Going into the final race in the 2019 Mountain Running World Cup – Smarna Gora – Sarah McCormack and Andrew Douglas were unbeatable, but it didn’t stop them from fighting it out to the last. And the race decided the final standings for several other GB and Irish runners in the World Cup top 10.
The Smarna Gora Race takes place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and this weekend marked the 40th edition of the event. It was the 7th and final race of this year’s World Cup and while it was the African runners who triumphed on the day, all eyes were on Sarah and Andy, the World Cup champions!
Sarah and Andy have both been incredibly consistent throughout the whole competition and were very deserving winners of the crystal trophies. The long and exciting adventure of the 2019 World Cup began in the French Alps of Annecy. Following this they raced in the USA, Austria, Wales, Switzerland, Italy and here in Slovenia. It has led the World Cup athletes to compete on a huge variety of terrain and distances and reveals to us now just who are the best all round Mountain Runners.
In the women’s race at Smarna Gora Lucy Murigi took the victory in 50’55 ”, as she has done twice before at this race.
The Kenyan had to struggle to break the resistance of Sarah McCormack early on who even at the five kilometre mark was still close with less than 20 seconds to make up. But Murigi turned on her trade mark power in the second half and managed to stretch out the gap to almost a minute by the finish.
Sarah McCormack finished in 2nd place with 51’51”, sealing her first World Cup victory after a magical season for the Irish star of mountain running. 3rd place on the day for the Czech runner Lucie Marsanova was a great run and she finished strongly with a final time of 52’20″
Smarna Gora Race 2019 Women’s top 10
1 Lucy Murigi 50’55
2 Sarah McCormack 51’51
3 Lucie Marsanova 52’20
4 Alice Gaggi 53’58
5 Emma Clayton 54’19
6 Jemina Elgood 54’34
7 Lauren Dickinson 54’46
8 Hannah Russel 54’54
9 Jasna Karlatec 56’02
10 Barbara Trunkelj 56’27
The Smarna Gora men’s race played out with Eritrean Filimon Abraham trying to secure his second position in the World Cup and so he attacked early, forcing his opponents to respond to try to hold his fast pace on the first and longer climb of today’s 10km course. Another Eritrean, Petro Mamu initially let him go and led a group the included Andy Douglas and Timotej Becan. Mamu kept the gap to under 20s and responded with a strong second climb up to the finish after a tricky and technical descent. He overtook his compatriot just 400 metres before the summit finish and sprinted away in the final metres to win but with out the race record that stays still with the Italian Alex Baldacini who today finished back in 8th place. It was the 3rd win for Mamu at the Smarna Gora after winning on Ljubljana’s St Mary hill in 2015 and 2016. A final time of 42’17” for Mamu, with Abraham 2nd by only 4 seconds (42’21”), in 3rd place the hero of the day, the slovenian Timotej Beçan ended in 43’19” one place in front of the winner of the World Cup Andrew Douglas who was 4th in 43’23”.
Smarna Gora Race 2019 Men’s top 10
1 Petro Mamu 42’17
2 Filimon Abraham 42’21
3 Timotej Beçan 43’19
4 Andrew Douglas 43’23
5 Alberto Vender 43’58
6 Bernard Dematteis 44’09
7 Sabor Szabo 44’16
8 Alex Baldaccini 44’29
9 Zak Hanna 44’51
10 Hans-Peter Innerhofer 45’11
Final World Cup rankings
The World Cup final rankings at the top didn’t change after the race but there were plenty of changes in the positions from 2 to 10 and showed that by running in more races the athletes could push up to a higher place. Runners that completed all 7 World Races also recieved a 50 point bonus and this also boosted some of the positions.
In the women’s ranking Sarah McCormack was untouchable with 495 points, Lucy Murigi improved in 2nd with 210, and English runner Emma Clayton had the same score but moved to 3rd by virtue of the two victories of Murigi at Annecy and Smarna Gora.
It’s great to see Emma Clayton back to her best. She could well be one to watch again next season. Sarah Tunstall finished in 4th place, having secured two victories at Grossglockner and Drei Zinnen. Louise Mercer, Jemima Elgood and Charlotte Morgan were 7th, 8th and 9th, making a fantastic 6 out of the top 10 women from Britain and Ireland.
The male podium saw the Scotsman Andy Douglas celebrate the triumph, joined by the two Eritreans Filamon Abraham (2nd) and Petro Mamu (3rd). For Mamu the victory today was decisive to reach the World Cup podium, together with the 6th place of the Italian Bernard Dematteis, who missed the final podium and top three by just 5 points. Ireland’s Zak Hanna finished in 5th place, having had a fantastic season.