After frontrunning for nearly the whole of the 100km course, Elizabeth Hawker held off a last minute comeback from Italy’s Monica Carlin to win an action packed women’s race. Yannick Djouadi was a clear winner of the gold in the men’s race.
It was a chilly misty morning when the contenders in the IAU 100km World Cup left their hotels at 4.00 am to head out to Misari for the IAU 100km World Cup on 8 October. With temperatures forecast to rise to 27 degrees later in the day, the start was scheduled for 6.00 am to take advantage of the cooler temperatures in the early morning.
As it turned out, for much of the race the temperature hovered just above the 12 degree centigrade mark that prevailed as the runners lined up at the start line in semi-darkness and the cold and misty conditions were aggravated for much of the race by a consistent headwind blowing down the 2.5 kilometre back straight.
The men’s race got off to a fast pace as Italy’s Giorgio Calcaterra – a 2:13 marathon runner relatively new to ultrarunning – took early possession of the race, leading the field alongside one of the more daring (or was that foolhardy.) of the ‘open’ race entrants. They took the leaders through the first ten kilometres in 38:16, in a 7-man pack that also included Spain Jose Maria Gonzalez, a pre-race favourite, his compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez, Mario Fattore from Italy and French runners Sandor Barcza and Yannick Djouadi.
Come 20 kilometres the pack had already shed Canada’s Ryne Melcher, the open entrant, and was running some 3 minutes ahead of the main field as Calcaterra was timed through this distance at 1:15:41, already nearly 30 seconds ahead of Jimenez, Barcza, Djouadi, Fattore and Gonzalez, themselves almost a minute and half ahead of a strong following group headed by Russian Igor Tyazhkorob.
By the time the 30km marker was passed, Calcaterra had built up a two minute advantage over the rest of the initial lead group with his passage of 1:53:07 and was displaying his intention of going for the World record for the distance. Followin him were Barcza, Jimenez, Fattore, Gonzalez and Djouadi, with Tyazhkorob closing up to join this group.
This status quo prevailed through to the halfway point, where Calcaterra had a solid three minute lead over the three closest followers, Djouadi, Barcza and Tyazhkorob.
As they approached 60 km, Djouadi started to close in on the Italian and had reduced the gap to a minute, with Calcaterra crossing the timing point in 3:49:45, to the Frenchman’s 3:50:42 and Barcza now joined by Japan’s Yoshiaki Kobayashi trailing by just over two minutes. Tyazhkorob was holding on at this point and he was gradually being reeled in by a small following group led by his compatriots Kharitonov and Zhalybin, with Spain’s Fermin Martinez and Darren Benson from Australia.
Then dramatically Calcaterra burnt out, gradually dropping back to 10th position as Djouadi turned up his pace, took control of the race and went through 80 kilometres in 5:13:34, with Kobayashi trailing him in 5:18:14, just ahead of Kharitonov and Zhalybin who had been running alongside for most of the race.
By 90 kilometres, the race was decided, as Djouadi ran alone, with Kharitonov and Zhalybin playing catch-up and Kobayashi falling back to 19th place.
Djouadi took the gold medal in a winning time of 6:38:41, well clear of Kharitonov and Zhalybin, who crossed the line together in 6:42:18. France’s Christoph Bachelier, who had run steadily throughout the race came in fourth in 6:48:43 and was followed home by USA’s Howard Nippert in 6:53:00.
The women’s race was very much a two horse race, as Great Britain’s Elizabeth Hawker went straight into the lead alongside Italy’s Monica Carlin and held that lead from start to finish.
Hawker seemed a certain winner, as she built up a strong lead from the 60th kilometre, with Carlin experiencing some difficulties and dropping back to nearly six minutes behind Hawker for nearly twenty kilometres. However, despite a strong run from Japan’s Niroko Sho, the Italian managed at all times to stay in second place. Really getting a second wind during the ninth lap and gradually closing the gap separating her from Hawker as they headed for the finish and turning the final 200 metres into a sprint for the finish.
Despite Carlin’s efforts, Hawker resisted and finally crossed the finish line in 7:29:12, just 4 seconds ahead of Carlin in what must surely be one of the closely contested finishes in any 100km race.
The overall result for the women was impressive, with 11 women finishing under the benchmark eight hours, as Sho took the final step on the podium, coming in at 7:32:04, well clear of the next runner home, Italy’s Paola Sanna in 7:42:12.
In the team competition, victory went to the Italian women, with a combined time of 23:24:30, in front of Japan with 23:28:37 and France with 23:37:10; whereas Russia won convincingly ahead of France and Germany in the men’s competition with their total of 20:16:11, to 20:29:04 and 21:21:09 respectively.
Full and Final results can be found at http://www.iau.org.tw/
(Thanks to Hilary Walker, Norman Wilson and Jan Vandendriessche of the IAU)