2015 IAU Trail World Championships Results

Among a very strong international field at the 2015 IAU Trail World Championships, France’s Sylvain Court (post-race interview) and Nathalie Mauclair (post-race interview) emerged victorious, and aided their respective men’s and women’s Team France to team gold medals. Read on to hear how the rest of the race played out.

In addition to this article, you can find our full play-by-play of the race as well as a collection of our pre-race interviews and previews on our IAU Trail World Championships live-coverage page.

As usual, we’ll be updating this article with additional results as well as links to IAU Trail World Championships-related articles, photo galleries, and race reports. Check back!

Ps. To get all the latest ultra news from iRunFar.com, subscribe via RSS or email.

Scenery on the 2015 IAU Trail World Championships course above Annecy, France. Photo: Kirsten Kortebein

2015 IAU Trail World Championships Men’s Race

One of the things I love best about the increasing competitiveness of trail and ultrarunning is the dynamicity at the front of races, and today was a shining example of the pointy end of the field changing hands time and again. Winner Sylvain Court (post-race interview), of France, was always there, either in the lead or within spitting distance of whomever was leading for most of the race. Near the top of the first climb, at 16k into the race, he was running right around third position. Over and over when we saw Sylvain, he was hanging out ‘right there’ and occasionally even running in the lead, such as when we saw him at 36k. The final turning point, however, didn’t come until the final climb, after 71k. It was there that he finally put distance between he and the last remaining man. He left the 71k refreshment point basically sharing the lead with Luis Alberto Hernando, but put almost 2.5 minutes on him in 8.5 kilometers of climbing, a gap he would perfectly maintain to the finish line.

The men’s lead pack at 27k. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Sylvain Court, 2015 IAU Trail World Champion. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

To tell the truth, it’s a little strange to see Luis Alberto Hernando (post-race interview) do anything but win. However, second place Luis Alberto, of Spain, told us earlier in the week that his legs were still a bit fatigued from his Transvulcania Ultramarathon win three weeks ago. This seemed the case on race day, in that Luis was never super peppy and he lacked that that raw, animalian edge we’ve come to recognize in him. Still, he was a force to be reckoned with all day. Just like Sylvain, Luis Alberto lingered in the early hours, taking turns leading and almost leading with several other runners. At about the marathon mark, he lapsed to sixth position and about 2.5 minutes back. I began to wonder if he was going to fade. The wondering was unnecessary, however, because just 8k later, he’d assumed second position. When we saw him at 65k and 71k, he was leading by a minute margin and few-second margin, respectively. Here it seemed he was trying to make a break, but it didn’t stick. When we next saw Luis Alberto at 79.5k, at the top of the last climb, he’d fallen into second position, where he would stay.

Luis Alberto Hernando racing at the marathon mark. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

France’s Patrick Bringer (post-race interview) really brought it with his third-place finish. In the early part of the race, Patrick ran outside of the men’s top 10, lingering between 10th and 13th places. It wasn’t until after halfway that he started plowing his way through the field. At 50k, he’d moved into seventh and it looked like he was toying with the tough climb at Col de la Forclaz, like it was an easy game for him. Then, at the top of the next climb, at 58k, Patrick was in fourth. He assumed third position after 71k when Sebastien Spehler, who had been running in front of him, dropped from the race.

Patrick Bringer climbing at 50k. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Fourth place Tom Owens, of Great Britain, was the move-up man, much like Patrick Bringer. Tom and Patrick were running a similar pace for the first half of the race, just outside the top 10. In the race’s second half, Tom slowly clawed his way forward in the pack, saying at the finish that this was a result of him not feeling too great early on, and feeling better and better as the race progressed. During the final climb between 71k and 79.5k, Tom found and stuck to fourth place.

France’s Ludovic Pommeret employed the same strategy as Patrick and Tom to bring home his fifth place, though he got aggressive about starting to move up positions earlier in the race, maybe just a third of the way in.

The United States’s Alex Nichols (pre-race interview) gets my hat tip for the most well-played race. What do you think of this? Forty-first place at 8k, 29th place at 18k, 21st place at 33k, 17th at 44k, 12th at 50k, 10th at 58k, still 10th at 71k, then–wait for it–sixth at 79.5k, before finishing sixth overall. Dude, that’s a heckuva race.

France’s Nicolas Martin was seventh, France’s Xavier Thévenard eighth, Iceland’s Thorbergur Jonsson ninth, and Norway’s Didrik Hermansen 10th.

2015 IAU Trail World Championships Men’s Individual Results

  1. Sylvain Court (France) — 8:15:38 (post-race interview)
  2. Luis Alberto Hernando (Spain) — 8:19:06 (post-race interview)
  3. Patrick Bringer (France) — 8:21:43 (post-race interview)
  4. Tom Owens (Great Britain) — 8:26:23
  5. Ludovic Pommeret (France) — 8:33:07
  6. Alex Nichols (United States) — 8:38:15 (pre-race interview)
  7. Nicolas Martin (France) — 8:41:01
  8. Xavier Thévenard (France) — 8:41:45
  9. Thorbergur Jonsson (Iceland) — 8:47:24
  10. Didrik Hermansen (Norway) — 8:59:39

Full results.

2015 IAU Trail World Championships Men’s Team Race and Results

As per IAU rules, teams bringing more than six athletes have to choose the six who are eligible to help score team points before the race. Team France chose to not include Xavier Thévenard, Benoit Cori, and Ludovic Pommeret on their potential scorers’ list. So scoring came from the times of top-three finishers on France’s list of potential scorers, meaning individual winner Sylvain Court (8:15:38), third place Patrick Bringer (8:21:43), and seventh place Nicolas Martin (8:41:01). Despite not being able to count some of their top finishers, the team came out with a large-margin win for the team gold medal.

Early in the race, it was looking as if Team United States might not be in medal contention at all, because Team France and Team Spain were dominating. However, patience pays off and it certainly did for this group. Alex Nichols’s sixth place (8:38:15) was the top American finish, with David Laney’s 12th (9:02:44) and Alex Varner’s (pre-race interview) 18th place (9:21:00) being the balance of the Team USA scorers. Early-race leader Tim Tollefson dropped from the race with a foot injury.

The team bronze medal goes to Team Great Britain, which was led by Tom Owens’s fourth place (8:26:23), Kim Collison’s 20th place (9:22:02), and Lee Kemp’s 27th place (9:37:32).

Team Spain fell out of medal contention after being in the game earlier, due to drops among their front runners; they finished fourth.

  1. France — 25:18:22
  2. United States — 27:01:59
  3. Great Britain — 27:25:57

Full results.

2015 IAU Trail World Championships Women’s Race

Holy smokes did the French women take the race out hard! From the get go, it was Anne-Lise Rousset, Caroline Chaverot (post-race interview), and Nathalie Mauclair (pre-race and post-race interviews) pushing the up-front pace. By just 8k into the race, the trio had set themselves apart by a minute from the field. Another 10k later, they were 5.5 minutes off the rest of the pack. And, at 27k, the threesome was very close together and eight minutes ahead of all the other women.

Anne-Lise Rousset and Nathalie Mauclair running together at 27k. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Nathalie Mauclair, 2015 IAU Trail World Champion. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

From there, the pack splintered. At 36k, Caroline was in the lead by 3.5 minutes, with Nathalie second and Anne-Lise now six minutes back. At 42.5k, it was the same story: Caroline off the front, Nathalie chasing, and Anne-Lise solidly in third. The race would stay this way until the descent between 65k and 71k, where Nathalie ate into all but about 45 seconds of Caroline’s three-minute lead. It was not long after, at the beginning of the last long climb to Mont Baron at 79.5k, in which Nathalie took over and held onto the women’s lead. What a powerhouse she is, and this win makes two in a row for her at the 2013 and 2015 IAU Trail World Championships. (The event his held every two years.) Early leader Anne-Lise would go on to finish fourth.

Caroline Chaverot climbing at 58k. Photo: Kirsten Kortebein

Spain’s Maite Maiora (post-race interview) ran the first half of the race in fourth place, then wedged her way up into third place when Anne-Lise slowed and she stayed strong. Maite said about 10 days ago that she has a fracture in her tibial plateau from a fall while training, but she started and finished this race. For most of the race, she looked as if she was running normally and without pain, but at the top of the last climb at 79k, she was favoring her injured leg quite heavily. Strong performance aside, I sure hope Maite’s health wasn’t compromised for it.

Maite Maiora running into town at 71k. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Count Switzerland’s Andrea Huser among the women who started more slowly and finished strong, running a smart race. Her fifth place was a result of running outside the top 10 until after the marathon mark, running into ninth by 50k, then seventh at 58k, sixth place at 61k, and fifth place at 79.5k.

Sixth place, Spain’s Uxue Fraile (pre-race interview), also ran a smart race. She, too, was outside the women’s top 10, until she snuck her way in by the 50k point and just kept moving up in places. France’s Maud Gobert, who was the 2011 IAU Trail World Champion, finished seventh, Sweden’s Mimmi Kotka eighth, the Czech Republic’s Anna Strakova ninth, and Spain’s Teresa Nimes 10th.

Americans Cassie Scallon, Krissy Moehl, and Amy Rusiecki finished respectively in 12th, 20th, and 48th.

2015 IAU Trail World Championships Women’s Individual Results

  1. Nathalie Mauclair (France) — 9:30:59 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
  2. Caroline Chaverot (France) — 9:33:21 (post-race interview)
  3. Maite Maiora (Spain) — 9:39:36 (post-race interview)
  4. Anne-Lise Rousset (France) — 10:05:19
  5. Andrea Huser (Switzerland) — 10:20:31
  6. Uxue Fraile (Spain) — 10:25:25 (pre-race interview)
  7. Maud Gobert (France) — 10:33:25
  8. Mimmi Kotka (Sweden) — 10:46:09
  9. Anna Strakova (Czech Republic) — 10:46:56
  10. Teresa Nimes (Spain) — 10:55:46

Full results.

2015 IAU Trail World Championships Women’s Team Race and Results

As in the men’s race, Team France was the runaway victor in the women’s team race. Also like the men’s French team, several top-finishing women were left off the list of potential scorers due to IAU rules which required teams to choose six potentially scoring women ahead of the race. This meant that the scores of Juliette Benedicto, Anne-Lise Rousset, and Sylvaine Cussot would not count toward the team performance. So the scoring came from Nathalie Mauclair’s win (9:30:59), Caroline Chaverot’s second place (9:33:21), and Maud Gobert’s seventh place (10:33:25). Again like the men’s team, despite not being able to count one of their top finishers, Team France won team gold without challenge.

As expected, women’s Team Spain competed well, with Maite Maiora’s third place (9:39:36), Uxue Fraile’s sixth place (10:25:25), and Teresa Nimes’s 10th place (10:55:46) leading them to a team silver medal.

With Team Italy, it seems that conservative running paid off. They finished with a team bronze medal courtesy of Lisa Borzani’s 11th place (10:59:02), Sonia Glarey’s 13th place (11:01:38), and Virginia Oliveri’s 29th place (11:38:56).

  1. France — 29:37:45
  2. Spain — 31:00:47
  3. Italy — 33:39:36

Full results.

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Thank You

A big thank you to our on-course helpers and translators, Mauri Pagliacci, Kirsten Kortebein, Jamie Wentworth, Rodrigo Lizama, and Anne-Marie Dunhill. Merci beaucoup, we can’t do this without the community!

Meghan Hicks: is iRunFar.com's Managing Editor and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.

View Comments (8)

  • First of all, congratulations to the US runners, nice work! Just surviving a 50 miler with that much climbing is no easy task!

    There have been negative comments about the IAU race, and the conversation at this point is quite one-sided, especially when comments on other websites are blocked, as what happened when I attempted to provide an alternate opinion on Talk Ultra. Fortunately, Andy Symonds has addressed several points on his site:

    Anna Frost posted the comments about the race below. I don't think she has ever been to an IAU championship, so I thought it might be useful to provide a perspective from someone who has been to a few IAU trail races and a couple of road 50k's.

    The sport will officially become an international ‘athletic’ discipline at the IAAF conference in August and I believe that changes will be implemented to make trail running fit into the IAAF philosophy rather than following the values that our trail running community have created.

    Don’t know what I am talking about? Here are some examples:

    • You race to be part of a running community? To have an oportunity to line up with the best of the best? I do too! But that does not happen in this race. The elites will start seperatly to all of you. It is no longer an open race.

    • You like the freedom to enter any trail race you want? I do too! But that does not happen in this race. I need to be selected. I can not race for the brand that supports me. And if I do, and I manage to get a podium finish time…I wont be on the podium.

    • If you have done the race course before it was fabulous. But not in this race. They have changed the course to faster, easier, flatter trails for access. That does not inspire me.

    Trail running is fun, we can share it with everyone from volunteers, supporters, family and friends. It is open, we are free and inspired!

    My own thoughts on the IAU race and trail running values:

    At IAU races, athletes are provided room and board based on how far they have to travel, and many nations also provide additional travel support. This allows all sorts of incredible athletes to compete, even those that have occupations other than sponsored athlete. In my experiences, I've never felt more community than at IAU races, where the local towns organize parades, host social events, and invite runners into schools, and that doesn't even include the opportunity to meet runners from all over the world. I'm not sure how a separate start impairs the community aspect of trail racing. I don't think many locals run with Anna, or most elite level runners for very long at races. Andy pointed out one issue with mass starts, but there are many more. To ensure a level playing field, you need to be able to keep track of the competitive field and make sure necessary rules are followed. Examples where this doesn't happen are when some runners get support from members of their corporate team all over a course, but most other runners are forced to carry more because they have to rely on aid stations. Another good example is when runner magically only have trekking poles on steep climbs at various points during a race.

    The freedom to enter any trail race, I think that is a very exclusive option available only to high level sponsored athletes. How many races have lotteries this days? I can imagine it might be frustrating to not be selected, or told not to race an event, when you are used to racing whatever event you want. At the international level, having national teams is how you organize a championship, in any sport. Compare the international diversity of a ISF race with an IAU race. The current international competitive situation is that relatively wealthy or fully sponsored runners can travel all over the world to compete in any race they want. The IAU races open the door to many runners that do not have these resources. Take your pick.

    I can't comment on course, but it would be great to hear from Bryon, Meghan, and runners from the IAU race on whether the course was inspiring or not. Looked pretty impressive from the photos and accounts from friends. When Anna ran in 2012, the course had 5100m of vertical, and the IAU course had 5300m.

    Ian Coreless posted the following list of runners who would not be racing the IAU championship:

    Ricky Lightfoot, Max King, Anton Krupicka, Sage Canaday, Kilian Jornet, Rob Krar, Francois d’Haene, Michel Lanne, Jason Schlarb, Tofol Castanyer, Iker Karrera, Ryan Sandes, Emelie Forsberg, Nuria Picas, Anna Frost, Rory Bosio, Lizzy Hawker

    I'm not sure what the point of this list of runners was. Some are injured, Sage and Max were obviously focusing on Comrades, and there are several Salomon runners who were advised not to run the race. Ian could have mentioned that Ricky raced the Maxi race last year, and placed 10th, 45 minutes off the lead. Ricky was also initially on the GB team, and gave up his spot only a few weeks before the race.

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    • For me, the course was beautiful and brutal. The tops of the climbs provided spectacular views of the lake and surrounding mountains. I was in a lot of pain in the 2nd half, but the beauty definitely played part in keeping me going to the finish.

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      • Congrats on the run Alex, that was quite the deep field. That is exactly how I felt in Serre Chevalier, and my favorite photo of my race was one where my head was turned almost completely around checking out the view. They have some nice trails over there in France, along with some decent food....

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    • Ben,

      I ran a couple sections of the course and drove to a number of other different areas on the course the week before the race to put together our race coverage. I found the course to be aesthetic and organic. It made a loop around the lake, and naturally climbed and descended the various geographic features 'in the way' on that loop. The course is pretty 'developed,' but in a rural French agriculture and French mountain tourism manner, rather than a citified 'development.' The 'development' you experience is part and parcel to what this region of France is. The east side of Lake Annecy has some true high mountain terrain, trails that go up to 2,000 meters, and the course just grazed the edge of this on its way back to the finish line. However, in order to have a 50-ish mile race that loops Lake Annecy, going any further into this more remote, alpine terrain would be impossible.

      Personally, I would want to run the open version of this race if I were sharing it with, say, 300 or 400 other runners, tops. I don't have any personal interest, however, in running this terrain with a couple thousand other people racing the various distances in this race's current iteration. For me, having too many people around takes away the mental and environmental quietness and stillness I seek in trail running and racing.

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      • You just have to get out at 5k pace, and you can get away from all those other runners. I didn't think of the other distances, that certainly complicates things. I remember the first years at TNF Bear Mountain, when you could park right at the finish at 4:30 for the 5am start. Now, you have to catch a shuttle bus, from a parking lot 5 miles away, and the last bus leaves at 3:30am, for the start of 50 mile which does not have 17k of climb. That race gets a lot of folks on those trails, though, so overall I think it is great. The 12 colors of ribbons over the last 5 miles used to induce panic attacks though! The IAU race in Serre Chevalier had about 2k runners, but I think there was only a couple distances, both long, and only one started early. What impressed me was when I went hiking on the trails the days after the race, I never would have guessed so many runners had gone through. The trails looked the same as before or during the race.

        RD's can never win in terms of pleasing everyone, but it sounds like the Maxi Race was a good compromise between having a challenging course and having something that is little different than the 50k or 100k road races. For the top guys running 53 miles under 9 hours, it has to be mostly running, well at least for them! 8:18, that is crazy. Nathalie winning on such divergent courses, that is unreal.

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    • Ben and all,

      Simply listing the runners who aren't at a world-championship event leaves out about 99% of the story. The answers to why each of them wasn't there was diverse.

      As you know, some runners weren't at least weekend's championship because they didn't qualify by their country's unique qualification method. Some countries have, shall we say, qualification methods that may not select for the top athletes in that country and/or for the athletes who could potentially perform the best at the particular race distance and terrain. And some countries' selection processes don't occur on an appropriate timeline. Selections sometimes occur too close to the race for a runner to be able to train appropriately and organize their racing schedule accordingly.

      Then, there's the issue of variability in funding, in that some countries fully fund their athletes' participation while other countries provide no funding. Arguably funding issues hit harder the countries that are farthest from the race location, in that a runner who isn't funded and who lives quite far from a location will have to foot a huge financial burden and is perhaps less inclined to then participate as opposed to a runner who isn't funded but who lives close.

      Then, there is the issue of the timing of the race, as has you mentioned. Other high-level races beckon.

      Then, there is injury, either during the team-selection process or ahead of the championship itself that takes people off the list.

      Finally, there are the runners who elect not to participate either by not trying to qualify in their home country or turning down a place on the team for reason of personal ethics, as is also mentioned in your comment.

      All of these issues combined are what led to most of the significant absences from last weekend's championship.

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  • Good points, Meghan.

    I think several issues could be at least partially resolved with better scheduling from the IAU, as in more lead time. Do we even know where the trail race will be next year? In 2013, both Sage and Max qualified to compete in Wales, and I personally contacted them to encourage them to compete, but there were major delays in getting the race organized and Sage and Max had committed to other events. While the selection process is not as simple as for the WMRA due to the potential variability in courses, the basic strategy of selecting athletes based on performances at races similar to the IAU race has worked well for France, Great Britain in 2013, and I think Italy has followed a similar plan for past championships. As for training, I think it should be noted that you do not have to have access to the exact type of terrain to successfully prepare for the race. Luis Alberto has indicated that he doesn't not have regular access to the type of vertical at the Maxi Race, Tom Owens certainly doesn't, and Nathalie lives in the flatlands.

    Unless things have changed, the IAU race provides considerable travel funding based on how far you have to travel, and that is in addition to the room and board. It varied from event to event, but some years I barely paid anything out of pocket for my airfare. Given that the Maxi Race was much larger than most of the other IAU races I have attended, I would be surprised if they funding was not substantial.

    While there were claims of ethical reasons for not competing, I wonder how relevant they were considering that Salomon was instructing their athletes not to compete at the IAU race? I only read about ethical explanations from Salomon athletes.

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  • On a separate note, I want to thank Meghan and Bryon for both the coverage and for the robust support of the US team. From reading the race reports, it is clear you guys were intense fanatics on the course. Cheering is always helpful in races, but when you are at an international competition in foreign land (with a small support team compared to other countries), informed screaming can be as effective as a shot of adrenaline to the heart, especially when chased by copious quantities of Coke!

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