2008 IAU 24 Hour World Challenge champion Anne-Marie Vernet of France (© Nadeem Khan)
Aleksandr Sorokin of Lithuania and Sweden’s Maria Jansson are the key entrants in the 21st IAU 24 Hour European Championships taking place on 22-23 October in Albi, France.
In the men's field, the absence of Germany’s Florian Reus will mean that a new European champion will be crowned. Going into the weekend Sorokin will command the men’s spotlight. With a personal best this year of 260.491km Sorokin will look to put in an early fast pace. Hungarians Bela Mazur and Zoltan Csecsei will be looking to stay close to Sorkin; with personal bests of 247.040 km and 243.460km doing so is within their capabilities.
The field is very tight in terms of bests achieved in 2016. Dietmar Korntner of Austria and James Elson of Great Britain have achieved distances of 243.068 and 242.490km respectively this year, with veteran Irish runner Eoin Keith, with a distance of 241.938km in 2016, also vying for that men’s top spot.
In the women's race, Jansson is back to defend her continental title gained at the world and European Championship in Turin last year. With a best distance of 242.686km this year the 31-year-old will be a strong favourite.
Hungarian teammates Viktoria Makai and Boglarka Vago, with bests of 225.600km and 223.540km respectively, will also be aiming their eyes on a podium finish.
The women's field has several runners running in the 215-225km range. Anne Marie Vernet of France, the 2008 world 24 hour champion, is back in the mix having run 222.419km this year. Amy Masner of Ireland completes the top-five with a 217.068km result from this year.
Albi is located in southern France on the River Tarn about 85 kilometres northeast of Toulouse. Albi was voted as the Top Town of Sport Events in 2012 by the French sports daily l'Equipe.
The day-night event will be contested on a 1120-metre course. One hundred and eighty runners representing 24 countries are expected on the start line. The race begins at 10:00 and promises to be an exciting one.
Top-five entrants (based on 2016 results):
Aleksandr Sorokin (LTU) 260.491km
Bela Mazur (HUN) 247.040km
Zoltan Csecsei (HUN) 243.460km
Dietmar Korntner (AUT) 243.068km
James Elson (GBR) 242.490km
Maria Jansson (SWE) 242.686km
Viktoria Makai (HUN) 225.600km
Boglarka Vago (HUN) 223.540km
Anne Marie Vernet (FRA) 222.419km
Amy Masner (IRL) 217.068km
Nadeem Khan (organisers) for the IAAF