Eritrea’s Filimon Abraham and Great Britain’s Sarah Tunstall were victorious at the Grossglockner Berglauf – the third stage of the WMRA World Cup – in Heiligenblut, Austria, on Sunday (14).
The 12.67km race, which is held on Austria’s highest mountain and features a total elevation gain of 1494m, attracted many of the world’s best mountain runners and had perhaps the most universal participation of any of the WMRA World Cup races so far this year.
In what turned out to be a great duel between Abraham and defending champion Geoffrey Gikuni Ndungu of Kenya, the men’s title was only decided in the closing stages.
Abraham and Ndungu were joined by Kenya’s Timothy Kimutai Kirui as they passed through the first check point in 11:03 but had dropped Kirui by the time they reached the second timing mat at roughly half way, clocking 46:33.
But Abraham increased his pace as he approached the iconic Kaiser Franz-Josefs-Höhe viewpoint and managed to open up a gap, crossing the finish line 23 seconds ahead of Ndungu in 1:11:56.
Austria’s Manuel Innerhofer enjoyed a good run on home soil. Initially part of a three-man chase pack during the early stages, by half-way he had overtaken Kirui and trailed the leaders by 26 seconds. Although he couldn’t catch Ndungu, Innerhofer’s increase of pace in the second half saw him finish just 13 seconds behind the Kenyan in 1:12:32.
WMRA World Cup leader Andrew Douglas of Great Britain finished in fourth place in 1:13:31 but still picked up points and so will add to his World Cup tally.
Italy’s 2017 world long distance mountain running champion was fifth in 1:13:50, 14 seconds ahead of compatriot Martin Dematteis, the 2016 European mountain running champion.
One week after finishing fourth in Zermatt, Sarah Tunstall timed her race to perfection in Heiligenblut.
The 2015 WMRA World Cup winner pushed hard from the beginning and had a lead of almost two minutes over Kenya’s Purity Kajuju Gitonga at the half-way point with Ireland’s Sarah McCormack and Austria’s Alexandra Hauser just a few strides behind the Kenyan.
Gitonga and Hauser managed to make up a bit of ground in the second half, but Tunstall’s leading margin was too great and she crossed the line a clear winner in 1:26:23. Gitonga was second in 1:27:28 with Hauser coming through to take third place in 1:28:12.
McCormack was fourth but banked enough WMRA World Cup points to move into first place in the overall standings.
The WMRA World Cup now heads to the UK for the International Snowdon Race on 20 July.
WMRA for the IAAF