Patrick Kipngeno wins the Piz Tri Vertical (© Marco Gulberti)
Kenya’s Patrick Kipngeno and Austria’s Andrea Mayr were convincing winners at the Piz Tri Vertical – a Gold Label Race in the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup – held in the Italian town of Malonno on Saturday (15).
With the 1000m of ascent coming in just 3.4km on the course, it is brutally steep in places and the climbing is relentless. Runners start at Moscio at 820m altitude and then climb steadily with little respite up to Malga Campel at 1820m on the slopes of Piz Tri.
This year’s field included six medallists from the recent World Mountain and Trail Running Championships – including eventual winners Kipngeno and Mayr, the gold medallists from the vertical uphill race – alongside some up-and-coming runners.
The men’s race, which set off half an hour after the women’s contest, looked set to be an enthralling duel between Kipngeno and defending champion and course record-holder Andrea Rostan of Italy. Last year’s runner-up, Kenya’s Philemon Kiriago – who was seventh in the recent vertical uphill race at the World Championships, and took silver in the classic race there – was also in the mix.
Kipngeno took an early lead, and it soon became apparent that, for the rest of the field, it was going to be a race for second place. Kipngeno duly held on for the win and he broke Rostan’s course record by a minute and a half, clocking 32:08.
Fellow Kenyan Kiriago finished second in 34:04, while Britain’s Joe Steward had a breakthrough to finish third in 34:35, 15 seconds ahead of Rostan.
Mayr, a five-time winner here and the existing course record-holder, was up against Kenya’s Philaries Kisang, the woman who pushed her all the way at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships.
As was the case with Kipngeno in the men’s race, it was no surprise to see Mayr strike out for the front from early on in the women’s race. She was chased hard by Kisang and Britain’s Scout Adkin – winner in Montemuro two weeks ago – but Mayr was characteristically calm and consistent.
Mayr took the win in 37:14, taking six seconds off her own course record. Adkin was second in 38:59 and Kisang completed the podium in 39:49.
By the end of this weekend, which is a double header in Malonno with Fletta Trail tomorrow, there may be some big changes in the World Cup standings. Adkin is now in the joint lead with Anna Gibson in the women’s competition with 90 points, while Joyce Njeru moves up to third place and Mayr ties on 50 points with Allie McLaughlin and Sara Willhoit.
In the men’s standings, Rostan moves into the lead with 75 points, bumping Henri Aymonod down to second. Kipngeno starts his World Cup campaign in a tie with Alexandre Ricard and Eli Hemming on 50 points. But everything could change after Fletta Trail tomorrow.
Kirsty Reade (WMRA) for World Athletics
1 Andrea Mayr (AUT) 37:14
2 Scout Adkin (GBR) 38:59
3 Philaries Kisang (KEN) 39:49
4 Monica Florea (ROU) 40:23
5 Joyce Njeru (KEN) 41:40
1 Patrick Kipngeno (KEN) 32:03
2 Philemon Kiriago (KEN) 34:04
3 Joe Steward (GBR) 34:35
4 Andrea Rostan (ITA) 34:50
5 Filimon Abraham (GER) 35:02