After the opening race on the Muttersberg at Bludenz, Austria, a week ago, the WMRA World Cup moves on to France and the famous Grand Ballon race on Saturday (15).
For the past six years, the Montée du Grand Ballon has been one of the premier events on the World Cup circuit and this year, around 500 runners are expected on the start lines of the two events: one in Willer-sur-Thur for men and the other at Goldbach-Altenbach for women.
The men's race is 13.2km, with 1231m of elevation gain, and three Eritrean runners look like the men to watch including Azaria Teklay, winner of last year's Grand Ballon race and winner of the two overall Grand Prixes, which has been transformed into the World Cup.
His compatriots Primo Mamu, the 2012 World champion, and Debessay Tsege, are also expected to challenge strongly.
Also competing this year will be Julien Rancon, the French mountain running champion the past two years and the winner of the Grand Ballon race in 2007 and 2010.
Rancon will be joined by his team mate Benjamin Bellamy. In ther absence of British and German runners, who have their national championships this weekend, Italy’s Emanuele Manzi and New Zealand’s Glenn Hughes could also enter into consideration for a place on the podium.
Italy’s Valentina Belotti, the winner of the two last Montée du Grand Ballon races and third last Sunday at Bludenz, and France’s Helene Froehlich look like the favourites in the women’s 8.4km race which has an elevation of 822m.
WMRA for the IAAF