Reigning champions Sylvain Court and Nathalie Mauclair of France will defend their world titles at the IAU/ITRA Trail World Championships at the Peneda-Gerês National Park in northwest Portugal on Saturday (29).
Court, 33, won the title in Annecy, France, last year by nearly four minutes over Luis Alberto Hernando of Spain, and led France to the team title.
Mauclair, 46, won the women's contest by more than two minutes over teammate Caroline Chaverot. The pair led France to the women's team crown as well. Mauclair also took the world title in 2013.
The race will cover an 85km course with 4800m of vertical drop and gain through Portugal's only national park, declared a World Biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2009.
Others to watch in the men’s race include Spain’s Hernando, while Luis Fernandes will defending home turf for Portugal.
Other podium contenders include Tom Owens of Great Britain and Stephan Hugenschmidt of Germany. Surprises could come from Nepal's Bhim Gurung and Norwegians Torbjørn Ludvigsen and Lars Erik-Skjervheim.
The US team has been hit by some key injuries of late but Alex Varner will be present and could be a factor.
On the women's side, Chaverot will once again give chase hoping to avenge last year’s loss to Mauclair. Swede Emelie Forsberg should also be considered a favourite, along with Yiou Wang and Larisa Dannis of the US.
Watch out too for Spanish duo of Azara Garcia and Uxue Fraile, along with Ewa Majer of Poland. Ester Alves will be wearing Portugal’s colours.
In all, entrants from 38 countries are expected.
Organisers for the IAAF