Trail Running IAU World Championship Annecy: France sweeps 4 golds. Spain takes 2 silver 1 bronze.

France dominated the World  Trail Running IAU (International Association of Ultrarunning) Championship held yesterday,  sweeping all four golds at stake over the Maxi Race Annecy of 85k/D+5.300m. For its part, the Spanish track & field federation team comes back with theree medals: Two silvers for Luis Alberto Hernando and the women’s team, plus a bronze for Maite Maiora.

As direct eyewitnesses to the race, we enjoyed the excitement generated by a huge event, spanning 7 trail races for over 7.000 entries. The elite race including runners officially representing 39 countries.  Now let´s take a look at the race report, full results and photos, as brought to you by our reporters Mayayo and Jcdfotografía.


Manuel Merillas & Pablo Villa, ready for take off at 3.30AM in Annecy.

Manuel Merillas & Pablo Villa, ready for take off at 3.30AM in Annecy.



Champions Sylvain Court & Nathalie Mauclair Court.

IAU TRAIL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY (2005-2015) The world of trail running IAU came in this 2015 its fifth edition with a big jump forward, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, as reflected by the images you may see below. They compare  of champions earlier at the World Trail IAU, with little historical level to Ricky Lightfoot and Caroline Chevarot 2013, with more familiar names among corremontes of those who had gained so far on the goal of the Maxi race hard Annecy.

The reason for this shift in the IAU trail championship towards a more alpine style in the trail goes back to Michel Poletti, as president of ITRA, suggesting to Maxi Race director, Stephane Agnoli to apply for organizing this global event. It was clear that the channel open for some time collaboration between the IAU and the ITRA ago has had a significant influence in this regard.

As for the race course upon which this World Championship was set, it was kind of “neutral” among the different trail running trends the world over.  It was neither as technical as many italian and spanish races are, nor as rolling flats as it is the most common american style. Sure it had plenty of fast terrain, but as it is usual in the French alpine races, it was also accented with steep forest climbs and downs, plus some technical sections that played an important role, especially upon the management of long vertical drops as portrayed herebelow in the race profile for the  85k/D+5.300 course. Spain presented an eight members team, 4 men and 4 women despite the total 9 slots available per sex. Even though the spanish team proved very consistent, with just one DNF and 4 runners ending in top10, this fact proved  crucial in the strive for the medals as the race evolved.

Annecy world trail championship 2015. Race profile.

Annecy world trail championship 2015. Race profile.

RACE REPORT: Upon this scenario and considering a very competitive field assembled, once the race was launched, we sure did enjoy a real mountain race, with all the up & downs and the sweeping alternatives they bring with them.

Hence, the big favorite Luis Alberto Hernando went through hell at some sections, with crampings, and even suffered a fall and considered retiring halfway thorugh the course, before bounding back to lead the race later on. Not so fortunate was teammate Manuel Merillas, who after suffering his second major crash of the day felt a pain in his knee that made it  necessary for him to retreat.

Xavier Thevenard, winner of UTMB-CCC-TDS at the start line.

Xavier Thevenard, winner of UTMB-CCC-TDS at the start line.

At the start, a special yard for the top 50 men and top 25 women as ranked ITRA was made. and from the very start the French strategy, which to compete with the maximum of 9 riders per team against four of the Spanish selection RFEA could afford to risk much in its strategy looked. Thus, in the early stages of the race always we would see Xavier Thevenard, the three times champion of the ultras of Mont Blanc (UTMB168k-TDS119k-CCC101k) setting the pace and trying to surge ahead alone ahead.

If the French pulled hard through Thevenard and Court, the Spanish responded clearly, with Pablo Villa, Manuel Merillas and Luis Alberto Hernando, so this grupete formed the top6 for many km to join them American Tim Ollefson. At one point, around km36 Court had managed to grasp a 20 seconds lead after whom jumped both Xavier and Manuel Merillas.

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Right on their tracks came Luis Alberto Hernando , who as usual chose to follow his own references and set a personal rhythm, without much regard for the constant pulling by one or the other Gallic riders in the lead.

At thar moment, the race looked like these references by Thevenard and Merillas were solid gold candidates, but it was not to be so.  The frenchman was unable to stand Manuel succesive attacks, and eventualy relinquished and started to fall down in the ranks. At that time,  Manuel was still in the race with excellent sensations, appearing to be fully recovered from his recent efforts in this month of May, first at the Transvulcania 73k, then at Zegama 42k.

However, in an entirely unexpected turn of events for an accomplished descender like him, Manuel took two heavy fall that put him out of the race.  The first one, he was able to overcome, but after the second he felt pain in the knee which forced him to drop off just as Dani Garcia caught up with him.

Meanwhile, Pablo Villa looked great at the start of the race, whereas his rest time after Transvulcania seemed to have returned a sparkle and freshness to his legs as he rolled with the head group for many kilometers. Unfortunately, some unexpected blisters on his shoes would cause him to lose pace and even forced him  to change his shoes and socks by mid-race.

Meanwhile, Luis Alberto went through his own personal ordeal in the second quarter of the race, with significant contractions that made it hard for him to push on the descents,  and poling like hell to make up the lost time by the climbs. He even came down to sixth place and seemed to be out of the fight for the podium. However, pulling  together courage and experience, he managed to overcome those bad times, and bounced back to reposition at second place before the last stint

Once into it, he managed to take the lead for more than ten kilometers. Unfortunately, the French team was pitching a vast pool of talents and if Rancon or Thevenard went down, still another would come charging forward. It was the case with fisrt Spheler and then Patrick Bringer, Ludovic Pommeret or Nicolas Martin. Meanwhile, Sylvain Court was handling his career with elegance, without forcing himself too much and never  getting far from the lead.

Finally, Luis Alberto was caught by Court on the last big ramp towards Mont Mason. Ahead, they was just a fierce decline 6k /D+800m which would mean the championship … and Sylvain proved to be fresher for it. Final men´s podium: 1-Sylvain Court 8h17 2-Luis Alberto Hernando 8h20 3-Patrick Bringer 8h23.


The previous race record of 8:45 set in 2014 by Spheler was shattered.  Behind the podium come Tom Owens who run most inteligently on relentless progress, from top15 top10 and crossing the finish line in 4th place with 8h27m.

As further reference on the high level of the race today, the Lithuanian champion, who dominated the Transgrancanaria in March, Giminidas Grinius had to give everything in 15th place with 9h20. He was almost overcome by Pablo Villa who arrived a few minuntos later, in 16th making it the second Spanish member to toe the line.

With Merillas out of the race, the fourth male representative, Dani Garcia’s career started well, going gradually from less to more, since winning the top 20 to get in the top 10 and going to more, but the progressive heat and the toll of having ran in May both Transvulcania and Zegama caught up with him. He was empty and struggling, so much so that he stopped a long time at a checkpoint and even and the team came to think he had retired. But knowing that a third member should end to score for the team, he chose  to complete the championship at any price and thus ensure that the selection was still alive in the fight for teams. And finish he did, albeit far beyond his true potential.

FEMALE RACE: Nathalie Mauclair world champion. If the men’s race was a Spain- France duel, resolved in their favor by the Gauls, the girls looked for three quarters of the race like the French national champiosnhip. The team from the FFA (Federation Francaise de Atletisme) had marked this biennial IAU World Trail in red, so months ahead of it their runners  appointed were appointed and started preparing to make their best here.

Right fom the start we got Caroline Chaverot, defending champion, the young Anne-Lise quick Rousset winer aCCC14 and the great veteran Nathalie Mauclair braking the race to surge ahead, fighting among them. Behind the cloud of local trailers it was hard to spot any red and yellow uniforms at all. However, Maite Maiora was slowly gaining on, despite the effects of the knee injury suffered when winning the Championship of Spain FEDME a month ago. He came back to settle in third place in the last quarter of the race, looking for more yet the strength and pace of Mauclair great and Chaverot not given more choice. Bronze for her at the finish line, a most courageous achievement considering her condition when starting.

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The French top runners gave us a beautiful show, with one claw and the great experience of the other, who knew how to handle the millimeter test. After marching throughout the race leader, Caroline looked overcome by Natahalie in the final kilometers and could not prevent his victory.
Final women’s podium was: 1. Nathalie Mauclair 9h32; 2. Caroline Chaverot 9h34; 3- Maite Maiora 9h41. It must be noted also, that the record set by Chaverotin 2014 at 10h15 was blasted. After the three medalists, came Anne-Lise Rousset





MAXI RACE ANNECY 2015 PHOTOS: By Mayayo & Jcdfotografia.





Info edited by Mayayo Oxígeno for Trailrunningspain