This Week In Running: September 27, 2021

This Week in Running Justin Mock TWIR

Three big international series – Golden Trail World Series, Skyrunner World Series, and World Mountain Running Association World Cup – all held races this weekend. Add to that Spartathlon, another set of USATF trail national championships, and the adidas Infinite Trails race, and it was a blockbuster weekend.

La SkyRhune – Ascain, France

La SkyRhune ran on a 21-kilomeer course with 1,700 meters (5,575 feet) of elevation gain. This was the last Golden Trail World Series contest before the October 16 finale in the Canary Islands.

Men

Jan Margarit (Spain) and Johann Baujard (France) escaped the chase pack, and Margarit broke free for the win in 1:52. Baujard was 48 seconds behind, and both dipped under Thibaut Baronian‘s 2017 course record.

The rest of the top 10 included:

3 – Pascal Egli (Switzerland) – 1:54
4 – Frédéric Tranchand (France) – 1:55
5 – Elhousine Elazzaoui (Morocco) – 1:56
6 – Sylvain Cachard (France) – 1:56
7 – Bartłomiej Przedwojewski (Poland) – 2:00
8 – Loic Robert (France) – 2:01
9 – Albert Pérez (Spain) – 2:01
10 – Adrien Michaud (France) – 2:01

Women

Nienke Brinkman (Netherlands) has been a breakout star of this year’s Golden Trail World Series. She crushed the field here, and shattered Blandine L’Hirondel’s 2019 course record. Brinkman finished in 2:04, eight minutes better than everyone else and the same amount better than the old record too. Brinkman trailed Maude Mathys (Switzerland) earlier this year at Sierre-Zinal, but another race between the two series leaders at the end of the Golden Trail World Series could be among the year’s highlights.

Elise Poncet (France) was a distant second in 2:12, but she too gapped the rest of the field.

The rest of the top 10 ran as:

3 – Sara Alonso (Spain) – 2:19
4 – Dani Moreno (USA) – 2:19
5 – Emily Harrop (France) – 2:21
6 – Erkkilä Anna-Stiina (Finland) – 2:22
7 – Lucille Germain (France) – 2:23
8 – Nadège Servant (USA) – 2:26
9 – Iris Pessey (France) – 2:26
10 – Caitlin Fielder (New Zealand) – 2:27

Full results.

Spartathlon – Sparta, Greece

Spartathlon runs on an historic 153-mile point-to-point route, starting at the Acropolis in Athens and finishing in Sparta. It’s largely on roads, but includes a nighttime 4,000-foot climb and descent of Mount Parthenion.

Men

Fotis Zisimopoulos (Greece) stunned the field with a 21:57 winning time. It was the race’s fifth-fastest finish ever, and fastest since 1990. Zisimopoulos trails only Yiannis Kouros on the all-time charts, and he is also the first Greek to win the race since 1998.
Race veteran Radek Brunner (Czech Republic) was second in 23:17. It was his third runner-up finish, and since 2016, Brunner has finished no worse than third here.
Third-place Sumny Milan, also of the Czech Republic, finished in 23:52.

Women

Diāna Džaviza (Latvia) moved into the lead overnight and won the race in 25:23. Džaviza’s finish ranks fourth best ever.

Two-time race winner Zsuzsanna Maraz (Hungary) was second in 25:59 and Noora Honkala (Finland) was third in 26:26.

Marisa Lizak (USA) was fourth in 27:04.

Full results.

Trofeo Ciolo – Gagliano del Capo, Italy

The coastal almost-12k was part of the World Mountain Running Association World Cup and the up-and-down course gained 640 meters of elevation. The race was uphill at both the start and the finish.

Men

Petro Mamu (Eritrea) outmanned Geoffrey Ndungu (Kenya) in 50:22. Second-place Ndungu was almost a minute behind in 51:19. Alex Baldaccini (Italy) was right behind Ndungu in 51:23.
In 2017, Mamu failed two doping tests, after both the World Mountain Running Championships and the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. He was given a nine-month ban starting in September of 2017 by the IAAF for testing positive for fenoterol.

Women

Joyce Njeru (Kenya) outran countrywoman Lucy Murigi (Kenya) to win this one in 57:12, nine seconds better than Murigi. Alice Gaggi (Italy) was third in 1:01:17. The win moved Njeru into the World Cup series lead.

Up next, there are four WMRA World Cup races between October 1 and 3. California’s Broken Arrow Skyrace Vertical K and 26k both feature, along with short and long races at Spain’s Zumaia Flysch Trail that same weekend too.

Birkie Trail Run Festival – Cable, Wisconsin

The half marathon race was again the USATF Trail Half Marathon National Championships. A new course gained 1,000 feet of elevation, not insignificant for the U.S. Midwest, and a $6,000 cash purse was up for grabs with $1,000 to each of the race winners.

Joe Gray (Champion) and Edward Owens (second) at the Birke Trail Run Festival USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships

Edward Owens (second place, at left) and Joe Gray (champion) at the 2021 Birke Trail Run Festival, which was the USATF Trail Half Marathon National Championships. Photo: Michael Scott

Men

Joseph Gray broke free from Edward Owens in the final five miles and won the race in 1:14. It was his third win here, adding to 2017 and 2018 victories. Owens, who like Gray is on this year’s U.S. Mountain Running Team, was a close second in 1:15, only 21 seconds back. Owens is a new name to this column, but his running record includes a 14:16 5,000-meter best. Third-place Andy Wacker followed in 1:18. The three are expected to have a rematch and next weekend’s Broken Arrow Skyrace.

Rachel Johnson, champion of the Birke Trail Run USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships

Rachel Johnson, champion of the 2021 Birke Trail Run USATF Trail Half Marathon National Championships.

Women

Rachel Johnson, second at this year’s U.S. Mountain Running Championships, led the women’s race throughout and was a clear winner in 1:28. National-class steeplechaser Stephanie Garcia was just over two minutes back in 1:30 for second, and Kathryn Fluehr was third in 1:32.

Full results.

Infinite Trails – Gastein, Austria

The adidas race weekend included both an individual 65k race and separate team competitions, but most uniquely, held the awards ceremony at night alongside an athlete-filled swimming pool.

Men

The 65k loop packed in 5,081 meters (16,670 feet) across three big climbs, and Martin Anthamatten (Switzerland) best conquered the challenging course. He finished in 7:31, 15 minutes better than second-place Pablo Villa (Spain). Villa was among the drops at UTMB last month. Third-place Remigio Huaman (Peru) ran 7:54, and Avery Collins (USA) was fourth in 8:14.

The team race included 20k, 30k, and 40k legs for 90k of total distance. Dmitry Mityaev (Russia), Robbie Simpson (U.K.), and Petter Engdahl (Sweden) were the top all-male team.

Women

Taylor Nowlin (USA) topped the women’s group in 9:05, just eight minutes ahead of Rebecca Robisch (Germany). Nowlin commented on social media that it was her single biggest day of elevation gain, and that a conservative start led to a very strong finish. Tatiana Mitkina (Russia) was third in 9:49.

Sheila Avilés (Spain), Ruth Croft (New Zealand), and Sabrina Stanley (USA) teamed to win the women’s relay.

Full results.

Additional Races and Runs

Gorbeia Suzein – Zeanuri, Spain

The latest race in the Skyrunner World Series totaled 31k with 2,400 meters (7,875 feet) of elevation gain, all inside the Gorbeia Natural Park. The race was part of the country’s Golden Trail National Series too. Official results aren’t yet online, but social points to longtime Skyrunner Zaid Ait Malek (Morocco, living in Spain) winning in the men’s race. For the women, Denisa Dragomir (Romania) won her fourth Skyrunner World Series race of the year. Both winners were showered in confetti as they broke the tape. Full results (when available).

Zaid ait Malek Gorbeia Suzien Champion

Zaid Ait Malek wins the 2021 Gorbeia Suzien. Photo: Chris Alonzo

Fast Future 10k – Essen, Germany

Grayson Murphy won the women’s 10k road race here in 32:54. The race was a promotional event tied to the launch of Saucony’s new Endorphin Pro+ shoe.

Humani’Trail – Ormont-Dessus, Switzerland

Sangé Sherpa (Nepal, living in France) and Laurence Yerly (Switzerland) won the 50k alpine race in 5:51 and 6:55, respectively. Full results.

Trail du Petit Ballon – Rouffach, France

Arnaud Bonin (France) and Blandine L’Hirondel (France) won the 54k race in 4:16 and 4:40. Full results (when available).

Bear 100 Mile – Logan, Utah

Adam Loomis and Rebecca Windell won the point-to-point, interstate Bear 100 Mile. Loomis ran 18:45 and Windell, in her 100-mile debut, ran 21:45. Full results.

West Line Winder 50k – Buena Vista, Colorado

Brian Condon won the men’s West Line Winder 50k in 4:50. Courtney Dauwalter came back from her UTMB victory less than a month ago to win here in 4:34. Full results.

Sawatch Ascent 50k – Nathrop, Colorado

A day after the nearby West Line Winder 50k, the Sawatch Ascent 50k took off from the nearby Mount Princeton Hot Springs. It was a chance for maximum exposure to Colorado’s leaf-peeping gold rush. Benjamin Hearon won the men’s race in 5:37, while Courtney Dauwalter doubled back from yesterday’s nearby event and won in 5:29. Full results.

Conestoga Trail Run – Pequea, Pennsylvania

He didn’t get his own course record from 2015, but Zach Miller won his hometown 10-mile race alongside women’s champ Nicole Seuffert. Full results (when available).

Yeti 100 Mile – Abingdon, Virginia

Chris Varnadoe won the men’s race in 15:42 while Amy Hamilton took it for the women in a quick 15:23. Full results.

Call for Comments

That was a fun weekend of racing. Tell us what fun you had this weekend too below!

Justin Mock

is a family man, finance man, and former competitive runner. He gave his 20s to running, and ran as fast as 2:29 for the marathon and finished as high as fourth at the Pikes Peak Marathon. His running is now most happy with his two dogs on the trails and peaks near his home west of Denver.