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Ireland Shines at World Masters Mountain Running Championships

Saturday's weather may have been overcast in Clonmel but Irish athletes blazed the Comeragh Mountain trails to take an impressive haul of medals at the 21st World Masters Mountain Running Championships.

SMLPXL 20220903 122738794Written by Richard Bolt for the WMRA. Photos by Richard Bolt.

With a population of just 5.1 million, Ireland produces more than its fair share of strong mountain runners versus much larger countries who sent teams to this world championship for athletes ages 35 to 79. Irish mountain runners took home eight of eighteen available team gold medals and four individual gold medals.

The fastest times of the day were recorded by Thomas Roach (GBR - M40) in 42:00 and Victoria Wilkinson (GBR - W40) in 53:17 on the 10.6km long course with 602 meters of climbing. On the 8.4km short course with 500 meters of climbing it was Franco Torresani (ITA - M60) in 42:09 and Nicoletta Fearari (ITA - W55) in 50:50 who ran the fastest times. Another performance of note was that of co-race director and course designer Tom Blackburn (IRL) who won a bronze medal in the male 55-59 age group running 44:37, just 20 seconds behind the winner in his age group.

Races kicked off in age group waves starting at 10:00 AM under perfect weather conditions for runners; overcast, light breeze and temperatures in the high 50s (F) slowly rising into the low 60s (F). Only a brief period of light drizzle would interrupt this pattern until the final wave at 1:45 PM.

Running on the short course, the W75 race was won by Barbara Prymakowska (POL) in 1:16:40. The W70 gold medal went to Margret Gottnauer (GER) in 1:00:56. The first Irish gold went to Pauline Moran (IRL) who won the W65 age group in 55:50. Ana Mori Aguado (ESP) won the W60 class in 52:18. Representing a strong Italian contingent, Nicoletta Ferrari (ITA) won gold in the W55 class in 50:50; the fastest women's short course time.

SMLPXL 20220903 103002506Also running the short course, James Patterson (GBR) took gold in the M75 age group in 58:12. Adolfo Accaliai (ITA) led an Italian podium sweep of the M70 age group in 48:49. The first Irish men's gold medal of the day went to Martin McDonald (IRL) in the M65 class in 48:27. Franco Torresani (ITA) won the M60 class in 42:09. Over 60 runners finished the M55 men's race but it was Tom Tipping (GBR) who bested them all in 44:17.

Full short course results:

Turning to the 10.6km long course, Lou Osborn (GBR) took gold in the W50 in 57:05. Ireland's first long course gold medal of the day went to Becky Quinn (IRL) who won the W45 race in 57:35. A veteran of past World Mountain Running Championships and WMRA World Cup events in her younger years, Victoria Wilkinson (GBR) won the W40 race by over 2 minutes in 53:17 with the fastest women's long course time of the day. Leading an Irish sweep of the W35 podium was Kate Purcell (IRL) who finished in 53:52.

In the men's long course races it was Markus Mey (GBR) who took gold in the M50 - the second largest field of the day with 83 finishers - in a time of 48:51. The M45 age group was the largest field of the day with 85 finishers and was won by Adam Osborne (GBR) in 48:10 who led a GBR podium sweep. The fastest long course time of the day went to M40 winner Thomas Roach (GBR) in 42:00. Another veteran of past World Mountain Running Championships and winner of WMRA World Cup races was M35 gold medalist Andrew in 43:07.

Full long course results:

SMLIMG 8444There was tight competition in the teams competition with GBR taking gold in the M75 and F75 age groups. GBR also won W70 but was bested in the M70 by an Italian sweep the podium for a 6 point gold team medal. In the W65 and M65 Ireland took team gold medals by getting all their runners in the top 7 places. In the W60 and M60 the home team had to settle for silver as GBR took gold medals in both categories. The W55 and M55 saw a similar outcome albeit with closer scores. GBR took team gold over Ireland by less than 4 points in both 55-59 year old age groups. The 50-54 year old age groups were split with GBR taking gold over Ireland in M50 while Ireland bested GBR in the W50 category. Ireland won the W45 team gold with a podium sweep led by Becky Quinn. Meanwhile the M45 team gold was also won in a podium sweep but this time GBR came out on top. From there down, it was all team Ireland as they took gold in W40 (17 points), M40 (12 points), W35 (6 points) and M35 (11 points).

Full team results:

These friendly national rivalries came to a head in frenzies of team spirit during the award ceremony hosted by the Hillview Sports Club in Clonmel. Hundreds of mountain runners packed the club gym and spilled out into the lounge and lawn as medals were handed out by WMRA President Tomo Sarf, IMRA President Laura Flynn and other dignitaries. The ceremonies closed with the transfer of the WMRA flag from the Irish local organizing committee to representatives from Madeira, host of the 22rd World Masters Mountain Running Championships in September 2023. Competitors can look forward to a long distance 32km and 9km uphill races. See you in Madeira! Details here.

Photos by Richard Bolt and Nancy Hobbs -