Andrea Mayr and Samson Gashazghi are new World Champions in mountain running
“The 26th World Mountain Running Championship is officially closed,” are the words with which Mr. Bruno Gozzelino, the president of the World Mountain Running Association, yesterday closed the championship which he had opened a day before. Last weekend, Kamnik and Velika Planina hosted more than 400 best mountain runners of the world, who arrived at the beautiful realm of the Kamnik Alps from more then 39 countries. On Sunday, they competed in the race to Velika Planina and now we have 4 new World Champions and 4 new best teams in the world in the categories of junior women, junior men, women, and men. At the end of the championship, it can be concluded that the European and American runners are seriously challenged by the runners from the African continent.
In the men’s race (12 km, 1295 m assent) among 149 contestants, runners from Eritrea were absolute winners. With an amazing time of 56:25 Samson Gashazgi was the first, Teklay Weldemariam was the second and the last year’s champion from Uganda Geoffrey Kusuro finished third. After the race, Gashazgi said that the course was extremely difficult which made his victory even more meaningful.
Two more contestants from Eritrea Patro Mamu Shaku and Abraham Habtom came through the finish line as the fourth and the sixth, and the fifth place went to Stephan Kiprotich from Uganda. The European champion Ahmet Arslan from Turkey was the seventh and the 8th place went to Jonathan Wyatt from New Zealand, who at the age of 37, when he is slowly saying goodbye to competing, couldn’t win the seventh title of the world champion. The best Slovenian runner was Mitja Kosovelj in the 70th place with the time 1:05:39. This time, he couldn’t repeat the performance from the 1st race to Velika Planina. Other contestants from Slovenia were: Simon Alič 82nd, Sebastian Zarnik, Gašper Bregar 97th (he was in the Slovenian team instead of the injured Peter Lamovec ), Hrovat Boštjan 99th and Kuhar Nejc 103rd. In the team competition the Italians were third, the Americans second and with a great advantage, the Eritreans were the winners.
In the women’s race (8.5 km, 1035 assent, 69 contestants) the first three places went to the favourites. Andrea Mayr was the first with the time 49:30, the second was Valentina Belotti from Italy and the third Martina Straehl from Switzerland. Mateja Kosovelj with the time 51:24 was the fifth, which is the best Slovenian result in the history of mountain running. Other contestants from Slovenia were Krkoč Lucija 24th, Mateja Šuštaršič 57th, and Valerija Mark 59th. In the team competition, the Italians were the first, runners from Switzerland were the second and the Russians were third.
In the junior women competition (4.5 km, 1035 assent, 51 contestants) the first two places went to Turkey. Yasemin Can be the first with the time 24:04, Burcu Dag was the second and Adelaide Pantheon from France was the third. Lea Einfalt was the 6th, Kaja Obidič was the 26th and Katja Kozjek was 35th. In the team competition, runners from Turkey were the first, Romanians were the second and the contestants from Great Britain won the third place.
In the junior men competition (4.5 km, 1035 assent, 76 contestants) Yosef Andemichael from Eritrea was the first with the time 42:30, Ridvan Bozkurt from Turkey was the second and Jen Joly from Belgium was the third. Joly was a pleasant surprise of yesterday’s race and he was really excited about his success. In the team competition, runners from Turkey were the first, the Americans were the second and the Italians won the third place.
In the morning hours an Open race on the 12-kilometre course took place. In the men’s category, the first place went to Emanuele Manzi from Italy, the second went to Cliff Bowman from New Zealand and an Austrian Andreas Stitz was the third. In the women’s race, the first place was won by Mihaela Tušar, Katja Slanc was the second and Nancy Hoobs from the USA was the third.
The atmosphere in Velika Planina was amazing, not even the fog could spoil the day. When the competition finished the president of the Papež mountain runners clubs, Dušan Papež who organized this world championship was really satisfied. He said: ”Excellent! Everything is as it should be, the results are amazing. The contestants were really satisfied with the course which was clearly marked so that nobody got lost in the fog. I’m really sorry that due to the fog the competitors could not see this beautiful mountain and the Kamnik Alps behind.” At the end, he pointed out that his family and more than 400 volunteers are the ones that made this day possible.
The Opening ceremony of the World Championship took place on Saturday afternoon when a Parade of all teams walked through the ancient Kamnik city centre. At the Main Kamnik square, they were greeted by a crowd of spectators. At the opening ceremony speeches were given by the mayor of Kamnik municipality Tone Smolnikar, the president of the WMRA Bruno Gozzelino, representative of IAAF Mr. Otto Klapert, the president of AZS Dr. Peter Kukovica, the president of the mountain running committee with the AZS, the member of the WMRA and a coordinator and advisor with the LOC Mr. Tomo Šarf and the president of the LOC Dušan Papež. A special letter of congratulations from the president of the Republic of Slovenia Dr. Danilo Turk, who is also the honourable president of the Local Organizing Committee, was presented on stage to Dušan Papež and his family, by the president’s personal advisor mag. Franc Hočevar.
The Parade of the teams was presented by sports commentator Tomaž Kovšca.
At the Opening ceremony, Tone Smolnikar said: ’’I am really proud of this event that is taking place in Kamnik today. Velika Planina is an amazing mountain with incredible nature and it is great that you, athletes and visitors from the whole world have a chance to visit it.
From the moment we were trusted with the candidacy, Dušan Papež, his family and the volunteers have worked really hard on this project. In this time of recession, it wasn’t easy to make this happen. I’m convinced that this weekend’s events are an important promotion for the city, municipality and the Republic of Slovenia.’’
The 26th World Mountain Running Championship is a success. A lot of people were inspired by the Papež family’s enthusiasm and with their help success was possible. We have new World Champions, the names of Velika Planina, Kamnik and Slovenia are travelling around the world. Next year in September the runners will meet again in Albania.