The weekend was packed for the athletes tackling the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup Finalissima at Sky Gran Canaria. Three days of racing over challenging terrain and plenty of positive elevation would put athletes at their limits as they try to take home the absolute title.
Challenging Uphill Course To Open Day One
The racing began Friday with the uphill race; however, the course saw significant alterations. A weather alert was issued for the locality for heat and an increased risk of forest fires.
The traditional route of 6k was shortened to 4k. Alongside being a shorter course, it did not climb above 400m as a result of the restrictions from the weather alert.
The race presented athletes with grueling conditions, with temperatures reaching 36 degrees Celcius at the start. While some athletes struggled under the conditions, others made the best of the situation.
Joe Steward of Great Britain took top honors among the men, covering the challenging uphill course in 17:42.
Steward came into the uphill race with a target on his back after recent wins at Canfranc and the Challenge Stellina Mountain Race in Italy and a solid eighth place at World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Innsbruck earlier this year.
Securing second place was Patrick Kipngeno, finishing 11 seconds behind Steward and in contention for the overall World Cup title. Christian Allen of the United States would round out the podium, finishing in 18:00.
On the women’s side, it would be Great Britain taking the top spot, with Scout Adkin finishing in 21:17. Adkin was a bronze medalist in the 2022 European Off-Road Running Championships and showed incredible strength throughout the uphill race.
Susanna Saapunki was second on the day, finishing in 21:30. The overall leader of the women’s World Cup standings, Joyce Muthoni Njeru of Kenya, completed the podium in the uphill race with a time of 22:12.
Day Two Featuring a Technical Long Course
The second day of the weekend was also the longest day.
Featuring a 38k course, it was originally supposed to feature over 2700m of positive elevation but was altered significantly as a result of the restrictions in place from the weather alert.
Regardless, competitors were still challenged by the weather conditions and extremely technical trails.
Carrying his momentum from the previous day, Christian Allen of the USA completed the course first in a time of 2:29:29. Pushing an aggressive pace right from the start, Allen had opened up a gap of over three minutes by the time he reached km 22.
Allen has proved to be in tremendous form this year with a slew of impressive results, most notably his convincing win at Speedgoat 50k by UTMB in his native USA, a second-place finish at Vertical Nasego, and a third palace at Trofeo Nasego.
In the women’s race, it would be Spain’s Ikram Rharsalla Laktab to cover the 38k course first in 2:57:26. It wasn’t until the final 12k that she showed incredible descending skills and was able to pull back a four-minute deficit.
Shortened Classic Course To Close out Day Three
The final day of the grueling three-day competition featured a classic course. Originally supposed to be over 50k, today, the athletes face a 20.5k course featuring 740m positive elevation and 1,970m negative elevation.
Kiriago Philemon Ombogo of Kenya would lead a Kenyan 1-2 after completing the technical course in 1:13:54. Compartiot and overall World Cup title challenger Patrick Kipngeno would finish closely behind, only conceding 29-seconds in 1:14:23.
In the women’s race, overall standings leader Joyce Muthoni Njeru of Kenya broke the tape, completing the course in 1:29:33. She would lead a Kenyan 1-2, with compatriot Philaries Jeruto Kisang completing the course just over a minute after Njeru in 1:30:40.
Scout Adkin of Great Britain carried momentum from her win on day one to round out the podium on the final day. She completed the course in 1:32:52.
Although the athletes had to deal with tumultuous weather with temperatures in the high 30s, there was no shortage of excitement over the weekend.
Showing adaptability and perseverance through the three days of competition dealing with significant course changes, many of the athletes will now enjoy some well-earned rest as they take their off-season before gearing up for their next goals.