Commonwealth Games hero Robbie Simpson was again mixing it in rarefied company as he continued his summer of mountain running at the third leg of the Golden Trail Series, the 31km Sierre-Zinal race in the Swiss Alps. Simpson finished in second place behind the peerless Kilian Jornet.
The Scot clocked 2:33:10 just 1:31 behind the flying Catalan who opened a decisive lead in the second half of the race after attacking the frontrunners and putting a gap between himself and the rest of the field. Jornet’s downhill running was masterful over the final stretch and he won going away in 2:31:39 from Simpson and Kenya’s Robert Surum (third in 2:33:18).
Post-race Jornet said: “I’m super happy because it’s always a great race and atmosphere with a big, super competitive field, and this was my best time here." The Spaniard was collecting a record sixth title.
He continued: “I know that when it comes to the downhill, I will be fine, but all these guys have some amazing times on flat ground. For me, it’s normally a struggle on the flat, but today was surprising because I was feeling good on the flats and I could keep with them. The last weeks I have been training more flats and it worked.”
Andrew Douglas and Jacob Adkin finished in 9th and 10th places.
The women’s race was a repeat of the 2017 edition, with the top two places going the same way they did a year earlier. Kenya’s Lucy Murigi moved to the front early on and never seemed in much danger of being overtaken. She was the only women to break the three-hour mark, finishing in 2:57:54, three minutes and 35 seconds ahead of Germany’s Michelle Maier (Team Adidas). Swiss athlete Simone Traxler was third on her home turf.
The Golden Trail Series combines five of the most iconic 'short-distance' trail races on the planet into a dream tour for both athletes and fans. A €100,000 prize pool will be shared equally among the overall top 10 men & women at a Grand Final at the Otter Trail in South Africa in October. Each of the top 10 will travel with a friend or partner of their choice for the trip of a lifetime to compete for their chosen cause or charity.
The Golden Trail Series continues this coming Sunday at the Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado. Another strong field will step up to the starting line for the highest altitude race of the series.
Image credit: Damien Rosso