In an effort to highlight our sport in a unique way, this year Italy hosts the World Mountain Running Championships on back-to-back weekends. The first championship was held on July 30, over the traditional shorter distances of 6.5 kilometers for juniors and 13 kilometers for seniors. On August 6, the longer of the two championships will be held, and the competition is sure to be equally as exciting as that of last weekend.
The 14th WMRA World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships will be hosted by the Giir Di Mont, a classic Italian race over a challenging 32-kilometer course. Nearly 150 athletes representing 23 countries will be on the start line Sunday morning. The field includes past winners and multi-time finishers of the race, the defending champions from last year’s World Long Distance Championships, and a host of talented first-timers on this course.
On the men’s side, the home team of Italy looks to be a favorite featuring Alessandro Rambaldini and Marco De Gasperi, first and second place respectively at last year’s long distance championships. Add to the mix a fit Francesco Puppi, Luca Cagnati, and Nicola Spada, and the team is solid. They will face a challenge from the experienced Robert Krupicka (CZE), course record holder Petro Mamu (ERI), veteran of the course Tom Owens (GBR), the young and promising Luka Mihelic (SLO), Julie Rancon (FRA) and Andy Wacker (USA) who both ran strong at last weekend’s championships. Expected to give the Italians the biggest challenge on the team podium are France, USA, Great Britain and the Czech Republic.
On the women’s side, course record holder Kasie Enman (USA) will be on the start line after running last weekend’s championships along with her teammate Addie Bracy. The pair was part of the gold-medal winning senior women’s squad. Team USA could again be on the podium at these championships, but will face a field equally talented as that of the men. Last year’s long distance champion Annie Conway (GBR) will hope to defend her title, and runner-up from last year Antonella Confortola (ITA) will also be in the hunt for a repeat medal. Denisa Dragomir (ROU) a past winner at Giir Di Mont, knows the course and will be a formidable competitor along with her teammate and last year’s winner at Giir Di Mont Ingrid Mutter. Italy, Great Britain, Romania and USA look to be the top teams in the hunt for a team podium position.
In his first official duties as the recently elected president of the WMRA, Jonathan Wyatt (NZL) will be on hand to welcome all of the teams to Premana at the opening ceremony on Saturday, August 5. In advance of the competition, Wyatt says, “It’s great to be back in Premana at the legendary Giir Di Mont. It’s going to be a true test of mountain running ability on this awesome and challenging course. I look forward to a successful competition and wish all of the athletes good luck.”
Competition gets underway at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 6 and will be followed by an open race over the same course.
Written by Nancy Hobbs for the WMRA