WMRA World Cup 2018 - stage 3: Sierre-Zinal 2018

"Jour-J" is approaching at great speed, as organizers and official media close to the organization like to call it. On Sunday, Sierre-Zinal will write the 45th chapter of an exceptional story. An impressive number for an event that for good reason has repeatedly made the "Course des cinq 4000" the New York Marathon of the off road running World.

IAAF-WMRA Mountain Running World Cup and Salomon Golden Trail Series: both at the stage number 3 of their calendar, are the underlying reason why all the fans and off-road running insiders anticipate a great race this year.

The trail from Sierre that leads to Zinal has 31 km with Chandolin, the Weisshorn and Barneuza on the route and where everything or almost everything can happen

Start List Elites Men 2018
Start List Elites Women 2018
Start List Veteran I Men 2018
Start List Veteran I Women 2018

There is a real concentration of talent and champions on the start for this year. Who will be in high Val d'Anniviers Sunday 12 August will have fun and beyond the 30th or 40th place they will still see runners of the highest level cross the finish line.

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Catalan Kilian Jornet Burgada, 5 times winner stands out as an obvious favourite and running well after a winter injury a double fracture suffered on skis.  The come back began with a win at the Marathon du Mont Blanc (2nd stage of the SGTS) and so deserves the favourites tag here.  

Robbie Simpson always targets this race and with 2nd and 3rd places will look for his first win here.  He has raced sparingly from May until August and remember he has a Commonwealth Games Gold medal now so he brings a new confidence this year.  

The third name we want to announce is that of the American Joe Gray, who was already a protagonist but never a winner at Zinal.  He will be tough and is in good preparation for the World Mountain Running Championships in September in Canillo, Andorra.

Then there is the Norwegian Stian Angermund, excellent in Zegama and winner in Canazei this year, as well as the British Andrew Douglas and Jacob Adkin, the latter a surprise and new national mountain running champion only one week ago and already in evidence at Neirivue Le Moleson.

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The elite list of athletes flying the Swiss flag is very rich, among them Pascal Egli, Stephan Wenk (5th in the Salomon GTS ranking), Daniel Lustenberger and François Leboeuf. Super armored team of France and the Italian team: Thibault Baronian (today 3rd in the golden trail series), Julien Rancon, Arnaud Bonin, Adrien Michaud, Raymond Fontaine and Alexis Savennec are certainly the most prominent names, while among the Italians the star is Francesco Puppi, leader of the WMRA world cup after two great results at Grossglockner and PizTriVERTIKAL. In addition to the long distance World Champion of 2017 there will also be Hannes Perkmann, Luca Cagnati and Manuel Bortolas.

But it does not end here: Juan Carlos Carera, the Spanish Oriol Cardona, the Basque Aritz Egea (king of Giir di Mont and Livigno), the Finnish Henry Ansio (8th in SGTS), the Colombian William Rodriguez (epic his 2nd place here in 2015 when he leaded the race for many kilometers), the Americans Andy Wacker and Max King, the Polish Bart Przedwojewski and the Kenyan/Austrian Isaac Toroitich Kosgei are all athletes to underline and capable of top positions. Without doubt rich in experience at a high level and connoisseurs of this type of races are also the Ethiopian Tefera Mekonen and the Kenyan Francis Maina and Japhet Mutwiri, or the super veterans who really deserve a chapter apart for the load of glory that carry with them: Marco De Gasperi, Cesar Costa, Robert Krupicka are part of the legend of Zinal and will use experience as well as great form to bring a top result.

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Scrolling through the lists also emerge names of some young champions and we can mention the Spaniard Jan Margarit and Italian Davide Magnini but also of the Kenyan Timothy Kimutai Kirui.  A lot to look forward to!!

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In the women's field the spotlight is on Lucy Wambui Murigi, twice Queen of Zinal (last in 2017), defending world champion in mountain running and recently winner of Thyon-Dixence where she won well and swept away doubts about the recovery from the injury that had stopped her in the spring. She is an athlete capable of pushing to reach the record of the legendary Anna Pichrtova (she will also be at the start of veteran womens). The main outsider could be again Michelle Maier who won here in 2016 but who is struggling to find continuity at the highest level this season. Much more dangerous at first sight the Italian Silvia Rampazzo, 2017 long distance World Champ and bronze in 2018 as well as triumphing in the last Giir di Mont, or the stellar Ida Nilsson, undisputed protagonist of the sky running scene in 2018 and firmly at the head of the golden series. If the Swedish athlete is “at Zinal level” we will know only Sunday evening, certainly she will be among the protagonists as will the New Zealander Ruth Croft, the Spanish Eli Gordon and Laura Orgue and the American Megan Kimmel, another great champion of the Valais race where several times she was on or near the podium.

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Gloria

In the World Mountain Running World Cup Wmra a good result can revive the chances of several athletes and bring new ones into the rankings, primarily the Irish athlete Sarah McCormack who gained good points in Malonno, or Gloria Giudici who will run her 3rd consecutive cup-race. Italian hopes are also with Elisa Desco, winner of the 2013 edition and again on the podium in 2015 and 2016. UK runner Sarah Tunstall will be up there at the front and has focused on this race as has French runner Adeline Roche, world champion of Trail 2017. The list also includes the American Stevie Kremer, the South African Megan McKenzie, the Spanish Sheila Aviles and the French Celyne Lafaye, all athletes who will be interesting to watch.

Let's take a moment to cover also the Veteran's category, where we find the names of Ivana Iozzia (4th at Grossglockner, first world cup stage), Victoria Wilkinson and authentic legends like Angela Mudge, Anna Strakova Pichrtova and Aline Coumboulives.

The result of the SIERRE-ZINAL 2018 could decide the season of some athletes on these two important circuits in progress, where a good result will indicate the possibility of entering the fight at the top of the World Cup or the Golden Series that will continue after this race respectively with the Bergen Hochfelln Berglauf and the Smarna Gora Race for WMRA-IAAF and Pikes Peak and Ring of Steall and the final in South Africa for the GTS.

writing: alex scolari for corsainmontagna.it
photos: D.Benedetto/A.Courthoud/M.Gulberti

 

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