Andrea Mayr and Patrick Kipngeno yesterday retained their Vertical Nasego titles, while there were exciting battles behind them for second and third as the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup continued in Casto, Italy.
After some epic duels between Mayr, Philaries Kisang and Scout Adkin for the women, and Kipngeno and Philemon Kiriago for the men in this year’s prominent vertical uphill races, anticipation was already high.
But throw in some perennial Italian champions like Valentina Belotti, Camilla Magliano, Henri Aymonod and Andrea Rostan, as well as younger athletes having a breakthrough year like Anna Gibson and Joe Steward, and we had the prospect of some really thrilling racing on our hands.
On a double header weekend, the runners first took on the 4.3km Vertical Nasego course with 1000m of ascent.
Starting in Casto, the runners began climbing on roads and good trails before the mountain path became ever steeper and more technical as it wound its way to the finish line. Conditions were warm, but a few clouds in the sky made it near perfect for the runners.
It was no surprise to see Austria’s Mayr taking the women’s race out right from the start. Not only is she clearly in form this year, with wins at the World Championships, Piz Tri Vertical and Challenge Stellina, she is also a legend in this race.
She won in 2019, setting the course record of 38:39, and in 2021 and 2022. She is also the only woman to have run under 40 minutes here.
Just as we expected to see Mayr in control from the start, we’ve also become accustomed to Kenya’s Kipngeno doing the same in the men’s races this year.
He took it out from the gun and, just like in the women’s race, the fight became for second and third, although it did seem at times that Kipngeno may be reeled in.
He just couldn’t be caught and he won in 34:25. In the end his buffer was reduced to 37 seconds and it was Allen who took second place (35:01), with Steward just seven seconds behind him in 35:08.