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While the season opening race of the 2024 Valsir Mountain Running World Cup, Broken Arrow, took place under clear blue skies, the athletes had very different conditions for the first classic Gold Label race today. Heiligenblut in Austria delivered misty, rainy and cool conditions for Grossglockner Mountain Run today. A temperature of 9 degrees centigrade and winds of up to 30 kph wouldn’t make it easy for the runners.

This iconic race takes place under the shadow of Austria’s highest mountain, Grossglockner (3,798m), and the runners make their way from Heiligenblut village up to the finish at Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe on a 13.4k route with 1300m of ascent.  The support for this historic race, which dates back to 2001, is legendary and crowds gather at the finish to welcome them in at 2,369m.

With a field including previous winners, former World Cup champions and exciting young athletes bursting onto the mountain running scene in the last couple of years, we knew we were in for an exciting race.


The runners started in Heiligenblut and ran through the village to the valley, before following the river Möll along forest past to the Sattelalm and past the Briccius Chapel. From there they took the trail to the Trogalm and the Leiter waterfall, before another climb to the Margaritzen Dam and views of the Pasterze Glacier. Then they faced the final climb up to the finish at Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe.

Women’s race

We are used to seeing Philaries Jeruto Kisang (Run2gether) leading out women’s World Cup races and, as last year’s winner, it was no surprise to see her lead the race out with fellow Run2gether athlete, Gloria Chebet. Just a few seconds back lay Scout Adkin (HOKA), Joyce Muthoni Njeru (Nannoni), a former Grossglockner winner, Susanna Saapunki (New Balance), who was fourth last year, and last year’s runner up, Nina Engelhard (PSV Grün-Weiß Kassel). As recent winner of both the uphill only and up and down race at the European Off Road Running Championship, we knew that Engelhard was a runner to watch here.

By the middle section of the race Engelhard had indeed overtaken the lead runners and had opened up a lead of over a minute. Jeruto Kisang was now second and Chebet and AdkinGG women winner small neck and neck, with a small gap back to Saapunki and Muthoni Njeru.

It started to look as though Engelhard couldn’t be caught, but the battle for the other podium places was incredibly close, with very little between the next five runners.

It was the dominant Engelhard who hit the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe first to take the win in 1.22.09. Jeruto Kisang did hang onto her second place and finished in 1.23.45, with Chebet completing the podium just 13 seconds behind. Adkin was so close to the podium, just seven seconds behind her, and Muthoni Njeru was fifth.

  1. Nina Engelhard 1.22.09
  2. Philaries Jeruto Kisang 1.23.45
  3. Gloria Chebet 1.23.58
  4. Scout Adkin 1.24.05
  5. Joyce Muthoni Njeru 1.25.09

Men’s race

The men’s race was incredibly close right from the start. We expected Ephantus Mwangi Njeri (Run2gether) to be among the leaders, having finished fourth here last year, and we knew that Josphat Kiprotich could be a threat at this distance. But with a mix of experienced athletes and some other very strong athletes new to the event, the men’s podium was actually wide open this year.

It was Richard Omaya Atuya (Run2gether) who led it out from the start, with fellow Run2gether runner, Kiprotich, right on his heels.  Then it was another Run2gether team mate, Michael Selelo Saoli right behind, with Filimon Abraham (ON Running) and Joe Steward (Salford Harriers).

There was very little separating Mwangi Njeri and Kiprotich throughout, and it looked like we would be on for a very exciting finish. In the middle section they managed to create a small gap between them and Selelo Saoli, and he in turn held off Paul Machoka (Nannoni) and German athletes Lukas Ehrle and Abraham.  Early challenger Steward also fell back in the middle section.

GG men winner smallIt remained close but it was Omaya Atuya who emerged at the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe first to take the win in 1.10.04, just 21 seconds ahead of Kiprotich! Selelo Saoli kept third place, with Machoka fourth and Ehrle fifth in an exciting sprint finish with just one second separating them.

  1. Richard Omaya Atuya 1.10.04
  2. Josphat Kiprotich 1.10.25
  3. Michael Selelo Saoli 1.12.42
  4. Paul Machoka 1.13.45
  5. Lukas Ehrle 1.13.46


Full results can be found here.


Next weekend (14 July) we head to Montemuro Vertical Run in Portugal for our next classic Gold Label race.