Cajsa brings you all the news from the trails:
Don't call it a comeback
But 'tis a new year
Elites are sportin new gear
Mortals have UTMB ballot fear
Head-Torch-sweat rain down like a monsoon
2019's starting-guns go boom …
In other less rappinghoody words it is time to open the trail race planner for 2019 and dust of the crystal running sphere cause a social grid full of new sponsorship deals, Strava Podcast trailers and S/C sessions can only mean one thing, OFF SEASON IS SO LAST SEASON, get ready to shred!
In the U.S things kicked off big already last weekend with Bandera 100, the first of five Altra Golden Ticket Races where the two fastest runners are rewarded with much coveted entries to WS100. Due to a spate of very British weather over the dusty trails of Texas this classic 100 k race had to be moved to an alternate location and was ran on an entirely new course. Brittany Peterson who we got to know through her frequent top 5 positioning in last years Skyrunner World Series races had quiet the season opener and won the race in 9:26. A time that placed her as 7th runner on the Overall rankings. Second lady to grab a ticket to Squaw (in her 100 k debut!) and 8th person over the finish line in 9:37 was Ladia Albertson Junkans. In third place with another sub 10 finish was Kathryn Drew.
Gran Canaria is a hot winter destination for European trail runners who are seeking temporary refuge from the mud and snow cover of the northern continent. On saturday both lucky locals and frequent island visitors can take on the rocky route of the 51 k long Artenara Trail. This has become something of a warm up race for the bigger Transgrancanaria weekend in February and the mens starting field is star studded with US runners like Hayden Hawks and Timothy Olssen who I am assuming are eager to test their winter pale legs ahead of TGC. Sadly the women's race is lacking on similarly big names this year. I did not see Ashley Hawks in the list of registered runners but I am still keeping my fingers crossed that she might make a last minute decision to join her other half on the starting line and with that give him and the local chicas some serious competition!
In the UK, as per usual, the new ultra trail year kicks off for real with the hard core Montane Spine Race - for the gritters up north, and the "pub shuffle" also known as Country to Capital for the city slickers down sarff.
The 2019 edition of the "somewhat" insane 286 mile long Spine Race has 26 women on the starting list, that might seem like tiny digits but it is a big jump in numbers from the previous years. Former champion and record holder Carol Morgan is one of them as is Jen Scotney who finished third in 2018. Another lass with legs and experience to challenge them both is Jasmin Paris. She has not only a win (and 2nd OA) at Dragons Back in her resume, she is also a record holder for, hold on to your trucker caps; the Bob Graham-, Paddy Buckley- and Ramsay Rounds. You can read all about her preparation for this monumental challenge via the link below:
And if you want to follow the race as it unfolds you're in for a dot twitching delight here; http://live.thespinerace.com/
A more humble choice for a season starter is the 45 mile long and pancake flat Country 2 Capital along the Grand Union Canal. I have not been able to find a list of registered runners but last year the women's race was won by Gemma Carter closely followed by Cat Simpson and with both of them being locals I am guessing they might be back to battle it out for the 2019 trophy.
In other news, and as mentioned earlier in the round up the people behind Strava has started a rather brilliant podcast, it is hosted by the amazing Hillary Allen and tell the stories of both known and unknown athletes in the world of running and cycling. Have a listen to Athletes Unfiltered by following the link below;
UTMB released their first list of elite runners for 2019's races this week and it is looking pretty interesting! Lots of European veterans are back for the mother race, Caroline Chaverot, Nuria Picas and Emelie Lecomte are amongst them. American Kaci Lickteig will be back for her third Mont Blanc circuit and Chamonix resident Mimmi Kotka is returning for revenge on last years injury induced DNF. Noteworthy rookies are the chinese CCC champion Miao Yao and TDS and Ultra Perineu winner Ekaterina Mityaeva.
The list of CCC runners is looking like a very competitive one as well featuring both before mentioned Brittany Peterson, WS100 runner up Lucy Bartholomew, Lavaredo champion Kelly Wolf and last but not least UK skyrunning queen Holly Page! PHOARRRR!
The more technical TDS has attracted American Hilllary Allen who will no doubt be giving the 2018 champion and home girl Audrey Tanguy a run for the trophy. Kathrin Gotz is back for revenge on last years DNF and both Holly Rush and Sophie Grant are stepping down from UTMB to try out the all new TDS route. That's right, the 2019 edition of this race has an added 20 k and 2000 k of vertical gain making it a 145 k, 9100 m + route from Courmayeur to Chamonix. OCC is looking like the race with the least big names so far and if there aren't any big additions later in the year it will likely be a battle between Ruth Croft and Anna Mae Flynn. Aaaaanyway more about that later in the year. For now fingers crossed for all the braves who have entered the ballot! May the yeti force be with you!
Ok, this is meant to be road running, but those marathon road-runners are still getting over Christmas (except in China), so it’s off to cross country with us this week:
62° CAMPACCIO CROSS INTERNATIONAL CROSS COUNTRY (6km)
The first international cross country meet of the year was won by Yasemin Can, one of the much-commented-on group of Kenyans who are running for Turkey. Politics aside, Can went through the first lap with the lead pack in 6:32, drawing away in the second lap to win by 12s. She appears to have enjoyed the very dry track-like conditions and says she plans to run the next Cross Country race in Seville on the 20th Jan. If you do a bit of online research on Can, it becomes clear that her national allegiance is a matter of much debate. Her Wiki page seems to make a big deal of the fact that she never competed professionally for Kenya and is part of a Turkish athletics club and yet articles from 2016 (when she first switched nationality) are rather brusque in their tone when noting that at that point, she was still living and training in Kenya and had indeed run for her country. Can won gold in the women's 10,000 m and 5,000m at the 2017 European Athletics U23 Championships. 2018 seems to have been a harder year for her with some ‘physical issues’, though she finished on a high in Dec when she won ‘her third successive senior women's gold at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg. She is the first woman to win the title on three occasions. (ref: YeniSafak). Only 5 athletes ran this race who were not Italian and 4 of those were in the top 5. Italy’s first finisher was Sara Dossena - a 2:27 marathon runner and member of team Nike. (Instagram @sara_dossena)
Full results here
1 Yasemin Can (TUR) 19:21
2 Silenat Ysmaw (ETH) 19:37
3 Caroline Chepkemoi (KEN) 19:46
4 Lonah Chemtai Salpeter (ISR) 19:58
5 Sara Dossena (ITA) 20:24
6 Nadia Battocletti (ITA) 20:51
IAAF report here
Hurrah! A chinese marathon where we can actually get the results off their website. Excellent. It’s also the first IAAF gold label race of 2019, just in case you wondered.
Ethiopia’s 21 year old Medina Deme Armino won her fourth marathon in a row in 2:27:25 improving her PB yet again. She also made it an Ethiopian double as her compatriot Dejene Debela won the men’s race. In fact, the podium in both male and female races was entirely taken up by Ethiopian runners. Not a bad start to the year for them then!
It sounds like it was a good race to watch near the end and Inermu, who is faster on paper, duked it out with Armino, trying to pull away at 41k. The youngster held on and surged ahead with 700m to go to take the win by 20s.
Medina Deme Armino, ETH, 2:27:25
Shasho Insermu, ETH, 2:27:42
Fantu Jimma, ETH, 2:29:55
Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza - IAAF Cross Country, Elgoibar, Spain
10K Valencia Ibercaja - IAAF Bronze Label Road Races, Valencia, Spain
IAAF Antrim International Cross Country - IAAF Cross Country, Antrim, GB & NI
Northern Ireland International Cross Country -IAAF Cross Country, Belfast (GBR), GB & NI