Steven Way and Helen Taranowski of of Great Britain were the victors at the IAU 50K World Trophy held on Saturday (20) in Vallecrosia, Italy, located ten kilometres from the French-Italian Border, near Monaco.
Both the men’s and women’s contests produced exciting races, especially at the end by the men and at the half way point in the women’s.
Due to visa problems defending champion Biwot couldn’t race but with Collen Makaza (ZIM) there was a past winner of the World Trophy at the start. In the women’s race Emma Gooderham returned to defend her title.
Patience pays for Way – men’s race
The weather conditions were perfect for the spectators, sunny, starting with a 22°C and going up to a comfortable 26° in the early afternoon and with a strong wind to cool down a little bit. But would the athletes also appreciate this "nice" weather?
Makaza didn’t mind and immediately took the lead pack, followed by a trio of Joseph Gray (USA), Paul Marteletti (NZL) and Steven Way (GBR).
Marteletti by the way nearly missed this final when he discovered that he had forgotten his passport when coming to the airport. But another flight, the day after, brought him to Italy just in time.
Makaza very soon has a one minute lead on the trio, a situation that didn’t change until midway through the race.
Marteletti counterattacked for the first time and Gray, hit with stomach problems, couldn’t follow but Way came back reducing the gap with Makaza to about 50 seconds. But the Zimbabwean athlete still looked very comfortable controlling the race. At 30km Marteletti counterattacked again and Way couldn’t follow at first time but came back. Makaza no longer looked fresh and began to struggle.
With 10km to go Marteletti attacked a third time and now narrowed the gap behind Makaza to just 15 seconds while Way followed another 10 seconds behind.
Makaza accelerated and started the last lap (6.250km) exactly 45 seconds ahead of both Way and Marteletti. Many were convinced that the Zimbabwean athlete had controlled the race very well and that he was on his way to winning rather easily. But Way had other ideas.
With an unforeseen effort he sprinted back and caught Makaza three kilometres from the finish. Marteletti couldn’t follow anymore and Makaza was so surprised that he couldn’t react. That’s how the Briton won the title, clocking 2:53:41. Makaza remained second, jogging during the last kilometre he reached the finish line in 2:57:49 followed by Marteletti (2:58:18).
Taranowski resists all challenges - women’s race
Joanna Zakrzewski, last year’s bronze medallist, led the women’s race from the beginning, followed closely by the Japanese Mochizuki and Helen Taranowski (GBR). Emma Gooderham started very cautiously in fifth position.
Zakrzewski struggled hard in the fourth lap and was soon caught by Taranowski, Mochizuki and Gooderham. The leading top three were now separated by about one minute. Gooderham then caught Mochizuki while Zakrzewski was passed by an unknown Italian, Barbara Cimarusti - two years ago a 2:43 marathoner but fielding a 2:54 best this year.
As the race progressed Taranowski was running very strong, followed two minutes later by Gooderham. However Cimarusti in third was focused on moving into second position. But it wasn’t to be.
Taranowski was without a doubt the strongest of the pack and forged on to win in 3:30:43. Gooderham was second in 3:33:32 with Cimarusti, who suffered with cramps in the last 10 kilometres, third in 3:38:58.