WMTRC: Many Nations Shine in Long and Short Trail
Day 2 of the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships saw the Trail races play out in style in the hills to the west of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
First off at 6:30 a.m. local time were the Long Trail athletes, who were to tackle 78km and 4,800m+. An hour later it was the turn of the Short Trail runners whose course of 38km and 2,400m+. Both courses got right down to business, beginning with the 1,000m climb to Ban Khun Chang Khian, finish line of yesterday's Uphill race.
Full results can be found here.
Through the race's first half the quartet of Norway's Stian Angermund, G.B. & N.I.'s Jonathan Albon, U.S.A.'s Max King and Italy's Francesco Puppi were inseperable, coming through the 18km aid station metres apart. Clearly the podium would be decided among these 4 runners, it was just a question of who would make the winning move.
In the end it was Angermund who pushed on in the second half, forcing the pace and pulling the group apart. He came to the finish visibly suffering but with more than enough time in hand to savour his win. Silver went to an ecstatic Francesco Puppi, repeating his result from 2019 in Argentina, with defending Trail World Champion Jonathan Albon having to settle for bronze.
Behind, G.B. & N.I.'s Kris Jones had been running a patient race. Sitting in 17th after the first climb, he scythed through the field in the second half, moving into first the top 10, then the top 5. As Max King battled cramp, Jones loomed ever larger in his rear view mirror, pursuing the American in an agonising final push along the road to the finish. In the end there was not enough race left for him to make the catch and King crossed the line in 4th with Jones 17 seconds behind in 5th.
In the women's race Romania's Denisa Dragomir, Long Distance bronze medalist in 2017, took control early. Strong and confident, she lead for almost the entire race, Spain's Nuria Gil moving to the front only briefly at the bottom of the first long downhill. On the climb back up to Ban Khun Chang Khian Dragomir moved away for good, time trialling all the way to the finish to claim her title of World Champion. Her gap was never massive but it never looked like she would falter.
From the chasing pack, it was Barbora Macurová of the Czech Republic who proved to be the strongest. She put in a charge on the final descent, moving from 4th to 2nd and even closing the gap to Dragomir. Another 3 minutes passed before Sweden's Emilia Brangefält appeared on the finishing stretch, coming in to claim the bronze and making it 6 different nations for the 6 individual medals in the Short Trail.
If the medal winners all had the luxury of savouring their finish, the same could not be said for the Spanish pair of Nuria Gil and Sheila Aviles who gave it everything in the closing kilometre, fighting for every second as they took 4th and 5th respectively, 14 seconds apart.
If Gil and Aviles had the team contest on their minds as they hammered down the finishing stretch, then they caused themselves unnecessary suffering. With Julia Font coming in to take 10th place the Spanish women won gold by a convincing margin.
U.S.A. and G.B. & N.I. both continued their strong World Championship campaigns with silver and bronze team medals to go with the gold and silver that they won in yesterday's Uphill.
In the men's competition it was another golden day for the Azurri as the Italian men made it 2 titles in 2 days, packing all 3 of their counting runners into the top 10. The French team claimed the silver medals, less than 90 seconds ahead of G.B. & N.I. who took bronze.
Coming into the race U.S.A.'s Adam Peterman had never lost an ultramarathon. He still hasn't.
Biding his time early on, he moved to the front in the middle third of the race, running with and just ahead of France's Nicolas Martin. Three minutes head at 50k, it was on the 1,000m climb to the 66k aid station that Peterman really put the pressure on, extending his lead to over 10 minutes with just the final downhill to go. He cruised back into Chiang Mai to take the World Championship crown and extend his ultra win-streak.
Martin also made good use of that long climb, moving 5 minutes clear of the chasers and giving himself a little relaxation room as he descended to the silver medal. Behind, the competition for the final step of the podium was close. Spain's Jose Angel Fernandez and Italy's Andreas Reiterer were just seconds apart through 50k and 66k, with Fernandez' teammate Aritz Egea never far behind.
On the decisive final downhill it was Reiterer who had something left in his legs, pushing hard to pull out a little over 2 minutes and take the bronze medal. Just like the Spanish women did in the Short Trail, Fernandez and Egea finished 4th and 5th respectively.
Just as in the men's race the decisive moment came on the final 1,000m climb. Defending Trail World Champion Blandine L'Hirondel of France trailed long-time race leader Ida Nilsson of Sweden by 3 minutes at the bottom. By the time she arrived at the top L'Hiondel had turned that deficit into a 7 minute advantage. She continued her charge on the downhill, crossing the line well clear, draped in the tricolour and overflowing with emotion, just as she was in Portugal in 2019.
Although she couldn't match the pace of L'Hirondel, Nilsson remained focussed and strong, doing more than enough to hold on to her second place and take the silver medal. Twelve minute further back was Gemma Arenas of Spain, who took bronze. Eszter Csillag of Hungary and Rosanna Buchauer of Germany came from way back, 17th and 30th respectively after the first climb, to take 4th and 5th place.
As in the Short Trail, there were 6 different nations represented among the medalists.
If L'Hirondel was a convincing winner then so too was the French team. Audrey Tanguy and Marion Delespierre came in together in 6th and 7th to wrap up the gold medals. Spain took silver and Italy bronze.
Just like his compatriot Allie McLaughlin, Peterman takes home 2 gold medals, his victory laying the foundation for team U.S.A. to come out on top in the men's race. Similarly Nicolas Martin takes home 2 silvers as France finish 2nd, while Spain added yet more team medals to their already impressive haul with bronze.
All that remains now is the Classic Up and Down, taking place tomorrow for both Seniors and Juniors. Will the pecking order of Saturday's Uphill be maintained? Will the Ugandan's shake things up? The Junior Men kick off the action at 01:30 a.m.CET\08:30 a.m. Thailand. Don't miss it!
Photos by Marco Gulberti and Jacek Bedkowski. More from Marco here.