The next Valsir Mountain Running World Cup race is the Smarna Gora Race on 7th October. This is a silver label event, which is our next classic mountain race and it’s a race steeped in history.
For over 40 years the Smarna Gora Race has provided the setting for some incredibly competitive racing. In 2020 it was voted the Greatest Mountain Race of All Time in a WMRA poll and it has been included as a World Cup race more than 20 times.
The race takes place on the outskirts of the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana. It may not be in the high mountains – the highest summit, Grmada, stands at just 676m above sea level and less than 400m above the city below – but the area is stunning and perfect for running.
The event starts on Friday night (6th October) with the Smarna Gora Record, an associate member partner race for the World Cup. This is a fast and furious race of 1.85k with 360m of ascent, taking the most direct route from the start in Tacen to the top of the hill. The records for this race are 13.18 for the women (set by Mateja Kosovelj in 2006) and 10.59 for the men (Filimon Abraham, 2020).
Smarna Gora Record profile
Then the following day it’s the Smarna Gora Race. At 10k with 710m+ and 350m-, the course is a blend of tough climbs, fast running and technical trails. The summit of Grmada is reached first, just after the 4 kilometre mark, before a 2 kilometre descent brings the runners back down to begin the final climb, spiraling anti-clockwise around the mountain to finish outside the Gostilna Ledinek inn at the summit.
Smarna Gora Race profile
Andrea Mayr holds the record for the women, 47:50 set in 2017 in the fastest of her 7 wins (the first of which was in 2008). The men’s record is from 2012, when Alex Baldaccini just pipped Azerya Teklay in a photo finish, with both athletes recording 41:32. This year, as ever, there are some strong contenders.
In the women’s race Susanna Saapunki (FIN), who is currently lying in 6th place in the women’s World Cup standings after strong results at La Montee du Nid d’Aigle and Vertical Nasego and a win at Primiero Dolomiti Trail last weekend, is a favourite, but she will face strong competition from hotly tipped Adela Vetcha (CZE), Lydia Van Vleet(USA) and some strong Slovenian athletes.
For the men, Remi Leroux (CAN) is having a great season, with second places at the Canfranc vertical uphill race and Montemuro Vertical Run, and will be among the favourites. He is currently sitting in fourth place in the men’s World Cup standings with 138 points. Liam Meirow (USA) could be one to watch, as could Lengen Lolkurraru(KEN). There are some strong Italian runners too, including Michael Galassi and Isaaco Costa, and last year’s winner, Timotej Becan (SLO), can’t be discounted.
There is a financial incentive for breaking the current course record: €250 plus €10 for every second under the old record. The race website features a search engine with full results of both the Record and Šmarna Gora races, searchable by year, nationality, gender, position.
Current World Cup standings
With the points removed from runners who have done more than six races it’s Joyce Muthoni Njeru (KEN) and Philemon Kiriago (KEN) who lead, with 280 and 250 points respectively.
For the women Philaries Kisang (KEN) is second with 195 points, Andrea Mayr (AUT) with 190, Lucy Murigi (KEN) with 160 and Scout Adkin (GBR) just behind with 156.
For the men Patrick Kipngeno (KEN) is just behind Kiriago with 230 points, then Joe Steward (GBR) is third with 140, then Remi Leroux (CAN) with 138 and Andrea Rostan (ITA) with 106.
It’s going to be an exciting final few races here at Smarna Gora and then at Gran Canaria. See full results and standings here: World_Cup_Results.pdf (wmra.info)
Follow the race
Smarna Gora Record starts at 4.50pm (women) and 5.10pm (men) on Friday 6th October
Smarna Gora Race starts at 10.10am (men and women) on Saturday 7th October.
Live tracking will be available at Timing Ljubljana – YouTube
About the WMRA:
Formed in 1984, the World Mountain Running Association is the global governing body for
mountain running and has the goal of promoting mountain running for all ages and abilities.
Aswell as the World Cup, the WMRA organizes Masters, U18 and area championships and this
year for the second time will work in partnership with the World Athletics, ITRA and IAU to deliver the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Innsbruck, Austria. The WMRA also
maintains the Mountain Running World Ranking, a system of points allocated to athletes based
on the results in designated races.