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Sierre-Zinal: Race preview, favourites and how to watch

This weekend sees the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) World Cup head to Switzerland for the 48th edition of the notoriously competitive Sierre-Zinal race.

The iconic event typically attracts the most elite athletes in mountain running and this season will be no exception, with a win at Sierre-Zinal one of the most sought-after accolades in the sport.

The race will be the fifth round of the 2021 World Cup, with Peter Frano (SVK) and Marcela Vasinova (CZE) clinching victories at Tatra SkyMarathon just under a fortnight ago.

Kilian Jornet has eight wins at Sierre-Zinal (©Martina Valmassoi)

Which runners to look out for

Kilian Jornet (ESP) make his comeback as an eight-time winner of the men’s race, and holds the course record at Sierre-Zinal after clocking an eye-watering 2:25:35 – nearly four minutes quicker than the previous best time – back in 2019.

Petro Mamu (ERI), who picked up second that year, also returns, along with fourth placed finisher Juan Carlos Carera (MEX).

Reigning World Cup champion Andrew Douglas (GBR) will be looking to improve on his sixth placed finish in 2019, while accomplished uphill runner and 2013 Sierre-Zinal winner Marc Lauenstein (SUI) will be hoping to force himself into contention.

In the women’s race, Maude Mathys (SUI) is a strong favourite for victory, as she guns for her third consecutive win at Sierre-Zinal.

Mathys also broke the course record for the women’s event in 2019, and has already picked up wins at the Mont Blanc Marathon and Olla de Nuria this year.

Lucy Murigi (KEN) currently tops the women’s World Rankings, picking up third at Grossglockner Berglauf in round two before an impressive victory at La Montee du Nid d’Aigle.

Judith Wyder (SUI) was second at Sierre-Zinal in 2019 and also went under the long-standing course record, while World Cup leader Charlotte Morgan (GBR) is in an excellent run of form.

Switzerland’s Judith Wyder in action at Sierre-Zinal (©Corsa in Montagna)

The route

Locally known as ‘la course des cinq 4000’, the race sees the athletes tackle a 31km route with stunning views of five peaks – Weisshorn, Zinalrothorn, Obergabelhorn, Matterhorn and Dent Blanche – each standing at over 4000m.

Starting at 570m in Sierre, the athletes climb for 24km up to a highest point of 2425m at Nava, with the route culminating in a frenetic 7km downhill sprint through Zinal.

Renowned as one of the faster courses on the World Cup calendar, Sierre-Zinal has been regualrly throwing up compelling races since its creation in 1974.

How to follow the race

You can follow latest news and results via WMRA social media channels – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Saturday’s races get underway with the women at 10:30am (local time), followed by the men at 10:45am.