An historical moment for mountain running: 27. World Mountain Running Championships 2011 in Tirana.
Although Albania is a mountainous country with the highest peak Korab (2764m), the mountain running as sport discipline has just stared to develop in this part of the world.
It is one of the first time, that a country with no Mountain running tradition is hosting the Championships. Even more, in 2011 Albanian runners participated World's top event for the first time.
It was a great job for the WMRA Delegates, Bruno Gozzelino and Raimondo Balicco to coordinate the work of the LOC that accepted the job with plenty of enthusiasm and energy with the clear goal - to organize a perfect sport event." "
From logistic point of view the event rather complicated - all the teams will stay in Durres, about 40 km from Tirana, where all the races and ceremonies will be held.
After having some troubles finding the suitable course, the delegate designed the course that fits all WMRA parameters on the margin of the city. The course is a lap course, men will run the 4,5km long lap with 285m elevation gain 3 times, ladies and junior men 2 times and girls once.
35 counties announced participation of more than 300 runners: 131 senior men, 63 senior women, 70 junior men and 51 junior women are untried at the moment!
The junior races are normally unpredictable. 16 and 17 year old runners are handicapped by their age, but eager to show their performances: gold medalists from Youth Challenge 2011 Lea Einfalt from Slovenia and Rafal Matuszczak from Poland and silver medalists from Russia Ekaterina Ivonina and Konstantin Galiullin are the ones who will try to enter the podium. Lea was also 6th last year in Kamnik.
In the junior men's race Tekle Andemichale will try to defend the title, but will have strong opponents in Turkish runners Dag Sonmez , and vice-champion Yildirmici Sabahatin.
Dragomir Denisa Ionela from Romania and Yasemin Can from Turkey, both gold medalist from top international events and experts for fast races, are expected to fight for the highest position in the junior women's race.
In the ladies division Italian runners are expected to form the peak of the group. Experienced Valentine Belotti (champion 2009, vice champion 2010) and Antonella Confortola-Wyatt are one of the favorites. European champion 2010 Marie-Laure Dumergues from France is also specialist for this type of course. Current leading in the Grand Prix and bronze medalist from Bursa Slovenian Lucija Krkoc also likes up-down courses. Of course there are also always strong British, Turkish and American ladies.
Senior men's race is always the top race of the Championships. In the last years runners from Eritrea and Uganda were creating the majority of the ",top10",. This year Eritrea entered a new team, but there are experienced runners in the Uganda team, James Kibet and Martin Toroitich will not come just to be present. Always strong Italian team with Marco De Gasperi, (every day better) Gabriele Abate and Dematteis twins will not be satisfied only with a team medal. Maybe it is also time for Ahmet Arslan, 5 times European champion, to complete his collection with a medal from World Championships. Mitja Kosovelj, Junior World champion 2003 and the winner of World Long distance Challenge 2011 left out European championships to be ready for Tirana where the course suits him.
TV coverage on live for five hours on National Albania TV is guaranteed by LOC.
The organization of the Championships was possible thanking the extraordinary support given to the event by Albanian Government starting form Prime Minister Salih Berisha who understood - first of all, together Gjergi Ruli, FSHA President, and all his staff in the National Athletic Federation - the importance of this competition for showing worldwide, and specially in Europe, the great potentiality of Albania: this event will useful for each Albanian Citizens because hundred and hundred persons coming from all the part in the world will see - probably for the first time in their life - Albania and certainly will come home with a new good feeling of this Country!
IAAF support to the event was usually very important: German Otto Klappert, Honorary Chairman of IAAF Cross Country Commission will attend to the Championships, together full WMRA Council, with his President, Bruno Gozzelino.
Pierre Weiss, IAAF General Secretary, and Sergey Bubka, IAAF Vice President, personally recomended this event with personal presence in Albania in the past time.
On the day before the event the important Annual WMRA Congress will be held in Duress.
Certainly ,this Championships seems to be an important step in the history not only of the mountain running but of the athletics and also of the sport!
Bruno Gozzelino and Tomo Sarf by WMRA
- front page ,Salih Berisha, Albanian Prime Minister, met Sergey Bubka, IAAF Vice President, ,and Bruno Gozzelino, with Gjiergj Ruli, FSHA President and Nikolin Dionisi, FSHA Secretary,
- second page: welcome desk at Tirana airport.