Uganda’s 2015 world mountain running champion Fred Musobo continued his fine form around the mountains of Europe when he won at the 36th edition of the famous Smarna Gora International Mountain Running Race, near the Slovenian capital Llubljana, on Saturday (3).
Musobo, who had taken the world title in Wales just two weeks ago, dominated the sixth and final race in this year’s WMRA World Cup.
He had an eight-second lead over Great Britain’s 2015 world championships bronze medallist Robbie Simpson at the first check point at the top of the first summit just before the halfway point on the challenging 10km course, with Italy’s Alex Baldaccini another three seconds further back.
The Ugandan extended his lead over Simpson to 13 seconds at the second checkpoint two kilometres later, after a steep descent, with Baldaccini drifting back slightly and now six seconds further back in third.
Musobo crossed the finish line in 42:46 but Baldaccini came through strongly over the final uphill stretch and overtook Simpson to take second place in 42:51, with the Briton falling away in the final two kilometres but still holding on to finish third in 43:29.
Switzerland’s David Schneider, the runner up 12 months ago, had to settle for fourth place this time in 43:50 while Simpson’s compatriot Andrew Douglas finished a distant fifth in 44:31.
Nevertheless, the points garnered by Douglas were enough to give him the 2015 World Cup title with 285 points over the course of the six races, the first British man to win the Cup.
Simpson finished second overall with 235 points and Schneider third with 230 points. Musobo’s was fourth with 225 points having won the only two races in the World Cup he contested – the last two , the world championships and Smarna Gora – and without doubt would have had a very good chance of challenging for the World Cup crown if he had run in any of the first four World Cup races earlier in the season.
Tunstall on top in Smarna Gora and World Cup
Sarah Tunstall took the women’s race in Smarna Gora and also secured the World Cup title, making it a double Cup win for Great Britain, only the second time runners from the same nation have won the Cup in the same year since it's inception in 1999.
She started the day in second place in the World Cup standings and just 30 points adrift of leader Timea Merenyi; but with the Hungarian not competing in Smarna Gora, Tunstall was able to emerge as Britain’s first World Cup winner since Angele Mudge took the third of her three titles in 2002.
Like Musobo, Tunstall made her intentions know quickly from the gun and at the first checkpoint she had a huge 44-second lead over Italy’s 2013 world champion and Smarna Gora winner Alice Gaggi.
Gaggi closed the gap on the descent to 30 seconds by the second checkpoint but then Tunstall reinforced her expertise as she pulled away on the second ascent.
Tunstall crossed the line in 52:59 with Gaggi second in 54:03 and Poland’s Dominika Wisniewska-Ulfik, who had run a solitary race in third almost since the opening couple of kilometres, next home in 54:27.
Tunstall’s tally in the World Cup rose to 350 points after the victory in Slovenia, with Merenyi hanging onto second place with 280 points and Wisniewska-Ulfik finishing third overall with 205 points.
Getting the World Cup title was partial compensation for Tunstall after just missing out on the medals when finishing fourth on home soil at the world championships two weeks ago.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF