WMRA WORLD CUP 2021 GROSSGLOCKNER BERGLAUF: victories for Lolkurraru and Njeru from Kenia. Our WMRA WOLRD CUP section bring us today the results of the second stage of the WMRA World Cup 2021: the Großglockner Berlauf.

On Sunday 11th July in Heiligenblut, Austria, took place the second  stage of the 2021 World Cup. This race has provided some epic mountain running races over the years and excitement is high for this year’s race, which features some of the best in-form athletes of the moment.



The Grossglockner Berglauf route starts in Heiligenblut and follows the river initially, before climbing up to the famous Briccius Chapel, past the quaint Trogalm hut, then the ‘Pasterze’, the longest glacier in the Eastern Alps, before the final lung-busting climb of 900m to the summit. The summit finish at the famous Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hohe, with (hopefully) stunning views all around – a great reward for all who run the race.


Mountain weather is an unpredictable beast, which often adds an extra challenge to our sport. Despite blue skies the day before, the runners woke up to grey, rainy skies and chilly temperatures in Heiligenblut. But nothing could dampen their enthusiasm for one of the most famous and revered mountain races in the world. This is Grossglockner Berglauf.

An uphill-only race of 13km with 1,265m of ascent along the way, this was our second event in the 2021 World Cup. Its prestige always attracts some of the best mountain runners in the world and this year there were deep, high quality fields, with former podium finishers such as Filimon Abraham (GER), Purity Kajuja Gitonga (KEN), and Geoffrey Gikuni Ndungu (KEN) on the start line, as well as runners like Charlotte Morgan (GBR), Henri Aymonod (ITA) and Alice Gaggi (ITA), who were fresh from success at our first World Cup race of the season at Tatra Race Run.


The first kilometre is flat along the river, so the early pace is always fast, and then the route begins its long, relentless ascent towards the finish at the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs hut. In the final kilometre the route gets steeper still, so this is a tough mountain race which gives runners little respite along the way.

Großglockner Berglauf Start Photo: Abel de Frutos


The elite field set off at 8.30am in cool, drizzly conditions. In the women’s race Purity Kajuja Gitonga opened up a small, early lead of around 20 seconds over Lucy Murigi and Joyce Muthoni Njeru in the first section. Around a minute behind the leading three runners was a group including Lorenza  Beccaria (ITA), Gaggi and Susanna Saapunki of Finland.

In the next section of the race Gitonga and Njeru went through the timing point neck and neck, with Murigi just behind. Behind Murigi a gap had opened up back to Saapunki, Beccaria, Mojca Koligar (SLO) and Gaggi. Going into the final, deciding section of the race, with the cruel kick up to the finish line, the podium places looked like they would be going to the Kenyan runners, but in what order? And the top 10 was still fairly open for an exciting finish.

In this final section Njeru managed to pull away from Gitonga a little and Murigi wasn’t able to stay in touch with these two runners, though she kept a good gap from the chasing runners. It was a Kenyan 1 – 2 – 3 with Njeru winning in 1.23.46, Gitonga second in 1.24.10 and Murigi third in 1.28.00. Saapunki took fourth place in 1.31.46 and Beccaria fifth in 1.32.22. Places six to ten went to Koligar, Gaggi, Camilla Magliano (ITA), Adela Stranska (CZE) and Morgan.


The men’s race was just as close and exciting and also came down to that final section. In the early stages Lengen Lolkurraru (KEN) ran together in the lead with last year’s winner, Abraham. Just behind them were Geoffrey Gikuni Ndunga (KEN), and a big group all within a few seconds of each other including Manuel Innerhofer (AUT), Cesare Maestri (ITA), Alex Baldaccini (ITA), Zak Hanna (IRE), Lorenzo Cagnati (ITA) and Timotej Becan (SLO). This was shaping up to be a very competitive race.

In the next section Lolkurraru and Abraham were still neck and neck but they had managed to open a small gap of around 45 seconds from Innerhofer, Maestri and Ndunga. A group of about six runners continued to chase them down and it was still anybody’s race with the final, nail-biting section to go.

By the finish Lolkurraru had finally managed to pull away from Abraham, winning in 1.11.48, with Abraham just behind in 1.12.34. In a sprint finish Innerhofer took third place in 1.13.44, with Ndunga just three seconds behind. Maestri rounded out the top five in 1.14.17. Places six to ten went to Becan, Baldaccini, Hanna, Cagnati and Aymonod.

So it was a double victory for Kenya and a spectacular Kenyan 1 – 2 – 3 in the women’s race. The first two events of our 2021 World Cup have certainly delivered some exciting racing and we don’t have long to wait until the next one!

Next stop St Gervais in France on Saturday 17th July for La Montee Du Nid d’Aigle!  Bring on round three!



Summary 2021 World Cup key facts:
8 Countries
12 Event locations
16 Races in 3 categories
10,000+ Participants


  • 17JUL Spectacular meeting at the foot of Mont Blanc with La Monteé du Nide d’Agle in Saint Gervais. Race in Classic Mountain mode to the iconic refuge of the Mont Blanc normal route, climbing 2,000m in 19.5km.
  • 24JUL Second date in Poland with the Tatra Sky Marathon, thihs time as Long Mountain about 42k/+3,300m.
  • 7AUG The world’s highest level mountain race arrives: The Sierre-Zinal in Switzerland, celebrates its 48th edition with more than 4,000 bibs running. The 2019 edition will be remembered for the double record achieved by Jornet and Mahtys. In 2021 it will race in Long Mountain mode on its iconic 31k/+2,200m. https://www.sierre-zinal.com
  • 15AUG. We travel north of the Czech Republic for the Krkonossky Half Marathon. A world cup veteran arrives only a week after Sierre-Zinal and will be the next Classic, on a 21k/+1,200m http://www.maratonstav.cz
  • 4-5SEP Journey goes to northern Italy to experience the Vertical Nasego and Nasego Trophy. It will start with the Uphill about 4.2k/+1000m and the next day the Classic about 21.5k/+1.336m. http://www.trofeonasegocorsainmontagna.com/
  • 11-12SEP Spain debuts with the spectacular Aragonese Pyrenees offered by Canfranc Canfranc. Will hold two races climbing up to almost three thousand meters of altitude. They will be the 45k/+3910m Long Mountain or the Classic over 16k/+1,600m. https://canfranccanfranc.com
  • 26SEP Return to Italy with the Ciolo Trophy. High pace race, about 11km/+496km in Classic mode.
  • 3OCT Zumaia Flysch Trail will give the winners of Classic and Long Mountain. There will be a Long Mountain over 42k/+3000m, and also a Classic with 22k/+850m ascent. http://www.zumaiaflyschtrail.com
  • 10OCT Vertical Kilometer Chiavenna-Lagunac will give Uphill champion. This classic of Italian mountain racing has already been a WMRA-affiliated race and is known as the “vertical race of records” with a 3.2k/+1,000m trace its conditions are perfect for breaking the world record. http://www.kilometroverticalelagunc.it



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