Luis Alberto Hernando wins the World Trail-Running Championships in Geres (© iRunFar)
Spain’s Luis Alberto Hernando and France’s Adeline Roche will face formidable fields in the defence of their titles at the eighth IAU Trail World Championships in Castellon on Saturday (12).
Hernando last year became the first back-to-back winner of the men’s title at the Trail World Championships. Now, with the advantage of competing on home soil, Hernando will be looking to extend that winning streak to three.
He will be joined on the Spanish team by 2017 silver medallist Christofer Clemente and Pablo Villa.
But the host nation’s runners won’t have it all their own way as British duo Tom Owens and Jonathan Albon are ranked close behind Hernando on the ITRA (International Trail Running Association) performance index.
Zach Miller and Mario Mendoza will be looking to become the first US medallists in the history of the championships.
Sylvain Court, the 2015 trail world champion, leads the French team and will be joined on the start line by compatriots Ludovic Pommeret, Sebastien Spehler and Adrien Michaud. But teammate Cedric Fleureton, the bronze medallist last year, won’t be racing.
Other contenders include Iceland Thorbergur Jonsson, Poland’s Marcin Swierc and Greece’s Dimitrios Theodorakakos.
French athletes have won the past five women’s titles at the Trail World Championships and that streak could continue on Saturday.
In the absence of 2016 winner Caroline Chaverot, France is still putting forward a strong team, led by defending champion Adeline Roche and 2017 silver medallist Amandine Ferrato.
But Spain will want to do well on home soil and their team includes 2015 bronze medallist Maite Maiora, the highest-ranked entrant on the IRTA performance index, 2016 silver medallist Azara Garcia, Gemma Arenas and Laia Canes.
USA’s Clare Gallagher has the second-best ITRA performance index score of all the entrants and so will have ambitions of finishing on the podium. Other contenders include Canada’s Anne-Marie Madden, Poland’s Magdalena Laczak, Greece’s Glykeria Tziatzia and Sweden’s Kristin Berglund.
The race, held amid the foothills of the Iberian System and the Catalan Coastal Range in the north of the Valencia region, will take the athletes on winding trails through Castellon’s landscape. The 85.3km course includes 4900m of ascent and 3690m of descent.
Jon Mulkeen and organisers for the IAAF