines has now become an icon and the Norwegian today has been able to perform strongly again at the Smarna Gora in Ljubljana.

The final act of the mountain running world cup did not betray the expectations and gave a great show this morning on the hill of Saint Mary in the north of the Slovenian capital.

Over 160 athletes competed on the course of almost 10 km that presents two challenging climbs interrupted by a short but steep and technical descent that once again made the decisive watershed in the competition.

Bernard Dematteis. Photo: Damiano Benedetto

The initial attack was played by Eritrean Filimon Abraham and Italian Bernard Dematteis, with an action of great power the two took the lead and were leading with a few seconds ahead of Johan Bugge and Kenyan Geoffrey Gikuni Ndungu.

In the downhill stretch Bernard Dematteis was able to put his opponents in trouble even if Gikuni Ndungu remained incredibly glued to the Italian captain, and at the new checkpoint the positions saw Filimon in pursuit of the leading duo with 4 “, the Czech Ian Janu with 12 “and Bugge with 20”.

Everything was set for an incandescent ending, with Johan Bugge author of an exciting comeback that brought him triumphant inside the medieval castle that dominates the hill of Ljubljana, for the Norwegian champion is the second consecutive victory at Smarna Gora and the confirmation of an enviable state of form that in the last 40 days took him to the victory at the Stellina in Susa at the end of August, in the 5th place (first white athlete) at the World Championships in Canillo (Andorra) and today to seize this prestigious success in the world cup final.

Bugge’s final time was 42’33”

Johan Bugge. Photo: Damiano Benedetto

2nd place for an excellent Bernard Dematteis, 42’43” and many positive signals from the current European Champion, confirming all its athletic splendor. The 3rd place of Geoffrey Gikuni Ndungu (42’47 “) becomes fundamental for the epilogue of the world cup 2018. At the foot of the podium is Jan Janu, the Czech athlete replicates the good performance he had a week ago at Adelholzen Hochfelln Berglauf in Germany.

In the women’s race a big surprise for the final result, even if the race trend reflected exactly what the forecasts of the eve were.

The Austrian Andrea Mayr has started strong, even taking one of the first absolute positions with the boys. Once again it was the descent of Smarna Gora to be fatal. The Kenyan Lucy Wambui Murigi (pictured; top of page) was able to return close to her and stay until the final rush where the African athlete was more explosive and managed to snatch the victory in 47’51”, taking 11 seconds of margin on the adversary that ended in 48’02”. Third place for the Irish Sarah McCormack, who closes in 51’48 “.

Andrea Mayr. Photo: Damiano Benedetto

Waiting for the official rankings to be published by WMRA it’s anyway easy to preview the victories in the 2018 Mountain Running World Cup by Andrea Mayr for women and Geoffrey Gikuni Ndungu for men.

For the Austrian it’s another world cup among many others, to prove a class and an enviable estate. This year she was again the most continuous at high level throughout the course of the whole season.

For the experienced Kenyan marathon runner of the team Run2Gether is instead the first victory in the mountain running world cup, the absence of the Italian Puppi today was a great gift but Ndungu was able to capitalize it running the final as an absolute star.

In the final top positions of the cup we find for women the 2nd place of Lucy Murigi who with today’s win overcame by an handful of points Sarah McCormack. In the men’s ranking behind Ndungu there are Francesco Puppi and the Scotsman Andrew Douglas, who grabbed today a 6th place that allow him to keep his place in the top 3.

Smarna Gora 2018 Race Results are HERE. PDF version of results is HERE.

Smarna Gora race start. Photo: Damiano Benedetto

The WMRA Mountain Running World Cup Hall Of Fame
Year – Womens Champion / Mens Champion

1999 – Angela Mudge / Jono Wyatt
2000 – Angela Mudge / Antonio Molinri
2001 – Izabela Zatorska / Marco De Gasperi
2002 – Angela Mudge / Jono Wyatt
2003 – Antonella Confortola / Jono wyatt
2004 – Izabela Zatorska / Jono Wyatt
2005 – Izabela Zatorka / Jono Wyatt
2006 – Anna Pichrtova / Jono Wyatt
2007 – Anna Pichrtova / Marco Gaiardo
2008 – Anna Frost / Jono Wyatt
2009 – Iva Milesova / Jono Wyatt
2010 – Andrea Mayr / Ahmet Arslan
2011 – Lucjia Krkoc / Ahmet Arslan
2012 – Valentina Belotti / Azerya Teklay
2013 – Mateja Kosovelj / Azerya Teklay
2014 – Andrea Mayr / Petro Mamu
2015 – Sarah Tunstall / Andrew Douglas
2016 – Andrea Mayr / Petro Mamu
2017 – Alice Gaggi / Alex Baldaccini
2018 – Andrea Mayr / Geoffrey Gikuni Ndungu

2018 WMRA World Cup winner Geoffrey Gikuni Ndungu. Photo: Damiano Benedetto