Britain’s Andrew Douglas and Lucy Wambui Murigi of Kenya lived up to expectations when winning at the Salomon Gore-tex Maxi-Race, the first leg of the World Mountain Running Association World Cup, in Annecy on Friday (24).
The 16.5km event, which is staged near Lake Annecy, is a point-to-point course involving 945 metres of ascent and 990m of descent.
Douglas made his intentions clear from the outset and forged a lead in the first half of the race. He reached the plateforme telepherique, just a little beyond the half-way point, in 44:31 and had a 26-second lead over Eritrea’s Filimon Abraham. USA’s Andy Wacker was 45 seconds further back in third, comfortably ahead of Italy’s Martin Dematteis and Kenya’s Robert Panin Surum.
With most of the climbing done, the runners set off on their way back down the mountain. At one point Douglas took a wrong turn and dropped down to third place, but he managed to get back on track and regained the lead. Abraham, meanwhile, dropped down the field while Wacker and Surum moved up.
Douglas eventually won in 1:15:10, crossing the line 50 seconds ahead of his nearest opponent. Wacker came through for second place in 1:16:00, 11 seconds ahead of Surum. Abraham finished fourth, just ahead of Italy’s Dematteis twins Martin and Bernard.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the result today,” said Douglas. “It was a really tough race. I was working hard on the uphill but I got quite a big gap on the downhill, I really went well. The next one (in the WMRA World Cup) is the Broken Arrow in the US and I’m really looking forward to that.”
Murigi’s win in the women’s race was even more decisive. The Kenyan had built up a lead of more than two minutes by the half way point, reaching plateforme telepherique in 52:23. Ireland’s Sarah McCormack was running well in second place ahead of Iris Pessey of France and Britain’s Emma Clayton.
After descending the mountain, Murigi’s lead over McCormack had reduced slightly but was still comfortable as she entered the final kilometre. She crossed the line in 1:30:27 to take maximum WMRA World Cup points with McCormack following a couple of minutes later in 1:32:33.
Pessey held on for third place in 1:37:07 with French teammate Lucille Germain finishing strongly to finish fourth, just ahead of Clayton.
“I’m very happy to take my first World Cup win of 2019,” said Murigi. “The course was not so easy; it was up for about 9.5 kilometres and then down for six kilometres. I kept trying to check my pace so that I could finish strong.”
The Maxi-Race is the first of seven races in the 2019 WMRA World Cup. After Annecy, the circuit heads to Squaw Valley in the USA, Heiligenblut in Austria, Llanberis in the UK, Sierre in Switzerland and Sesto in Italy before its conclusion in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF