The world trail championships are this coming weekend. Yes! This weekend. What, you mean the same weekend as Comrades? I am afraid so. So while Ellie Greenwood looks to do the double we are going to need to keep an eye on Annecy too… yes! But wait a minute, isn’t Sage Canaday and Max King also running at Comrades?
Okay, okay, split screen computer screen required.
I joke of course and ironically while the World Trail Champs kick off in Annecy and Comrades kicks of in Durban, South Africa I will be in another part of SA at the Richtersveld Wildrun with Nikki Kimball, James Cracknell and a whole host of talented runners.
It’s going to be a busy weekend!
The last world championship was in the UK. Wales actually and it took part over a lapped course. Ricky Lightfoot won for the men and Nathalie Mauclair for the ladies.
This year, the Worlds takes place on a course that in my opinion is a proper trail running race. At 85km in length and with 5000+m of climbing the race should test the men and ladies from the boys and girls.
However, the race is not without controversy.
The race will take place on the Technica Maxi-Race course with two starts! Yes folks, the world championship race starts 90-minutes before the annual open race. Wait a minute! I thought trail running was all about being inclusive?
Well it would appear that I am not the only one thinking that way. Francois d’Haene (Salomon), unbeatable in 2014, made it quite clear that he would not race. Anna Frost today (28th May) posted this, and I quote:
I will not be at one of my favourite races – the Maxi-Race – because I do not want to support the IAAF movement in our sport.
The sport will officially become an international ‘athletic’ discipline at the IAAF conference in August and I believe that changes will be implemented to make trail running fit into the IAAF philosophy rather than following the values that our trail running community have created.
Don’t know what I am talking about? Here are some examples:
• You race to be part of a running community? To have an oportunity to line up with the best of the best? I do too! But that does not happen in this race. The elites will start seperatly to all of you. It is no longer an open race.
• You like the freedom to enter any trail race you want? I do too! But that does not happen in this race. I need to be selected. I can not race for the brand that supports me. And if I do, and I manage to get a podium finish time…I wont be on the podium.
• If you have done the race course before it was fabulous. But not in this race. They have changed the course to faster, easier, flatter trails for access. That does not inspire me.
Trail running is fun, we can share it with everyone from volunteers, supporters, family and friends. It is open, we are free and inspired!
Read this great post by Andy Symonds http://www.andysymonds.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/trail-politics.html?m=1
So what we have is a world championship race, with selected individuals racing ahead (90 minutes) of the open race. But what if someone in the open race runs quicker than the world championship race? Unlikely I know but not impossible?
Annecy is an amazing place and quite the setting for a stunning race like this. It really is an adventure playground.
Staring at 3:30am (really?) on Saturday May 30th the best in the world will do battle on the trails in and around Annecy.
Ricky Lightfoot, Max King, Anton Krupicka, Sage Canaday, Kilian Jornet, Rob Krar, Francois d’Haene, Michel Lanne, Jason Schlarb, Tofol Castanyer, Iker Karrera, Ryan Sandes, Emelie Forsberg, Nuria Picas, Anna Frost, Rory Bosio, Lizzy Hawker….
Will NOT toe the line.
So if this is a World Trail Championship race; who is running?
For the Ladies:
Nathalie Mauclair is the reigning champ and will look to defend her title and I expect her to do well and more than likely win again.
Caroline Chaverot had a great run at Transgrancanaria earlier this year placing 2nd and she placed top 5 at the Skyrunning world championships in Chamonix.
Aurelia Truel placed 2nd behind Mauclair in 2013 but I don’t think this course will allow her to make the podium.
Cassie Scallon on paper has the race speed for a great result but Annecy has its challenges that I am not sure Cassie will be prepared for.
Uxue Fraille would probably prefer this race to be longer; she will play the waiting game and then pick people off.
Maud Gobert, has great potential for victory, particularly on home soil. On her day she can make it happen, don’t rule her out!
Lisa Borzani also has some great results coming into this race, 2nd at Tor des Geants being one of them, but there is a big difference between TDG and 85km in Annecy.
Krissy Moehl, Anne Lise Rousset, Andrea Huser, Ester Alves, Lucy Bartholomew, Sally Fawcett, Simona Morbelli and many more will contest top honours but lets give out a shout to Brit Lizzie Wraith.
Lizzie is the Lakeland 100 course record holder and currently preparing for the Dragon’s Back Race. Notable runners missing from the UK are Jo Meek and Holly Rush. Prety darn sure had these ladies been fit they would have raced well.
For the Men:
Luis Alberto Hernando well and truly heads up the men’s field after his recent victory at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and as we all know, over 80km he is the one to beat as he proved at the Skyrunning World Championships in Chamonix.Tom Owens is back on form and although he may well prefer the marathon distance he has a great record of top results at 50-80km with podium places at Trofeo Kima and Ice Trail Tarentaise.
Manuel Merillas had a great 2014 and was a revelation and a hot-tip as a star for the future. At the recent Transvulcania he detonated and moved from top 5 to outside the top 15. Showing incredible recovery, just one week later Manuel made the podium at Zegama-Aizkorri. I do wonder though if 85km is outside his race at the moment.
Alex Nichols is a fast guy and on his day, he recently beat Rob Krar at MoabRed Hot and he placed 3rd at Templiers in 2014. No stranger to racing Europe on the Skyrunning circuit. Alex may well make an impact at the front.
UTMB winner Xavier Thevenard has seriously blown hot and cold over the last couple of years. He did win the TDS last year and in doing so became the only runner to win CCC, TDS and UTMB. Racing on French soil must have his passions and desire to do well very high, but maybe they will be too high?
Gediminas Grinius nailed Transgrancanaria recently and that is backed up by an incredible series of results and races in 2014. I can’t help but think though that he will probably just be getting warm as the finish arrives!
Dani Garcia just rocked the field at Transvulcania with 2nd place ahead of serious competition so who knows what he can do in Annecy. A real surprise package.Kim Collison from the UK may also turn some heads. He will certainly be off the radar but he has the background to do well. He won the British Trail Championships, the Mourne Skyline MTR and as an adventure races and fell runner he is one of the best in the world.
Patrik Bringer has solid results at Transvulcania (5th in 2013) and has been on the podium in Annecy before, so he knows what he needs to do, always an advantage.
Julien Rancon, Fabien Antolinus (won Templiers, 2nd at Ice Trail and 2nd in Annecy – one to watch) and Sylvain Court head up the local French talent and then we have Pablo Vila, Iain Ridgway, David Laney, Paul Giblin, Eirik Haugsness and a whole host of other talent that will be looking to take top honours.
In particular I think the Norwegian entries will make a few people turn their heads. They often fly under the radar but Lars-Erik Skjerveihm and Didrik Hermansen (2nd at Transgrancanaria) will rock the top end of the race.
But the complete dark horse may well be Iain Don-Wauchope from South Africa. He is a complete unknown in Europe and having watched him race in SA and in Costa Rica, he is the real deal and if his travel goes well, watch out!
Race website HERE
You can follow the racing HERE live