TRAIL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, TRILHOS DOS ABUTRES, 44.2 km / 2200 m
The trucker caps and flannel shirts of the off road running community are as enthusiastic about big championship titles as snowboarders were back in 1998 and it’s safe to say that the Trail World Championships has a while to go before reaching Panini Sticker Album status. Having said that this years edition saw a few big cats come out to play and the team competition was the tightest one to date
The TWC alternates between long and short courses and this year the turn had come to the marathon-ish distanced Trilhos Dos Abutres in Portugal. On paper it looked like a fast and easy one but the reality served up both technical descents and steep climbs as well as fast runnable terrain which made for a bit of a tricky race to pace. The to me previously unknown runner French runner Blandine L’hirondel did not seem to have any problems with that though, she lead the women’s race from start to finish. Behind her for the first ten miles was Romanias Denisa Dragomir closely followed by a Spanish chase pack consisting of Azara Garcia and Sheila Aviles. Over the most technical part of the race New Zealand’s sky-queen Ruth Croft moved up the field and although her late kick was not enough to catch up with L’hiorondel she successfully managed to prevent a Spanish podium dominance as she crossed the finish line in second place. Aviles and Garcia ran close together until the very last km through the town of Miranda Do Corvo where Aviles found some last minute road strength and managed to bag the bronze with 25 seconds ahead of her team mate.
Fastest Brit was Charlotte Morgan who claimed 13th place in a time of 4:26:43.
Cracking international debut from Blandine L’hirondel who together with Sarah Vieuille and Adeline Roche ran home the team gold for France. Spain did not disappoint and the solid squad of Garcia, Aviles and Arenas were close behind France in the team rankings. Bronze went to Romania after brilliant performances from Denisa Dragomir and Piscu Andreea.
ITRA are promising changes for next years TWC and the rumours are that it will become a weekend of championship races over different distances with increased live coverage. Take note Panini!
1. Blandine L’hirondel (FRA) 4:06:17
2. Ruth Croft (NZ) 4:14:28
3. Sheila Aviles (ESP) 4:15:04
4. Azara Garcia (ESP) 4:15:30
5. Denisa Dragomir (ROM) 4:17:03
6. Silvia Rampazzo (ITA) 04:17:51
7. Gemma Arenas (ESP) 4:21:22
8. Aydee Loayza (PER) 4:21:50
9. Sarah Vieuille (FRA) 4:22:31
10. Adeline Roche (FRA) 4:22:31
SOUTH DOWNS WAY 100
I don’t think the previous team GB member (2017 & 18) Sarah Morwood was feeling any regrets for not donning the World Cup jersey last weekend as she excelled on the miraculously dry course of SDW 100 and claimed her 8th (!!!) Centurion trophy to date! All though Morwood finished with a two hour margin down to second lady Michelle Maxwell it was not always looking like she would end up on the top of the podium. Last years NDW winner and second lady at TP100 Ingrid Lid took an early lead and went out fast. When she reached the 22 mile checkpoint in 3:24 she had a five minute gap down to Morwood and Maxwell and continued to run strong for the first half. After an incident with a leaking bottle, a fall, increasing Achilles agony and a 2 km detour Lid decided to drop just after the 100 k mark and from that point on it was Morwoods race to the finish. Behind her Michelle Maxwell ran an impressive 100 miler debut and was never threatened by Rebecca Lane and Samantha Lloyd who were busy exchanging 3rd and 4th positions a couple of hours behind. In the end Lloyd proved to be the strongest and rounded out the women’s podium with a finishing time of 21:24:40.
The first time Sarah Morwood won this race was back in 2014 and since then she has had not just one but two incredible comeback performances, first after a bike accident in 2015 and most recently after a serious car crash last year which saw her spend the first half of 2018 in serious rehab with no running allowed. After being photographed for the trail press with her 2019 trophy last weekend she handed it back to the organisers to give to the last female finisher. What a legend.
1. Sarah Morwood 17:29
2. Michelle Maxwell 19:31
3. Samantha Lloyd 21:24
As you might have noticed I adopted that late noughties snowboarder slackery life style last week and all the recaps above are belated ones from two weeks ago, time to leave that distance past and move on to more recent field reports!
LIVIGNO SKY MARATHON 31 km / 2650 m (alternate route due to the late snow that is still remaining on the highest points)
There were not many fields to cover at the sixth instalment in this years Skyrunner series and if there would have been any they’d likely been hidden under a thick layer of snow! Just like at Mt. Awa Skyrace earlier in the year the runners were rerouted on a shorter (31 km) and less steep course cutting out the highest located Cassana ridge that was deemed to dangerous for competition and the winner from that race was back to prove just how good her early season form is.
Course record holder Elisa Desco was third at Livigno last year and seemed hungry for revenge as she went out hard on the first two climbs. She was not the only one on the hunt for redemption though and after a course long battle for the lead last year’s second lady Sheila Aviles flew down the final technical descent to the finish and beat Desco to the win with four minutes. Amazing display of recovery skills from Aviles who placed third at the World Champs the previous weekend. Young Gun Gisela Carrion was third lady to the finish in her strongest run in the series so far and Oihana Azkorbebeitia was fourth. Fifth was Holly Page who’s finally back on the scene after her foot injury and showing great promise for the rest of the season.
1. Sheila Aviles 3:52:40
2. Elisa Desco 3:56:13
3. Gisela Carrion 3:58:51
4. Oihana Azkorbebeitia 4:07:09
5. Holly Page 4:12:30
MOZART 100, 100 km / 5000 m
From one world series to another, in Austria it was time for the tenth race on the 2019 Ultra Trail World Tour calendar, the punchy but very runnable Mozart 100.
With two of the most competitive races in the UTWT year just two weeks away it was a bit thin on elites at the start line near Salzburg this Saturday. That however did not mean that the race that unfolded was without excitement. I tried my best to follow the action from my long run and it seemed like every time i updated the UTWT twitter feed there was a new leader or a new second lady or a new third lady or a new fifth lady or a new ... you get the idea ... The women in the front of the field were not only exchanging positions with a frequency as high as the rising temperature out in the alps they were also running very close to each other with no signs of any moves to break away from the field. The only name that was consistently mentioned in the top 5 throughout the day was that of American runner Sally McRae. McRae is a well experienced ultra runner who followed her win at the 100 mile distance at Tarawera with a bit of a patchy 2018. This weekend she showed all signs of being back to her old form and after running in second at the two last aid stations she caught up with Turkeys Aysen Solak on the last descent, kicked herself into winning gear and managed to create a four minute gap over the last 5 km into the finish. Behind Solak Swedish runner Colette Coumans took third in what looks like her first international race just over ten minutes behind Sally. That is a tight podium for a hilly 100 k race!
1. Sally McRae 14:38
2. Aysen Solak 14:42
3. Colette Coumans 14:49
ZUGSPITZ ULTRATRAIL 63 km / 3000 m (alternate route due to bad weather forecast)
In Germany, not too far from the turf of Amadeus it was time for one of the favourite tune up races amongst Europeans who were lucky in the UTMB ballot. Those lined up to use the usually 102 k long race along single trails in scenic alpine terrain as a training run for mountainous 100 milers later in the summer might have been a bit disappointed as this year the race had to be shortened with quiet the chunk. Due to risk of heavy showers and hail the runners signed up for the longest route were forced to drop down to the 63 km XL Trail course. The three time Transgrancanaria champion (including the 2019 race) Magdalena Laczak dominated the ladies race from the half way mark and took a 14 minute win over second lady Simone Schwarz who started the year strong with multiple wins on her local German trail circuit. Third lady six minutes behind Schwarz was Juliane Totzke.
1. Magdalena Laczak 7:29
2. Simone Schwarz 7:44
3. Juliane Totzke 7:50
BROKEN ARROW, 52 km / 3100 m
With Western States, Lavaredo Ultra Trail and Adidas Infinite Trails looming in a fortnight it is a bit of a quiet one this weekend but the biggest Skyrace in the US has managed to get a decently stacked field for it’s 50 k edition. Being located in Squaw Valley which a week later hosts Western States it makes for a good opportunity for pacers and crew teams to get a good leg stretcher ahead of their big waiting game! Megan Kimmel is back home after a couple of very successful months on the international sky running tour and is likely to want revenge on her last stop at Zegama. Seeing that the Squaw peaks are as snow laden as those of the World Sky Running series she should be well in tune for the trail conditions this weekend. Another runner who’s not one to be stopped by a bit of the white stuff is the ‘enthusiastic XC skier by winter’ and ‘ridge raver by summer’ Rory Bosio. She was third at Broken Arrow last year and it will be interesting to see how she will fare against a solid squad of blazers in her season opener. Last years Lake Sonoma and Chuckanut 50 winner Keely Henninger had an injury plagued autumn which has led to a quiet start of 2019, if she is back in full action she should be full of fuel to race hard and give Kimmel and Bosio a challenge. Big up to friend of the Round Up Vicky Burns who is currently road tripping her way to the start line in Olympic Valley! Go get em Burns!
In the UK it’s time for Race To The King and the Jurassic Coast Challenge.
IN OTHER NEWS
As previously mentioned the U.S has been plagued with late snow this year and sadly it has lead to the cancellation of the 2019 edition of Hardrock. Hopefully it will mean that the runners who were due to kiss the rock will give some star dust to other similar scrambles over the summer. Courtney Dauwalter was already prior to the cancelling of the race signed up for TDS and it’s likely that Andrea Huser and Darcy Piceu will spill over to one of the UTMB courses too.
Salomon TV has released the film showing Emelie Forsbergs successful attempt at breaking Sondre Almdahls FKT over the 445 km long trail Kungsleden in Sweden’s Lapland way above the arctic circle. It’s a good lesson in how to stay positive even in the worst of Swedish summer weather and there are plenty of stunning (though mosquito infested) fell landscapes on display.
I’m loving all the positive attention that this years Women’s World Cup in football is getting over in Europe and if you meet any h8ers then cure your fury with this column from the ever so funny Martina Hyde;