The second stage of the 2011 WMRA Grand Prix resulted in two new senior champions for 2011. Thursday 2 June was a national holiday in France, and at Willer sur Thur, a field of 500 started in this the 31st running of the Grand Ballon uphill event (1200m of ascent). It was a seasoned international field that were chasing the podium positions with many elite runners from European countries.
Pre-race favourite David Schneider (SUI) was the emphatic winner in 1:00:55 ahead of French hopes, Georges Bourrier(1:01:42) and defending champion Julien Rancon (1:02:18). The participation of Turkey’s Ahmet Arslan had been expected but he was ill and didn't come to France.
The French runners Rancon, Jandari and above all Burrier set a very high intensity pace in the first kilometres, which meant that among others Timo Zeiler (Germany), Emmanuel Meyssat (France), Simon Gutierez (USA), Orlando Edwards and Adam Osborne (Great Britain) couldn’t follow their rhythm.
At the pass in Goldbach after the fourth kilometers, Burrier was alone at the head of the race with Schneider and Rancon, one hundred metres behind. At the col du Haag, the Swiss runner joined Burrier and began his attack in the last part of the race. By the top of the Grand-Ballon, Schneider had established a good margin of lead on Burrier and Rancon, to take the victory, a wonderful success for the Swiss who also won last week the Gamperney Berglauf in Grabs (Switzerland).
The race was also the French trials for the European Uphill Mountain Running Championships, being held in July, France dominated the top positions in the main event, with runners from Belgium, England, USA and Germany only playing supporting roles on this occasion.
The women's race was won by Bernadette Meier-Brandle (SUI) in 48:53, whilst the runner-up in 50:54 was Adelaide Pantheon (FRA), who was third in the junior women’s race at the last World Mountain Running Championships. The winner’s team-mate Angela Haldimann-Riedo (SUI) took third place (51:29).
The current joint leaders in the men's Grand Prix are David Schneider and Martin Dematteis (ITA).
Leeds based Emma Clayton (GBR), now leads the Women’s WMRA Grand Prix, having featured in both of the opening events. She finished 2nd and 5th in the Italian and French events respectively.
There is no doubt this order may change again at the next round of the WMRA Grand Prix in Kamnik at the 13th International Grintovec Mountain Running Race on 24th July.
Bashir Hussain and LOC for the IAAF
- Bernadette Meier-Brandle (SUI) on her way to winning the 2011 Grand Ballon race - WMRA (L'Alsace en courant) © Copyright
- David Schneider (SUI) on his way to winning the 2011 Grand Ballon race - WMRA (l'alsace en courant) © Copyright