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Steward and Muthoni Njeru conquer Canfranc vertical uphill race

The Valsir Mountain Running World Cup had a rare Friday night out for the vertical uphill race at Canfranc-Canfranc. An international field took on this 4km route in the Aragonese Pyrenees.

Starting at the Seta River at 1455m the runners took on a rugged and in places quite technical course, climbing all the way up to the summit of Tuca Blanca at 2313m. While a few flatter sections along the way gave brief respite there were some incredibly steep sections, in particular the final section up to the summit top finish, which saw runners .

Fortunately the weather was perfect for the runners, at 19 degrees centigrade at the start and around 11 degrees on the summit, with a very gentle breeze.

Men’s race

The men’s race was wide open, with several strong contenders who have enjoyed breakthrough results in the World Cup this year. Joe Steward (GBR) has already finished on two vertical uphill podiums in the 2023 World Cup – Vertical Nasego just last weekend and Piz Tri Vertical in July. Remi Leroux (CAN) was second at Montemuro, a longer but similar race. Vincent Loustau (FRA) was also hotly tipped, due to his background as a road cyclist with great climbing abilities. There were many other athletes capable of making the podium on their day, such as Adil Moussaoui (MOR), Ondrej Fejfar (CZE) and Raul Criado (ESP).

But there was one male runner who seemed determined to stamp his authority on the race from the start and that was Steward. He opened up a lead early and it never looked like heCanfranc Joe web was going to give it up as he just kept up the pace. Behind him the real race was on as Leroux and Loustau constantly switched places as they chased Steward and fought each other. In the end Steward couldn’t be caught and won convincingly in 35.34, with Leroux winning the race for second just under two minutes behind him. Loustau was just behind in third.

Men’s top 5

  1. Joe Steward (GBR) – 35.34
  2. Remi Leroux (CAN) – 36.32
  3. Vincent Loustau (FRA) – 36.45
  4. Arnau Soldevila (AND) – 37.56
  5. Adil Moussaoui (MOR) – 38.06

Women’s race

Canfranc Joyce webThe women’s race also had some really strong contenders, several of whom are in strong contention for the World Cup this year. Joyce Muthoni Njeru (KEN) is sitting at the stop of the women’s standings, having won Fletta Trail and La Montee du Nid d’Aigle earlier this season, as well as taking second place at Sierre Zinal. She is always a serious contender in the classic races, but what could she do here? Similarly, fellow Kenyan Lucy Murigi is in the top five of this year’s World Cup competition, having had some strong results. Other runners expected to feature included Camilla Magliano (ITA) and Olivia Magnone (FRA).

Just as in the men’s race, we saw one woman take it out from the start and that was Muthoni Njeru. She quickly established a lead and then just continued to stretch it out in a show of dominance. Behind her Murigi initially led the chase but behind her Magnone was moving through the places and challenging. Eventually Muthoni Njeru won in 42.23 and there was a three minute gap back to Magnone, who won the battle for second, with Murigi just 30 seconds behind her in third.

Women’s top five

  1. Joyce Muthoni Njeru (KEN) – 42.23
  2. Olivia Magnone (FRA) – 45.27
  3. Lucy Murigi (KEN) – 45.55
  4. Camilla Magliano (ITA) – 47.57
  5. Charlotte Cotton (BEL) – 48.10

 Valsir World Cup standings

In the men’s competition Steward’s 50 points will move him up to third place, and he could yet add to this tally on Sunday. The women’s competition will also see some changes. Muthoni Njeru has extended her lead to over 100 points! In addition Murigi has added 30 points to her total (taking her to 143) but she remains in fourth place. But this will all change again on Sunday, and we will update you.  

How to follow the classic race

The classic mountain race starts at 8am CET on Sunday 10th September

Live streaming will be available at:

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