Giir di Mont: First Double-Header of the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup
For the first time since 2019, the Mountain Running world will descend on Premana, Italy this weekend for the 28th edition of Giir di Mont.
After a 2 year break due to the pandemic, the classic Italian endurance test is back, and it's better than ever! With the addition of a brand new Uphill race, incorporating the Italian National Championships, mountain runners from 14 countries will go toe to toe over 2 days of incredible racing in the beautiful mountains to the east of Lake Como.
With double Gold Label status in the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup, this weekend could see a massive shakeup in the standings as the series moves towards its halfway point.
The racing gets underway on Saturday 30th with the brand new Giir di Mont Uphill, a 9km, 1,050m+ test starting in Premana and finishing at Alpe Solino. Lulling the runners into a false sense of security with a relatively gentle start, the course turns into something for the real uphill specialists, climbing 400m in its final 1.2 kilometres.
The people of Premana are passionate about mountain running; 500 local volunteers and many more supporters draw athletes back to these mountains year after year. Condense all that fervour into a short uphill course and you have a guarantee of a phenomenal atmosphere!
Then on Sunday it's Giir di Mont. A 32km tour of the 12 pastures above Premana, the race alternates hard climbs with even harder descents, accumulating 2,400m of climbing and descending, the most of any race in the World Cup this year. Having its first 5 editions in the early 1960s and a brief revival in the late 1980s, the race was resurrected for good in 1999 and has attracted top mountain runners from around the world ever since, even hosting the World Mountain Running Long Distance Championship in 2017. Ricardo Mejía, Kilian Jornet and Marc Lauenstein, Kasie Enman, Laetitia Roux and Ruth Croft have all been winners at Giir di Mont.
Which names will be added to that list in 2022?
Giir di Mont Uphill
Unsurprisingly, there will be a very strong group of Italian runners on the start line in Premana.
Cesare Maestri will look to add the Italian uphill title to the European uphill title he won in La Palma, while Xavier Chevrier tries to make it a pair of Italian championship wins after taking first place in the Up and Down race at Gazzaniga in June. Alberto Vender and Hannes Perkman, both top 5 in that race, will be on the startline here, as will Andrea Rostan who took a podium place at Montemuro Vertical Run in June.
All 3 of the women's medallists from last month's Up and Down Italian championship will be in the race; Francesco Ghelfi, who also won the Italian long distance title at Trofeo Nasego last year, Sara Bottarelli, 4th at the Up and Down race at the European Championships, and Alessia Scaini. If they want to add more silverware to their collections they will have to contend with Alice Gaggi, World and European medallist and one of the most consistent performers in the sport.
But the Italians won't have it all their own way; an international field packed with big names will be out to spoil the party.
There's a strong Kenyan contingent, with Patrick Kipngeno, the standout men's performer of the World Cup so far, joined on the startline by his Run2gether teammates Philemon Kiriago and Geoffrey Ndungo, as well as the Atletica Saluzzo pair of Lengen Lolkurraru and Eric Muthoni. There are World Championship medallists in Raul Criado of Spain and Marek Chrascina of Czech Republic, and current and past European champions Sylvain Cachard of France and Jacob Adkin of the UK. Ireland's Zak Hannah will be looking to follow up on the strong performance which saw him narrowly missed out on a medal at the European Championship. There are a number of up and comers in the race too, including Junior European champion Lukas Ehrle of Germany.
Defending World Cup champion Joyce Njeru of Kenya, undefeated so far this year, will lead the charge in the women's race. She's joined by 3 further World Cup winners in Sarah McCormack, Andrea Mayr and Sarah Tunstall, of Ireland, Austria and GB respectively. There's also 2 time World Champion Lucy Murigi and recent European medallists Scout Adkin from the UK and Madalina Florea from Romania. Finland's Susanna Saapunki and Slovenia's Mojka Kilogar, who have both shown fine form with top 10 performances in the World Cup this year, will also be on the startline.
Giir di Mont
Lucy Murigi will be making the most of the weekend's racing, coming back for a second outing after Saturday's Uphill. Romania's Ingrid Mutter will look to repeat her 2016 victory in Premana, while Fabiola Conti has looked great over long distances this season, taking 5th at Zegama-Aizkorri and 7th at Mont Blanc Marathon. Martina Bilora and Chiara Giovando both come into the race on great form after recent wins at Resegup and Aosta-Becca di Nona respectively. Finally, the American Hilary Gerardi, winner of Trofeo Kima in 2018, will be right at home on the course's steepest, roughest sections.
In the men's race there are previous winners in Eritrea's Petro Mamu, Ionuț Zincă of Romania and the great Mexican Ricardo Mejía. Martin Dematteis will look to improve on the 6th place he achieved in 2013, while Daniel Antonioli will attempt to move up from the 3rd step of the podium which he occupied in both 2018 and 2019. Criado, Lolkurraru and Muthomi will all hope there is something left in their legs as they attempt the double, while local runners Lorenzo Beltrami, Andrea Rota and Mattia Gianola have all had recent results which indicate they could be a factor here.
We expect a great weekend full of amazing performances. The World Cup's two days in Premana will be a highlight of the season.
World Cup standings going into this weekend's races can be found here.