At the end of a technical and demanding race, pre-race favourites Luis Alberto Hernando and Caroline Chaverot claimed the victories at the World Trail-Running Championships in Geres, Portugal, on Saturday (29).
The French team made life difficult for Hernando. Five French athletes accompanied the Spaniard at half way before Hernando broke away after the last difficult and technical ascent to fly towards a well-earned and well-managed finish.
Hernando didn’t cease in cutting his lead until he had 10 minutes at the finish line. On an 85km route with 4500m of climbing, Hernando completed the course in 8:20:26. His triumph capped an exceptional year in which he was also victorious at the Transvulcania and the Buff Epic Trail.
Behind the Spaniard, there was a rerun of the last championships in France. This time Nicolas Martin finished second in 8:30:06, 33 seconds ahead of French champion Sylvain Court in third.
France’s Benoit Cori and Ludo Pommeret completed the top five. Switzerland’s Diego Pazos, one of the revelations of the year, finished sixth.
Unsurprisingly, France won the men’s team title. Spain finished second and Germany was third. Japan, in ninth, was the top non-European finisher.
In the women’s race, two-time world champion Nathalie Mauclair sustained an injury in the first few kilometres. It left Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg and Spain’s Azara Garcia de los Salmones to set the early pace.
Forsberg faded after the first refreshment point and subsequently withdrew. Salmones, meanwhile, was overtaken by Caroline Chaverot but put up a strong fight through to the end. She regained about 30 seconds with 20 kilometres to go but soon surrendered her challenge after a heavy fall.
Chaverot went on to win in 9:39:40, crossing the line more than five minutes ahead of Salmones. Ragna Debats of the Netherlands was third in 9:47:38.
Chaverot has also had an exceptional year after victories in the Transgrancanaria, UTMB and the Buff Epic Trail.
Despite her injury, Mauclair returned to the race to take a good fourth place, helping Britain take the team bronze medal behind winners France and silver medallists Spain.
Matthias Proud (ITRA) for the IAAF