The following release was written by Kirsty Reade for the World Mountain Running Association and is focused on this weekend’s competition in Italy – July 15 and 16 – the next stages in the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup. Photos by Marco Gulberti.
Fittingly, the venue for the next two Gold Label races is Malonno. Dubbed ‘the village of mountain running,’ the region is celebrating 60 years of competition with US Malonno and Fletta Trail this year, making it one of the oldest mountain running competitions in the world.
As well as Fletta Trail on Sunday, the next classic race at 21km with 1,100m of ascent, the next short uphill race will be held on Saturday with Piz Tri Vertical. This race has also seen its fair share of mountain running history, with many of the greats of the sport competing over this 3.4km race with 1,000 meters of ascent.
Athletes from 20 countries will be arriving in Malonno, eager to challenge for the World Cup points and the prestige of competing for the titles in this historic year for the event. With the depth of both the women’s and men’s events this year, a real shake-up in the World Cup standings could occur. On the start line will be former winners, six of the individual medalists from the recent World Mountain and Trail Running Championships and a host of young up-and-coming athletes in action. Could it be a year when records fall?
The program for the weekend opens on Friday evening with the presentation of the athletes and a screening of a documentary about the race, to mark and celebrate its 60 year milestone. Then Piz Tri Vertical will kick off the racing on Saturday morning.
Piz Tri Vertical
Runners start at Moscio at 820 metres and then climb relentlessly up to Malga Campel at 1,820 metres on the slopes of Piz Tri. This perfect finish position offers panoramic views for the spectators, as well as a brutal, steep, grassy final section for runners, who will find themselves using their hands as well as their feet.
In the women’s race there will be a rematch of the recent World Championships duel between Philaries Kisang (KEN) and Andrea Mayr (AUT). Will we see another incredibly close race, as we did in Innsbruck? Or will Mayr’s knowledge of this course and how to execute the perfect race here – she is a five-time winner and record holder (37.20) – make her unbeatable?
But there will be a very strong women’s field challenging them both. Scout Adkin (SCO) comes into this race straight off a win at Montemuro Vertical Run two weeks ago, plus an eighth place finish in the short uphill race at the World Championships. Joyce Njeru (KEN) was second at Montemuro, third at the classic race in the World Championships and is our reigning women’s World Cup champion from 2022.
Valentina Belotti (ITA) was the champion here in 2016 and she will be looking for another victory on home turf. Other women expected to feature include Lucy Murigi (KEN) Andie Cornish (USA), Sarah Carter (USA), Maddalena Somà (ITA), Vivien Bonzi (ITA), Betty Bergstrand (ENG), Adele Blaise-Sohinus (CAN), Eve Pannone (ENG), Celia Powell (ENG), Emma Clayton (ENG), Katie Lord (ENG), and Eden O’Dea (WAL).
The men’s field is just as competitive and the record holder (33.38) and last year’s winner, Andrea Rostan (ITA), will be there to defend his title off the back of his win at the Broken Arrow VK a month ago. But the unstoppable newly crowned World Champion of the short uphill race, Patrick Kipngeno (KEN) certainly won’t take it easy on him. Just as hotly tipped will be Henri Aymonod (ITA), the short uphill king. Timotej Becan (SLO) was fourth here in 2021 and 2022. Can he go one better and get on the podium?
Philemon Kiriago (KEN) burst onto the scene last year and finished second here. He will definitely be one to watch. Also expected to feature in the men’s race are Filemon Abraham (GER), Alric Petit (FRA), Italians Andrea Elia, Marco Moletto, Max Farcoz, Damiano Pedretti and Alex Baldaccini, Ephantus Njeri (KEN), Marek Chraschina (CZE), French runners Sylvain Cachard and Bastien Racineux, and lastly the British runners Joe Steward, Harry Bolton, Jake Collier and Cynog Williams.
Year after year Fletta Trail attracts some of the best mountain runners in the world and delivers some of the most exciting racing in our calendar. The course is spectacular and challenging, with long climbs and descents. The runners start in Malonno at 525m and then climb steadily for 4km until they reach 960m. At that point they then have the respite of 1km of downhill, before beginning the long haul up the highest point in the race – 1,271m – over the course of 6km. Then there’s just the small matter of a fast and furious 7km descent to decide the race.
In the women’s race Joyce Njeru, current course record holder (1.38.44) and champion in 2021, will be back to race the champion of 2022, Andrea Mayr! But as with the previous day of racing, there is huge depth in this field. Philaries Kisang is new to the race but will definitely be one to watch, as will Scout Adkin. Other women doubling up at Piz Tri Vertical and Fletta Trail include Vivien Bonzi, Andie Cornish, Sarah Carter, Lucy Murigi, Emma Clayton and Maddalena Somà.
In addition to those runners who have ‘warmed up’ with the previous day’s race we will also see at Fletta Trail: Monica Madalina Florea (ROU), 6th at the classic race at the recent World Championships; Elisa Sortini (ITA), 2020 winner; Sara Bottarelli (ITA), 2016 winner; Susanna Saapunki (FIN); Alessia Scaini (ITA); Lucie Marsanova (CZE); and Norwegian Eli Anne Dvergsdal, former winner of Zegama. According to the organizers this is the strongest women’s field they have ever had for Fletta Trail in terms of depth, number of titles and pure quality. It will be an unmissable race.
The man to beat will be the Kenyan Patrick Kipngeno, World Champion of short uphill in 2022 and 2023 and winner of the 2022 Valsir World Cup. Defending his record (1.25.26, set in 2019) will be Cesare Maestri (ITA) but two athletes who will no doubt be snapping at their heels are Philemon Kiriago and Philimon Abraham. As the silver and bronze medalists respectively in the classic race in the recent World Championships, and in Kiriago’s case defending champion of Fletta Trail, they are expected to challenge.
Other runners doubling up with Piz Tri Vertical include Sylvain Cachard, who memorably dominated the race for 20km in 2020 before Francesco Puppi overtook him in the final straight, Henri Aymonod, Marek Chraschina, Andrea Rostan and Timotej Becan. Ephantus Njeri will also double up and as a newer Kenyan athlete to join the Run2gether team, it will be interesting to see how his 28.26 10k PB translates to the mountains. Finally, strong Italians Luciano Rota, Jacopo Brasi, Marco Moletto, Luca Merli, Marco Filosi and Hannes Perkman are also expected to feature. A truly epic line-up of athletes to celebrate the 60th anniversary of this historic race.
Valsir Mountain Running World Cup
With many runners riding high in the World Cup standings at the moment taking part here, in addition to the fact that many runners are starting their World Cup campaigns here with the opportunity to double up over two races, this weekend could really shake up the World Cup. Current standings.
Watch Piz Tri Vertical and Fletta Trail Live
Full live streaming coverage will bring Malonno’s action to your TV, laptop, mobile or tablet. The races will be live on the local TV “TELEBOARIO” on SAT CHANNEL 81, and on the web at these links:
or download the app:
Mac and iPhone