Lucy Murigi wins in Smarna Gora (© Damiano Benedetto)
St Mary’s Hill overlooking Ljubljana once again plays host to the Smarna Gora Race on Saturday (12), the seventh and final stop in the 2019 WMRA World Cup.
Although Britain’s Andrew Douglas and Ireland’s Sarah McCormack have already earned enough points to win the overall men’s and women’s titles, the 40th anniversary staging of the Smarna Gora Race will define the rest of the podium places in the final World Cup ranking.
The Smarna Gora Race was born in 1979, driven by the popularity of the paths that climb the beautiful hill of Saint Mary, overlooking the Slovenian capital with the medieval church crowning the summit. The race was immediately very popular, changing the course over the years to reach today's distance of 10km with 700m of positive elevation gain and 350m of descent.
The course records belong to Austria’s Andrea Mayr (47:40, set in 2017) and Italy’s Alex Baldaccini (41:32, set in 2012).
Douglas and McCormack will compete in Ljubljana, ready to lift the coveted World Cup crystal trophies that will be given to them after the race.
Eritrean duo Petro Mamu and Filimon Abraham will provide stiff opposition to Douglas and will be keen to bank valuable points. Abraham, who beat Douglas to win at the Grosslocknerlauf in July and finished ahead of him in Sesto last month, currently sits second overall in the WMRA World Cup standings.
Italian twins Martin and Bernard Dematteis, currently third and fourth in the standings, are both on the entry list for Ljubljana, but Martin’s participation is in doubt as he has been suffering from tendonitis for the past few weeks.
Young Irish runner Zak Hannah, fifth in the standings, will also be competing. He has been one of the revelations of this season’s World Cup with strong and consistent results throughout the season.
Slovenia’s Tmotej Beçan will be looking for a big points haul in his local race that he knows so well. He is in currently in eighth place but a good performance could move him into the top five in the final World Cup rankings.
Defending World Cup winner Lucy Wambui Murigi will be back in action in the women’s race. She won at the opening World Cup fixture in Annecy back in May, but then picked up an injury in Sierre-Zinal in August.
The Kenyan won’t be able to earn enough points to retain the World Cup, but a good run could move her into the top three in the final standings.
British duo Emma Clayton and Louise Mercer, currently fourth and fifth in the standings, will be aiming for a podium finish. Sarah Tunstall and Alexandra Hauser, currently second and third behind McCormack, are not yet confirmed for Saturday’s race, so there could be some big changes to the final standings following the final fixture.
WMRA for the IAAF