The fun continues in Innsbruck with the longest event of the Mountain and Trail World Championships.
Frenchwoman Marion Delespierre wins the women’s Trail Long over 86.9 kilometers and 6,500 vertical meters in ascent ahead of Katharina Hartmuth from Germany and her fellow French native Manon Bohard Cailler.
The best ten women were within minutes of each other for most of the race, with the technical nature of the race seeing places change throughout depending on the strengths of each athlete.
While the women’s Trail Short on Thursday was exciting enough, the decision on the Trail Long was even more suspenseful. The first surprise came only 18 kilometers after the start, when defending champion Blandine L’Hirondel had to abort the race.
Following this, Marcela Vasinova from Czechia kept the lead for a long time and was able to play to her strength in the steep parts. However, she had problems in the downhill, which allowed Katharina Hartmuth to come closer and closer before finally gaining on her during the climb to the Hoadl.
Competition against each other, but also together against the brutal course
Then we got to see something that is rather rare at World Championships – the two competitors walking next to each other and chatting for several hundred meters. Behind them, the following seven ladies all came within a distance of four to five minutes.
Just like Andreas Reiterer among the men, Hartmuth was the expected winner, but just like him she was overtaken – in her case by Marion Delespierre. On the tar section leading up to the Nordkette, the German tried to keep up but had to admit defeat during the ascent towards the Aspach hut as she just couldn’t keep up with the Frenchwoman’s speed any longer.
Not only that, she also had to fend off Manon Bohard Cailler who kept creeping closer. Her efforts evidently paid off – Katharina Hartmuth won Silver.
At only 23 years of age, Frenchman Benjamin Roubiol wins the men’s race. Italian Andreas Reiterer was the second to cross the finish line, followed by Peter Frano from Slovakia in third place.
Immediately after the start, a trio of Japanese runners took the lead, with Yamato Yoshino being the first to reach the so-called Naturschauplatz Hühnerspiel. However, once the field returned to Neustift after the initial 17 kilometers of the course, he had fallen back as far as 14 minutes and eventually had to give up.
Italian Andreas Reiterer was in the lead for more than 45 kilometers, at times running solo and leaving a changing field of pursuers up to six minutes behind. But after having passed three peaks as well as the flat approach to Kranebitten, the climb up to the Nordkette caused him trouble, which allowed Benjamin Roubiol to come closer and closer and finally pass Reiterer just before the Aspach hut.
Over about seven kilometers, the Italian athlete lost eight minutes but he managed to cross the finish line in second place, 1:23 minutes ahead of Peter Frano from Slovakia.
British & team interests
It was a mixed day for British runners with a tough day for experienced team members Harry Jones and George Foster, but debutant Tom Joly de Lotbiniare, who ran well all day and just missed out on a top 10 finish in the final stages.
The women’s team had three strong performances from Fiona Pascall (18th), Jasmin Paris (31st) and Julia Davis (41st) which led to them being sixth team.
France had a double team victory as well as their double individual golds, showcasing the huge strength and depth of talent within the country. There was an almightily close battle for both team events, with Germany a close silver for the women and the US men seeing it go down to the wire after finishing 5th, 6th and 7th.