The 2nd edition of the WMRA World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge was held today from the Pyrenees (France) mountain town of Cauterets, in conjunction with the Marathon du Vignemale.
More than 600 runners, set out on the 50km course, facing a climb of over 2000 metres in fine weather. 12 countries were present.
In the men's race, Helmut Schiessl (GER) immediately took the lead and was never passed. At one stage, he was 4 minutes ahead, but at the finish, Toni Vencelj (SLO) was only 37 seconds behind after 4 hours of running. Schiessl, the European mountain running championship silver medallist, recorded a winning time of 3:59:47.
Whilst Schiessl started favourite in the men’s race, the women race, over the same distance, was more unpredictable. French record holder for the marathon, Chantal Dallenbach, lined up with 4 times World Mountain Running champion, Isabelle Guillot (FRA). Both were surprised by the only Australian entry, Emma Murray (unknown in Europe), who established an early lead which extended throughout the race. Despite a tumble on the upper part of the course, Murray finished in a fine time of 4:37:42, in front of about 570 men.
Marion Kapuscinski (AUT) started slowly but caught Isabelle Guillot at the highest part of the course and came home in second place in 4.55.52. Guillot was third in 5.08.41 and Dallenbach retired.
The French spectators were delighted that they placed one person on the podium to join the 5 other medal winning nations.