Since its introduction into the World Cup in 2021 La Montee du Nid d’Aigle has swiftly become a classic. At 19.5km with 2000m of ascent it provides our next classic mountain race in this year’s competition.
This event is one of the oldest mountain races in France and it is marking its 36th edition this year. It is an integral part of the identity of Saint Gervais, with hundreds of spectators and volunteers welcoming the runners and making it a huge celebration.
The uphill-only route starts at Le Fayet at 596m and heads along the river towards Saint Gervais, and then to La Villette, climbing gradually. It then heads away from the road and into the trees and begins to climb more steeply all the way up to the finish at Refuge du Nid d’Aigle at 2394m. The Nid d’Aigle (or Eagle’s Nest) is a renowned departure point for mountaineers climbing Mont Blanc via the Voie Royale.
La Montee du Nid d’Aigle provides the stunning backdrop of Mont Blanc for our next gold label World Cup race
The organisers have been focusing on limiting the impact of the race on the environment over the last few years. They use local partners for the organization, food and timing of the event, they collaborate with conservation bodies to ensure the preservation of fragile habitats along the trail, they encourage participant travel via train, putting on shuttle buses, they use the Mont-Blanc tram to transport equipment, and they do not use single use plastic items for water or food. For more information on their environmental policy see here.
Last year, memorably, we saw the course records shattered by Kenyans Patrick Kipngeno and Joyce Njeru, with stunning displays of front running from both. Excitingly, both runners return this year! But they will face still competition if they want to retain their titles.
In the women’s race Njeru is coming in straight off the back of a victory at Fletta Trail last weekend, and a second place in Montemuro a few weeks previously. She is joint leader in the women’s World Cup rankings, alongside Scout Adkin (GBR) who will not be in Saint Gervais this weekend. Fellow Kenyan Lucy Murigi will be taking part and was the winner here in 2021, as well as coming fifth last year. She knows this course well and can never be discounted.
Camilla Magliano (ITA) was third here last year and was recently fourth at Montemuro. She is consistently strong in uphill-only races and will definitely be one to watch, as will Susanna Saapunki (FIN).
Having made the move from cross-country skiing to mountain running over the last couple of years Saapunki has quickly achieved strong results at the European and World Championships in 2022 and was 6th at Fletta Trail last weekend. Charlotte Cotton (BEL), who was seventh at Montemuro, will also be toeing the line, as will US athletes Sarah Carter and Andie Cornish, 12th and 21st respectively at Fletta.
We could see a very interesting showdown between Kipngeno and fellow Kenyan Philemon Kiriago in the men’s race.
Kiriago broke the men’s course record at Fletta Trail last weekend after coming second in 2022. He was second here in 2022 so will we see this motivate him to go one better again? But Kipngeno won Piz Tri Vertical last weekend, he is our World Champion from the vertical uphill race in Innsbruck and it’s impossible to bet against him. It will certainly be an interesting contest and any number of men could also challenge them.
Zak Hanna (IRL) finished in 11th place here last year, so he knows the course, and he finished fourth in a very competitive Broken Arrow VK back in June. Joe Steward (GBR) had a good weekend in Malonno, finishing third in Piz Tri Vertical and eighth in Fletta Trail, as well as finishing eighth in the World Championships vertical uphill race, so he will be interesting to watch.
Fellow British runner Jacob Adkin, the 2019 European Mountain Running champion, finished 10th here last year and could well improve on that this year.
Ondrej Fejfar (CZE) achieved two top ten finishes at Broken Arrow this year and will be looking to his World Cup points tally, and Alric Petit (FRA), 14th at Fletta Trail and 25th here last year, could also feature on home turf.
We look forward to bringing you all the news from the race on Saturday via our social media channels.