Ljubljana, SloveniaThe International Šmarna Gora Mountain Running Race remains one of the highlights of the mountain running season, and its rich tradition will continue on Saturday (1) with its 32nd edition.
In the autumn and fall season of 1979 running enthusiasts from Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, decided to organise a race to the top of one of the most popular mountains in Slovenia at Šmarna Gora. Nobody envisaged that it would become such a massive event with worldwide popularity that is again the final leg of the WMRA Grand Prix for 2011. The WMRA Grand prix champions of the world will again be crowned on Saturday at this magnificent mountain peak.
In the early 1990s the event was the first national championships in the new nation of Slovenia and later that decade, world champion Lucio Fregona (ITA) made the Šmarna Gora race an internationally recognized event. After the millennium, the Šmarna Gora race became one of the founding members of the WMRA Grand Prix and since than it has been the final Grand Prix event on nine occasions.
In the last 32 years many world medallists have tested the demanding course, that takes the runners 360 metres uphill to the first summit followed by 300 metres of technical descent before a 300 metre uphill haul to the finish. The best men need no more than 40 minutes for 10-kilometre long course.
This Saturday the best mountain runners will again meet to test their strength, speed and skills. This will be the first meeting after the World Championships and many will strive to climb the famous podium at Šmarna Gora.
Slovenia’s Lucija Krkoc leads the WMRA Grand prix at present and will look for her third victory this year in the Grand Prix.
This will be a tall order, as the top female runners will include World Championship fourth place finisher Pavla Schorna (CZE) and Mateja Kosovelj (SLO) who took sixth place. The eighth, ninth and tenth finishers from the World Championships in the form of Antonela Confortola-Wyatt (ITA), Alice Gaggi (ITA) and Emma Clayton (GBR) will pose a threat.
Slovenia’s Lea Eifalt, the World junior champion, is expected to feature at some stage of this wonderful festival of mountain running in Slovenia.
In the men’s event, European champion Ahmet Arslan of Turkey, the silver medallist at the World Championships in Albania, returns to defend his Šmarna Gora title from 2010 and again looks to repeat his overall WMRA Grand Prix win. Mitja Kosovelj of Slovenia will be well placed to offer a strong challenge having won the 2011 World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge this summer.
Other world class male mountain runners on show include 2011 European silver medallist Gabriel Abate (ITA), 2005 race winner Robert Krupicka (CZE) and Adam Kovacs (HUN) who was ninth in Tirana along with Antonio Toninelli (ITA) the race winner in 2009.
David Schneider (SUI), Orlando Edwards (GBR) and Alex Baldaccini (ITA) should also be in the mix.
Tomo Šarf for WMRA