World Cup FINAL - Slovenia and the race of the falling leaves

'The 39th edition of the Smarna Gora signals the end to the World Cup season in 2018 with a great international line up. 19 countries represented.'

It’s become a tradition that with the falling leaves of autumn mountain runners descend on a small village on the outskirts of Ljubljana in Slovenia. It is the 5th and final race in the 2018 World Cup of Mountain Running with 19 countries represented so athletes still have a chance to improve their World Cup position as well as their World ranking.

 

Andrea Mayr (AUT) will no doubt start as favourite in the Women’s field. She was totally dominant last week at the Hochfellnberglauf (World Cup 4) in Germany and always finishes the season strongly. She has virtually an unassailable lead for the overall World Cup title but in Mountain Running anything can happen. However it would take a winning performance from closest rivals Sarah McCormack (IRL) or Lucy Murigi (KEN) and for Andrea not to finish for this to happen. It’s a technical course and the downhill can make a big difference, Andrea says “being very focused during the descent will be a strategy given I don’t want to fall as happened before!”

It is well worth talking about both Lucy Murigi and Sarah McCormack further. Sarah has had consistent results and raced the World Cup on a regular basis so I slying in 3rd position currently. Its been a long season but she has been racing strongly in the final races. Lucy coming off the World Championships win is very strong on both the climbs and descents. She’ll be hoping to take advantage of the fast flowing course to challenge Andrea for the win. She is currently in 4th position but is aiming for a podium at the World Cup.

A1 Mayr Andrea winner

(Andrea Mayr - Austria)

Another strong contender is Michelle Maier (GER) who hasn’t yet confirmed her start but she is in 5th place so far at the World Cup. If she wants to hold this she will have to start because 6th positioned Pavla Schorna (CZE) is racing and she loves this fast and technically challenging up and down course.

The course is 10km and racers experience a unique trail with fallen leaves adding an additional challenge as they can cover rocks and be slippery. There are two main climbing sections separated by a short but rapid descent. This gives the race a unique character and is a solid test of mountain running ability. The Smarna Gora (that gives the race its name) is a small mountain that sits in the middle of fields and the racers finish inside a medieval castle at the top as they have always done in the previous 38 editions of this race.

The Men’s competition will be an interesting affair. Azaira Teklay (ERI) is the course record holder and is coming back to race after a 5 year absence. We don’t know what shape he is in but another former winner in Johan Bugge (NOR) will be on the line and after his fine 5th placed showing in Andorra at the World Championships he will be prepared to go out hard with the leaders. Expect him to set the race alight with a strong first climb. A surprise is that World Cup leader Francesco Puppi (ITA) will not be on the start line so the door is open for Geoffrey Ndungu (KEN) to take the Cup title. With final race bonus points of 15 for every starting runner he can finish as low as 7th and still take it. Andrew Douglas (GBR) sits in 3rd at the moment on the World Cup ranking and this track is one he will enjoy. He is looking to bounce back after a difficult run at the World Championships where he collapsed at the finish. He is also another runner who has supported the World Cup and this consistency could be enough to hold on to a podium position.

DSC 4224

(Johan Bugge - Norway)

However three athletes in the next Cup positions will all be on the start and so that third place could be in jeopardy. Timothy Kirui (KEN), Bernard Dematteis (ITA) and Jan Janu (CZE) are all capable of strong races. Bernard is also an excellent descender and will be trying to break the others on that section so it’s shaping up to be an exciting conclusion to the year.

Full start list

A final World Cup prize ceremony will take place following the race where the winners will be presented with the World Cup crystal globes.  Current Classification.

Former World Cup winners are:
The WMRA Mountain Running World Cup Hall Of Fame year - Women Champion / Men Champion
• 1999 - Angela Mudge / Jonathan Wyatt
• 2000 - Angela Mudge / Antonio Molinri
• 2001 - Izabela Zatorska / Marco De Gasperi
• 2002 - Angela Mudge / Jonathan Wyatt
• 2003 - Antonella Confortola / Jonathan Wyatt
• 2004 - Izabela Zatorska / Jonathan Wyatt
• 2005 - Izabela Zatorka / Jonathan Wyatt
• 2006 - Anna Pichrtova / Jonathan Wyatt
• 2007 - Anna Pichrtova / Marco Gaiardo
• 2008 - Anna Frost / Jonathan Wyatt
• 2009 - Iva Milesova / Jonathan Wyatt
• 2010 - Andrea Mayr / Ahmet Arslan
• 2011 - Lucjia Krkoc / Ahmet Arslan
• 2012 - Valentina Belotti / Azerya Teklay
• 2013 - Mateja Kosovelj / Azerya Teklay
• 2014 - Andrea Mayr / Petro Mamu
• 2015 - Sarah Tunstall / Andrew Douglas
• 2016 - Andrea Mayr / Petro Mamu
• 2017 - Alice Gaggi / Alex Baldaccini
• 2018 - ??

The WMRA Web Site : http://wmra.info

The World Cup Page : http://wmra.info/world-cup

Current World Cup Classification :  Current Classification.

Current World Rankings:  (Current ranking link showing top 10 M/F).

smarna gora Profile2

Smarna Gora race profile

smarna gora Map

Smarna Gora race map

Images credit : Smarna Gora Race

 

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