The following article was written by Kirsty Reade for the World Mountain Running Association and features Valsir Mountain Running World Cup’s Trofeo Nasego on Sunday, September 3, in Casto, Italy. Featured photo by Marco Gulberti.
After an exciting Vertical Nasego yesterday, which saw Mayr and Kipngeno retain their crowns, today it was the turn of Trofeo Nasego in this year’s Valsir Mountain Running World Cup. This was the next long mountain race of the World Cup at 21k and many of the athletes who competed yesterday were back to compete on the longer distance, up and down race.
Trofeo Nasego – a classic mountain race
Trofeo Nasego has traditionally delivered exciting racing over the years, with its fast and mainly runnable course. Now in its 22nd edition, it is a classic of the mountain running circuit. From the start in Castro at 400m it climbs steadily for the first 6km, before flattening off for 6k, before the big climb up to Rifugio Nasego at 1311m, then a steep descent and slight final climb to Famea for the finish.
Last year’s winners, Andrea Mayr (AUT) and Patrick Kipngeno (KEN), who both successfully defended their titles yesterday at Vertical Nasego, were back again to try to repeat this feat.
We knew that Christian Allen (USA) would be an exciting runner to watch. A 28.36 10k runner who is also capable of winning a 50k trail ultra (Speedgoat) in addition to coming a close second to Kipngeno in a vertical uphill race (as he showed yesterday). What could he do over 21k? It was Allen who took the race out from the gun, with Philemon Kiriago (KEN), second here last year to Kipngeno, on his heels and a chasing pack just behind.
By the 4km mark Kiriago, recent winner of Sierre Zinal and second in the classic race in the World Championships, was stamping his authority on this race and had established a 5 second lead over Allen. Behind them Patrick Kipngeno (KEN) lay 18 seconds back, followed by a group including Xavier Chevrier (ITA), Cesare Maestri (ITA) and Alejandro Garcia Carrillo (ESP). At the 11k point, prior to the athletes tackling the big climb up to Rifugio Nasego, Kiriago still held the lead. It was all going to come down to that climb and descent.
Kiriago reached Rifugio Nasego neck and neck with Kipngeno, who had by now overtaken Allen, but Kiriago emerged from this section of the race in the lead, flying down the descent, having increased his lead to a minute. Allen lay just behind Kipngeno in third, with Maestri and Chevrier chasing in fourth and fifth respectively.
Kipngeno chased hard but Kiriago couldn’t be caught, eventually winning in 1.31.00 with Kipngeno clocking 1.31.45 for second. Allen couldn’t quite close the gap on them, but held onto third place (1.32.33) and then there was a significant gap between the top three and Maestri in fourth and Chevrier in fifth.
Men’s top five
1. Philemon Kiriago (KEN) 1.31.00
2. Patrick Kipngeno (KEN) 1.31.45
3. Christian Allen (USA) 1.32.33
4. Cesare Maestri (ITA) 1.34.43
5. Xavier Chevrier (ITA) 1.36.17
Full men’s results here.
Madalina Florea (ROU), who just a few weeks ago led Sierre Zinal in a gutsy display of front running only to fade in the second half, took control again here right from the start. She led the runners out, initially with Joyce Muthoni (KEN), and seemed determined to establish a decent gap from early on.
By 4km Florea had succeeded in opening a gap of 15 seconds and it was Philaries Kisang (KEN) who was leading the chase. At this point Mayr was 30 seconds back, with Muthoni and Scout Adkin (GBR) just behind.
At the 11k point, just before the runners embark on the initially gradual but then very steep climb up to Rifugio Nasego, Florea remained firmly in charge having now opened a gap of one minute on the next runner, Muthoni. Behind them Kisang and Mayr were now together.
Could Florea’s significant buffer be reduced or was she now out of reach? The climb and subsequent descent was going to decide this race and the podium was very open, with runners changing position constantly.
It was no surprise to see Mayr climb strongly, reducing the gap to Florea and indeed catching her, with Muthoni and Kisang just behind. At this point the top five women were all close together, starting the descent with little between them. Mayr led briefly but it was Florea who emerged at the bottom of the descent first, with a narrow lead of 15 seconds on Mayr. Muthoni was a minute behind.
Agonizingly for Florea, Mayr passed her in the final 2k to take the win in 1.46.06. Florea was 47 seconds behind (1.46.52), then there was a gap to Muthoni, who completed the podium in 1.48.33. Kisang held onto fourth and Susanna Saapunki (FIN) came through for fifth.
Women’s top five
1. Andrea Mayr (AUT) 1.46.06
2. Madalina Florea (ROU) 1.46.52
3. Joyce Muthoni (KEN) 1.48.33
4. Philaries Kisang (KEN) 1.49.44
5. Susanna Saapunki (FIN) 1.50.06
15. Anna Gibson (USA) 1.58.52
Full women’s results here.
World Cup Standings
After this weekend’s racing here’s how the positions at the top of the World Cup standings shape up:
1. Joyce Muthoni 248 points
2. Philaries Kisang 190 points
3. Andrea Mayr 190 points
4. Scout Adkin 156 points
5. Lucy Murigi 113 points
1. Philemon Kiriago 250 points
2. Patrick Kipngeno 230 points
3. Andrea Rostan 106 points
4. Joe Steward 90 points
5. Henri Aymonod 84 points
Next Valsir Mountain Running World Cup Race
Next weekend, it is off to Canfranc-Canfranc in the Aragonese Pyrenees for the next vertical uphill race on September 8, and the next classic mountain race on September 10. Find full information about the races here.