2nd WMRA Grand Prix Race
Saturday May 24th
The Valais region of Switzerland is host once more to a top-level mountain race. Athletes return to the now familiar course which winds through vineyards between the two famous thermal bathing pools at Saillon and Ovronnaz.
The big guns renew their contests of last year and any disturbance to their dominance would be a surprise.
The current double world champion (short and long distance) Anna Pichrtova (CZE) looks in unbeatable form. Her most likely serious opponent Martina Straehl (SUI), winner of the first GP race (Grand Ballon – France) does not appear on the latest entry list. Victoria Wilkinson (GBR), last years GP silver medallist, the last one to beat Anna at the end of last season, second behind Straehl at Grand Ballon, will be hoping for a repeat win. Antonella Confortola (ITA) should also be strong after a season of cross country skiing with the Italian national team.
Women run the same 10km 800m climb course as the men. This is Jonathan Wyatt (NZL) territory. Having just missed out on an Olympic marathon qualifying time Jonathan will concentrate on the European mountain running circuit leading up to the World Trophy in September.
His main challenger in many Grand Prix races, Marco Gaiardo (ITA- last years GP winner) must wonder what he has to do to record a win over Jonathan in these uphill only races. The time difference between them is quite small so the competition is a mental one as much as physical. Other men who will hope to make a mark are Joe Symonds (GBR) fourth in last years World Trophy, Andrzej Dlugosz (POL), silver in last year GP, and Steve Vernon (GBR) second in the Grand Ballon.