Sierre Zinal promised much – one of the best mountain running fields ever assembled – and delivered it with two new records.
Sierre Zinal was round 5 of the World Mountain Running World Cup and it was also one of the Salomon Golden Trails 2019 races. This meant that the field included some of the top mountain runners vying for World Cup places, big name ‘stars’ of running chasing the Golden Trails prize money and a certain Kilian Jornet in one of only a few races he’s elected to do this year.
The men’s record had stood since 2003 (when it was set by Jonathan Wyatt) and the women’s since 2008 (set by Anna Pichrtova) and it looked possible that one or both may fall with such a stacked field.
In the women’s race Maude Mathys of Switzerland led from start to finish and absolutely obliterated the old record, which was quite unexpected. The gap over the other women grew at each checkpoint and her victory never seemed in doubt. She is the two time European Champion but to take 5 minutes off the record was a surprise to many. The new record now stands at 2.49.20.
Judith Wyder of Switzerland completed a 1-2 for Swiss athletes and she went under the former course record as well, finishing in 2.54.20. After an exciting battle with Wyder, third place was Silvia Rampazzo of Italy in 2h56.17, the fastest Italian female result on this legendary course. A sprint battle for fourth went to Ruth Croft (NZL) who was just in front of Anais Sabrie (FRA).
GB runner Holly Page continued her comeback from injury with a great 8th place and fellow Brit Charlotte Morgan was 11th. Sarah McCormack of Ireland continued her great form in the World Cup competition by finishing 13th and taking some more important points.
In the men’s race it was no surprise that Kilian Jornet broke away early from the start at Sierre and at intermediate points of Ponchette and Chandolin had an advantage by over 2mins over 2016 winner Petro Mamu (Eritrea). Between Chandolin and Hotel Weisshorn, Kilian Jornet took his foot off the gas dropping to 20 seconds above Wyatt’s record and Mamu reduced the gap to 1min27. From Weisshorn (the high point of the track) to the finish it was fast and furious with both athletes racing to the Zinal finish. Kilian earned most of his advantage on the uphill part of the race. In the second part he was still able to push hard for the new record of 2.25.35 while second placed Mamu finished stronger still and clocked 2.26.17, in the end only 42 seconds behind. The 50miles World Record holder Jim Walmsley led home a field packed with quality and his podium place in 2.31.52 was a very positive debut for him for his European trail and mountain running campaign. Juan Carlos Carrera (Col) and GB’s Robbie Simpson completed the top 5.
WMRA World Cup leader Andrew Douglas (GBR) placed 6th and consolidated his lead in the Mountain Running World Cup. His run puts an overall win beyond doubt going into the final two races. GB’s Jacob Adkin finished in 19th place.
The race wasn’t without controversy. Second placed man Petro Mamu has served a ban for testing positive for a banned substance and women’s winner Maude Mathys also received a reprimand in 2015 for taking a drug on the prohibited list.
The next race in the World Cup (round 6) is scheduled for the 14th of September at Drei Zinnen in Sexten, in the heart of the Italian Dolomites. The World Cup finals will be held at the historical Smarna Gora, in Slovenia, on October 12th.
Link to datasport official race classification: Race Results
Photo credits: Marco Gulberti