An exciting day of racing in hot conditions in Castro Daire brings a win for Scout Adkin and a Canadian 1-2 in the men’s race with Alexandre Ricard and Remi Leroux
After a successful first inclusion in the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup in 2022 we headed back to Montemuro Vertical Run for another taste of Castro Daire and the region’s passion for mountain sports.
The weather was hot, with temperatures around 27 degrees centigrade at the start line, and with very little shade along the course and the relentless profile of it, it was going to be a tough race for some. Our third Gold Label event of the 2023 Valsir Mountain Running World Cup had attracted a very international field with 14 countries represented, including Kenya, Canada and New Zealand. Last year’s women’s winner, Joyce Njeru, was back, as was Zak Hanna, who finished second in the men’s race. Both fields were stacked with international and home talent.
Runners took on a course of 10.4km with 1090m of ascent, with a 100m descent a third of the way in. After a fast and furious net downhill loop around the streets of Parada de Ester, athletes then began the long climb up to 3km, before dropping down again for a kilometre, then climbing steadily again to the finish, with one final, steep kick up to the summit.
The women set off first and after the lap around town it was Joyce Njeru (KEN), Scout Adkin (GBR) and Camilla Magliano (ITA) who led the pack up the first climb, closely pursued by a big group. After emerging at the first timing point at 5km it was Njeru who had managed to pull away. She recorded a split of 26.58 here, and Adkin was just over a minute behind. By this point it was Lucy Wambui (KEN) who emerged in third place, a minute behind Adkin, and then a big gap of two minutes had opened up to Magliano.
Njeru was looking very strong as ever, so it was no surprise to see her hitting the 8km point first, but Adkin had actually managed to close the gap slightly as she was now just 50 seconds behind. Would she be able to claw back that time in the final few kilometres? Adkin had by this point pulled further clear of Wambui, who was now over two minutes behind, with Magliano almost three minutes behind her.
Incredibly, by the time the runners emerged onto the final section leading up to the summit Adkin had not only closed that 50 second gap but she had overtaken and opened a two minute gap within the space of just over two kilometres. Adkin took the win in 1.04.08, with Njeru coming in second in 1.06.20. Wambui held onto third, finishing in 1.09.13. Magliano took fourth in 1.12.17 with fellow Italian athlete Madallena Soma in fifth in 1.14.30.
The men set off 10 minutes after the women and after the lap of town it was Michael Sutton (NZL) was led up the climb, but they were still closely packed together. And by the 5km timing point it was still all very close indeed. Alexandre Ricard (CAN), Alex Baldacini (ITA) and Rui Teixeira (POR) were all together, with a split of 24.29 (and a second between each).
From them there was a gap of 17 seconds to fourth place (Remi Leroux, the other Canadian runner) and 28 seconds to fifth (Alric Petit of France). With a minute separating the first seven runners in the men’s race it was all to play for.
At the 8km split the gaps were starting to open, but not by much. Ricard had now opened a gap of 40 seconds to Leroux, and Baldacini was 10 seconds behind Leroux. Could we be about to see a Canadian 1–2 at a European Mountain Running race? Baldacini wasn’t going to let that happen without a fight, and Teixeira and Petit were still hot on their heels too.
As the men emerged onto the final section Ricard had successfully held onto his lead and stretched it out a little. He won in 54.54 and Leroux did indeed make it a Canadian 1- 2 by taking second in 56.07. Baldacini hung onto third, completing the podium in 57.26. Petit succeeded in opening a small gap on Teixeira, to finish in 59.02, 14 seconds ahead of Teixeira.
World Cup standings
How does Montemuro affect the overall World Cup standings? His win here will place Ricard in equal top spot of the men’s classification, along with Henri Aymonod, Eli Hemming and Andrea Rostan. Adkin’s win will put her in equal second of the women’s classification, along with Allie McLaughlin and Sara Willhoit. Anna Gibson remains at the top spot for the women.
It bodes well for Adkin as we’re unsure how many of the European races the likes of McLaughlin and Gibson will be attending and Adkin mentioned that a few more World Cup races were already in the plan for 2023.
Next World Cup races
Next up for the 2023 World Cup we’ve got a double header in Malonno! On 15th July runners will take on Piz Tri Vertical, our next vertical uphill race, then the following day it’s Fletta Trail, a classic mountain race. Find information about both races here.