Announcement from the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA). The American Trail Running Association is a WMRA media partner and will be providing coverage of all sixteen events in the 2021 Mountain Running World Cup. ATRA founder Nancy Hobbs is a member of the WMRA Council. Photos: WMRA / Marco Gulberti.
La Montee du Nid d’Aigle was a highly anticipated mountain running race and it certainly didn’t disappoint. With its race hub in beautiful Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains, in the Haute-Savoie region of France, we knew it would provide a stunning setting, but pull this together with a tough course with 6,500 feet of ascent and a field of top runners and you have all the ingredients of a really fantastic mountain running race.
Blue skies greeted the runners at the start, with a few whispy clouds higher up in the mountains. Conditions were hot for the runners, particularly on the exposed parts of the course. And let’s not forget that La Montee du Nid d’Aigle is 12 miles of relentless, uphill-only running. No respite, nowhere to hide. This is mountain running.
The route would take the runners from the start at Le Fayet along the river towards St Gervais, and then to La Villette, climbing gradually. From here it heads away from the road and into the trees and begins to climb more steeply and it continues to climb relentlessly all the way up to the finish at Refuge du Nid d’Aigle at 7,850 feet. The final section gets steeper still, so when there’s nothing left in your legs, you still have to find that extra push.
With deep fields in both the men’s and women’s La Montee du Nid d’Aigle races, both podiums were wide open. Runners like Lucy Murigi (KEN), Henri Aymonod (ITA), Susanna Saapunki (FIN), Sandor Szabo (HUN) and Lucie Marsanova (CZE) had raced at Grossglockner Berglauf just last weekend. Would they have recovered fully? Similarly, Francesco Puppi (ITA) and Anais Sabrie (FRA) had done well in a very competitive Mont Blanc Marathon just two weeks before.
As expected, the flatter first few miles of the race were fast and furious and before too long gaps had opened for the men and women. Lucy Murigi had struck out into a lead over Anais Sabrie (FRA) and Christel Dewalle (FRA) and Xavrier Chevrier (ITA) and Francesco Puppi had made a break for it, but they were hotly pursued by a group including Julien Rancon (FRA), Alexandre Fine (FRA) and Henri Aymonod.
The men’s La Montee du Nid d’Aigle race remained close but Chevrier pulled away from Puppi, and the chasing runners jostled for that third place. Murigi managed to secure a good lead, but could she keep it?
It was all very close in the final stages. Chevrier took the win in the men’s race in 1.44.25 (a new course record), followed by Puppi, just over one minute behind (1.45.49). Aymonod completed the all Italian men’s podium in 1.46.44. Julien Rancon was fourth in 1.48.43 and Remi Lonchampt rounded out the top 5 in 1.50.18.
Dewalle, who is a 10 time French VK champion and excels on the steeper climbs, chased Murigi hard on the final climb, but she just couldn’t catch her. Murigi won in 2.06.08 (agonizingly, just 2 seconds outside the course record), with Dewalle just 21 seconds behind and Anais Sabrie was just a minute behind in 2.07.34. Mathilde Sagnes (FRA) was fourth in 2.08.37 and Simone Troxler fifth in 2.10.43. All in all a very close top 5, all within 4.5 minutes.
La Montee du Nid d’Aigle Podium
- Xavrier Chevrier (ITA) 1.44.25
- Francesco Puppi (ITA) 1.45.49
- Henri Aymonod (ITA) 1.46.44
- Lucy Murigi (KEN) 2.06.08
- Christel Dewalle (FRA) 2.06.29
- Anais Sabrie (FRA) 2.07.34
WMRA Mountain Running World Cup race results and athlete rankings can be found here: https://ranking.wmra.info/
About the WMRA Mountain Running World Cup:
Races take place between June 2021 and October 2021 in 8 countries. There are 12 event locations and 16 races in 3 categories: short uphill; classic mountain race; long mountain race. Runners can take part in as many races as they want, and they get points for their finishing positions. Their best 7 results in the World Cup races count towards their final ranking. The points scoring format is cumulative. Finishing positions in a WMRA World Cup race range from 100 points for first to 1 point for 30th. There are separate competitions for men and women and athletes must compete in at least two races in order to be considered in the final rankings. See full calendar for all major international mountain running races including the World Cup at: https://www.wmra.info/calendar/2021-major-events
The current, reigning World Cup champions are Sarah McCormack and Andrew Douglas.
About the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA):
Formed in 1984, we are the global governing body for mountain running and we have the goal of promoting mountain running for all ages and abilities. As well as the World Cup we organize Masters, U18 and regional championships and this year we will work in partnership with the World Athletics, International Trail Running Association (ITRA) and the International Association of Ultrarunners IAU to deliver the first World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Thailand. See more information at: www.wmra.info