Fred Musobo and Stella Chesang completed a Ugandan double winning the senior men’s and women’s titles at the 31st WMRA World Mountain Running Championships in the Welsh town of Betws-y-Coed on Saturday (19).
It was also a historic championship for the GB & NI team as every single athlete won at least a team medal; evidence perhaps of home advantage paying off.
In the senior men’s race, over a three-lap13km on an up-and-down course, Musobo looked comfortable no matter what the terrain threw at him.
With the course involving both fast and technical elements on both the uphill and downhill sections, Italy’s Bernard Dematteis had the lead during the early stages of the race during the first lap but Musobo got to the front around five kilometres into the race and was never headed.
Dematteis, with his twin brother Martin further back and having a see-saw battle with Uganda’s Joshua Mangusho for third until the latter started to struggle and drift backwards from about eight kilometres, briefly tried to chase but, In truth, Musobo – who was ninth at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships earlier this year – was never really troubled and took the title from his teammate Isaac Kiprop, who had a disappointing run down in 20th place.
Musobo crossed the line in 49:00.
After fourth and fifth place finishes in the last two years, Bernard Dematteis finally got his hands on a medal, running a brave race to take the silver medal 44 seconds in arrears of the winner.
Biding his time, Great Britain’s Robbie Simpson worked through the field to great effect to pass Bernard’s brother Martin just after nine kilometres, at the start of the final lap, and win a well-received bronze medal in 50:31.
Dematteis twins help Italy to team gold
Despite missing out on an individual medal, finishing fourth in 50:41, Martin was delighted to pick up team gold alongside his brother, with Xavier Chevrier and Alex Baldaccini backing them up in seventh and 12th positions.
Silver went to Uganda, whilst Great Britain capped off a memorable home championships with third place.
In the senior women’s race, British athletes Emmie Collinge, Emma Clayton and Sarah Tunstall finished second, third and fourth, but none of them had quite enough to stop the Ugandan teenager Stella Chesang upgrading the junior gold she won last year to a senior title.
The three Brits were to the fore early on, alongside the USA’s eventual sixth place finisher Kimber Mattox, with Chesang hanging back.
However, by the top of the climb on the first lap, three kilometres into the race, Chesang had moved through the field and taken the lead on the descent with the British trio chasing hard.
Try as hard as they might, nothing changed on the second and final lap of the 8.9km course; if anything Chesang extended her lead, eventually winning by 31 seconds, after crossing the line in 37:52.
Single figure total secures Britain gold
Collinge and Clayton secured the minor medals in 38:23 and 38:33 respectively. With a team score of just nine points, the team title comfortably went to Great Britain with the USA, led by Mattox, securing silver and Uganda the bronze.
Turkey’s 2014 bronze medallist Ferhat Bozkurt lived up to his tag of being the favourite in the junior men’s race, getting the gold medal and also steering Turkey to the team title.
Running the same two lap, 8.9km course as the women, Bozkurt was at the front from the gun, with USA’s Levi Thomet the only man to really give chase.
Bozkurt showed his class on the second lap however, forging clear of the American, eventually building up a winning margin of almost two minutes, crossing the line in 33:56 with Thomet second in 35:50.
The battle for bronze was a fascinating one, with Bozkhurt’s compatriot Mustafa Goksel eventually prevailing, and almost catching Thomet before finishing three seconds behind the American.
Goskal finished in 35:53 and was ten seconds clear of Italy’s Davide Magnini. After a terrific first descent Great Britain’s Max Nicholls was in third place at the end of the first lap, but suffered on the second climb, slipping back to sixth. His consolation was leading Great Britain to the team bronze medals, behind winners Turkey and silver medallist USA.
There was also a runaway winner in the junior women’s race in the form of USA’s Allie Ostrander. Despite her diminutive figure, the Alaskan youngster showed her rivals a clean pair of heels; she was 13 seconds clear of the rest of the field after 2km and just kept extending her lead throughout the one lap race to eventually win in 19:44.
Czech Republic’s 2014 bronze medallist Michaela Stranska ran a strong race to move up one place on the podium and she finished second in 20:23.
Supported by compatriot Tereza Korvasova in fourth, Czech Republic also took the team gold.
Sandwiched between the Czech pair was France’s Elsa Racasan, who was third in 20:31 but missed out on another bronze in the team competition on countback.
Great Britain took the silver medals, with their runners finishing finishing fifth and eighth but after Turkey, Italy and France all finished on 20 points Burcu Subatan’s 11th place finish was enough to see Turkey climb the podium.
The championships also doubled up as the fifth, and penultimate, leg of the WMRA World Cup, with the final leg being the 36th Smarna Gora International mountain race in Slovenia on Sunday 3 October.
The 2016 WMRA World Mountain Running Championships take place in Sapareva Banya, Bulgaria on Sunday 4 September.
Peter Matthews for the IAAF