Eight Welsh athletes were among the 6317 competitors in the 9th World Long Distance Challenge at Interlaken, Switzerland on Saturday/Sunday - 9th/10th September.
The event was held over two days with the women and men over 50 racing on the Saturday with spectacular views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains and fabulous sunshine, the competitors and spectators were able to enjoy the scenery and weather alike in the uphill only Marathon.
Andrew Davies finished 13th in Switzerland.
American Stevie Kremer paced her run to perfection to win Gold in a time of 3.22.42. The Silver medal was won by Austrian Sabine Reiner in a time of 3.24.10 and leading Team USA - an all-Colorado squad - to the gold medal was third-placed finisher Kim Dobson who posted a time of 3.26.58. Leading the Welsh team home was Sarah Ridgway who finished 43rd overall in a time of 4.07.55 with: 56th Andrea Rowlands 4.17.16 and 111th Anna Bartlett 4.32.10. Team USA won with 11.00.50 by nearly ten minutes over home country Switzerland (11.09.53). Austria finished in third position with 11.35.39. Dic Evans made his usual appearance on the World stage finishing 7th in the vet/65 category with a time of 4.54.12.
Eleven nations fielded full teams for the event with the results in the following order from fourth position to eleventh: Germany (4. - 11:39.13), Russia (5. - 11:48.57), Scotland (6. - 11:55.54), England (7. - 11:58.54), Australia (8. -12:32.10), Slovenia (9. - 12:42.05), Wales (10. -12:57.22) and Czech Republic (11. - 13:02.23).
The day after in similar weather conditions, Austrian Hohenwarter Markus led from the off and though accompanied most of the way by Kenyan Hosea Tuei, the Austrian was able to pull away as the course got steeper to take Gold in a time of 2.59.42 with last years World Long Distance Champion Mitja Kosovelj (Slovenia) coming through to take silver; 3.00.47 as Hosea finished 3rd in a time of 3.01.24.
The five man Welsh team were led home by Andy Davies who made a surge through the field during the second half of the race to finish 13th overall in a time of 3.11.48 with: 20th Rob Samuel 3.16.07. 40th Matt Roberts 3.25.15. 53rd Iain Ridgway 3.31.53 and 56th Richard Roberts 3.32.54. For Long Distance Challenge, The home nation Switzerland won the team title with a total time of 9.32.11 (Wieser Patrick 4. – 3.03.11, Lauenstein Marc 14. – 3.12.45, Mathys Christian 21. – 3.16.14, Birchmeier Ralf 25. – 3.16.30 and Wenk Stephan 38. – 3.28.34. Second and silver medallists were the USA team with time of 9.38.20 with third and bronze medallists Germany in a combined total time of 9.42.22.
Thirteen national teams fielded full teams for the event with results in the following order from 4th to 13th: Scotland (4. – 9.44.50), Wales (5. – 9.53.12), Slovenia (6. – 9.53.14, 5), Austria (7. – 9.59.43), England (8. – 10.15.18), Czech Republic (9. – 10.46.49), Mexico (10. – 11.05.19), Northern Ireland (11. - 11:24.41), Russia (12. - 11:38.02) and Ukraine (13. - 14:56.55). This is the third time that Wales have competed in the event and the best placing by the men’s team following the previous two events in Austria and Slovenia where they were placed 6th.
The Welsh contingent along with all the other competitors were well looked after by their Swiss hosts, in particular the race organiser Christoph Seiler and his staff in the well organised event in this wonderful and beautiful part of Switzerland. Next years WMRA World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge will be held in Szklarska Poreba, Poland on Saturday 3rd August.
Report by Arwel Lewis.
Full individual and team results can be found at www.datasport.com