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.
Stage 11 of the 2021 Mountain Running World Cup went to a venue with a difference! Instead of a traditional alpine mountain setting, Trofeo Ciolo takes place on the Ionian coast in Puglia, right down in the heel of Italy. But ‘different’ definitely doesn’t equal ‘easier’ here because this 11.7km course packs 640m of ascent and 518m of descent in almost continual climbing and descending on technical, rugged coastal paths.
On the start line we had current World Cup leaders, Charlotte Morgan (GBR) and Henri Aymonod (ITA). In both the men’s and women’s races top fields were assembled including: Petro Mamu (ERI); Geoffrey Ndungu (KEN); Alex Baldaccini (ITA); Alberto Vender (ITA); Sandor Szabo (HUN); Joyce Njeru (KEN); Lucy Murigi (KEN); Alice Gaggi (ITA); and Alessia Scaina (ITA).
As a taste of what was to come the race started with a steep, short uphill, which immediately started to spread out the field of runners. Because this first climb was on a narrow path the organizers set the women’s off 5 minutes ahead of the men, to ensure that all the women were through this first section before the first men came through. With the rest of the course being wider and allowing for easier overtaking, this measure made sure that nobody’s race was disrupted.
In the women’s race it was Njeru and Murigi who struck out from the start. By the 5km point they had opened up a small lead over Gaggi (+50sec), Scaina (+1min 25sec) and Morgan (+1min 45sec). Before the start Morgan, who sustained cuts and bruises from falls in winning the last Mountain Running World Cup race at Canfranc-Canfranc, declared that she was fully recovered from these superficial injuries and that 11km was a bit short for her, but she was going to ‘give it a go’. In the early stages she was as good as her word and staying in touch with the leaders.
For the men the top 5 were slightly closer at the same point. Mamu led it out from the start but hot on his heels were Vender, Ndungu, Baldaccini and Daniel Pattis (ITA), with around 15 seconds separating them. It looked like it was going to be a very close competition.
At the famous Ponte Ciolo at the 10km point we waited to see how the preceding 5km of rocky undulations had shaken up the field. Njeru came through first for the women, but Murigi was just 5 seconds behind her, with a bigger gap back to Gaggi and Scaini. Mamu had stretched out a lead of 50 seconds for the men, with Baldaccini, Vender and Ndungu leading the chase with just 1km to go!
Coming into the line first, (bearing in mind just over 6 minutes difference in start time in the end) it was Mamu who took the men’s win (50.22) and Njeru was just behind him, winning the women’s race (57.12). Murigi was only 9 seconds behind Njeru (57.21) and Gaggi completed the women’s podium 4 minutes behind in 1.01.17. The men’s runner up was Ndungu (51.19), with Baldaccini in 3rd (51.23).
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