Azeria Teklay and Mateja Kosovelj were a class apart at the third leg of the WMRA Grand Prix series, held on Sunday (28) in the Slovenian town of Kamnik.
More than 250 runners from 14 countries gathered on the start line in the beautiful valley of Kamniska Bistrica, 25km north of Ljubljana.
Teklay, the three-time World mountain running silver medallist from Eritrea, set out at a fast pace that no one else could follow, leaving him to run his own race along the 9.6km course with a 2000m elevation gain.
With a smile on his face, he crossed the finish line in 1:22:14. The time was far away from Jonathan Wyatt’s course record and Teklay’s own winning time from last year, but it was a solid performance given the extreme conditions with temperatures in the valley reaching 38°C.
The rest of the field were fighting for the silver and bronze. Home favourite Nejc Kuhar, who finished third here last year, took the silver medal.
European silver medallist Alex Baldaccini was the only athlete to try to follow Teklay and he paid the price of going off too fast, but managed to hold on for the bronze medal.
In the women’s race, Kosovelj was the overwhelming favourite and the European bronze medallist did not disappoint, finishing almost four minutes ahead of her nearest rival.
Croatia’s Veronika Jurisic was a surprise silver medallist, while last year’s winner Iva Milesova of the Czech Republic finished third.
Kosovelj’s victory means she takes the lead in the overall WMRA Grand Prix standings. With two victories in the series, Teklay has crept closer to current leader Baldaccini.
Tomo Sarf (WMRA) for the IAAF