Saturday’s Montemuro Vertical Run will be the first Gold Label World Cup race of the year, the first classic mountain race of the series and the WMRA World Cup’s first ever visit to Portugal.
And it’s attracted stacked fields – in the women’s race all eyes will be on last year’s WMRA World Cup champion Joyce Muthoni Njeru, who recorded wins at Krkonossky, Trofeo Ciolo and Zumaia Flysch Marathon.
But the Kenyan will face competition from Lorenza Beccaria (ITA). Beccaria, who achieved 4th place at last year’s Tatra Race Run, will be joined on the start line by Camilla Magliano (ITA), who notched top 10 finishes in Grossglockner Berglauf and Vertical Nasego, Charlotte Cotton (BEL), Vivien Bonzi (ITA) and Maria Ordonez Marina (ESP).
Finnish runner Susanna Saapunki has also confirmed her entry, and having burst onto the mountain running scene in 2021, will be looking to add to her 4th place at Grossglockner Berglauf with a podium finish at Montemuro.
Aymonod the favourite
Henri Aymonod (ITA), the 2021 WMRA World Cup men’s champion and the current leader in the men’s World Mountain Running ranking, will be the runner to beat at Montemuro and will be up against Geoffrey Gikuni Ndungu (KEN), who finished 3rd in the 2021 WMRA World Cup standings.
Joining the pair on the start line will be the 2021 Mont Blanc Vertical Kilometre winner Zak Hanna (IRL), Marek Chrascina (CZE), Alex Garcia Carrillo (ESP) and the winner of this year’s Mont Kenya Mountain Run Patrick Kipngeno (KEN).
Pedro Pontes, from Montemuro Vertical Run race organisation, said: “We are very excited and proud of the inclusion of the Montemuro Vertical Run in the WMRA World Cup. This project is the result of work that the Municipality of Castro Daire has been developing in mountain running, together with the Portuguese Athletics Federation and local associations.”
The Montemuro mountain range has been described as something of a well-kept secret in Portugal, but its credentials as a location for mountain running are clear. It’s a geographically diverse area, with everything from dry, rocky paths to rich, green river valleys, which will provide a stunning route for runners.
There is a big push underway to promote the area’s potential for mountain sports, both running and cycling. This began with the establishment of (Per) Correr Castro Daire, a local circuit now consisting of eight races in 2022 which has shown remarkable progress year on year.
The region is also steeped in history, with architectural remains and ancient settlements, and boasts wildlife such as the Iberian wolf, otters and rare gold-striped salamanders.
Race history and route
This is the second edition of the Montemuro Vertical Run. The first edition in 2021 staged the 23rd National Mountain Running Championships for Portugal.
The race starts at 434m in Parada de Ester, just above the Paiva River. The opening kilometre takes the runners through the streets before they turn left, heading north toward the summit of Montemuro. This where the climbing really begins in earnest and athletes get little or no respite as it goes on more or less continuously to the finish at 1,317m.
All in all it is 9.6km, 980m+ and 106m-, putting the race in the Classic Mountain category. The times to beat from last year are Rui Muga’s 50:55 for the men and Joana Soares’ 56:13 for the women.