Fletta Trail 2023 results. WMRA World Cup at Italy. Gold for Joyce Njeru & Philemon Kiriago

Fletta Trail 2023 results. WMRA World Cup at Italy. Gold for Joyce Njeru & Philemon Kiriago Following the recent Montemuro Vertical Run in Portugal, the next Gold Label event in this year’s Valsir Mountain Running World Cup takes place on this weekend (15th and 16th July) in Italy

The Valsir Mountain Running World Cup Lands in the ‘Village of Mountain Running’. The 60th edition of Fletta Trail in Malonno, delivers unforgettable competition. Kenyan Double for Njeru and Kiriago at Fletta Trail.

Fletta Trail 2023 WMRA World Cup at Italy

After the excitement of the previous day’s Piz Tri Vertical, where both the women’s and men’s records were broken, anticipation was high for Fletta Trail. Not only was it a historic edition of the event, marking 60 years of the race and US Malonno, but it also boasted the strongest line-up of international athletes it has ever seen.

This was our next classic mountain race of the 2023 Valsir Mountain Running World Cup at 21km with 1,100m of ascent. It’s a fast course with long, runnable ascents and descents. Starting in Malonno (525m) the runners climb steadily for 4km up to 960m, before heading downhill for a kilometre, then climbing again up to the highest point of the course at 1,271m. Then begins the fast and furious 7km descent all the way back to Malonno. It’s a course where positions can change throughout, right up to the finishing straight, as we saw with the epic sprint finish between Francesco Puppi and Sylvain Cachard in 2020!

Fletta Trail. The Course

Year after year Fletta Trail attracts some of the best mountain runners in the world and delivers some of the most exciting racing in our calendar. The course is spectacular and challenging, with long climbs and descents. The runners start in Malonno at 525m and then climb steadily for 4km until they reach 960m. At that point they then have the respite of 1km of downhill, before beginning the long haul up the highest point in the race – 1,271m – over the course of 6km. Then there’s just the small matter of a fast and furious 7km descent to decide the race.



The women’s race

Conditions were already very warm – approaching 32 degrees centrigrade as the race progressed – as the women’s race set off first. Anticipation was high, with the whole women’s top five from the previous day’s Piz Tri Vertical toeing the start line: Andrea Mayr (AUT), who won here last year; Scout Adkin (GBR), winner of Montemuro two weeks ago; Philaries Kisang (KEN), second in the vertical uphill at the World Championships; Monica Florea (ROU), sixth in the classic race at the World Championships; and Joyce Njeru (KEN), the current course record holder (1.38.44) who won bronze in the classic race at the World Championships. And that was just for starters!

Also on the start line were Elisa Sortini (ITA), 2020 winner; Sara Bottarelli (ITA), 2016 winner; Susanna Saapunki (FIN); Alessia Scaini (ITA); Norwegian Eli Anne Dvergsdal, former winner of Zegama; Vivien Bonzi (ITA); Andie Cornish (USA), Sarah Carter (USA), Lucy Murigi (KEN), Emma Clayton (GBR) and Maddalena Somà (ITA). This was quite some line-up!

Initially the women’s race looked like it might be a carbon copy of yesterday’s Piz Tri Vertical, with Mayr striking out for the front from the start. She slowly stretched out a lead on the first long uphill, just as she had on the vertical uphill race yesterday. But she was chased initially by Adkin and Njeru, before Njeru broke away later. Njeru never fully lost touch with her on the uphill, perhaps knowing that her chance at victory depended on staying close enough to claw back the gap on the downhill.

Behind Njeru was a group of athletes, constantly jostling for positions. Adkin continued to look strong and remained in contention, as did Florea. Behind them Saapunki, Murigi and Kisang were very close together.

Photo credit: Davide Vaninetti

As the runners passed through the small mountain villages you saw just how much this race means to the local community. Children and adults, many wearing costumes,  lined the decorated streets to greet the athletes, and the water stations were like a party. And these water stations were a very welcome sight for the runners today, with many dousing themselves to try to stay cool as the temperature rose.

By the highest point on the course Mayr had built up a significant lead over Njeru. The only question was whether she could hang onto it on the long, fast descent back towards Malonno. And the race for third was still very open with six athletes (Kisang, Florea, Adkin, Saapunki, Murigi and Bottarelli) still very much in with a chance.

We waited to see which athlete would hit the streets of Malonno first and it was Njeru who emerged to greet the crowds as she made for the finishing chute and won in 1.39.05. Mayr wasn’t far behind. In fact the gap was just 40 seconds in the end (1.39.45) and afterwards Mayr said that when Njeru overtook her at the 15km point she quickly disappeared from sight, so Mayr thought the gap was much bigger than it was. Mayr also said that she was thrilled to finally get under 1.40 on this course. It was Kisang who completed the podium in 1.41.13, with Adkin fourth and Saapunki fifth.

Photo credit: Marco Gulberti

The men’s race

The men’s race set off five minutes after the women. Like the women’s field, it was absolutely stacked with former winners, a World Champion and many others capable of troubling the podium. The race also welcomed back four of the top five from yesterday’s Piz Tri Vertical: Philemon Kiriago (KEN), the silver medalist from the classic race at the World Championships and last year’s runner-up here; Joe Steward (GBR), eighth in the vertical uphill race in the World Championships; Andrea Rostan (ITA), last year’s winner and winner of the recent Broken Arrow VK; and Filimon Abraham (GER), third in the classic race at the World Championships.

Also toeing the line were: Henri Aymonod (ITA), who was third here last year; Sylvain Cachard (FRA), second here in 2020; Cesare Maestri (ITA), the course record holder; Timotej Becan (SLO); and strong Italians Luciano Rota, Jacopo Brasi, Marco Moletto, Luca Merli, Hannes Perkmann, and Marco Filosi. Just like the women’s race, it was an unbelievable line-up.

From the start Kiriago seemed determined to better his second place from 2022 and he struck out in the lead. But try as he might the gap to the next few places remained narrow for the first half of the race. He was chased hard by Abraham, Cachard, and then an ever-changing group close together including Steward, Maestri, Filosi and Rota. At this point it seemed as though the men’s and women’s races were playing out in a similar way and it was all going to come down to that long, fast downhill to Malonno.

Photo credit: Davide Vaninetti

But the men’s race actually unfolded in quite a different way. While the final downhill presented an opportunity for Mayr to be passed, in the men’s race Kiriago just stretched out his lead from around 30 seconds at the highest point of the course to an incredible almost three minutes as he emerged onto the streets of Malonno!

Kiriago took the win and set a new course record of 1.24.22. Afterwards he said that he had set himself the target of the course record, having missed the time by around a minute last year. Abraham hung on to take second place in 1.27.14, but one of the real stories of the day was Maestri, who ran an incredibly assured race to work his way steadily up to third place. He finished in 1.28.49. Cachard was fourth and Filosi finished fifth.

The fact that three out of four of the course records were broken this weekend (and the only remaining course record was only missed by 21 seconds) just shows the incredible quality of the fields assembled here at Piz Tri Vertical and Fletta Trail. The 2023 World Cup is really shaping up to be the most competitive yet!

Fletta Ttrail

Photo credit: Marco Gulberti

Valsir Mountain Running World Cup

After a double header weekend, with many athletes taking part in both races, some athletes have added significantly to their World Cup points. Philemon Kiriago, with his second place yesterday and first place today, shoots to the top of the men’s World Cup standings with 90 points. Scout Adkin adds a second and a fifth place to her tally, and now sits in the joint lead of the women’s competition with Joyce Njeru, whose fifth and first also give her a total of 110 points. Andrea Mayr’s highly successful weekend puts her just behind Adkin and Njeru, alongside Anna Gibson on 90 points.



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