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Records Fall at Piz Tri Vertical

Mayr and Kipngeno deliver a vertical uphill masterclass in Malonno, with echoes of the recent World Championships.

Over the years we have seen some incredible racing in Malonno as part of our World Cup, but anticipation has never been higher than it was for this year. With the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Fletta Trail with US Malonno and the greatest ever line-up of athletes, all eyes were on Piz Tri Vertical as it kicked off the weekend of mountain running.

Today’s Piz Tri Vertical was the next Gold Label Race of this year’s Valsir Mountain Running World Cup. It was our second vertical uphill race of the competition (with the first being the Broken Arrow VK in June) and the first opportunity for our vertical uphill specialists to collect some World Cup points in Europe.

Piz Tri Vertical has played an important role in mountain running history, with many of the greats of the sport competing here over the years. With the 1000m of ascent coming in just 3.4km on the course it is brutally steep in places and the climbing is relentless. Runners start at Moscio at 820 metres and then climb steadily with very little respite up to Malga Campel at 1,820 metres on the slopes of Piz Tri. This final, steep grassy section has delivered iconic images over the years as exhausted runners scramble for the final relief of the finish line.

The organisers managed to assemble an incredible field of athletes, which included former winners, six of the medallists from the recent World Mountain and Trail Running Championships (including both the women’s and men’s gold medallists from the vertical uphill race) and some exciting, young up-and-coming runners.

The women’s race

The women’s race set off first, under clear blue skies and with warm temperatures. The clear favourite was Andrea Mayr (AUT) as the five-time winner and record holder (with 37.20). But everybody was excited to see a rematch of the recent World Championships duel between Mayr and Philaries Kisang (KEN), which produced that nail-biting finish with Mayr taking her seventh world title.

 DSC1859But the depth of the women’s field was such that any number of runners could have made that podium. Scout Adkin (GBR) was coming into the race straight off a win at Montemuro two weeks ago, having finished eighth in the vertical uphill race at the World Championships a few weeks before that. Joyce Njeru (KEN) was second at Montemuro and won bronze at the classic race at the World Championships. Monica Florea (ROU) is an athlete equally adept at classic and vertical uphill races, able to perform on the big stage. Add to that a whole host of Italian athletes capable of making the podium and we had a very exciting women’s race on our hands.

But it was no surprise to see Mayr striking out for the front from early on in the race. She was chased hard by Adkin and Kisang, but she was characteristically calm and consistent and the win never looked in any doubt. Mayr took the win in 37.14, breaking her own course record! Adkin was second in 38.59. The women’s race was close for placings three to five, but it was Kisang who completed the women’s podium in 39.49. Florea came in just behind her, with Njeru completing the top five.

The men’s race

The men’s race set off half an hour after the women and its field was just as impressive as the women’s. Last year’s winner and current record holder (with 33.38), Andrea Rostan (ITA), was toeing the line. After that memorable victory at the Broken Arrow VK just a few weeks ago, he looked to be in form. Alongside him was Patrick Kipngeno (KEN), recently crowned World Champion in the vertical uphill race. He was only defeated in one World Cup race last year (Sierre Zinal, where he finished second), so it’s always hard to bet against an athlete of such quality and consistency.  

 DSC2217Last year’s runner-up, Philemon Kiriago (KEN), who was seventh in the recent vertical uphill race at the World Championships, and took silver in the classic race there, would certainly be a runner to watch. But with a field that also included Henri Aymonod of Italy, (third at the Broken Arrow VK, third here last year), Joe Steward of Great Britan (tenth in the uphill race at the World Championships), Timotej Becan (SLO), Filimon Abraham (GER) and Sylvain Cachard (FRA), this was going to be quite a race.

But just as in the women’s race we expected to see Mayr at the front, nobody batted an eyelid when it was Kipngeno who hit the front. Here the race was going to be for second and third and it was all very close. Kipngeno held on, as expected, for the win and he broke Rostan’s course record by an astonishing minute and a half, setting a new course record of 32.08! Winning the battle for second, it was his fellow Kenyan, Kiriago, who finished in 34.04. Steward had a breakthrough performance in the World Cup to finish third in 34.35. Rostan was fourth and Abraham completed the top five. Just under a minute separated second and fifth, showing just how close and competitive this race was.

Women's results

  1. Andrea Mayr (AUT) 37.14 New course record
  2. Scout Adkin (GBR) 38.59
  3. Philaries Kisang (KEN) 39.49
  4. Monica Florea (ROU) 40.23
  5. Joyce Njeru (KEN) 41.40

Men's results

  1. Patrick Kipngeno (KEN) 32.03 New course record
  2. Philemon Kiriago (KEN) 34.04
  3. Joe Steward (GBR) 34.35
  4. Andrea Rostan (ITA) 34.50
  5. Filimon Abraham (GER) 35.02

Full results can be found at: Risultati - PizTriVertical | ENDU

Valsir Mountain Running World Cup

 DSC1902By the end of this weekend, which is a double header in Malonno with Fletta Trail tomorrow, we may well see some big changes in the World Cup standings. After today’s race the main changes are that Scout Adkin is now in the joint lead with Anna Gibson in the women’s competition with 90 points, and Andrea Rostan moves into the lead in the men’s competition with 75 points. Henri Aymonod loses his lead but remains in a close second. Joyce Njeru moves up to third place and Andrea Mayr ties on 50 points with Allie McLaughlin and Sara Willhoit, while Kipngeno starts his World Cup campaign to tie with Alexandre Ricard and Eli Hemming on 50 points. But everything could change after Fletta Trail tomorrow!

Here are the current standings:

 Watch Fletta Trail Live Tomorrow!

Full live streaming coverage will bring Malonno’s action to your TV, laptop, mobile or tablet.

The races will be live on the local TV “TELEBOARIO” on SAT CHANNEL 81 and on the web at these links:

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All photography credit: Marco Gulberti