The French Alpine town of Gap has a great mountain running tradition and it continues this year with the 13th edition of the European Mountain Running Championships on Saturday (12).
The women’s race in terms of depth is outstanding, and could see a battle between Italy’s 2013 world champion Alice Gaggi and Austria’s in-form 2013 European champion Andrea Mayr.
However, with eight women from the top 10 finishers at last year’s World Championships, the contest should not just be about those two.
Great Britain’s 2013 World Championships silver medallist Emma Clayton and Sarah Tunstall could be also dangerous, and it could be a Britain v Italy duel for team honours.
Mateja Kosovelj, of Slovenia, third and fourth at the 2013 European and world championships respectively will also be on the start line, along with Ireland’s Sarah McCormack, Poland’s Dominika Wisniewska and Turkey’s Burcu Buyukbezgin.
In the men’s race, the favourites are probably Turkish runners, who dominated at the 2012 European Championships, and Italian runners who, in turn, dominated in 2013.
Italy’s 2013 winner Bernard Dematteis and his compatriot Alex Baldaccini will come up against Turkey’s six-time European champion Ahmet Arslan and 2012 silver medallist Muslu Ercan.
The best for French domestic success is Julien Rancon and Emanuel Meyssat while Slovenia’s Mitja Kosovelj, twice a World Long Distance Challenge winner and specialist with technical descents, should also find this particular course to his liking.
Spain’s Enriqe Meneses, and Czech Republic’s Robert Krupicka could also be involved in the race for the medals.
Turkey’s 2013 winner Karagoz Ramazan is still eligible to race as a junior man and so will be the favourite to defend his title.
In the junior women’s race, Catriona Graves (GBR), Andre Piscu (ROU) Michala Stranska (CZE) all finished in the top 10 of the World Championships in 2013 and could be the ones to keep an eye on.
In 1993, Gap was the host city of the 9th World Mountain Running Trophy and the local favourite Isabelle Guilott triumphed.
A little more than two decades later, Guilott designed the course for this year’s races, which features a four-kilometre loop with 250 metres if steep ascents and technical descents.
The senior men run this loop three times, the junior men and senior women twice and the junior women once; 25 countries will be present at the Championships.
WMRA for the IAAF