Andrea Mayr and Patrick Kipngeno return to defend their titles at both Vertical Nasego and Trofeo Nasego
After a break of a few weeks the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup is back and this time it returns to Italy! This weekend the best mountain runners in the world will be heading to Casto in the north of Italy for Vertical Nasego and Trofeo Nasego as the World Cup competition really hots up!
On Saturday 2nd September the athletes will compete on the 4.3k Vertical Nasego course which packs in 1000m of ascent, making it our next vertical uphill race, then on Sunday 3rd the 21k Trofeo Nasego with 1330m of climb will provide the arena for our next long mountain race. Many runners will take on both races, which will ensure a great weekend of racing, with a lot of World Cup points on offer.
Valsir World Cup standings
The standard of the fields assembled for Vertical and Trofeo Nasego can be illustrated by the fact that 10 of the top 11 runners in the women’s World Cup and 9 of the top 15 in the men’s competition will be there. This weekend could have a major impact on the final World Cup standings, with just two races at Canfranc-Canfranc and three races at Sky Gran Canaria to go. See the World Cup calendar for full details.
Starting in Casto, the runners will begin climbing on roads and good trails before the really hard work begins and the path becomes steeper and more technical as it winds its way painfully to the evenutal relief of the finish line.
Last year we saw a new men’s course record with Patrick Kipngeno (KEN) winning in 33.47. Andrea Mayr (AUT) won the women’s race in a time that was just outside her own course record of 39.39. This year these athletes return as not only defending champions but World Champions from Innsbruck. They are surely the athletes to beat here.
Mayr will stand on the start line with a number of Vertical Nasego accolades to her name. She was not only the winner here in 2019 (setting the course record), 2021 and 2022, but she is the only woman to have run under 40 minutes here. She is clearly in form this year, with wins at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships and Piz Tri Vertical, so could we see her breaking her own course record?
She will certainly be tested by top competition. Philaries Kisang (KEN), who duelled with Mayr so memorably at the World Championships, and has had a run of impressive results this year, will certainly be looking to challenge. Scout Adkin (GBR) finished second to Mayr at Piz Tri Vertical and at Challenge Stellina last weekend and is having a strong season.
Anna Gibson (USA), winner of the Broken Arrow VK and third at Stellina will also be making her debut here. Madalina Florea (ROU) was last year’s runner-up here and recently showed that she isn’t afraid to throw down the gauntlet with that gutsy run at Sierre Zinal.
There is huge depth in the Italian field for the women. Valentina Belotti is a three-time winner of Vertical Nasego, and Camilla Magliano, Dimitra Teocharis and Elisa Compagnoni could well feature. The Kenyan runners Joyce Muthoni (our current leader in the World Cup) and Lucy Murigi are also expected to trouble the top ten. Other runners to watch include Julia Font (ESP), Susanna Saapunki (FIN) and the British contingent of Alice Goodall, Philippa Williams, Sara Willhoit and Holly Page.
Kipngeno does appear to be unbeatable in uphill-only races, but this year has shown that if anybody can challenge him it’s fellow Kenyan Philemon Kiriago. Sierre Zinal showed that while Kipngeno dominates the ascent, he is beatable where there is a downhill element. So Kiriago may have a stronger chance on Sunday, but it should still be an interesting battle in the vertical race.
The Italian field is very strong, with Henri Aymonod and Andrea Rostan, who both featured on the podium at the Broken Arrow VK this year, as well as other uphill specialists Tiziano Moia, Andrea Elia, Luciano Rota, Micheal Galassi, Matteo Eydallin, Luca Cagnati and Isacco Costa.
Last year’s runner-up Zak Hanna (IRL) will return and Jacob Adkin (GBR), winner of last year’s Chiavenna Lagunc, will also start. His fellow Brit, Joe Steward, is having a breakthrough season, having won Challenge Stellina last weekend and finished third at Piz Tri Vertical in July. He could well be one to watch.
Other runners who could feature in the men’s race include Timotej Beçan (SLO), Remi Leroux (CAN), Chris Richards (GBR), Alejandro Garcia Carrillo (ESP) and Alric Petit (FRA).
This will be the 22nd edition of Trofeo Nasego and year on year the field just keeps getting better. In what has become a classic of the mountain running circuit, the runners will take on a 21.5k and mostly runnable course. From the start in Castro at 400m it climbs slowly for the first 6km, before flattening off for 6k, then comes the big climb up to Rifugio Nasego at 1311m, before a frantic descent down to Famea for the finish.
Last year’s winners, Mayr and Kipngeno, will also be back to defend their titles for a second day in a row! But both are sure to be pushed by a stellar field.
Muthoni may well be the athlete with the strongest score to settle for the women. Having finished second here last year and fourth in 2021, and after a recent win at Fletta Trail and a second place at Sierre Zinal, she may well feel that her time has come to stamp her authority on this race. Florea too may feel that her time has come, after a fourth place here last year.
But they will face stern competition from very much in-form athletes Kisang and Adkin. Magliano has also achieved sixth and seventh place finishes here, on top of a consistent string of top ten finishes in World Cup races over the last three years. Consistency is also Murigi’s middle name, and she won here in 2019 and has finished top ten subsequently.
Gibson’s debut here will be exciting to watch and the depth of the women’s field really is incredible. Italian runners include Vivien Bonzi, Beatrice Bianchi and the more experienced Alice Gaggi and Sara Bottarelli.
Strong British talent includes Willhoit, Page, Williams, Kirsty Dickson, Naomi Lang and the hotly tipped Goodall. Lastly, Font could also feature, having had some strong results at the Canfranc-Canfranc 16k and many sub-ultra trail races.
This race is expected to be a battle between Kiriago and Kipngeno, as we saw at Sierre Zinal, but there are many runners who could rewrite this narrative.
The home crowd would love to see an Italian victory again. Former Italian winners Xavier Chevrier and Cesare Maestri will be back and both are on form with recent top ten finishes in both the World Championships and Sierre Zinal. Aymonod and Rostan could also put up a strong challenge, particularly with the added motivation of adding important points to their World Cup standings.
But competition will also come from Spanish athlete Garcia Carrillo, who beat both Chevrier and Maestri at the World Championships. Andrew Douglas (GBR) won this race in 2019 and returns, and fellow Brits Adkin, Richards and particularly Steward could feature. Other runners to watch in the men’s race include Becan, Lengen Lolkurraru (KEN), Ordrej Fejfar (CZE), Luciano Rota (ITA), Scott Maguire (CAN) and Chris Allen (USA).
How to follow the race
We are assured of two days of great mountain running in these historic Italian valleys.
Vertical Nasego starts on Saturday 2nd September at 10am for the women and 10.45am for the men.
Trofeo Nasego starts on Sunday at 9.30am for both men and women. See the full programme.
Find out more about the race at their website.
The organisers will be providing regular updates via their Instagram account. You can also follow the action on the WMRA social channels: