Race Report: Poland’s Tatra SkyMarathon

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 / @adriankasniar @ralpuofficial_media.

This year’s WMRA Mountain Running World Cup is more international than ever, with races in 12 locations in 8 countries across Europe and the United States. Poland is making its debut as a World Cup destination in 2021 but it’s definitely making a good impression. It was the destination for race 1 at Tatra Race Run in June and now race 4 at yesterday’s Tatra SkyMarathon.

Photo: @adriankasniar @ralpuofficial_media

Tatra SkyMarathon is one of this year’s Mountain Running World Cup’s 6 long distance mountain races, at 25 miles with 10,800 feet of ascent. That ascent comes in two huge climbs, so the runners had two relentless 3300 foot uphills to deal with, followed by 3300 foot descents on a mix of terrain ranging from forest tracks to rocky, technical mountain paths.

Both the men’s and women’s fields were wide open, with a real mix of experience among the athletes. There were runners like Charlotte Morgan (GBR), Raul Criado (ESP) and Iwona Januszyk (POL) who’d already achieved success at June’s Tatra Race Run. Other top contenders included runners who finished in the top 5 at last year’s Tatra SkyMarathon like Peter Frano (POL) and Andrzej Witek (POL) as well as runners who were hot on the heels of recent success at other races like Marcela Vasinova (CZE) who finished 2nd at at last weeks DoloMyths Run. This was really anybody’s race.

Tatra SkyMarathon

Race winner Peter Frano (Slovakia). Photo: @adriankasniar @ralpuofficial_media.

The conditions were hot and humid, which made it difficult for the runners, but at least the skies were clear so the runners could appreciate the stunning course. The conditions led to some high profile DNFs, particularly in the women’s race where we lost Polish runners Iwona Januszyk, Miroslawa Witowska and Dominika Stelmach, all of whom were expected to feature highly.

In the early stages of the men’s race a breakaway group formed fairly quickly once the long, first ascent began. This group included Peter Frano (Slovakia), Andrzej Witek (POL), Raul Criado (POL) and Kamil Lesniak (POL), with Dariusz Marek (POL) and Marcin Swierc (POL) also in contention. A small group also started to pull away in the women’s race. It included Katarzyna Solinska (POL), Charlotte Morgan (GBR), Katarzyna Jakiela-Rzadkosz (POL), Marcela Vasinova (CZE) and Dominika Stelmach.

By the first timing point at around 11 miles, Raul Criado had broken into a lead in the men’s race. But he was hotly pursued by Miroslav Hrasko (SVK) and Peter Frano, just 1 minute 40 behind. At this stage in the women’s race Marcela Vasinova had struck out and held a 3 minute lead over the chasing Katarzyna Solinska and Charlotte Morgan, who were neck and neck.

The field then began the second climb of 3300 feet, and subsequent descent, and this really shook up the men’s top 3. By the second timing point, just after 18 miles, Peter Frano had not only taken the lead, but he had stretched it out to 5 minutes over Andrzej Witek, with Raul Criado 2 minutes back from him. The women’s top 3 hadn’t changed but the gaps between them had, with 9 minutes now separating Marcela Vasinova (who was by now in 10th overall) and Katarzyna Solinska, then a further 9 minutes to Charlotte Morgan. Would the positions change in the final, flatter run in to the finish?

Tatra SkyMarathon

Race winner Marcela Vasinova (CZE). Photo: @adriankasniar @ralpuofficial_media.

Peter Frano managed to keep that gap of 4 minutes and he won the men’s race in 4 hours, 30 minutes and 18 seconds. Andrzej Witek also held onto 2nd (4:34.39) and Raul Criado put in a gritty performance to finish 3rd in 4:39.45. He managed to hold off Miroslav Hrasko, who was 4th (4:41.55). Kamil Lesniak (POL) rounded out the top 5 for the men.

The podium positions didn’t change for the women either, with Marcela Vasinova winning in 5 hours, 2 minutes and 8 seconds, Katarzyna Solinska 2nd in 5:12.36 and Charlotte Morgan 3rd in 5:23.11. Katarzyna Wilk (POL) was 4th in 5:25.03 and Iren Tiricz (HUN) 5th in 5:31.41. All great performance in humid, energy-sapping conditions.

Tatra SkyMarathon

Tatra SkyMarathon men’s top 5 finishers.

View the full Tatra SkyMarathon race results at: https://bgtimesport.pl/online/open/zaw_id/502/bieg/TSM

The current Mountain Running World Cup standings will be updated soon and available at: https://www.wmra.info/results/wmra-grand-prix-world-cup

See all the latest mountain running results and the current Mountain Running World Ranking here: https://ranking.wmra.info/

The next stop in the 2021 Mountain Running World Cup is Sierre-Zinal in Switzerland on August 7th.

Tatra SkyMarathon

Tatra SkyMarathon women’s top 5 finishers.

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 World Cup races 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. More information at: www.wmra.info

Photo: @adriankasniar @ralpuofficial_media.

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