Salomon K42: Luis Valle Barrientos and Roxana Flores Win in Argentina
More than 3,000 athletes gathered in Villa la Angostura to get a taste of the K42 spirit as the legendary Patagonia mountain marathon celebrated its 19th edition.
It was an international affair once again as the hosts of the 2019 World Mountain Running Championships welcomed runners from at least 9 countries to compete against themselves, each other and the tough terrain of the Andes mountains in a WMRA Associate Member Partner Race.
From Thursday morning the city was transformed and anticipation grew as a constant stream of runners made their way to collect their bibs and to experience the race Expo, where many of the sport's top brands were on show. In the evening there was a Friendship Meeting, where athletes with more than 10 completions of the race received special awards of recognition.
The racing kicked off on Friday with K15, a 14.2km, 754m+ loop on the tough forest trails and open mountainside to the north of town. Persistent rain ahead of the race and in its early stages lead to challenging conditions; muddy trails and treacherous descending. Mercifully, the weather cleared and by the time the athletes arrived at the finish Villa la Angostura was bathed in sunshine.
Argentina's Javier Carriqueo put the disappointment of a DNF at last week's World Championships in Thailand behind him, taking the win in 1:12:18, ahead of Ezequiel Becerra, 1:13:47, and Gabriel Fernando Muñoz Soto, 1:14:18.
Fernanda Martinez was also just back from Thailand, having finished 58th in the Up and Down Race. She won here in 1:27:03 with Rosa Godoy second in 1:28:09 and Andrea Changazzo rounding out the podium in 1:38:47.
Full results of all races can be found on the K42 website: https://argentina.kseries.com.ar/
A sea of blue shirts gathered in the centre of town on Saturday morning as 1,234 runners prepared themselves to take on the 41.5km and 2,184m+ of K42, the weekend's main event. A true test piece of South American mountain running, the course joins the trails of K15 with a second, higher elevation loop to the east, taking athletes across snow fields and rocky terrain well above the tree line.
In the women's race Roxana Flores, the defending champion who also won the South American title here in 2017, emerged victorious, breaking the tape in 4:34:11. In second was Veronica Ramirez in 4:37:56 and Diana Carolina Pulido Lugo took 3rd in 4:46:59.
For Flores, it was an impressive turnaround after racing the Short Trail in Thailand last weekend, with four and a half hours of racing and a long plane trip alread in her legs. "The first 10 kilometers were quite slow, then I was able to get into a rhythm and keep going until I got to the top,” she said. "My body limited me, but on the fast trails and downhills I made the difference.”
It was a Chilean 1-2 in the men's race as Luis Valle Barrientos took a convincing win. His time of 3:41:16 put him well clear of the rest, but the battle for the remaining podium places was tight. Barrientos' compatriot Nicolas Ignacio Benavides won the fight for second, finishing in 3:52:07, just 38 seconds ahead of Ezequiel Alexis Pauluzak.
“Every runner knows what the Salomon K42 overall podium is: it's THE race, it's the quintessential mountain marathon in the country," said Ezequiel Pauluzak. "I can't believe it, I was second for most of the race but Nico Benavides hit me at the top. We were very close and I knew it was going to be tough until the end. I am very happy.”
Check out more photos of these spectacular races on K42's Facebook and Instagram.