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Beyond the Marathon in Seoul - the IAU 100km World Cup

As the athletes competing in the inaugural IAAF World Road Running Championships are warming up in Debrecen, Hungary, on Sunday 8 October, the tail-enders will be completing the last stages of the IAU (International Association of Ultrarunners) 100km World Cup in Misari, South Korea, whilst the winners will be celebrating their completion of five times the distance being run in Debrecen.

The 100km World Cup is the season’s climax for those who run ‘beyond the marathon’ and will take place over ten laps of a 10km course around the Motor Boat Race Stadium, 20 kilometres from Seoul. The course is flat and is likely to be very fast.

Coming into the race, the fastest man on paper is Italy’s Mario Ardemagni, who comes to Misari with a 2004 personal best of 6:18:24 for the 100km race, when he took the 2004 IAU 100km World Championships gold, whereas the man with the best form so far this year is Spain’s Jose Maria Gonzalez, who heads the IAAF 100km standings with his 6:23:44 winning time in the European 100km Championships race, in Torhout, Belgium on 16 June, where the Spaniard crossed the finish line more than 10 minutes in front of second-placed Dzmitry Bula of Belarus with 6:33:56.

The Belarusian is not competing in Misari, but the third-placer in Torhout, France’s  Yannick Djouadi will be lining up to attempt to improve his showing. Also on the cards, there could be an interesting duel between the top two finishers from last year’s IAU 50km Challenge, with the winner in the closing competition of the 2005 Challenge – the Palermo Super Marathon, the Russian Oleg Kharitonov who added victory in this year’s Comrades Marathon to his laurels – clashing with another French runner, Sandor Barcza, who Kharitonov had passed in the final few hundred metres in Palermo, though Barcza still clinched overall victory in the Challenge.

In the women’s field, there is a strong Japanese presence, led by Niroko Sho, the defending champion with a 2006 personal best of 7:40:30 and her compatriot Emi Iwasaki, who boasts a 2006 best of 7:54:33. They will be lining up against the European and German champion Birgit Schonherr-Holscher (7:48:33, 2006 PB). Italy’s Monica Carlin, with a personal best this year of 7:51:44 is also likely to be among the top finishers.

The IAU 100km World Cup is also a team competition and the USA are hoping to repeat their victory in the 2005 edition, where the USA women’s team bettered the French women’s performance by 14 minutes. In the men’s team competition, Kharitonov will be looking to lead the Russians to another victory and retain the title that they won last year, also beating the French into second place, but with an even bigger margin: 34:55.